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Last Updated: 21 September 2023

"Today I'm going to France!" I sent this message to my subscribers on the 12th of April 2023. On that day we left the south coast of England to experience Spring in the French Alps!

The stages of our French journey

Our journey to France will take place in several stages.

My wife Rachel will visit the Luberon in Provence for two weeks.

During that time, my daughter Aimée and I will stay in the Annecy region, where my family lives.

At the end of April, the three of us will meet up again in Lyon and travel to the French Alps to spend four weeks in our former village, perched at 1250 m above the Tarentaise valley with views of the snow-capped mountain peaks.

We will return to England for a week before heading to Brittany. This will be a first for me, and I'm really excited to discover Saint-Malo, Cancale and Dinan, as well as a site I've dreamed of visiting since I was a child: Mont-Saint-Michel.

When I return to France from England, I always open my eyes wide, curious as I am, as if it was the first time I was discovering my country. So, this time, I want to involve my faithful readers in my stay by sending you news emails more frequently.

This page collects all the emails sent to our readers with more pictures. Come back often to read the updates!

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

The colours of spring in the French Alps near Thorens-Glières © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps

Friday 14th of April

Bonjour from France!

Last Wednesday, we travelled safely.

Our train took us to Gatwick airport and through the English countryside of Sussex. On the way, we were able to admire the magnificent Arundel Castle.

Arundel Castle (Sussex) © French Moments

Arundel Castle - a view from the train to Gatwick © French Moments

After crossing the English Channel, our plane flew over Normandy and the beautiful meandering Seine River. But clouds blocked all views towards Rouen, and we landed in Geneva, Switzerland, in the rain.

Our first days in France were therefore spent in the rain and cold.
When the clouds cleared a little, we could see the freshly fallen snow on the heights (here is a view from the room):

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

A 'wintery' view from our room! © French Moments

So what do we do in the Alps when it rains?

Shopping!

And that's good; we had to get some supplies.

Big cities like Annecy are full of big stores called "hypermarchés".

About the typical French 'hypermarché'

L'hypermarché is a big-box store combining a supermarket and a department store.

The result is an expansive retail facility carrying a wide range of products under one roof, including full grocery lines and general merchandise.
In theory, hypermarkets allow customers to satisfy all their routine shopping needs in one trip.

The term hypermarché was first coined in 1968 by French trade expert Jacques Pictet.

Facts and figures

Hypermarkets cover an area of 5,000 to 15,000 square metres (54,000 to 161,000 sq ft) and generally have more than 200,000 different merchandise brands available at any one time. Because of their large footprints, many hypermarkets choose suburban or out-of-town locations easily accessible by automobile.

This is the case in Annecy, where you can find several brands: Auchan, Géant Casino, and most notably, Carrefour, which originated precisely in Annecy in 1963.

If you can go to a hypermarket in France, you will encounter a typical French cultural experience.

The aisle that always surprises me is the dairy department, filled with thousands of yoghurts, fromage frais and crèmes desserts! You can see how powerful the dairy industry is in France:

Carrefour hypermarket © French Moments

The dairy department of a French hypermarket in Annecy © French Moments

Carrefour hypermarket © French Moments

The cheese department of a French hypermarket in Annecy © French Moments

Of course, hypermarkets have a dark side: they are accused of having caused the decline of small town centre shops in France.

It looks like the sun should be back next week, which will give us the opportunity to explore the countryside a bit more and take some photos.

In the meantime, I wish you a good day.

Vocabulary time!

Here is a list of 30 French vocabulary words translated into English on superstores that may be useful if you are learning French!

Français

Les grandes surfaces
Les courses
Le chariot
Le caddie
Les rayons
Les produits frais
Les produits surgelés
Les boîtes de conserve
Les boissons
Les produits laitiers
Les viandes
Les fruits et légumes
La boucherie
La poissonnerie
La boulangerie
La pâtisserie
Les articles de toilette
Les articles ménagers
La papeterie
Les articles de bricolage
Les vêtements
Les chaussures
Les accessoires
Le rayon jouets
Le rayon électronique
Les caisses
Le ticket de caisse
Le code-barres
La carte de fidélité
Le remboursement

English

Supermarkets
Groceries
Shopping cart
Trolley
Aisles
Fresh produce
Frozen products
Tinned cans
Beverages
Dairy products
Meats
Fruits and vegetables
Butcher's department
Fish department
Bakery department
Pastry department
Toiletries
Household items
Stationery
DIY items
Clothing
Shoes
Accessories
Toys department
Electronics department
Checkout counters
Receipt
Barcode
Loyalty card
Refund


Saturday 15th of April

Since we arrived, the weather has been very gloomy - rain in the village and snow on the heights with little opportunity to explore the surrounding area.

But no matter, yesterday we 'risked' the walk above the village.
It was a good idea because it felt terrific!

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Thorens-Glières © French Moments

The photos may not be full of sunshine, but they give an idea of what spring in the French Alps is like green that would rival Ireland's!

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Green pastures of Haute-Savoie © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

The hens © French Moments

Our walk took us to the heights of Thorens-Glières with a magnificent view of the Annecy Pre-Alps and the countryside of the Bornes plateau.

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Thorens-Glières © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Spring in the Alps of Annecy © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Plateau des Bornes © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Plateau des Bornes near Groisy © French Moments

Without forgetting the medieval castle of Thorens:

Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - the castle of Thorens © French Moments

Geneva's catchment area is not far

We are in a densely populated area, located in the area of influence of Annecy and Geneva. Many French people live here and work in Switzerland, where salaries are much higher. These cross-border workers are called "travailleurs transfrontaliers".

This situation significantly affects the cost of living north of Annecy. For example, property prices are very high, especially as the supply is limited.

Many British and American ex-pats who work in Geneva have also chosen to live in France to benefit from the financial advantages and enjoy the wide open spaces (remember, Geneva is a semi-enclosed area surrounded by France!)

Delicious French moments

Once back in the village, my daughter Aimée suddenly whispered something in her grandmother's ear.
We had just passed a bakery, and Aimée had long dreamed of eating a vanilla éclair. My mother is a "mamie gâteau" and didn't hesitate to grant her wish for a second.

I know how these delicious little French moments will live on in Aimée's memory... She's sure to remember them long after we return to England!

Eclair à la Vanille © French Moments

Eclair à la Vanille © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 20 French vocabulary words translated into English on cross-borders workers that may be useful if you are learning French!

Français

Genève
La Suisse
La frontière
La douane
Le travailleur frontalier
Le permis de travail
Le salaire
Les impôts
Les cotisations sociales
La caisse de retraite
La couverture santé
Les heures supplémentaires
La durée du travail
Le contrat de travail
La période d'essai
La formation professionnelle
Le congé payé
Le syndicat
Les droits du travailleur
Le canton suisse

English

Geneva
Switzerland
Border
Customs
Cross-border worker
Work permit
Salary
Taxes
Social contributions
Retirement fund
Health coverage
Overtime hours
Working hours
Employment contract
Trial period
Vocational training
Paid vacation
Trade union
Worker's rights
Swiss canton


Wednesday 19th of April

La Roche-sur-Foron

Yesterday we walked in La Roche-sur-Foron, a charming country town at the crossroads of the roads from Annecy, Geneva and Chamonix.

Overlooking the Arve Valley (which connects the Mont Blanc massif to Geneva), this town is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage and beautiful natural landscapes.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

A view of La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

A historic town

It is the second most historic city in Haute-Savoie after Annecy.

One of the main attractions of La Roche-sur-Foron is its medieval town centre, with its cobbled streets, old houses with colourful facades and picturesque squares.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Rue Perrine: the colourful façades of La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Rue des Fours: the colourful façades of La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The aristocratic stone houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The shopping street of Rue de Silence © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The Knights' House © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Porte Falquet © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

View of the church from Place Saint-François © French Moments

The parish church

The church of St. John the Baptist dates from 1536, but its foundation date back to the 12th century. The building is characterised by its magnificent bulbous bell tower, typical of Savoy.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The onion-bulb tower of the church © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The church of La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

A wrought-iron lamp post © French Moments

Look at the door handle of the church, which represents a hand and the lock with the number 5.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The door handle of the church © French Moments

The church houses a little jewel: a beautiful organ from 1861, the only Italian-made in Haute-Savoie.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The Italian organ of the church © French Moments

The castles

Visitors can learn about the town's history by walking through the streets dotted with information panels in French and English.

At the highest point of the old town stands the medieval tower of the Counts of Geneva, perched on the huge rock that gave the town its name.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The medieval castle of the Counts of Geneva © French Moments

The park of the Château de l'Echelle offers a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountains.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Château de l'Echelle © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Parc du château de l'Echelle and the view © French Moments

The flower display

During our discovery, we noticed how abundant the town's flowers were. La Roche-sur-Foron has won the "Trois Fleurs" label in the national competition for towns and villages in bloom in France.

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Near the château de l'Echelle © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Beautiful flower beds near the Town-Hall © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Near the Château de l'Echelle © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

The town-hall of La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

Discover La Roche-sur-Foron on the blog!

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English on the touristic town that may be useful if you are learning French!

Français

La montagne
La vallée
Le château
L'église paroissiale
La rue commerçante
La fleur
Le parc
La vallée
L'hôtel de ville
L'orgue
Saint Jean-Baptiste
La ville historique
La poignée
La serrure
Les comtes de Genève

English

Mountain
Valley
Castle
Parish church
Shopping street
Flower
Park
Valley
Town-Hall
Organ
St. John the Baptist
Historic city
Door handle
Door lock
Counts of Geneva


Friday 21st of April

Ménerbes, Provence

Since we arrived in the Annecy area, the weather could have been more kind to us.

Rain and clouds have been our daily routine, but some sunshine is forecast this afternoon. So we'll risk a walk in 'tourist' mode in the old town of Annecy.

In the meantime, my wife Rachel is on a business trip to the Luberon in Provence.

Over there, there is no rain, no snow, and no cloud. Only the blue sky and a radiant sun!

She has just sent me some photos; frankly, I am (a little) jealous!

Ménerbes © French Moments

The hilltop village of Ménerbes in April © French Moments

Ménerbes © French Moments

Ménerbes © French Moments

Ménerbes © French Moments

Near Ménerbes © French Moments

Ménerbes © French Moments

End of the day in Ménerbes © French Moments

Ménerbes, a hilltop village in Provence

Rachel stays in the old village of Ménerbes. This is one of France's most beautiful villages, situated on a rocky outcrop 230 metres above sea level.

You will find many interesting sites in Ménerbes. On your walk through the narrow streets, you will discover fine mansions dating from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the 17th-18th centuries.

These houses display typical Provençal façades with light-coloured stones and a cameo of beiges, yellows and reds.

The charming village is best to discover under the blinding light of the evening sun!

Finally, Ménerbes is famous for Peter Mayle’s bestseller book “A Year in Provence”, an autobiographical story which humorously describes his settling in the village of Ménerbes to escape busy London.

Discover the village of Ménerbes on the blog!

Citadel of Ménerbes © French Moments

The Citadel of Ménerbes © French Moments

Ménerbes Luberon Provence

A fortified house in Ménerbes © French Moments

Ménerbes © French Moments

A stroll in the streets of Ménerbes

Luberon countryside © French Moments

The Luberon countryside near Ménerbes © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English on Provence that may be useful if you are learning French!

Français

La lavande
L'olive
L'olivier
Le vin
Le marché provençal
La cigale
La truffe
La bouillabaisse
Le champ de coquelicot
Le patrimoine
Le pastis
Le village perché
L'artisanat
La fête du village
Le cyprès

English

Lavender
Olive
Olive tree
Wine
Provençal market
Cicada
Truffle
Fish soup
Poppy field
Heritage
Anise-flavoured aperitif
Hilltop village
Craftmanship
Village festival
Cypress tree


Sunday 23rd of April

The Département of Haute-Savoie

We arrived in France 10 days ago for an extended stay of 6 weeks. For the moment, we are staying in the Annecy region. This is the département of Haute-Savoie.

Spring in the French Alps - Annecy © French Moments

Thorens-Glières (Département of Haute-Savoie) 15 April 2023 © French Moments

In France, a département is an administrative division of the French territory.

101 French Départements

There are currently 101 départements in France, of which 96 are located in metropolitan France (i.e. on the territory of mainland France), and five are in the overseas départements (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Reunion, and Mayotte).

Each département is governed by a council (le conseil départemental) composed of councillors elected by the citizens.

The départements have various competencies, including social action (such as the management of social aid), roads (such as the maintenance of roads), education (such as the management of secondary schools), and culture (such as the support of local cultural events).

Map of the French départements copyright French Moments

Map of the French départements copyright French Moments

The numbering of the French départements

The numbering of the French départements is based on the alphabetical order of their names as they were established in 1790, at the beginning of the French Revolution.

At that time, France was divided into 83 départements, each numbered from 1 to 83, according to the alphabetical order of the départements' names.

The number of the département of Haute-Savoie is 74.

Map of Savoie © French Moments
The names of the French départements

The names of French départements often have varied and interesting origins, which are often linked to geographical features such as rivers, mountains or seas. Here are some examples:

  • Ain [01] takes its name from the river Ain, which runs through the département.
  • Ardèche [07] is named after the river Ardèche, which rises in the Massif Central and flows through the département before emptying into the Rhône.
  • Manche [50] takes its name from the sea that borders it to the west, the Channel.
  • Lozère [48] takes its name from Mount Lozère, which is the highest point in the département and the Cévennes region.
  • Haute-Savoie [74] takes its name from its geographical location: it is situated in the upper part of the historical region of Savoie.

I invite you to discover the historical and cultural wealth of Haute-Savoie in my blog article:

Here are a few photos of the main sites to see in the département of Haute-Savoie :

Spring in the French Alps - Annecy © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Annecy © French Moments

La Roche-sur-Foron © French Moments

General view of La Roche-sur-Foron from the Route de Thorens © French Moments

The harbour of Yvoire © French Moments

Port des Pêcheurs, the harbour of Yvoire © French Moments

Thonon-les-Bains and Lake Geneva © French Moments

Thonon-les-Bains and Lake Geneva © French Moments

Salève mountain Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva from the Salève mountain © French Moments

The church of Combloux and Mont-Blanc © French Moments

The church of Combloux and Mont-Blanc © French Moments

Around Annecy - La Clusaz © French Moments

The church of La Clusaz © French Moments

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc © French Moments

Mont-Blanc seen from the town-centre of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc © French Moments

The bay of Talloires from Ermitage de Saint-Germain © French Moments

The bay of Talloires from Ermitage de Saint-Germain © French Moments

Duingt Castle in May © French Moments

Duingt Castle in May © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English on the French départements!

Please note that "département" is often translated into English by "department".

Français

La préfecture
La sous-préfecture
Le chef-lieu
Le code postal
La superficie
La population
La frontière
La ville
Le village
La commune
Le conseil départemental
Le numérotage
Le nom
La Métropole (française)
Les départements d'Outre-Mer

English

Prefecture
Sub-prefecture
Capital city
Postal code
Surface area
Population
Border
City / Town
Village
Commune (municipality,parish)
Departmental council
Numbering
Name
Metropolitan France
Overseas départements


Tuesday 25th of April

Annecy [finally!]

It is no secret that the weather in the second half of April has not been kind to us. I was impatiently waiting for a break in the weather to come back and visit Annecy.

And a few days ago, we had the opportunity to go there.

This afternoon with clouds and a little sun, allowed us to photograph the historic centre.

In case you didn't know, Annecy has the romantic nickname of "Venice of the Alps". It owes this to the picturesque canals that run through the old town. (Learn more about the old town of Annecy)

Annecy © French Moments

The old town of Annecy © French Moments

Annecy is also ideally situated on the shores of its namesake lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. (Learn more on Lake Annecy)

Lake Annecy © French Moments

Lake Annecy © French Moments

I would have liked a little more sunshine on our trip, but here are more photos that will give you a taste of Annecy.

Let's start with the old town:

Annecy © French Moments

Palais de l'Île © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

The Venice of the Alps © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

Old town of Annecy © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

The Venice of the Alps © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

The Venice of the Alps © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

Old town of Annecy © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

Old town of Annecy © French Moments

The Jardins de l'Europe (lakeshore):

Annecy © French Moments

Pont des Amours © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Annecy © French Moments

Jardins de l'Europe © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Annecy © French Moments

Lake Annecy © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Lake Annecy © French Moments

Lake Annecy © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English on the theme of a touristic town!

Français

Le château
Le monument
L'église
Le parc
Le jardin
L'office de tourisme
La Petite Venise
La montagne
Le quai
La vieille ville

English

Castle
Monument
Church
Park
Garden
Tourist office
Little Venice
Mountain
Bank / Quay
Old town


Friday 28th of April

Aimée, la petite Française

Our daughter Aimée (soon to be 10) loves coming to France.

Here, in the Annecy region, she is happy to see her grandparents.

And what interests me is to see how habits change from one country to another.

In England, it would never occur to her to eat a piece of fresh bread in the street...

These new habits taste like a holiday to her!

An unforgettable holiday...

Thorens-Glières © French Moments

Aimée in the countryside near Annecy © French Moments

In the morning, Aimée goes with her grandfather to the village bakery before breakfast.

Boulangerie of Thorens-Glières © French Moments

The village's Boulangerie © French Moments

Proud of being "une petite Française", she had previously bought herself a beret.

In French, she asks the baker for "une baguette pas trop cuite, s'il vous plaît". 

On Saturday mornings, she is allowed to add a croissant or a pain au chocolat!

Once out of the bakery, she snatches the bread stump to taste it while walking.

Aimée, la petite Française ! © French Moments

Aimée, la petite Française ! © French Moments

Many French people do the same thing... and it would never occur to us to do the same in England with a supermarket baguette!

Then, last Wednesday, I took Aimée to the local market.

I wanted to buy a cow's milk cheese and a goat's milk cheese, not forgetting some raclette.

It's a small village market with only five or six stalls at most.

But the cheesemonger's stall was by far the busiest, i.e. the one with the longest queue.

Fromagerie © French Moments

Aimée at the fromagerie © French Moments

It is often said that this is a sign of the popularity of an artisan who sells good local produce!

Cheesemaker's stall © French Moments

The cheesemaker's stall © French Moments

Our daughter really enjoyed the market experience and watching the cheesemonger cut a wheel of raclette cheese in front of her eyes.

Raclette cheese © French Moments

The 3kg wheel of Raclette cheese © French Moments

No doubt Aimée will include all her discoveries in her France scrapbook!

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 20 French vocabulary words translated into English on the theme of the bakery and cheese-shop!

Français

La boulangerie
Le boulanger
Le pain
- au levain
- complet
- de seigle
- aux céréales
Le croissant
La viennoiserie
La mie

La fromagerie
Le fromage
Le lait
La vache
La chèvre
La brebis
L'affinage
Le fromage bleu
La meule de fromage
La croûte

English

Bakery
Baker
Bread
Sourdough bread
Wholemeal bread
Rye bread
Multigrain bread
Croissant
(Viennese) pastry
Breadcrump

Cheese shop
Cheese
Milk
Cow
Goat
Sheep
Aging / Ripening
Blue cheese
Cheese wheel
Cheese rind


Saturday 29th of April

The village of Groisy: Orchards and Pasture

I took my daughter Aimée to meet her French cousins at a playground a few days ago.

This one is about 15 km from where we are staying, in a village where we lived for six months in 2017.

While my daughter was playing in good company, I took the opportunity to go for a little walk in the village and its surroundings for an hour and a half.

This is Groisy - one of the many wealthy villages on the plateau des Bornes at the foot of Mount Salève.

Groisy © French Moments

The village of Groisy © French Moments

Annecy is nearby, and Geneva is not far, hence the high cost of living (remember the cross-border commuters!)

A village spread over several levels of elevation

Groisy is a typical village in this region of Haute-Savoie. It is spread over several levels, each corresponding to a hamlet. 

The supermarket and a small trading area are at the bottom, in the valley.

Further up, there are other residences, the college and the railway station.

Then lie the castle (actually a medieval manor house) and many more residences.

Finally, at the very top is the "chef-lieu", marked by the town hall, the church and the school.

Groisy © French Moments

The "chef-lieu" of Groisy © French Moments

You need to be in good shape if you want to walk from one level to the other... so many prefer to take the car!

My walk through fields and orchards

My walk took me through fields and orchards at the heights of the village. I followed a route I took when we lived in the village.

Groisy © French Moments

The green pastures of Groisy © French Moments

The heights of Groisy offer a breathtaking panorama of the Annecy Pre-Alps and Lake Annecy.

Groisy © French Moments

The view from the village of Groisy © French Moments

Lake Annecy from Groisy © French Moments

Lake Annecy from Groisy © French Moments

In spring, the fruit trees in bloom add a touch of enchantment to the view.

Groisy © French Moments

Fruit tree is full bloom! © French Moments

I particularly enjoy going to the hamlet of Flagy, where pastures and orchards surround an old farmhouse. It's a lovely pastoral place!

Groisy © French Moments

A farmhouse in Flagy © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

A beautiful alley in Flagy © French Moments

In the pastures of the orchards, graze the cows whose milk produces good local cheese.

Groisy © French Moments

Cows in the orchard © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

Cows in Flagy © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

Grazing cow in Flagy © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

The orchard of Flagy © French Moments

As you climb higher, the orchards give way to fields and woods. The view of the mountains is even more impressive.

Groisy © French Moments

The landscape near Groisy © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

Near Groisy © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

An isolated cottage near Groisy © French Moments

Groisy © French Moments

In the vicinity of Groisy © French Moments

See the picture above? This is the winter version I took in December 2017:

Winter in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments

Winter in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments

Back in the village, I pass the village church and the well-kept gardens of the villagers.

Groisy © French Moments

The village of Groisy © French Moments

Tulips Groisy © French Moments

Tulips near the church © French Moments

Tulips near the church © French Moments

Flowers by the church's entrance © French Moments

Tulips Groisy © French Moments

Tulips in a garden © French Moments

Groisy is not really a tourist village, but it gives a good idea of the landscape that one can admire from this part of the Annecy region.

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English on the theme of the orchards!

Français

Le verger
L'arbre fruitier
Le pommier
Le poirier
Le cerisier
Le prunier
Le noyer
Le pêcher
L'amandier
Le cognassier

English

Orchard
Fruit tree
Apple tree
Pear tree
Cherry tree
Prune tree
Walnut tree
Peach tree
Almond tree
Quince tree


Monday 1st of May

Talloires, the jewel of Lake Annecy

We arrived at our next destination: the village of Granier, perched above the Tarentaise valley in the Savoy Alps.

Today 1st of May, the lily of the valley in the garden where we are staying in the Alps has yet to be ready for May Day! (well, after all, we're staying 1,250 metres above sea-level).

Lily of the Valley © French Moments

Lily of the Valley in Granier (French Alps) © French Moments

But before I tell you more about our adventures here, I wanted to mention our visit to Talloires on the shore of Lake Annecy.

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Many tourists limit themselves to Annecy and, optionally, discover the lake on a 1-hour cruise.

But fewer visitors dare to venture into the coastal villages that make the lake so charming.

The most enchanting of these villages is probably Talloires.

It is our favourite destination outside Annecy, but you have to go there outside of the summer period. There are too many people there, and the visit cannot be so relaxing.

Spring and autumn are the best times to go, especially on a sunny day.

The sparkling turquoise waters of the lake are dominated by the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains - a magnificent sight!

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Talloires on Lake Annecy, surrounded by snow-capped mountains © French Moments

An exploration of the old village

Most visitors who visit Talloires stay around the harbour. Although a great place to see, I always stroll in the narrow streets of the old village, around the church.

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Old Talloires © French Moments

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

An old street in Talloires © French Moments

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

In the village of Talloires © French Moments

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Beautiful wisteria in Talloires © French Moments

There is a lovely flower display in front of the church: 

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Talloires: tulips in front of the church © French Moments

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

A little bridge in Talloires © French Moments

Talloires enjoys a micro-climate where the vegetation grows faster than in the surrounding region. It is easy to see in that photo:

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

in Talloires © French Moments

Arriving at the lake
Talloires © French Moments

The gardens with a view on Lake Annecy © French Moments

Talloires, Lake Annecy © French Moments

Arriving by the lake © French Moments

L'Abbaye de Talloires © French Moments

The famous top-rated restaurant L'Abbaye de Talloires © French Moments

Talloires © French Moments

The harbour pier of Talloires © French Moments

Talloires © French Moments

The bay of Talloires © French Moments

Talloires © French Moments

Another view of the Bay of Talloires © French Moments

The view from Talloires

The site of Talloires commands stunning and romantic views of Lake Annecy, the opposite village and castle of Duingt, and snow-capped mountains.

Duingt from Talloires © French Moments

Snow-capped mountains and the castle of Duingt © French Moments

Duingt from Talloires © French Moments

Duingt from Talloires © French Moments

Talloires © French Moments

A chalet that overlooks Talloires © French Moments

Ascending the Roc de Chère

When we arrived at the end of Talloires Bay, we spotted a path that led to the Roc de Chère.

Roc de Chère © French Moments

By the Lake before the ascent of the Roc de Chère © French Moments

This wooded rocky outcrop, located between Talloires and Menthon-Saint-Bernard, dominates Lake Annecy by 200 metres and reaches an altitude of 656 metres.

We decided to follow it to climb to the lookouts (belvédères).

It had rained a lot in the previous days, and we found ourselves on a path with mud and slippery stones. A rope attached to the rock in some places made our ascent safe. Had we known this beforehand, we might have decided to return to the village by the lakeside!

Roc de Chère © French Moments

Ascension of the Roc de Chère © French Moments

Roc de Chère © French Moments

Ascension of the Roc de Chère © French Moments

But once we had made the effort, the view that awaited us was magnificent.

Lake Annecy © French Moments

Lake Annecy (a view from the Roc de Chère) © French Moments

Lake Annecy © French Moments

Lake Annecy (a view from the Roc de Chère) © French Moments

Duingt Castle © French Moments

The old Duingt Castle © French Moments

Duingt © French Moments

The village of Duingt © French Moments

Duingt Castle © French Moments

The castle of Duingt © French Moments

Sambuy Massif © French Moments

The Sambuy Massif © French Moments

Dent de l'Arcalod © French Moments

The Dent de l'Arcalod © French Moments

This was my third ascent of the Roc de Chère (the second for my daughter Aimée), but we had taken a different route from Menthon, which was much less steep.

We went down to Talloires by another path, just as steep but offering more views of the lake, the castle of Duingt and the surrounding mountains.

Bay of Talloires © French Moments

The Bay of Talloires © French Moments

Duingt from Talloires © French Moments

The castle and village of Duingt from Talloires © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English on the theme of the lake!

Français

Le lac
Le lac d'Annecy
La rive
Le rivage
La croisière
Le paysage
L'embarcadère
Le port
Le port de plaisance
La baie

English

Lake
Lake Annecy
Shore
Waterfront
Cruise
Scenery
Pier
Port
Marina
Bay


Tuesday 2nd of May

We're back to our Alpine Village!

Last Friday, Aimée and I rented a car in Annecy and met Rachel at the TGV station at Lyon airport.

Rachel had come from Avignon and was finishing her business trip in the Luberon.

Aimée (soon to be 10) was very happy to be reunited with her mum after 16 days apart (and I was too as a husband!).

Then we headed for the Alps of Savoy. As much as Annecy is located at the entrance of the Pre-Alps, our next destination is in the heart of the High Alps.

Our village - Granier - lies 1250 metres above the Tarentaise valley, with breathtaking views of the Vanoise massif and the snow-capped mountains.

However, when we arrived at Granier, the view from the balcony was this:

Granier in the spring © French Moments

The view from our balcony of the 1st day! © French Moments

The magnificent view I mentioned earlier, we knew existed (we lived in the village until 2019 before moving to England).

Only after three days the clouds finally cleared, and the rain stopped. The view was much better:

Granier in the spring © French Moments

The view from our balcony once the clouds had disappeared! © French Moments

More photos...

I will be able to tell you more about life in the Alpine village in future emails. In the meantime, here are some photos taken since our arrival in the village.

Granier in the spring © French Moments

Arriving at Granier! © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

The first couple of days in Granier: it snowed in La Plagne, above 2000 m high! © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

Our first walk near the village © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

And finally, the sun reappeared © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

Aimée is very excited to be back to Granier! © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

The cat in our holiday chalet welcomed us among the flowers!

Granier in the spring © French Moments

The cat of the property where we're staying © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

The lilac is nearly ready! © French Moments

Granier in the spring © French Moments

Rachel and Aimée on a walk next to our chalet © French Moments

About renting a car in France

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DiscoverCars is a leader in online car rental reservations who compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 

DiscoverCars includes all mandatory fees, taxes, and extras in the quoted price so there won’t be any surprises when you arrive at the rental desk.

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Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

La vallée de la Tarentaise
Le village perché
Le nuage
Le lilas
Le chat
Le village alpin
La montagne enneigée
Le balcon
La voiture
La location de voiture

English

Tarentaise Valley
Perched village
Cloud
Lilac
Cat
Alpine village
Snow-capped mountain
Balcony
Car
Car rental


Wednesday 3rd of May

The Queens of the Day! 🐄

Last Wednesday, we attended a popular event in the alpine village.
The "petite emmontagnée", as the villagers call it, takes place at the beginning of May and honours the dairy cows of the GAEC, the Groupement Agricole d'Exploitation en Commun.

The GAEC

Created in 1978, it is the first GAEC in France with so many partners.
The milk is produced to make Beaufort, the emblematic cheese of the Tarentaise. The milk is processed in the valley at the Aime dairy cooperative.

La Petite Emmontagnée

On Wednesday, 3 May, we were looking forward to the arrival of the cows.

At around 10 am, they set off from their stable at the GAEC at 1100 metres to the Granier orientation table at 1400 metres. 

During their walk, the 130 cows had to cross the village of Granier, the highlight of the show!

We were stationed around 10 am on the village square. From a distance, we heard the cows coming without seeing them, thanks to the noise of their bells! 

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The cows are entering the village © French Moments

As they passed in front of us, it was such a joyful noise that Aimée plugged her ears.

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Too much noise for Aimée! © French Moments

Then we followed them at their own pace across the village to the Notre Dame des Foyers chapel (site of the orientation table).

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Here are the cows! © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The cows in Granier © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

La Petite Emmontagnée in Granier © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Following the cows in the village © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Nearly there! © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

And hop! In the pasture... © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The last hundred metres before arriving at destination! © French Moments

An aperitif at the arrival

There, an aperitif was served for the party with delicious Beaufort cheese, sausage and white Savoy wine. Children were also present as it was Wednesday (in France, children do not have school on that day).

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The apéritif in the arrival! © French Moments

Meanwhile, the dairy cows were happy to return to the fat grass and immediately started grazing.

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The cows are happily grazing now! © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Some happy cows © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The village of Granier © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Tarine cows © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Spring time! © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The village of Granier © French Moments

The milking of the cows

By late afternoon, Rachel, Aimée and I were back at the orientation table to watch the cows being milked.

This is mechanical milking - the GAEC has brought the milking shed and equipment to the site to do the milking on-site.

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The milking of the cows © French Moments

Watching the cows waiting for one after the other to be milked is exciting.
Some are patient, and some are not so patient!
And then some want to go ahead of the others... and the greedy ones who are not ready yet and prefer to continue to eat grass!
This is where we understand how cows also have their character...

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Some thirsty cows © French Moments

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Still grazing! © French Moments

La Grande Emmontagnée

Around mid-June, the 130 cows will join the other herds in the valley for the "grande emmontagnée" to the Plan Pichu mountain pastures in the Beaufortain. There, the dairy cows will spend their summer quarters. 

Tarine Cow © French Moments

A tarine cow near Plan Pichu © French Moments

This ancestral tradition in the Alps is called the "estive", from the word "été "(summer in French).

As they do every year, the villagers will meet to celebrate the event in the hamlet of Laval.

We had the opportunity to be part of it in 2018; here are some pictures of the friendly and traditional event:

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Cows at Laval hamlet © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Tarine cows © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Drinking at the stream © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The gathering of villagers at Laval hamlet © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The villagers at Laval hamlet © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Hey, watch out for the food! © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

The Tarine bull © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

Departure for the high(er) pastures © French Moments

Grande emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

En Route for Plan Pichu! © French Moments

The Tarine cow and local cheeses

The cows are of the local breed: the tarine. Originating from Tarentaise, it is a dairy cow with a tawny brown coat and black mucous membrane, as if it had been given mascara! 

Petite emmontagnée - Granier © French Moments

A Tarine cow © French Moments

Its milk makes many kinds of cheese from Savoie: Beaufort, Tome des Bauges, Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon, Abondance and Emmental de Savoie.

A slice of beaufort Cheese © French Moments

A slice of beaufort Cheese © French Moments

I have published a short video on Vimeo about the event, check it out below:

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

La vache laitière
Le lait
Le fromage
Le pâturage
L'herbe
L'été
Le printemps
Les villageois
La traite des vaches
La cloche

English

Dairy cow
Milk
Cheese
Pasture
Grass
Summer
Spring
Villagers
Milking of the cows
Bell


Monday 8th of May

Watching Spring Unfold in our Alpine Village

Since arriving in the picturesque alpine village of Granier, we have been enjoying watching spring unfold.

Spring in Granier © French Moments

The village of Granier in spring © French Moments

The village awakens from its winter slumber and bursts into colour. 

The cherry trees and other fruit trees that line the gardens and dot the countryside are in full bloom, adding little white touches to the landscape.

Spring in Granier © French Moments

The village of Granier © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

Granier in Spring © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

Cherry trees © French Moments

So many flowers!

As you stroll through the steep lanes, the sweet fragrance of lilac starts to fill the air, creating a delightful atmosphere. A multitude of colourful flowers adorn the gardens: pansies, tulips, lilies of the valley, iris...

Pansies © French Moments

Pansies © French Moments

Iris © French Moments

Iris © French Moments

Lily of the Valley from the French Alps © French Moments

Lily of the Valley © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

The village is alive with birds chirping and the babbling of a nearby stream or fountain.

Spring in Granier © French Moments

Aimée in Granier © French Moments

The locals have emerged from their homes, eager to start gardening or enjoy reading peacefully in the shades of their trees.

In the countryside around the village

As you leave the village, you'll find yourself surrounded by rolling green pastures.

Spring in Granier © French Moments

A view of Granier © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

Green pastures above the village © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

The pastures of Granier © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

Green pastures above the village © French Moments

The pastures are dotted with grazing cows and sheep, and their bells ringing in the distance adds to the peaceful ambience.

The fresh, crisp air is invigorating, and you cannot help but feel rejuvenated by the natural beauty surrounding you.

In the distance, snow-capped peaks rise above the village, reminding you that winter has only just departed.

Spring in Granier © French Moments

The Cheval Noir mountain © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

A view of Granier in Spring © French Moments

Spring in Granier © French Moments

The village of Granier © French Moments

But for now, the sun is shining, and the village is alive with the colours and scents of spring.

Of course, we also have rain and fog, but we can't help but feel grateful to be experiencing this slice of paradise in the French Alps.

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

La fontaine
Le ruisseau
Le lilas
Le jardin
L'odeur
La senteur
L'herbe
L'ambiance
L'oiseau
L'allée

English

Fountain
Stream
Lilac
Garden
Flagrance
Scent
Grass
Ambience
Bird
Lane


Wednesday 10th of May

Baroque escapades in the Alps

My daughter Aimée and I love visiting churches.

Together, we have explored the Gothic cathedrals of Dijon, Avignon, Chichester, Winchester and Notre Dame de Paris.

Each time, we look for unusual architectural details.

Here in the Tarentaise, we are in the presence of a particular architectural style: Alpine Baroque.

It is a style typical to the high valleys of Savoie (Tarentaise and Maurienne), the Mont Blanc region in Haute-Savoie and the Roya and Bévéra valleys in the Maritime Alps (area of Nice).

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments

Baroque altar piece, church of Granier © French Moments

Alpine Baroque spread throughout the states of the House of Savoy in the 17th and 18th centuries, driven by its princes and the Catholic Church, which saw in it a formidable opportunity to renew its message and appeal to its followers.

It is characterised by its monumental, coloured and gilded altarpieces.

To better present this unique art in France, we have chosen to visit two churches - with photos!

Read the article to the end... I will reveal the hidden secret of the church of Granier, a secret known only to the villagers.

The church of La Côte d'Aime

The Saint-Laurent church in La Côte d'Aime is imposing, and its beautiful bulbous bell tower can be seen from afar. From our balcony, we can see it below:

Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments

Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments

A bit of history

The villagers of La Côte d'Aime began building their new church in September 1700. La Côte d'Aime was then a district of Aime, meaning the villagers had to go down to the valley to attend services, burials, baptisms and marriages.

In March 1714, the new church was practically completed and built by a master mason from Piedmont: Pierre Jacquet.

Inside the church

The church has three naves and bays, a gallery and a choir.

The main altarpiece was reworked in the 19th century with elements of the old altarpiece sculpted in 1658 by François Cuénot for the Saint Laurent chapel.

The side aisles end with similar but smaller altarpieces.

Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments

The main altar © French Moments

The limit between the nave and the choir is marked by a "beam of glory" (poutre de gloire) comprising three large statues:

  • Jesus Christ on the cross,
  • the apostle John on the left and
  • the Virgin Mary on the right.
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
The church's unusual details

We took the time to observe the many small details of the altarpiece: the decorative motifs, the twisted columns, the cherubs, etc.

Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments

But there was one element that I had never seen before in a church in France: the chime wheel (roue à carillons). Locally it is called a "treizain" because it is usually made up of 13 bells symbolising Christ and his apostles. 

Eglise Saint-Laurent - La Côte d'Aime © French Moments

Roue à carillons (Chime wheel) © French Moments

However, the wheel at La Côte d'Aime has only 12 bells. It was rung during the Christmas mass, on Holy Thursday and Saturday during the "Gloria".

Aimée was invited to operate it!

The church of Granier

The church of Saint Bartholomew in Granier stands out from the other surrounding sanctuaries because of its slender and graceful bell tower. 

Unlike the churches of the Côte d'Aime, Macot, Bellentre or Landry with their beautiful bulbous steeples, the one in Granier is topped by a spire.

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments

A bit of history

Before, Granier was part of the parish of Aime. It became a parish in its own right in 1344. The church was built between 1535 and 1537 and then renovated on several occasions (1670-1673, 1758 for the bell tower).

Inside the church

The church of Granier is renowned for its three Baroque altarpieces by the Italian sculptor Jacques-Antoine Tedesco.

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments

The high altar in the choir dates from 1679 and is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew (patron saint of butchers and tanners).

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments

The upper part of the altarpiece includes a very realistic painting showing the apostle's martyrdom (he was decapitated).

The side aisles end with similar but smaller altarpieces.

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments
Eglise Saint-Barthélémy - Granier © French Moments
The secret of the church

The church of Granier has a well-kept secret that I will reveal to you.

This oddity is not reported anywhere on the internet.

Watch the video below that I took a few days ago. We will see what is behind the monumental altarpiece:

People are still determining why such an item is stuck there. Some say it was placed behind the altarpiece when it was built.

Another possibility is that it is a "tribute", as the apostle Bartholomew was a beheaded martyr.

Other Baroque churches in Savoie

There are many Baroque churches in the Tarentaise. We visited several of them when we lived in the region: Aime, Macot-la-Plagne, Vulmix, Bozel, Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, and Conflans (Albertville).

Altarpiece of the parish church of Aime © French Moments

Altarpiece of the parish church of Aime © French Moments

The choir of the Saint-Gras church in Conflans © French Moments

The choir of the Saint-Gras church in Conflans © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

L'église
La chapelle
Le clocher
La nef
L'autel
Le maître-autel
Le retable
Le chœur
La poutre de gloire
La roue à carillons
Barthélemy
La paroisse
L'apôtre
L'Église catholique
L'art Baroque alpin

English

Church
Chapel
Bell tower
Nave
Altar
High altar
Altarpiece
Choir
Beam of Glory
Chime wheel
Bartholomew
Parish
Apostle
Catholic Church
Alpine Baroque


Thursday 10th of May

It's market day!

Thursday is market day in Aime.

And we wouldn't want to miss it for the world.

Aime basilica © French Moments

The Basilica of Aime © French Moments

Like many cities and villages in France, the small town of Savoie organises a farmers' market every Thursday morning.

It is crucial for those who want to discover local, fresh and seasonal products.

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

At the Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Veggies and fruit

The market stalls offer a wide range of fresh, colourful, locally grown vegetables and fruit. 

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Aimée at the greengrocer's © French Moments

You can find crisp carrots, new potatoes, green courgettes, juicy tomatoes, fresh asparagus and spring onion, and sweet strawberries and much more.

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Spring onions © French Moments

Local cheeses

Cheesemongers offer a variety of cheeses, from fresh goat's milk cheeses to aged cheeses, sheep's milk cheeses and cow's milk cheeses. 

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Local cheese © French Moments

The cheeses are often produced on local farms and offer various flavours to suit all tastes. 

Of course, the local star is Beaufort cheese!

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Local cheese © French Moments

Fish and meat

The fishmonger offers a variety of fresh fish and seafood, often caught locally and in Lake Geneva.

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Aimée at the Fishmonger's © French Moments

The butcher offers a range of meats, from beef and pork to poultry and game. They also offer charcuterie products, such as sausages, ham and terrines.

Other local produce

The baker's stall offers a range of freshly baked loaves of bread, from crusty baguettes to rustic country loaves. It also provides local pastries, viennoiseries and cakes.

In addition to these stalls, you can find various other products, such as fresh herbs, jars of honey, jams and Savoy wines.

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

At the crèmerie © French Moments

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Savoy Wines © French Moments

An Italian touch

Before finishing the visit, let's talk about the two Italian stalls. 

The products are of high quality, even if a little pricey. 

You can't resist Italian pasta and delicious parmesan! 

Remember, Italy is very close, on the other side of the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass.

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Fresh Italian pasta © French Moments

Why we loved the farmers' market

Farmers' markets not only offer fresh, seasonal local produce but are also a great way to meet local producers and learn more about the food you are buying. 

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Local produce from the farmers' market © French Moments

It's an authentic experience that allows you to discover the local culinary culture.

During our visits to the market, we also meet many of the inhabitants of our hilltop village of Granier, who, like us, come down to Aime to enjoy the good local produce. 

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

At the Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

We spend as much time buying our products as we do chatting: it's fun and friendly!

Farmers' Market of Aime © French Moments

Aimée at the cheese stall © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

Le marché fermier
Les étals
Les légumes
Les fruits
Les produits laitiers
Les œufs
Les volailles
Les viandes
Les fromages
Les produits locaux
Les produits bio(logiques)
Les pâtes italiennes
Les poissons
Les vins locaux
Les produits artisanaux

English

Farmer's market
Stalls
Vegetables
Fruits
Dairy products
Eggs
Poultry
Meats
Cheese(s)
Local products
Organic products
Italian pasta
Fish
Local wines
Handcrafted products


Sunday 14th of May

An enchanting walk on the Grand Bief Forest Trail

Yesterday, Sunday, we went for a walk in the forest, on the heights of the alpine village of Granier.

We chose to follow a path that we know well from having walked it when we lived in the village.

It is the "Sentier du Canal" or "Sentier forestier du Grand Bief".

For more than 1.5 km, the path goes up the course of the irrigation canal in the heart of the pine forest.

It is a magnificent and relatively secret place. We only met two walkers there!

Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments

The Grand Bief Trail in Granier © French Moments

Back in 2018...

The first time I discovered the trail was in the spring of 2018. Then we went back on 28 June 2018 for the inauguration of the new trail with 12 information panels. Written by the school of Granier (school year 2017-2018), they are scattered along the trail.

Inauguration of the Grand Bief trail in Granier © French Moments

Inauguration of the Grand Bief trail in Granier - 28 June 2018 © French Moments

The Bief Trail

Starting altitude:

1430 m (Prachanié car park)

Arrival altitude:

1630 m (hamlet of Laval)

Distance:

2.8 km / 1.75 mi

What is a bief?

A bief is an irrigation canal cut into the earth and rock, used to conduct water from melting snow into valleys for irrigation.

The torrent of Cormet feeds the Grand Bief. In the Middle Ages, between the 13th and 14th centuries, irrigation systems such as the Bief canal, linked to the strong development of livestock farming in connection with the economic opening up of the valleys, took off.

The Grand Bief de Granier water is still used to irrigate orchards and meadows (hay meadows) to increase the grass yield and, therefore, the fodder for the animals to winter on.

Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments

Caltha palustris, or marsh-marigold (French: Populage des marais) © French Moments

It also irrigates vegetable crops and gardens and is used to irrigate cereal crops and vines on the Versant du Soleil.

Finally, the Bief also provided water for mills and sawmills. At the end of the 19th century, Granier had five mills along the Bief to turn the wheels.

There were four cereal mills and an oil and fruit mill.

An enchanting place yet little-known!

As I followed the trail, I thought it would make a dream location for Instagrammers looking for magical places for edited photos.

Without further ado, let me show you my best-edited shots!

(and look for Le Petit chaperon rouge, alias our daughter Aimée ! 😉)

Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Sentier du Grand Bief in Granier © French Moments
Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

Le canal
L'écoulement
Le cours d'eau
L'alimentation en eau
L'écluse
La source
Le sentier
L'irrigation
Le paysage
La vallée

English

Canal
Flow
Watercourse
Water supply
Lock
Spring
Track / Path
Irrigation
Landscape
Valley


Monday 15th of May

In pursuit of the alpine marmot!

Since our stay in the Alps last October, my daughter Aimée has been interested in alpine marmots. This year, she dreamed of seeing one during our walks in the mountain pastures.

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

Aimée at the Vallon de Foran © French Moments

But watching a marmot takes a good deal of patience. These small rodents are fearful, and at the slightest suspicious movement, they hide in their burrow.

A friend of the village, Geneviève, had revealed to us the place where to see them.

It was in the mountain pastures of the Vallon du Foran, on the heights of the village of La Côte d'Aime. The snow had melted up there, and the marmots were beginning to emerge from their long hibernation period.

"You have to go there early in the morning or late in the afternoon", Geneviève had advised us.

So I waited for a sunny day to take our little family and my parents, who were visiting Granier for a week.

Our first time in the Foran Valley

It was the first time I explored the Foran Valley. The majestic landscape consisted of deep green alpine pastures against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

The entrance to the Vallon de Foran © French Moments

The road was paved from the village of La Côte d'Aime to the car park of the Saint-Guérin chapel, the start of our walk.

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

The Saint-Guérin chapel in the Vallon de Foran © French Moments

We followed a circuit in the valley up the Ormente stream. About ten minutes after our departure, we heard our first marmots whistling. 

Thanks to my camera's zoom, I could locate it... but Aimée was quite disappointed not to see it with the naked eye.

Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments

Can you spot the little marmot standing on a rock? © French Moments

"No problem, Aimée, you'll get to see it later".

I sincerely thought so because I believed Geneviève's good advice.

But the minutes went without us seeing any of them.

To save the situation, I observed the mountain pastures relentlessly in search of a small marmot that would have deigned to leave its burrow. But it is almost impossible to see any in this vast grassy area!

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

Quite an impossible task to spot a tiny marmot in the vast pastureland! © French Moments

Half-way through and still no marmots!

The footbridge crossing the Ormente signalled the halfway point.

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

The footbridge crossing the Ormente © French Moments

And still no marmots. My poor Aimée was beginning to despair.

"It's not a big deal, I said, we'll come back next year in the summer, and there, I assure you that we'll see some, and not just one!"

I knew where to see them in July and August in La Plagne, Les Arcs and Pralognan-la-Vanoise.

A marmot at La Plagne © French moments

A marmot at La Plagne © French moments

You can imagine that my attempt at consolation had no effect. Resigned, Aimée realised that she would have to wait more than a year before... but suddenly, I saw a marmot emerge from its burrow a few metres from us!

"Aimée," I whispered, "Look, there in front of us, a marmot!"

Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments

The alpine marmot, finally! © French Moments

We were all in awe of this little animal. Armed with our cameras and smartphones, we photographed and filmed it relentlessly, approaching the animal slowly.

Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments

About ten minutes later, the animal got tired of playing the star and went into its burrow.

Phew! We were all relieved to have met the marmot - and so close to us! It was about time, as the car was only a 15-minute walk away.

Back to the car with a beautiful view!

We reached the chapel of Saint-Guérin under a beautiful golden light, an excellent conclusion to our outing in the Foran Valley.

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

The Saint-Guérin chapel near the end of the day © French Moments

If you are ever in the area, I recommend you go there. The walk is not challenging, and the change of scenery is total.

More photos!

To conclude this article, here are some photos of our exploration in the Vallon de Foran:

Vallon de Foran © French Moments

Rachel, Aimée and Pierre in the Vallon de Foran © French Moments

Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Vallon de Foran © French Moments
La Plagne © French Moments

A view of the ski-resort of La Plagne from the Vallon de Foran © French Moments

I have published a short video on Vimeo about the valley, check it out below:

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

La marmotte
Le rongeur
Le terrier
L'hibernation
Le pelage
Le sifflement
Le vallon
Le torrent de montagne
L'appareil photo
La caméra

English

Marmot
Rodent
Burrow
Hibernation
Fur
Whistling
(small) Valley
Mountain stream
(Photo) Camera
(Video) camera


Wednesday 17th of May

A memorable visit to the farm

Aimée and horses are a love story.

Our daughter enjoys her riding sessions in England. It's simple: her toys now revolve around the horse theme.

So when we heard about Granier's stable, Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait, a visit was a must!

Shortly after we arrived in Granier, we visited the farm to meet the 18 Comtois mares and their foals.

Carole Chenal welcomed us and took the time to tell us about her passion.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Aimée and Carole with the mares © French Moments

The Comtois breed

The Comtois is a medium-sized draught horse breed specific to the Franche-Comté region. Traditionally chosen for fieldwork, the Comtois has become a hardy draught horse, capable of living outdoors all year round.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

The Comtois is a stocky, compact and dense draught horse with short, powerful limbs and a height at the withers of 1.50 to 1.65 m for a weight of 650 to 800 kg. 

Enduring, resistant and hardy, the Comtois horse is used to the rigorous climatic conditions of its region of origin. It has thus adapted to various climates, particularly that of the Tarentaise in the Savoy Alps.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Aimée at the farm © French Moments

The milking of the mares

The mares are milked in semi-freedom, in a herd, with the foals.

The mare produces milk for about six months, at a rate of about 12 litres per day, to feed her foal. However, she only gives milk when her foal is present.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

The feeding of the foal © French Moments

The foals suckle the milk first; only what is left is collected.

This milk is then transformed into cosmetic products, mainly soap, body cream, lipstick and shaving balm.

Carole told us that mare's milk is the closest to mother's milk, low in fat and rich in lactose and vitamin C.

Thus, until the Second World War, mares' milk fed French maternity hospitals.

Cosmetic properties of the mare's milk

Against all odds, mare's milk also has cosmetic properties! It is moisturising, antioxidant, helps regenerate cells and slows down skin ageing. The shop offers a range of products based on mare's milk.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Mare's milk products in the farm shop, Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

The farm shop © French Moments

A further visit to the farm

But that's not all! Aimée was happy to find a Vosges cow, sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens in the farm. Petting the rabbits was one of her favourite activities, as was playing with Suzy, the dog at stick-throwing.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

The goats and Suzy the dog © French Moments

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Meeting with the cow © French Moments

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Cuddling the bunnies © French Moments

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

The rabbits © French Moments

The crossing of the village to the pasturelands

Later in our stay, I received a message from Carole that ten mares were leaving the stable for the pastures. On the way, they were to cross the alpine village of Granier, a bit like the "petite emmontagnée" of Tarine cows. It was an unforgettable moment for Aimée, who walked in the lead with Carole.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

Aimée and Carole leading the way! © French Moments

Through the village, I was juggling between video on my smartphone and photo on my camera - fortunately, I was assisted by my father.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

The mares were happy to run into a meadow with tall grass as soon as they left the village.

Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments
Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait © French Moments

I have published a short video on Vimeo about the valley, check it out below:

The mares will stay outside in the village field day and night until mid-June, when they will climb to the Thiabord mountain pastures at an altitude of 2,000 metres / 6,560 ft. This will be their "emmontagnée" (the summer climb to the mountain pastures).

As a family, we promised to return to witness this beautiful event next year.

If you want to know more about the farm Tarentasia - Les Crinières de Lait, follow their Facebook account.

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 10 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

Le cheval
La jument
Le poulain
L'écurie
L'étalon
La race
L'équitation
La selle
La crinière
La ferme

English

Horse
Mare
Foal
Stable
Stallion
Breed
Horseback riding
Saddle
Mane
Farm


Friday 19th of May

A world of mountain sheep!

I am delighted to share some stories of encounters with the village's animals that will brighten your heart and make you smile.

Hold on tight because we are about to dive into the captivating world of mountain sheep, where my daughter Aimée, like an intrepid explorer, has had some unforgettable experiences!

A visit to La Bergerie de Bonvillard

A few days ago, we decided to visit the Bonvillard sheep farm in a clearing at the end of a mountain road through the forest. 

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

The landscape during our walk to the Bonvillard sheepfold © French Moments

And there, at the end of the road, lay the long sheepfold building, where the sheepdogs greeted us. This is the Bergerie de Bonvillard, born of a passion of Manon and Timothée, who look after their precious flock of 106 sheep.

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

The hamlet of Bonvillard and its chapel © French Moments

My daughter was amazed and impressed by this pastoral scene she had never seen before. She felt as if she had entered another world, that of the sheep.

Timothée and Manon warmly invited us to observe their work in the stable. This is where the daily ritual of milking the sheep took place, a spectacle as impressive as it was entertaining. 

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

Inside the sheepfold © French Moments

The milking show

The ewes pushed against each other, eager for their turn to be milked. A gigantic machine, capable of milking 18 ewes at a time, stood proudly in the barn.

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

The milking unit © French Moments

The ewes were so excited about being milked that they were jostling each other happily. At one point, the hilarity peaked when three reckless ewes decided to sneak into the milking machine together, blocking the entire passage. After a few moments, the bottleneck blew up, and the other ewes rushed to their milking places.

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

It's MY turn, bleats the sheep! © French Moments

The situation was like a slapstick comedy, with the ewes squeezing into the machine like passengers in a crowded Paris metro at rush hour.

As the sheep happily scurried through the milking machine, one thing soon became clear: this machine had its sense of music! Each time the sheep were changed in the milking unit, it made a unique noise, almost like a mechanical symphony.

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

The dogs reacting to the milking show © French Moments

One of the dogs could not resist the call of this burlesque symphony. With each new note of the milking machine, the dog began to spin around as if dancing on an invisible track. It was a strange and hilarious sight, making us laugh every time.

Bergerie de Bonvillard © French Moments

An ewe with beautiful eyes! © French Moments

Finally, after about 30 minutes, the milking was over, and the barn was quiet again.

Watch the following short video of our visit to the sheepfold during milking.

The shepherd lifestyle

We came out of the sheepfold with Manon, who told us how she adapted her life to being a shepherd.

We learned that milking occurs twice daily, around 6 am and around 5 pm. And, as you can imagine, there are no Sundays off or public holidays!

Farm shop and farmers' market

The Bonvillard sheep farm has a shop selling farmhouse sheep's cheese and yoghurt (check the Facebook page for more info on openings).

Manon and Timothée are also present at the weekly market in Aime in the valley. The farmers' market takes place every Thursday morning. It's a must for us who love sheep's milk cheeses. Our favourites are the moelleuse de brebis and Les P'tits natures.

The cheese from La Bergerie de Bonvillard at the farmers' market of Aime © French Moments

The cheese from La Bergerie de Bonvillard at the farmers' market of Aime © French Moments

The sheep of La Thuile

Aimée's adventure with sheep doesn't end there.

Our daughter has had many opportunities to meet sheep, ewes and goats.

On our walks between Granier and the hamlet of La Thuile, we came across a flock of sheep being guarded by a magnificent Patou, a white mountain dog from the Pyrenees.

Patou and the sheep © French Moments

Patou the dog whose job is to keep and protect the sheep © French Moments

This mountain herding dog is a deterrent with his giant physique. He warns those who venture into his territory.

Patou © French Moments

Patou the dog © French Moments

While he is very affectionate with his masters, he can be reserved and even distrustful with strangers, including passers-by like us, walking along the edge of the enclosure.

Patou © French Moments

Patou the dog © French Moments

Indeed, this protective and courageous dog does not hesitate to put himself in danger to protect the sheep, repelling all sorts of predators, including wolves who prowl around.

Patou © French Moments

Patou the dog © French Moments

The sheep near Granier © French Moments

The sheep between Granier and La Thuile © French Moments

The sheep of La Thuile © French Moments

The sheep of La Thuile © French Moments

Daniel's goats and sheep

Other happy encounters include the goats below our chalet whose bells betray their presence, even at night!

The goats of Granier © French Moments

Daniels' goats, Granier © French Moments

The goats of Granier © French Moments

A goat below our chalet © French Moments

The goats of Granier © French Moments

Aimée's encounter with a goat © French Moments

Then there is Daniel's sheep flock grazing in the meadows below the gîte. He brings them here at about 8 am and returns to get them at about 8 pm.

The sheep of Granier © French Moments

Daniel's flock © French Moments

One evening, my daughter was watching them with fascination. The bleating of the sheep seemed to be their way of telling jokes to each other. Perhaps they were wondering who was the last sheep to make a mistake or whether they could embark on a career in sheep comedy.

The sheep of Granier © French Moments

Daniel's flock © French Moments

Titi, the lamb

Finally, there is "Titi", Aimée's favourite little lamb. One day our hostess Marylène called Aimée to come and see her. She had brought a little lamb from Daniel's newly born flock. The lamb's mother had rejected him, and he was staying in the sheepfold, safe and sound. The lamb could barely climb the steps because it was so young.

Titi the lamb © French Moments

Titi the lamb © French Moments

Marylène arranged for Aimée to attend the bottle feeding. And, against all odds, it was Aimée herself who gave him the bottle!

Titi the lamb © French Moments

Aimée feeding Titi the lamb © French Moments

Titi the lamb © French Moments

Aimée feeding Titi the lamb © French Moments

Daniel the shepherd had given the little lamb a name, but for Aimée, it was "Titi", full stop!

Titi the lamb © French Moments

Tender moments with Titi © French Moments

We admired the beautiful bells hanging from the wooden beams in Daniel's barn. The largest (and heaviest) one bears his embroidered initials.

The cows and sheep bells © French Moments

Daniel's bells © French Moments

Aimée and a mountain bell © French Moments
Aimée and a mountain bell © French Moments
Daniel's bell © French Moments

Daniel's bell © French Moments

Thank you for reading this far, and I hope this 100% animal post has made you smile.

To conclude in style, here is a short video summarising our sheep encounters.

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

Le mouton
La brebis
L'agneau
Le bélier
La chèvre
Le berger
La bergère
La laine
La traite
La bergerie
La tonte
La toison
Le fromage de brebis
Le fromage de chèvre
Le chien de montagne

English

Sheep
Ewe
Lamb
Ram
Goat
Shepherd
Shepherdess
Wool
Milking
Sheep farm / Sheepfold
Shearing
Fleece
Sheep cheese
Goat cheese
Mountain dog


Monday 22nd of May

A visit to the French library

My daughter Aimée likes to read.

And when you go abroad for six weeks, you can't take tons of (heavy) books in your luggage.

So we went to the municipal library (la bibliothèque) in the small town of Aime, down in the valley.

There we found dozens of books for Aimée.

Aimée at the public library of Aime-la-Plagne © French Moments

Aimée at the public library of Aime-la-Plagne © French Moments

Of course, most of them were in French, but some were in English.

We returned to the hilltop village with a large selection of children's books for Aimée... and she started browsing them as soon as she arrived.

Her selection might give you some ideas for reading, especially if you're looking for books in French for your children.

Aimée at the public library of Aime-la-Plagne © French Moments

Aimée at the public library of Aime-la-Plagne © French Moments

Here is a small mountain-theme book selection with an (affiliated) link to Amazon (you can, of course, order them from your bookstore if they can order them for you).

Le Grand Livre de l'Arbre et de la Forêt
Le Grand Livre de l'Arbre et de la Forêt

Le Grand livre de l'arbre et de la forêt

Author: René Mettler

ISBN: 9782070622627

This book takes us on a walk in the heart of the forest to discover a multitude of species, both deciduous and coniferous.

Drôle d'encyclopédie végétale
Drôle d'encyclopédie végétale

Drôle d’encyclopédie végétale

Author: Adrienne Barman

ISBN: 9782889084074

This book invites us to discover more than 750 plant species from meadows, forests and gardens around the world. It is a superb encyclopaedia that informs, amuses and seduces and that you can give to all nature lovers, whether they are young or old!

Ca suffit les bisous
Ca suffit les bisous

Ca suffit les bisous !

Authors: Pascal Bruckner, Jean-Pierre Kerloc’h, Mayana Itoïz

ISBN: 9782344017999

A book that deals with the subject of kisses in a light and funny way!

D'où viennent les aliments ?
D'où viennent les aliments ?

Fenêtre sur : D’où viennent les aliments ?

Authors: Emily Bone, Peter Allen

ISBN: 9781474945509

With more than 70 flaps to lift, you can learn a lot about food and where it comes from.
This book is full of information, often funny or surprising, that will provide food for discussion at mealtimes.

Cartes
Cartes

Cartes

Authors: Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielislinki

ISBN: 9782355042362

Our eyes never cease to be amazed by the fabulous diversity of nature and cultures that make up our planet! Giant trees, fascinating castles, traditional dishes, great artists... This exceptional album tells us about the countries of the world in the manner of the illustrated maps of the great explorers. It is an invitation to find out more about these other places and to meet all the other humans.

Meilleure maman du monde
Meilleure maman du monde

La meilleure maman du monde

Authors: Sébastien Perez, Benjamin Lacombe

ISBN: 9791095184539

This book is a nugget. This large and beautiful album presents 20 portraits of mothers from the animal kingdom. Among them, who can be the best mother in the world? The illustrations are absolutely superb.

Astérix chez les Helvètes

Astérix chez les Helvètes

Authors: René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo

ISBN: 9782012101487

Asterix and Obelix set out to find an Edelweiss in the Alps. With its mix of snowy mountains, [Swiss] banks and melted cheese, it humorously evokes our stay in Savoie (not far from Switzerland!)

Chamois

Chamois

Authors: Robert Keck, Jean Chevallier

ISBN: 9782911272707

A book that allows you to discover the chamois, one of the emblematic animals of the Vanoise massif.

Le Poney

Le poney

Authors: Valérie Tracqui, Pierre Miriski, Delphine Vaufrey

ISBN: 9782745928689

Discover the pony, the children's friend with its soft look and its long mane.

Rébellion chez les Crayons

Rébellion chez les crayons

Authors: Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers

ISBN: 9782877678087

This great classic for English-speaking children also exists in French!

My new life - Ma nouvelle vie

My new life / Ma nouvelle vie

Author: Corinne Laven

ISBN: 9782916238616

This is a bilingual French-English book with one page in English and the rest of the story on the next page in French, etc.

La marmotte - Le cheval

La marmotte

Author: Sylvaine Peyrols

ISBN: 9782070635047

Le cheval

Author: Henri Galeron

ISBN: 9782070616343

Two books from a rich collection including many animals. The format is ideal for small children!

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

Le livre
L'auteur
L'écrivain
La page
Le chapitre
La couverture
Le roman
Le marque-page
La collection
L'encyclopédie
Le titre
La bibliothèque
La librairie
Le / la bibliothécaire
L'emprunt de livres

English

Book
Author
Writer
Page
Chapter
Cover
Novel
Bookmark
Collection
Encyclopedia
Title
Library
Bookshop
Librarian
Book loan


Wednesday 24th of May

Wine tasting and picnic in the mountain pastures

Yesterday we spent one of our most beautiful days in the French Alps.

In the morning, Gérard awaited us at the old presbytery in the village of La Côte d'Aime.

Inside this old building is the Pressoir (wine press), which we had never visited when we lived in Granier.

The Wine press of La Côte d'Aime © French Moments

Our visit to the Pressoir of La Côte d'Aime © French moments

I knew of the existence of a wine press, but we had never seen it. Gérard warmly welcomed us inside and explained how the local wine was produced.

It was fascinating!

Against all odds, there are vines in these Savoy mountains. They are called the Tarentaise vineyards (vignes de Tarentaise) and produce a wine of unsuspected quality: the Vin de l'Adret.

Vin de l'Adret from the Tarentaise vineyards © French Moments

Bottles of Vin de l'Adret © French Moments

Adret means the south-facing side of a mountain where the sunshine is maximum.

I have just published a new blog post about the Tarentaise vineyards, check it out here!!

Vin de l'Adret from the Tarentaise vineyards © French Moments

Pierre holding a bottle of Vin de l'Adret © French Moments

After tasting red and rosé wines and the delicious grape juice, we went back home to the village of Granier.

In the mountain pastures at 2,000 metres high

There, Marylène took us in her all-terrain van to her chalet perched on the mountain pastures at an altitude of over 2000 metres.

There was still snow on the track. We parked the vehicle below the hamlet of Pra Spa and continued the climb on foot.

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

We walked to reach the hamlet © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

Aimée is nearly there! © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

Arriving at the hamlet of Pra Spa © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

The hamlet at the near top of the mountain! © French Moments

The view of the Beaufortain, the Tarentaise Valley, the Vanoise massif and the Graian Alps (marking the border with Italy) was magnificent.

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

The view from the Chalet © French Moments

Our daughter Aimée played Heidi in her grandfather's chalet... in fact, Marylène played the role of the grandmother of the Alps (a new character added to the beautiful story by Swiss writer Johanna Spyri)!

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

At the hamlet, playing 'Heidi'! © French Moments

We had a picnic in the sun and then tea overlooking the glaciers.

Mount Pourri © French Moments

A view of Mont Pourri from the chalet © French Moments

Grande-Casse © French Moments

Zoom on the Grande-Casse, the highest peak of the Savoie département © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

The hamlet of Pra Spa © French Moments

While it was time to rest, I climbed a little higher to enjoy the view of the hamlet and the surrounding mountain landscape.

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

The hamlet from above © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

The magnificent view of the Tarentaise Valley © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

Near the hamlet © French Moments

Then, as is often the case in the mountains, a storm was brewing in the late afternoon.

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

Here comes the storm! © French Moments

Hamlet of Pra-Spa, Granier © French Moments

The storm approaching © French Moments

We went down slowly to the village, still with our heads in the clouds!

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

La vigne
Le raisin
Le vignoble
Le vigneron
La vendange
Le cépage
La fermentation
Le just de raisin
Le vin blanc
Le vin rouge
Le rosé
La cave
La bouteille
Le pressoir
La dégustation

English

Vine
Grape
Vineyard
Winegrower / winemaker
Harvest
Grape variety
Fermentation
Grape juice
White wine
Red wine
Rosé wine
Cellar
Bottle
Wine press
Wine tasting


Sunday 28th of May

Twilights in the French Alps

This is my last post from France.

Our spring break in the French Alps is ending, and we'll be flying out of Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday 30 May to our home in southeast England.

It's been an unforgettable experience for all our family, and we'll treasure the memories made.

To end on a high note, I'd like to describe the most beautiful twilights we were lucky enough to admire from our balcony in the alpine village of Granier.

I've written the article below with a touch of poetry to make the reader dream.

Check out my last post of Spring in the French Alps here...

Twilights in the French Alps

Twilights in the French Alps - Dôme des Platières © French Moments

Vocabulary Time!

Here is a list of 15 French vocabulary words translated into English:

Français

Le crépuscule
Le coucher de soleil
Le soleil
La lune
Le ciel
Les rayons du soleil
Le nuage
La nuit
Le sommet
Le pic
Le glacier
La neige
La crête
La lumière dorée
L'heure bleue

English

Twilight
Sunset
Sun
Moon
Sky
Sunrays
Cloud
Night
Summit / mountain top
Peak
Glacier
Snow
Ridge
Golden light
Blue hour

Thank you so much for following our trip (over 330 of you have received our regular emails!), and we can't wait to introduce you to another region of France in June: Brittany!


Questions and answers!

Since my trip to France began, I have received many emails from readers, including questions.

I'm always happy to answer them, but please write your observations and questions in the comments at the bottom of the article. This would allow everyone to benefit from the answers given - who knows; it may help someone prepare for their visit to the area!


Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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      1. More than any thing , I would like thank you so much you gave me all your smart and hardship journey either in South East London or France at large. As you scholars or scientists most of the time discovering and visiting their man made and natural environment. This the most important things that expected from us that means the secrete of our alive and satisfaction like in such way.

  1. I’m totally impressed with your photos and this beautiful area of France. It only serves to whet my appetite further regarding a visit soon.
    Your daughter is fortunate to be able to have first hand experience and have an extended visit with her relatives.
    I, too, would love my grandchildren to visit with us one of their ‘terre de nos aieux’. Some day…

    1. Merci Madeleine! The place where we stay is like many others in France with its boulangerie, open-air market and traditions. It seems to me that only the landscape changes! 🙂

  2. Bonjour Pierre !

    Merci beaucoup pour le blog de tes voyages et les vocabulaires aussi. I am studying French and they are helpful. I travel this region nearly every year for skiing in the 3 valleys and it is nice to see the Springtime views as opposed to December when I am there. Also, there is only so very little I can take in through the window of a ski bus!

    Fondly,

    Jim
    Höllviken, Sweden

    1. Bonjour Jim, Merci beaucoup pour le commentaire. La fin de l’hiver dans les Alpes laisse place à un nouveau paysage très beau… Les pommiers, cerisiers et autres arbres fruitiers sont en fleur, ce qui ajoute une touche magnifique au tableau printanier ! Toutefois, en ce moment, les stations de ski sont encore sous la neige (même si elles sont fermées depuis Pâques). A bientôt 👋

  3. I love Annecy—it is so beautiful taking the boat around the lake and stopping at the little villages. We had a most lovely lunch at one of them.

    Thank you for the vocabulary lists!

    1. You’re welcome, Janis. It is indeed a good idea to stop at some of the villages around the lake (Talloires, Menthon or Duingt for example). 🙂

  4. Bonjour Pierre,

    Beautiful! Beautiful!

    You sound like you are really at home in all the most important ways, except physically. Did you ever think about returning to France?

    Home is where the heart is!

    Cheers!
    Bob

    1. Hi Bob, yes this is such a beautiful region… but as half our family lives in England, we’ve learnt to feel at home here in the French Alps and in south-east England! 🙂

  5. Bonjour, Pierre. Thank you for wonderful pictures. It seems the place was extremely picturesque. The marmot is something that I never saw. Some kind of animal I have seen on the way from Sunderland to Scotland (Edinburg), but it was small enough.

    Merci pour votre revue.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! Spotting a marmot is an activity that requires a good deal of patience (especially for children!) 😄

  6. Lovely video! So beautiful and green there. After reading your blog I’m convinced hubby and I need a road trip throughout France. I think we’ll have to do it in sections! It’s so diverse and stunning. Thank you!

    1. Thank you very much Janis. It has been raining a lot recently, which explains the ‘bright green’ in the landscape. France does indeed have a variety of landscapes, from the Alps to the Aquitaine plain, via the Breton and Riviera coasts. There is something for everyone!

  7. Pierre, Aimée is a girl after my own heart. I also love horses and took riding lessons when I was young. I just love this practice of leading the animals through the town to their pastures. Thank you so much for showing it to us – and what a memorable trip this has been for all of you!

    1. Thank you, Ellen. This stay in the mountains turned out to be full of good surprises, despite the fact that we knew the village! Aimée is over the moon here. A bientôt! 🙂

  8. Love your blog! Always the best. You may want to be aware of a typo in your vocabulary notes. Agneau is LAMB not lamp, which I am sure you know. Easy mistake. Merci.

  9. As usual, your posts provide me with much pleasure. I love the photos of the bucolic area. Also, your daughter has such beautiful hair!! I have two sons, so I missed out on the special delights of girls.

    1. Thank you, Margaret that’s very kind! Yes, she does has beautiful hair; several people here give her the same compliment! 🙂

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