Our own trip down the mountain was the reverse, other than the first few kilometers. In Les Trois Vallees, the largest ski area in the world, vacation rentals begin and end on Saturday. The drainage of departing skiers on Saturday gather from the individual resorts into a huge, slow moving current on the freeway which provides the primary access and egress to all.
Eventually, as we made our way down the mountain to the low valleys, the freeways full of cars split off into smaller and smaller roads. Eventually our path took us on a narrow two lane country road beyond Lac du Bourget and through winding hamlets of ancient stone houses, vineyards, and past crop fields both growing or ready soil awaiting seed.
A low fog and drizzle made the world close in. Little existed around us, other than the morning’s traffic jam and the afternoon’s winding road. An occasional ridgeline would appear and vanish into the mists. Although we knew we would be early, we chose to head toward the castle which would be our next home for a week.
I had the directions from google maps saved to my kindle e-reader. Unfortunately, they were vague and lacked names of the roads and turns. Also, when I had sent them to my kindle, I had forgotten to include the actual map. So, naturally, we over shot and reached the larger town we knew was beyond our destination.
The address of the chalet was vague in the way that European addresses often are, with a name for the building rather than a number on a street. In an empty church parking lot, we found the name of the village on the rental contract in my e-mail. We began our backtrack.
After finding the right village, we drove past a very large home close to the road, and circled it, although it was not quite right. Fortunately, I had thought to leave my laptop on hibernate mode with the website open. We opened the computer again and all had a good look at the photos of round towers and ramparts. We were pulled somewhere in the middle of the village, and I told the girls to look for the castle, it must be on this hillside close by. Hannah said “Like that?”
Directly above us, the fog lifted and swirled around turrets. Like a fairy tale, the castle sat on the hill, towers reaching skyward. A few more meters, and we stepped out of our car and back in time.