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contrast with the generally savage character of the deep valley. In a wild part of the ravine the road passes under an overhanging rock, which bears the name of the Roche de Balme : an inscription contains some compliments to Lady Guildford, which, having been nearly obliterated, has been restored, with mistakes, “ too numerous to mention," but very amusing.
Considerable improvements within a few years have taken place in this route, on the side of Switzerland. Formerly, a fearful path led from the depths of the valley by a zigzag course, over loose and dangerous slopes to gain the Tête Noire, up what was well known by the characteristic name of the Malpas; now, instead of descending into the valley, to rise again, the road is carried over the mountain side, and at one place a gallery is pierced through a rock, in a situation of singular grandeur, where it overhangs precipitously the dark valley beneath.
This improvement, which removes all danger from the pass, has not been extended to the side of Savoy: the government of Sardinia seconds no efforts of improvement thus spiritedly begun by its neighbours. On the contrary, the steep and rocky path left like steps, is only practicable for mules — and for these in many places difficult; and it is to be hoped that the time is not distant when a good char road will lead into the valley of Chamouny from Martigny. The latest improvement is an extension of the road, on the part of the Valais, almost to the frontier of Savoy, by cuttings, and the construction of terraces, on the side of the valley of the Eau Noire, by which the violent undulations of the old road will be avoided, and carry the traveller below the rock of Lady Guildford.
A little beyond the gallery, there is a house where shelter in foul weather may be had, and a glass of schnaps to.warm the wet and cold traveller. Near this spot the road turns abruptly into the dark forest of Trient, passing round the brow of a mountain covered with dark forests : This brow is called the Tête Noire, 'beyond which the road through the forest continues for half an hour. In the depths below the forest, the torrent of the Trient is heard forcing its way into the Eau Noire, which it joins before their streams fall into the Rhone.
On leaving the forest, the valley of Trient opens, and in about six hours after his departure from Chamouny the traveller reaches the little auberge in the hamlet, where he may rest and refresh. Here, a new room has been built as a salle à manger, but the dormitory is wretched : it must, however, be worse before weariness refuses even such accommodation.
The little valley of Trient is deeply seated amidst pine
forests, the débris of the surrounding mountains, and the fearful precipices from which these have been detached. la the plain ofibe valley some barley is grown, and the meadows are luxuriant.
A little way beyond the hamlet, the torrent which descends from the glacier of the Trient is crossed, and a steep path leads up through the forest, which clothes the mountain side of the Forclaz: little more than half an hour is required for this ascent. On the way, another port or barrier is passed : it is left in a wall wbich closes the passage between the mouttain and the precipice. Near it are the ruins of a redoubt: this is another specimen of playing at soldiers among the Valaisans. On the right a path is passed, which, in crossing the valley from the Forclaz io the Col de Balme, avoids the bamlet of Trient.
From the Col de Forclaz the descent is by fine pastorages, and two hours are required to reach Martigny : the view of the valley of the Rhône seen in the descent from Martigpy to the St. Gotthard is one of the most celebrated in the Alps. The path is much sheltered by pines and beeches, and lower in the valley by the pear and apple trees: in the neighborhood of these are numerous cottages, and many are passed before the path falls into the route, that leads from Martigny to the Great St. Bernard, and the valley of the Drance. (Route 106.)
ROUTE 117. MARTIGNY TO CHAMOURY BY THE COL DE BALME. This road is recommended to those travellers, who hare not been to Chamouny, but who enter it for the first time from the Valais : for the sake of the first impression wbich the view of Mont Blanc makes upon them when seen from the Col de Balme.
On leaving Martigny, the route over the Forclaz is repassed; but, in descending to the valley of Trient, a path to ihe left leads towards the glacier of Trient and the dark forest, up through which lies the ascent to the Col de Balme.
Deep in the valley on the right, the hamlet of Trient lies in repose amidst its beautiful meadows; and before and above the traveller, on the opposite side of the valley, are the precipices of the Aiguille, from which poor Escher de Berg fell in 1791, when, in defiance of the advice of his guide, he tried some fool-bardy feat, and paid his life for the attempt.
The path through the forest of the Forclaz, at lengih emerges higher up the valley of Trient, than where it was crossed from the Tête Noire; and the traveller has to pass over the detritus of winter torrents, which must be crossed before
the forest that leads up to the Col de Balme is entered. The e path through it is excessively steep and fatiguing, often in
iercepted by the entangled roots of the pines, which form steps two or three feet in height, and it is a subject of wonider how mules get up or down such places. At length, after climbing about an hour and a half up the mountain side, and through the forest, the traveller emerges upon the pasturages and châlets of Herbagères. Above these, the ascent is gradual to the summit, where one of the finest scenes in the world bursts upon the traveller. Mont Blanc, from his summit, to his base in the vale of Chamouny, lies like a model before him, surrounded by the Aiguilles of La Tour, L'Argentière, Verté, de Dru, Charmoz, Midi, etc., etc.; and each divided by enormous glaciers, which as they stream into the valley clothe the steep course of their descent.
How glorious is the “Monarch,” thus seen, attended by all his peaks like guards. Below, the eye sweeps its course entirely through the vale of Chamouny, to the Col de Vosa, at its other extremity. On the right, the Aiguilles Rouges are the nearest : beyond these bounding the valley, lies the Breven, and behind it is seen the Mortine, which supports the snowy summit of the Buet. It is a magnificent scene to dwell upon, and those who do not arrive at Chamouny by the Col de Balme, ought to make an excursion from the Prieuré, expressly to enjoy this most glorious view.
There is a house of refuge on the Col de Balme, where shelter and refreshment, with excellent wine may be had, and 5 or 6 tolerable beds are ready to receive travellers overtaken by a storm.
On the descent, the source of the Arve is passed, at least the highest of its springs; the path lies down over fine pasturages, and by the châlets of Charamillan, to the hamlet of La Tour, where cultivation, though scanty, is reached, and barley, oats and flax are raised. About a mile below La Tour, the path falls into the road to Chamouny from the Tête Noire (Route 116.) The time from Martigny to Chamouny, by the Col de Balme, is nine hours. To go in one day from Chamouny to Trient, the Tête Noire, and return by the Col de Balme requires 12 or 13 hours. When this is intended, to gain time it is desirable to take a char as far as Argenture, The road being good enough to go over it with great despatch from Chamouny.
CHAMOUNY TO CORMAYEUR, BY THE COL DE BON-HOMHE, AN
THE COL DE LA SEIGNE..
(Two or three Days.) Io leaving Chamouny the road lies down the valley to Ouches, where it leaves the route to Servoz on the right hand, and proceeds by the hamlet of Foully: A little beyond this another path, which on the right leads by the mountain of Vaudagne and the Forclaz of St. Gervais, is avoided, and one is taken that leads up through a forest of larches, and by a steep zigzag course to the châlets. From the Col de Vosa where a pavilion has been placed, there is a fine view of the valley of Chamouny, Mont Blanc, etc., which extends to the Col de Balme.
From the Col, a very steep path leads down by some chadets towards the deep course of the torrent that issues from the glacier of Biopnassai, which lies before ihe traveller, and presents amidst its rocks and snows a most savage aspect. Without going far up, it is dillicult to ford this torrent; but - having crossed it, some cottages are passed at the head of the forest that clothes the mountains which bound the casters side of the Val Mont-Joie, into which the path now descends. On the opposite side of the valley is seen the beautifully situated village of St. Nicolas de Veros, on its fine terrace on the mountain side, and backed by the vast mountain of Hermance, the northern buttress of ihe Mont Joli.
The route to the village Bionnay in the Val Mont-Joie, leads too far down the valley. Much distance is saved to those who would ascend it, by taking a path to the left, which through Le Champel, and other hamlets, over well cultivated fields, and by rich meadows, in the valley, leads to ContaInines, a large village beautifully situated : it has a handsome church, though this is scarcely remarkable in Faucigny, where it is generally the pride of the village.
The view of the valley presented to the traveller in descending from Bionnassey to Contamines is of its whole length, seen up to the peaks of the Bon-homme.
At Contamines there is a tolerable inn; but if the traveller wish to reach Cormayeur the next day, it is desirable that he should go on to Nant Bourant, and start thence early on the following morning.
The passage from Chamouny to Cormayeur is easily made in three days. The travellers may go on the first after 12 o'clock from Chamouny to Contamines, the following day from Contamines to Chapiu or the Hameau de Motet, the
third to Cormayeur. It is, however, very often done in two days by going to Chapiu or Motet the first day, as often, too, by making the second the long day, starting from Nant Bourant, and reaching Cormayeur.
From Contamines the view of the Val Mont-Joie is very fine. One of its finest features is the beautiful Mont Joli, the bases of which, on the right, bound the valley.
On leaving Contamines, which lies on rather high ground above the river Bourant, which flows through the Val MontJoie, the path, after passing another village, descends and crosses the torrent to the hamlet of Pontet : above this, the valley narrows until it end in the little church-village of Notre Dame de la Gorge, most singularly situated in a deep dell which lies at the foot of Mont Joli. Up the ravine the course is impracticable, as it terminates in a cataract of the Bourant.
At Notre Dame de la Gorge, there is a fète on the 15th of August which is attended by hundreds of peasants and others, who come from the neighbouring villages to attend mass : -a sort of fair is held, and the scene is very animated.
Close to the church a wooden bridge crosses the torrent, and a very steep and rudely paved path leads directly up the mountain side and through a forest : the denuded face of the granite on the path, and the large stones which fill up the interstices, make this a difficult road for mules, and a fatiguing one to men. It leads to the châlets and pasturages of Nant Bourant, where the torrent is crossed by a stone bridge : the gulf ihrough which it rushes has a fearful depth, and a little way down, below the bridge, the water falls into a still blacker and deeper ravine, forming the Nant or cataract of the Bourant : it is difficult even from above to get a view of its furious descent,
At the châlets of Nant Bourant a tolerably convenient place for sleeping has, within a few years, been erected, and this is the besi place to rest at, when a succeeding long day's journey is determined upon
Above the chalets the valley is very narrow, the road passing through the forest, which belts and clothes the base of the Mont Joli; at length it enters upon the pasturages, which are rich, though scanty from the quantity of stones and rocks that abound : after rising above the debris which have fallen from the mountains, the path winds up to the chalets of MontJoic, where the traveller usnally rests and obtains the refreshment of a draught of milk. Between Nant Bourant and these chalets, huge masses of glaciers extend down the crnes on the south-western flanks of Mont Blanc; but immediately above the châlets is the vast glacier of Trefaulai. This,