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davidx Sixt - A travel report by David
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Sixt,  France - flag France -  Rhone-Alpes
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davidx's travel reports

Sixt and aross the Alps - mechanically.

  13 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
It must have been 1981 when my friend, John, and his son, with two of my sons and myself drove from Todmorden with the aim of crossing the Alps mechanically between Italy and France, Courmayeur and Chamonix – and we were heading for Sixt to camp.

Sixt travelogue picture
I can almost hear the voice of my classics master many years before saying, ‘Don’t you think that a remarkable thing to want to do?’ He was addicted to the question. It certainly meant going a very long way for a very short time but John had just been to the Southern Alps, without ever having seen the European ones. So given all that distance, why add to it by camping at Sixt Fer a Cheval? We had looked at the Michelin guide to French sites and it seemed good but more significant was the fact that we wanted to have a walk on our one extra day and we well knew that we were not all up to doing what we would want at Chamonix. We had the odd problem crossing France and I learnt about ‘un fils de fer’ [a wire] and, when I wanted one, to explain why ‘Mon echauffement frappe sur la terre ‘ [my exhaust is knocking on the ground. Moreover John was not at all well that day and I had to drive more than we’d anticipated. However we got there and things went according to plan. Then it rained – and how! – [see accommodation below] We went to bed not knowing whether it would make sense to do the crossing next day. However I opened the tent flap and there was Mont Blanc. [some way away but still Mont Blanc] On the basis of ‘If you can see it, go for it, we went for it and drove the considerable distance to Chamonix, by which time a significant amount of cloud was to be seen. Since we planned to do a circular route, it could have been either way but the timetables dictated the way we preferred anyway. So we started by taking the bus to Entrèves, near Courmayeur in Italy through the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Some people find this a terribly claustrophobic experience but it didn’t bother any of us and we reached the base of the funicular at Le Palud, near Entrèves. From here, you take the funicular, via two intermediate stations to the Pointe Hellbronner at 3,462 m. Here starts the most spectacular part so I continue under favourites.

Favourite spots:
Sixt travelogue picture
It takes approximately half an hour to do 5 km and stops several times en route. When we did it, the cars each held 4 people and I haven’t found it easy to check whether this is still the case. I do hope so because it made it so different. This is a technical wonder since it crosses crevasses and glaciers where movements of the ‘land’ would make it ridiculous to try building pylons – but if you are thinking of technical matters, you and I are from different species. I was completely engrossed in the scenery. From Aiguille du Midi there is a cable car to Chamonix – or rather, there are two doing two stages of the journey separately. My inclusion of two pics of the same point is deliberate to show how quickly the weather changes – but this peak was completely hidden at times!

What's really great:
Sixt travelogue picture
If I made Sixt Fer a Cheval sound like merely a convenient dormitory, that was not what I meant. I think if you stayed a week, you would want to go the highest Alps more than once – but you’d not need to. You would find plenty to do nearer at hand. And it’s a perfect place for walkers in its own right. John tells me it’s much busier now than it was when we were there but I’m sure you could soon walk to areas where overcrowding is no problem. The nature of the immediate scenery can be guessed from the name. [Horseshoe] There is a rough semi-circle of peaks, from which the waterfalls must be spectacular in the snow-melting season. Walks of different standards are numerous. The following website is extremely useful: http://www.sixtferac [click on ‘a renouned beauty spot’ and then on ‘photo gallery’. I’ll bet you agree with me! Actually the weather limited what we could do on our one day’s walking there.

Sixt travelogue picture

Cloud clearing
Cloud clearing
If you click on ‘practical information’ then ‘accommodation’ on the above site, you will find the Camp Site le Pelly if you scroll down. I guess it’s busier now but it’s superbly located and spacious.
I have particular memories: – of us inadvertently walking into a gite d’étape to eat our cooked meal out of the driving rain and fortunately meeting good hospitality from the legitimate tenants; - Of having to reclaim John’s son’s watch, which had been left in the showers and handed in; - and perhaps strongest of all the memory of a bumptious Englishman with a French fiancée. He approached us with one fist clenched and said, ‘You’ll never guess what this is – at least you will, but you won’t guess what they do with them here.’ He opened his hand to disclose a snail. I ask you!
Outside the area but a good stop for campers on the way there or back: Camping Municipal, Lormes, Burgundy – see nard.lecomte/lormes/ac cueil/textes/anglais1.htm

We had a delicious meal of several courses very cheaply near the camp site in Lormes on the way back. It was a place to the right of the road just as you reach Chateau Chinon. The restaurant adjacent to the site is said to be excellent but cost a bit more.

Other recommendations:
13 minutes after last one!
13 minutes after last one!

Published on Sunday February 27th, 2005

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Thu, Mar 03 2005 - 09:05 AM rating by mistybleu


I really enjoyed your personal perspective.


Mon, Feb 28 2005 - 03:35 PM rating by bear495

I really enjoy the photos of the mountains. As always, a fine job.


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