Back in Evian after nearly 7 weeks on the road. We’re planning to spend a couple of weeks in this area which means we’ll be doing a few day trips in France and Switzerland. This area is beautiful beyond description and we’re lucky to have James and Samira to shack up with and enjoy fine meals.
The first of our day trips was in the nearby Alps (Brigitte wanted to show me where she spent a few summers growing up in Avoriaz). Our afternoon consisted of driving through the picturesque countryside and up/down the undulating roads. Along the way with the weather still favorable, we stopped at Lake Montriond and took in the breathtaking scenery. Further up the mountain we stopped in Les Lindarets, a tiny village where goats outnumbered people, and man were they happy to see us! We gave them some animal feed which was pretty cool until we ran out, and were still surrounded by a bunch of hungry semi-aggressive goats. At that point the weather had also started to change and by the time we arrived in Avoriaz, we encountered thick fog followed by rain. So much for a beautiful view of the mountains from 7,000+ feet up!
The next day (a sunny and warm day), we drove out with James to the eastern end of Lake Geneva in Switzerland where we visited Chateau Chillon – an 11th century castle that primarily served the Counts of Savoy who ruled much of this area for centuries. The castle sits on a huge rock that protrudes from the lake and is completely surrounded by water. Part of the original rock is still visible in the chateau’s dungeons where munitions and food were once kept. It was also where prisoners were incarcerated and one such man was Francois Bonivard who was chained to one of the dungeon’s pillars for 4 years – and in 1816 Lord Byron (British poet), wrote a poem about this after visiting the chateau himself. I haven’t read Boyle’s poem yet (Prisoner at Chillon) but one can only fathom what Bonivard’s ordeal must’ve been like. Overall the chateau has been preserved in impeccable form and really painted a vivid picture of life here during the middle ages. As our audio tour concluded after a couple of hours we felt as though we had transcended through a few centuries of history.
From there we moved on through Montreux (a pretty town overlooking Lake Geneva), and made our way to Gruyères. Gruyères is a minuscule medieval town nestled within the foothills of Mount Moleson but it’s claim to fame is its eponymous cheese. Brigitte was especially excited about Gruyère and who wouldn’t be? The vast majority of dishes on any menu at any given restaurant included a healthy dose of Gruyère cheese. Every souvenir shop also sold blocks of it in addition to cow bells, chocolate, meringues and other iconic items.
We walked around the village for a bit which is still enclosed by the old ramparts and later found a spot for lunch. Brigitte’s dish was most interesting as it was completely smothered in melted Gruyère cheese – not sure I saw anything other than cheese on her plate. Right after lunch we walked around the medieval Chateau de Gruyères which appeared much smaller than Chateau Chillon but just as charming. The magical surrounding landscape combined with the castle seemed to be ripped right out of a scene from The Princess Bride.
We topped off our evening with a great dinner prepared by Samira (for 8 people) – a 9 pound red snapper made in the Moroccan tajine style. Yum!