Rainy days in the mountains are not the grey miserable drizzly affairs they are in the UK. Dramatic low hanging clouds sweep up valleys like tidal waves, rivers turn into swirling gushing torrents and the green forests look almost fluorescent. Instead of going high, it’s best to go low and to make the most of the weather we visited the Gorges de la Diosaz.
Just past the visitor centre we descended into the forest following a rustic wooden footpath that winds along next to the river, jutting out on stilts to take you around boulders and turning into bridges over waterfalls. Immediately we knew it was €6.50 well spent. It felt more than a little like being on the set of Indiana Jones, especially as we’d turned up when the water level was higher than the picture supposed to show it gushing at its most extreme. According to the signs, this is ‘one of the seven wonders of the Haute Savoie’, though I don’t know what the other six are. The gorge is certainly impressive though.
The dog was not having quite as good a time as us – he was a bit nervous of the slats on the floor and all the water (he’s a bit water-phobic so not his activity of choice). But he loves an explore and had a great time in the forest parts of the walk, firmly on terra firma.
The information about the gorge’s history on the visitor signs tends to focus more on how many people died there (don’t worry, this was well before the gorge was tamed and the walkway built) and the details of their deaths than the geography. And just before you set off on the trail you’re invited to check out a tiny cave where a destitute family once lived and someone died giving birth. So if you don’t want your mood bringing down I’d recommend avoiding reading those.
Once we emerged from the gorge the rain had pretty much stopped, so we drove on to the nearby Lac Vert for a camper van lunch. What a beautiful spot! The walk round the lake is stunning, with wooden paths and little bridges in places (sticking with a theme for the day). The water was high and one little bridge was almost submerged so getting across was quite the obstacle course but great fun. There’s a restaurant with a stunning view and other walking trails you can take if you have time.
We camped in the van overnight at the side of a field in the centre of Chamonix, after the previous day’s hike. After walking right round town and examining many of the breakfast offerings I have to recommend this one at Elevation, near the train station (pictured below). Huge fluffy pancakes with sausage, egg, berries and banana with maple syrup. It came with coffee and fresh orange juice for a really reasonable price and set us up for the day!