Wanting to spend a little more time with the Oudet family and explore the region a little more, we planned for a “real” French lunch on the shore of Lac D’Aiguebelette, per Edouard’s suggestion. We have thus far not experienced much in the way of true French cuisine, as we keep our budget low and our food poisoning to a minimum by eating mostly breads, cheeses, fruit and pasta. As always, though, “there is a mountain…”.
In order to reach the valley, we had to follow a popular cycling route up and over the the Col de L’epine, which under most circumstances would be a reasonable climb. A little bit battle-worn from our time spent in the Alps, Bree was a great sport to attempt the 400 meter climb up over the pass. We left our load at Edouard’s – our bikes practically pedal themselves without the extra weight! So after Edouard made a reservation at the popular lakeside restaraunt, we set off toward the summit.
The pass is the easiest of a series in the area, though it was long and fairly steep (something around 6-8%). We caught glimpses of the valley and Saint Sulpice and Chambery below, but for the most part we were in heavy tree cover, which was a welcome break from the heat. As we neared the top, dripping with sweat from the hot, humid air, the flies began to thicken. I don’t know if we smelled bad or what, but as we climbed, we each had a cloud of flies hovering on our tails. It was absolutely maddening! I must have looked like a total idiot swatting at the dozens of flies swarming me. I was able to pick quite a few off, but my attempts to clear the annoying cloud was futile.
After waiting a short time at the top of the pass for Bree to meet me and for us both to catch our breaths (while swatting at flies, of course), we had the luxury of descending down into absolutely beautiful valley where the lake is nestled against the mountainside. The valley was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the lake of course was the deep turquoise that all of the water bodies we have seen thus far have been. I don’t know what I expected, but I was totally blown away. None of our photos show the richness of the color of the landscape. With our first glimpses, though, we saw how far down the lake front was. After some discussion of whether or not to make the descent, knowing that we would have to climb right back up in the afternoon, we decided to brave it in order to go and check the lake out, and of course, have an excellent lunch.
When we finally arrived at the restaurant on the southeast end of the lake, we were shown to an outdoor table next to the railing overlooking the lake, per Edouard’s request. Since our waitress spoke no English, and we speak no French, a lot of gesturing and pointing was done to make our menu selections, which would ultimately be total a total surprises to us. Bree ended up with chicken stuffed with mushroom and topped with a tomato based sauce, while I had fish. The food was really fine, and we enjoyed it while watching the ducks, fish, and swans patrol the restaurant’s side, waiting for bread or crumbs to be thrown their way.
After an amazing dessert of creme brulee and molten chocolate, we had originally planned to take a short swim before heading back. The wind was picking up, though, and we could see storm clouds boiling in, so we instead decided to try and outrun the storm – again. The climb back was long, but thankfully not as hot due to the cloud cover. We made good time before rolling into Edouard and Aude’s driveway, just minutes before the rain hit.
We had a nice dinner with the Oudet family, though shortly after Aude had to leave for a parent meeting. We spent the rest of the nice chatting with Edourad and taking his suggestions for some good places to visit, writing some journal entries, and processing our photos for the past couple of days. It is amazing how much work it is when we get behind a day or two!
Finally, we bade Edouard good night as he retired to finish up some work. We went to bed hoping for clearer skies in the morning, as the rain which has fallen intermittently today, as well as the current forecast for thunderstorms tomorrow do not play nicely with our plans to ride to Annecy tomorrow. With the storm brewing outside, we are grateful to be sleeping indoors tonight!