For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day 40: Martigny To Orsières (2)

Leaving La Garde, I continued to follow upstream the spectacular, V-shaped valley of the river Dranse. From my school Geography lessons I remembered that these slopes were called interlocking spurs, formed by the river taking the course of least resistance . . .

Turning hay . . .

. . . on a warm afternoon in the Dranse valley.

Everywhere . . .

. . . was just so green and lush.

As I continued along the valley, higher peaks beckoned . . .

Taken from the main square in Orsières. 'Pam' is the name of a chain of Italian supermarkets — showing just how near I was to Italy.

A helpful lady pointed me to the priest's house, and the priest, Abbé Jean-Michel, showed me to the gîte pictured above, which was actually a venue used for church functions. It had a kitchen, shower, WC, and mattresses upstairs in the attic. It was all very clean and comfortable — the gîtes are of a much higher standard in Switzerland. The recommended price for the night was a very reasonable 10 Swiss francs. Here I met a German couple, Jürgen and Christina, who had just begun a week's walking on the Via Francigena. Christina had never been on pilgrimage before; her créanciale, or pilgrim passport, had been a 60th birthday present to her from Jürgen. I was the first pilgrim she had ever met, so I tried to make a good impression! They were very nice people — he owned a bicycle shop and she was an art therapist. Later that evening we shared a bottle of red wine and talked together. After all these weeks speaking French, my German had become a little rusty, and their English was not brilliant, but we managed fine. Before I crawled into my sleeping bag I read a text from Peter saying he had reached the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard and was already 20 km past the border — and it was much easier going downhill! Of Pierre he had seen no sign.     

Opposite the gîte was the Église Saint-Nicholas . . .

. . . which containd some striking, modern stained glass windows.

The river Dranse in Orsières.

Wooden bridge connecting church and cemetery.

I can't quite work out what this stone column commemorates in this pleasant corner of Orsières.

8 comments:

am said...

Interlocking spurs. That form of landscape is oddly familiar and dearly loved by me, but I had not know that there was a name for it. I found some examples of where I might have seen it before.

Kings Canyon in California:

http://jmason.org.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/albums/2005-09-Kings-Canyon/tn/interlocking-spurs.jpg.index.html

Death Valley in California:

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/cymruwales/4986781406/in/set-72157624947284582/

The interlocking spurs make me think of how I I picture Tolkien and Narnian landscapes.

There are interlocking spurs in my inner landscape (-:

"It could even be like a myth."

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, as always, so much for this, Am!

It's all in the name... 'interlocking'...

Timecheck said...

Your talk of Swiss francs reminded me - how did you get your francs? ATM in Geneva? How often to resupply (francs)?

The Solitary Walker said...

ATM in Sainte-Croix, the first town after the border on the VF. Resupply is easy as most towns and large villages have ATMs.

Richard Hughes said...

I like the stained glass window and the covered bridge a lot.

The Solitary Walker said...

Me too, Richard.

Ruth said...

Those scenes are beautiful. As always, I love hearing about your fellow pilgrims, this time Jürgen and Christina. I like picturing you journaling these details after crawling into your sleeping bag, or maybe before, sitting at your humble table, whether linoleum or lap under a tree.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ruth — I'm really enjoying sharing these pictures and accounts!