The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


I arrived at Belfort late evening, it had been a long day’s drive on the Route de Crete and I felt shattered, so it was an early night for me. Sightseeing could wait; I had done enough for one day.

Next morning it was get the bike off the back of the van and take a ride into the centre of town, which was only about three miles away. The fort which the town is named after, overlooks the town and is made of a reddish sandstone, on the front is a large carved Lion. Le Lion de Bartholdi which was built to commemorate the 1870-1871 siege victims. When I was there last time you could stand on a platform quite close to the lion to take photos but it was covered in scaffolding then, this time it was clear but they wanted 5 euros to take a photo from that point. You can guess my reply to that!! So I took some from outside the fort and zoomed in instead. The 5 euros would have also let me into the museum as well, but I learnt long ago that visiting most museums in France is a waste of time, “they don’t and will not do English”.

Easter Edition 2011

The Happy Wanderer - 2010 Europe Trip or “Why Me?”

The next day was another long hard drive to St Claude but well worth it; once again the scenery was beautiful! Through valleys following the river courses, average speed 20mph with very little time in top gear, with six hours actual driving. Spent the night in a lovely camp site alongside a river, before heading off again for Lac Annecy. A hilly drive in the Dura’s with lots of hair pins, but the flowers I had hoped to see on the high tops were gone and replaced with horse flies. Another reason why I had wanted to travel earlier in the season. But on arrival at Lac Annecy I decided not to stop there as it was far too hot and crowded for me, so headed for Chamonix which sits at the foot of Mont Blanc. Once again a lovely area to stop and take in all the beautiful scenery, also there is quite a lot to do there and some lovely walking. By the time I arrived, the Cystitis which had started playing me up was getting worse, also I had an ache in my back which I put down to pulled muscles caused by lifting my bike on and off the back of the van. So decided to drink much more fluid “water” etc over the next few days to flush out the system. My problem is I do not get thirsty and can go all day without a drink, in fact I have gone three days before now. Not having my friend David travelling with me, where we used to stop for a drink every few hours, I would drive all day without one.

The next morning it was a beautiful day so I took a nice stroll along the river into town, the river is very fast flowing and is the melt water from the glacier up in the Alps, it was interesting to see how they diverted it to retrieve the sand and gravel for building and road works. Of course there was the usual electricity generating station and once again it was not obtrusive, blending in with the surrounding country side.

Although I have been to Chamonix several times before I always enjoy the area and scenery, so decided to go up by the cable car to the peak next to Mont Blanc called Aiguille du Midi, at 3842mtrs it is a bit shorter than Mt Blanc which is 4810mtrs.

Once again the views in all directions from the top were fantastic and of course there were all the usual restaurants and souvenir shops. Then from there you can get another cable car which takes you over to Helbronner Peak on the Italian side of the Alps, on the way you pass over an area where glaciers are forming. It was quite a long cable car ride there and back but what fantastic sights and views all the way, well worth the cost. If you go there allow a whole day for the trip.

That night’s stop was at Belfort but that will be in the next episode of: - “Why me?”No Why me this time, but wait for next instalment.

Christine L Culley

-6 degrees on Aiguille du Midi

The Belfort Lion

That evening I received a phone call from some friends of mine who I knew were somewhere in Europe, asking where I was and saying “that they were heading into Chamonix”; my answer was, I will have the kettle on when you arrive with G&T to follow! I find it amazing how I keep running into friends all over Europe whether it is in the Shetlands or on the continent.

The next day I looked after their little dog while they did the trip up Du Midi and over to Italy, and back of course. The next we decided to go up to the Glacier taking the Mer de Glace train. On reaching the glacier I noticed that its level had dropped by at least 30ft from when I had been there in 2007. Perhaps they are right about global warming? Climbing down to the surface from the train station, which at one time had been level with the glacier was several hundred feet or more. We went into the ice cave cut underneath to see the carvings cut into the ice; this has to be done each year due to the downhill movement of the glacier.

Mer de glace

Under the glacier