Pierra Menta, Arc 1800

Pierra Menta, Arc 1800
Menton, Alpes-Maritimes. The GR52 long distance footpath will take you to the Tarentaise (eventually). Nearest ski resort is a little closer, at Limone Piemonte, 70km away - click on the photo for more

Thursday, 20 August 2015


Geneva is the starting point for many visitors to the Tarentaise.  If you hire a car on the French side of the airport, you have the exciting opportunity to travel from Switzerland to France (on foot), go back to Switzerland in the car, and then rejoin France again at the Bardonnex border crossing.

All this cross-border movement is very much a feature of daily life for the 150,000 French workers who cross the border every day.  A new Ipsos poll, L'Observatoire des Frontaliers 2015, sets the scene.

The number of frontaliers has risen by 60% overt the last 10 years (and the number coming from the Savoie departments is up 78%).

The poll shows that the relationship with la Suisse is more than simply transactional:

  • Three in four feel integrated socially and 66% "have a social life" in France outside work
  • And 57% have been working in Switzerland for more than 10 years

All of this is causing more than a little pressure on the frontier.  The Bardonnex crossing has a capacity of some 3,600 an hour, which is woefully unable to cope at peak times. Plans are afoot to alleviate the situation at least to some extent, with the recent announcement that cars will be allowed to use one of the lanes currently reserved for lorries.  Looking further ahead, there are vague plans to look at other possibilities, for example a car sharing lane.  But this would involve a complete reorganisation of the set-up and the Tribune de Geneve points out that it's not that big a priority.

A French flag on a Swiss lake with a French
mountain (Mont Revard) in the background

Monday, 27 July 2015

ROCKS AND STONES: The Grande Motte Glacier

Picking up on the post below about the retreat of the glaciers, today's Le Dauphiné  describes the increasingly poor conditions facing summer skiers on the glacier at Tignes. Some 20kms of pistes are open this summer - but rocks and stones have replaced snow and ice in many parts of the Grande Motte area.  The skiing is open until 9 August - unless the warm weather continues....

More at www.ledauphiné.com

Tignes is one of only a handful of French resorts still open for summer skiing.  Chamonix is no longer among them.

Diccon Bewes' excellent Slow Train to Switzerland provides us with a then-and-now account of the retreat of the ice at Montveners in Chamonix.  He quotes John Murray, in his 1861 hand-book for travellers in Switzerland and the Alps of Savoy and Piedmont:

The view of this enormous sea of ice is one of the most 
striking scenes of wonder, but its great extent....is not appreciated at first.

Not any more, says Bewes:

And a quick Google search provides more evidence of how it has retreated since its heyday.

The book retraces the steps
of one of the original Thomas Cook
expeditions - more here