Été in the Alps

Paris is sweltering after weeks of near-triple digit temperatures. It’s a solid 10 degrees warmer than what Colin and I expected from Parisian summer, and since no one here has AC, we all just sit around and sweat. Ice cream and chilled wine only help so much.

At what point do we admit that year after year of “unseasonable” weather is actually climate change?

But since there’s little we can do right now to stop the U.S. government from pushing us full-steam ahead into a global environmental crisis (long-term: VOTE), we are seeking respite in any way we can. Day to day, this means ice cream, wine, diving into la baignade in the Canal Saint-Martin, and turning the fan on, drawing the curtains, and sprawling motionless on the cool-ish floor of our apartment. Last week, though, we found a better solution: head for the mountains.

We hiked around the Lac d’Anterne and Col d’Anterne for two days, spending one night at a hut along the way. I was AMAZED. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prettier place. I’ve dreamed of going to Switzerland ever since reading Sharon Creech’s Bloomability as a tween, and even though we only spent an afternoon in Geneva before driving back into France, the mountains were everything I imagined and more.

Some observations:

  • When you – a fairly active, outdoorsy young 30-something – are being passed over and over again by families with toddlers, young guys carrying mountain bikes on their backs, and elderly couples, all you can do is laugh. And then wonder what you can do to make sure that you, too, are still climbing mountains at age 80.
  • The French dedication to good food and drink is impressive. They’ve scattered mountain refuges approximately every three hours along the trails, so just as you start getting peckish, you can stop for a cheese and charcuterie platter, a blueberry tart, or a cold glass of wine or beer. Remarkably, despite the fact that the provisions have to be brought in by helicopter or donkey, prices are no more expensive than in Paris. (That tells you something about the cost of living in Paris.)
  • When you spend the night in one of those mountain refuges, 40€ gets you a dorm-style bunk and cold breakfast, which are fine, and a four-course dinner, which is amazing. For an extra 10€, you can also get a sack lunch the following day, which will include more food than any (non-French) person can eat: ours had a large couscous salad, bread, a generous hunk of cheese, a peach, and a muffin for dessert.

But the biggest highlight of all was the scenery. The hike literally took my breath away, both because of the views and because I’m not as fit as a French grandma.

Enjoy! 🙂

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