A Weekend in Cordon

Amazing view of the Mont Blanc massif from Cordon

Amazing view of the Mont Blanc massif from Cordon

The start of my post-Lenovo, post-Melioidosis holiday. Finally. With Mihika in Munich and three days to kill before the arrival of Baffy & Syd, who were attending England vs Wales at Twickenham before travelling to the Alps from Windsor in their charabanc, I decided on somewhere small and pretty to dip my toe back in the ski waters. Chamonix is the obvious place to head to on a Friday night from Geneva, but that’s no place for the convalescent skier. Expensive, frantic, an international melting pot of crampon toting ‘extreme’ dickheads, I couldn’t even face the gentle slopes of Brevent. So gazing at the map, I happened on Cordon, which faces the Mont Blanc Massif but is still 20 kms away from the mayhem , and isn’t connected to Megeve so would be quiet (i hoped).

The Friday night traffic made the drive 2 hours.

The Friday night traffic made the drive 2 hours.

After shuttling down from AMS in a very crowded plane, I picked up my hire car, a Golf 1.4 TSI automatic. I wasn’t too thrilled with an auto, but being thrust into the Geneva Friday night traffic changed my mind. It’s pretty nippy, and has lots of flashing lights, screens and buttons on the dashboard. Top Gear eat your heart out!

All roads lead to snow!

All roads lead to snow!

The drive was slow due to the weekend traffic heading for Cham & Megeve, but uneventful, and I found the hotel easily enough after a 10 minute climb from the Autoroute Blanche exit at Sallanches
I had naturally (stupidly?) booked the most expensive place in the village (a small village to be fair), the Chamois D’Or, and have to say it was wonderful. Very welcoming, decent rooms/bathrooms and wifi (not a given in France). More to the point the cuisine was superb. 4 courses for 32 euros starting with a terrine, a fish from Lac Leman, an excellent plat de fromages, followed by the best Fondant Chocolat I have ever eaten.

Fondant in almond and mint sauce. Absolutement splendide!

Fondant in almond and mint sauce. Absolutement splendide!

Next morning and it was up to the ski station, a 5 minute climb from the hotel. 17 euros for a day ticket, but only pomas, no chairlifts. However, the view is so spectacular it’s worth it.¬†You can see the whole of the Mont Blanc range from the Domes du Miages to the Aiguille du Argentiere. On a blue sky day only Zermatt surpasses it. The skiing is pretty decent too. 11 kms of reds & blues. Easily enough for a couple of hours and completely empty pistes. It was a great place to get my ski legs back and enjoy some proper french hospitality, both on the mountain and in the village.
Saturday evening I watched the aforementioned rugby in my room (the bar is a bit posh at the Chamois D’or and there’s no TV) before another excellent repast. This time an avocado salad to start followed by Veal escalope with Linguini.
DSC_1174 avovado
Top stuff. Very relaxing weekend and set me up nicely for the drive over the Col des Aravis to La Grand Bornand on Sunday.

At the summit of teh Col du Aravis - about 1500m I think

At the summit of the Col du Aravis – about 1500m I think

A Whole Life

Simple and hypnotic

Simple and hypnotic

There aren’t many books I can read in one sitting, and “A Whole Life” by Robert Seethaler isn’t one of them. It took two sittings. Before I went to sleep and after I woke up. Probably 2 hours in total as it’s not a very long novel, but strangely hypnotic. There isn’t much of a plot – the novel just details the miserable childhood, moderately better coming-of-age, solitary maturity and relatively happy old age of an Austrian mountain man, Andreas Egger, through the twentieth century.

Egger is the definition of phlegmatic. Whatever life throw’s at him, including natural disasters, lost love, the eastern front, and the small-minded Alpine neighbours’ typical Austrian conservatism, he accepts.

Egger does not search for meaning, he just lives, without getting frustrated over events that he cannot control. The important things in his life are his and his alone, like the first time he meets his future wife. He doesn’t look for meaning, he accepts the small victories with gratitude, rather than trying to balance them on some imaginary scales against any amount of suffering or misfortune.

The book has been a best seller in Germany. I naturally read the English translation and to me, it was beautifully done. Highly recommended.