« AnteriorContinuar »
its terrace above the Isère affords. From the glaciers a hundred lines of cataracts, from the melting of the glaciers, seem to stream down upon the village.
Soon after passing La Gure the road yet ascends to a ridge, which being crossed, the path leads steeply down to the Isère in the depth of the ravine. Here alpine horrors await ibe traveller. The overhanging rocks darken the pass, and a fragile bridge only in a wild situation, over a lateral stream, enables the traveller to ascend the valley. A little beyond This bridge thé défile opens into the plain and village of
Brennières. Here the Isére is crossed, and the path ascruds on the other side through a rugged pine forest, where the path is carried very high to avoid a ravine. The eye cannot penetrate to its depth, though the roar of the torrent is heard in these solitudes In passing over this ridge, there is one spot where a cleft in the mountain side can only be pussed upon the trees, rocks, and stones, which the peasants have jammed into it, to form a path, which thence descending almost to the river side, continues a short way only, before another expansion of the valley forms a little wellcultivated plaini, in which there is a large village,
Tignes. The approach to it, issuing from the defile below, is very striking. The inhabitants are robust and independent, and are great breeders of mules and cattle. Directly opposite to Tignes is a valley, where one may pass by the Col de Large to Entre-deux-Eaux (Route 123.).
On leaving the plain of Tignes à steep rugged path leads up the mountain side, to pass another of those ravines, which in this valley so singularly alternate with the little plains. This, the last, separates the plain of Tignes from that of La Val. The forest trees, from their greater elevation, are more stunted, the rocks more. denuded, and the whole passage between the two villages is unmatched in apparent danger from falling rocks, and in savage wildness. In the midst, a fragile bridge crosses the torrent, and soon after the traveller finds himself in the plain of La Val, where barley is raised, and where irrigation is so well managed, that there is an appearance of luxuriant vegetation. This is the highest church village in the Val Isère: it is surrounded by Joity mountains, crested with snow and glaciers. At the head of the valley, the Col de Galese above its glaciers can easily be seen. (Route 112.)
A miserable hovel called an inn is the only place of reception at La Val.
To cross the Col d'Iseran the path ascends gradually from the valley, by a stunted pine forest. There is a hamlet called Forno, further up the valley on the route to the Galese, but this is avoided, and by the time the traveller arrives opposite
to it he has attained a great elevation. The way to the Col requires a guide from La Val, as the course is trackless, and only known by bearings: the ascent is easy. Some crosses mark the loss of life in these solitudes; in one instance by inurder, in another a poor soldier was found dead from cold and exhaustion. Near the summit, the soil produces myriads of flowers, and of great variety. The view, on looking back upon the ridge of the great chain is exceedingly grand, but not so fine as from the Col d'Iseran, and the descent on the other side. Here the traveller looks over a thousand peaks, whose black and scathed precipices appear to spring out of the sea of glaciers which extends from the Levanna (Route 112.) to ihe Roche Melon (Route 127.).
From the col, the course lies down a high valley over a Jofty pasturage, which terminates at the bottom in a defile, across which a cataract falls. The descent from this ravine is very difficult and fatiguing down to the plain below, where the pasturages and châlets of St. Barthelemi, belonging to the inhabitants of Bonneval, offer abundant summer resources to the berds and flocks of the proprietors.
From these pasturages the descent is very steep and fatiguing. The valley of the Arc is seen below, and on the left, looking up to the head of the valley, the glaciers of the Levanna seem to fill it; across these a path leads in 5 hours to Gros Cavallo in the Val Forno, and thence in ten hours to Lanzo.
The first village reached in the valley of the Arc is Bonneval: here the inn is detestable; so, in fact, are all in the valley, until the traveller reach Lanslebourg, yet four hours down the valley from Bonneval.
After crossing the Arc, the road descends to Bessans, passing on the left the valley of Averole, by which the Col de Lautaret and the valleys of Viu and Lanzo on the side of Piedmont may be reached,-one of the wildest passes in the Alps.
At Bessans the Arc is again crossed, and a high ridge is passed which divides the Commune of Bessans from that of Lans le Villiard, a village about a league above Lanslebourg. From Lans le Villiard a path leads into the great route of the Mont Cenis. If the traveller have started early, he may reach the posthouse on the mountain on the day of his departure from La Val; if he be late, it will be better to proceed down the valley to Lanslebourg, and enjoy the comfort of an excellent inn there-lhe Hôtel Royat.
MOUTIERS-TARENTAISE TO LANSLEBOURG, BY TUE COL DE
A char may be taken as far as Bozel for this journey, but beyond, it is necessary to take a horse or proceed on foot. It requires two days, and the place of rest is Pralorgnan.
The road passes by the salines of Moutiers (Route 122.), and ascending on the right bank of the Doron, reaches in a quarter of an hour the Rock of Salins, situated opposite to the confluence of the valley of Bozel, or the Doron, with that of St. Jean Belleville. Ascending the latter, there are two mountain passes,—one leads to St. Jean Maurienne, the other to St. Michael, both in the valley of the Arc-either an easy day's journey.
The Château de Salins was anciently the residence of the archbishop of the Tarentaise; its ruins are situated immedialely above the salt springs, in the valley below. These are guarded with great care, io prevent the people of the country stealing any of the water and making their own salt!
Salins is conjectured to have been the site of the ancient Darentasia. Of the castle of Salins some ruins exist. Tbere are records of its importance in 1082, when the tyrant Aymeric, of Aigueblanche, was defeated by Humbert II., whose succour had been solicited by the oppressed subjects of Aymeric. Humbert retained, at their request, the government in his own hands, and established at the town and the Château de Salins the tribunals of his new province: and documents bearing date 1358, show that these still existed, though it is known that the town was destroyed about the end of the 14th century, by a fall from the mountains on the west. This fall of rocks and stones so filled the valley, that the lower town was buried beneath the mass. All that remained were the parts most elevaled. Subsequent falls destroyed what reinained, except the castle, and this has been demolished. A few miserable houses, rebuilt around the Salines, await a similar fate from the threatening appearance of the rocks above.
The castle, however, remained long after the destruction of the town in the 14th century. Books still exist, which were printed at the 'chateau very soon after the discovery of printing. It is supposed that the first press in Savoy was established there, and that Maurice Mermilliou was the Caxton of the Tarentaise.
Salins lies south of Moutiers. From the confluence, the road into the valley of Bozel takes an easterly direction
through scenes which are rich in wood and highly cultivated, and where there are many beautiful points of vicw.
At the village of Brida or La Perrière, which is reached in an hour from Moutiers, there are mineral springs, and establishments en pension for the invalids who resort to them,coffee and reading rooms, jeu de billiards, and other resources for the convalescent. The waters are so much impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen as to be perfectly detestable to the taste.
At Brida the Doron is crossed, and a tolerable road leads to Bozel. Between ihe two villages the country is rich in cultivation : vines and fruit trees in the valley, corn-fields and. pasturages on the bells of the mountains, and above, pine forests, surmounted by snows and glaciers, the valley being, closed at the head by the mountains of Pesey, and one of the most beautiful, in form, in the Alps, the Chaffe-Quarré.
At Bozel mules can be hired for continuing the journey, Above this village the valley widens, and the scenery increases in grandeur, except, that in passing under the intermediate mountain of Plagny, this conceals the Chaffe-Quarré.
The ascent to the village of Champagny is deep in the valley, and on the banks of the Doron, of which the broad stony bed marks its wider winter course. On approaching Champagny, the road is distinctly seen which leads up to the mines of Pesey. (Route 122.) It is a good mule-path, and leads across the col to the valley which descends to Landry in the Val Isère. The lateral valleys of the Doron abound with beautiful scenery, and most of them lead to points of view in the mountains, where some of the finest alpine scenes are presented, particularly in the valley of Allues, and at the châlels, of Châtelet, near the Col de Forclaz, whence Mont Blanc can be seen, and a vast extent of the peaks of the great chain.
At Champagny the road to Pralorgnan lies up that branch of the Doron which flows from the south. After passing the village of Villard Goitreaux, thus named from the prevalence of goitre among the inhabitants, the road ascends by a steep path to a narrow valley. On the right there is a cataract, formed by the fall of the Doron into the gorge at Bellentre. As the valley widens it has the character of park scenery that terminates in the little plain of Pralorgnan, which is backed by the glaciers and scathed peaks of the Vanoise.
The beautiful meadows and calm retirement of the valley of Pralorgnan is very striking. On entering the village, a narrow lane on the left, leads to the only inn or house of reception for strangers, where miserable accommodation only can be obtained. The innkeeper is a large proprietor, having between 200 and 300 cows in the mountains.
From the inn door the path to the Vanoise lies directly up on the right, and the châlets in the mountains are reached in an hour. Each step becomes more and more dreary, until it arrive at the bases of the bleak and streansing glaciers of the Aiguille de la Vanoise. On reaching the moraines it is necessary to climb them on foot, and let the mules scramble as they may, or as the guide can assist them. At the base of these moraines there is, in the winter, a lake formed. To its basin there is but one entrance : within, nothing can erceed the savage solitude of the spot, surrounded by black precipices and glaciers; it seems to be impossible to get out, except by the way one gets in. No trace of a path appears. Under the advice of the guide, however, the glaciers may be climbed and traversed -a most fatiguing and difficult task. Having surmounted the difficulty, the traveller, after crossing a few patches of snow, enters upon an open plain, covered with rich pasturages, but bounded by enormous glaciers and inaccessible peaks. On the plain of the col, which is now gradual to the summit, poles are placed to guide travellers when snow conceals the track. The path is long and tedious, across these solitudes, from the glaciers of the Vanoise to the summit. Three little lakes are passed, the source of streams which descend, on one side to the Doron, and on the other to the Arc. On the right, 'enormous glaciers are seen, which extend to the Roche Chevrière, the vast mountain which is seen from the ascent to the Mont Cenis, overhanging Termignon.
From the col, the descent towards the châlets of Entredeux-Eaux is rapid and difficult. The long sterile valley above these châlets, which leads by the Col de Large 10 Tignes, in the Val Isère (Route 122.), is seen below the traveller, who finds the descent so fatiguing, that the rest, and refreshment, bread, ineat, and wine, which he must bring with him from Pralorgnan, will here be most welcome. Milk, cheese, and butter, perhaps eggs, may be got at the châlets.
After an hour's rest, as refreshing to the traveller as to his mule, the torrent is crossed, but instead of pursuing its course through its deep gorge to Termignon, a path is followed which leads up on the opposite mountain to the Plan de Loup, a long pasturage, not so wild or high, but about the breadth of the Col de Vanoise. The scene, looking back upon the valley of Entre-deux-Eaux, and the Col de řanoise, is very sublime, and seems, when ihus spread out before the observer, of a much greater extent than can be imagined by those who pass them.
On the col of the Plan de Loup, another small lake is passed, then a long and most fatiguing descent commences, which leads down to the hamlet of St. Marguerite. Soon after