« AnteriorContinuar »
a short time by the cluuds wbich obscured the point for which we should make. At length he led us down the precipice by a most extraordinary path, which it was dillicult to discover : it was like winding steps which had been rudely out in a crevice : it seemed like a descent through a chimney.
Pelow this rist, a steep, dillicult, stony, and most fatiguing path brought us to some Piedmontese châlets.
“Though the caldron of clouds seemed to sink as we descended, they sometimes in their changes enveloped us; and we were glad to bear the voice of a boy, who, having heard us, shouted to us from the châlets, to iell us what direction we should take.
"A still inore difficult path led us further down to some other châlets, below which there were extensive pasturages on a steep slope. Having crossed these, we entered a wood, down through which the most abrupt and fatiguing part of our route lay, which would scarcely have been practicable but for the entangled roots. From the wood we emerged ipon a rocky slope, and, after a march of eight or nine hours, reached a few scattered stone huts at the head of the Val de Clairée. On looking back, we appeared to have descended the face of a precipice, down which the numerous streams of the Clairée ran from the summit, as if they issued from the sky, lo the torrent by which we rested, the while lines were traceable through three or four thousand seet of their descent.
“The pass of the Clairée is, on the Italian side, the steepest that I have ever traversed. This was one of the many difficult passes by which the Vaudois, in 1687, under their pastor and captain, Henri Arnaud, relurned to their valleys. They had, after entering Savoy, wapdered by a course rather difficult to trace, until they had crossed the Col de Bonhomme, whence they descended into the Tarentaise, traversed the Mont Iseran into the valley of the Arc; thence by the Mont Cenis, the Little Mont Cenis, and the Col de Clairée, into the valley of the Clairée. Here they encountered the troops of the Grand Duke of Savoy, who prevented their entry into the valley of Exilles by the Clairée, and they were compelled to return and cross the Col de Touilles, from which the southern branch of the Clairée, called the Ciauri, flows. The account of their sufferings, before they cleared these mountain passes, and so signally defeated their enemies at the bridge of Salbertrand, forms a part of one of the most interesting narratives ever published ; it was written by Henry Arnaud himself, their colonel and pastor, and translated not long since by the late Hugh Dyke Acland, from a rare copy, under the title of "The Glorious Recovery by the Vaudois of their Valleys.” An account of these interesting
people, and of this, their most remarkable adventure, has been lately given to the world by Dr. Wm. Beattie, in his hisTory of the Waldenses, recently published by Virtue, and which contains engraved views of the eventful scenes through which they passed.
· The recollection of their perilous adventures,” says the author of“ Excursions in the Alps, was vividly recalled
whilst sitting on a spot which they also had visited, resting ** ourselves from a fatiguing descent which they had encoun
tered, and in sight of the savage mountain of Les Touilles, by which they were compelled to retreat, and encounter yet farther dangers. The few miserable buts near us were uninhabited, and neither afforded shelter nor food. Continuing our route, we kept close to the torrent, from which a large stream was separated for irrigation. By the side of the channel of this stream we continued some way; then the road sank helow it; afterwards we ascended rapidly by a steep path cut out at the foot of precipices, which rose in unbroken grandeir directly over us.
Along ihe face of these rocks the channel for the watercourse was cut; and though at our greatest elevation above The valley of Clairée, we were at least a thousand feet higher than the natural bed of the torrent, we were still below the head of the artificial channel whence its waters flowed rapidly towards us. It was difficult to believe the fact before our eyes; and, as we looked back into the short, deep, narrow valley that we had left, and whilst we say the Clairée foaming down its course, the aqueduct seemed to ascend steeply from the valley. This water is, led round the brow of the mountain to irrigate the meadows above Jaillon. From the highest point of our passage the view up the valley of the Doire 10 Exilles was very fine; and immediately after passing this point, the Combc of Susa opened to us from between the Roche Melon and the Col de Fenêtre, to the plaios beyond Turin. We soon fell into the high road from the Mont Cenis (route 127.); and about seven o'clock reached the Hôtel de la Poste al Susa."
GRENOBLE TO BRIANÇON BY BOURG D'OYSANS, AND THE COE
DE LAUTARET. (Grenoble to Lyon, 13 3/4 p. - To Valence, 11 1/2 p. See Guide en France, by Richard.).
(Two days.) Grenoble (Gratianopolis)is the chief city in the department of the Isère; it is an important place, beautifully situated, and having a population of 29,000. It is celebrated for its: public institutions, and for the great interest of the objects in its neighbourhood. These will be detailed in our future Handbook for France. It is here only mentioned as the starting point for an excursion across the Col de Lautaret to the pass of the Mont Genèvre.
18 a part d
ed; it was and pastan, at
bus decoren of these content
There is a good road from Grenoble by Vizille Gap and Embrun to Briançon, and a diligence goes to the latter town three times a week from Grenoble; but it is 50 miles further and through a road that is generally uninteresting, whilst that by the Col de Lautaret abounds with some of ihe finest scenes in the Alps.
To save this distance Napoleon commenced the construction of a new road by this pass, and many magnificent works were completed upon it, but since his abdication it has been abandoned. The new line was called “ Route d'Espagne en Italie.”
On leaving Grenoble for Vizille, after crossing the long rich plain formed by the aluvium of the two rivers the Isère and ihe Drac, the road rises steeply to the village of Brie; the views of Grenoble and its neighbourhood on looking back are very fine. After proceeding along the elevated ground for some distance the road descends towards Vizille, 1 and presents fine views of this town, on the Romanche, near ils confluence with the Drac, and of the surrounding mountains.
Vizille, 3 1/2, leagues has about 2000 inhabitants. It is considered as the cradle of the first French revolution, for here the parliament of Dauphiny, first made a declaration fatal to the power of the Bourbons.
Here was the château of the celebrated constable of the seventeenth century, Lesdiguières. It had since the revoJution become the property of M. Périer the fbrother of the minister, who had established cotton or flax works · here ; but it was destroyed by fire in 1825, and it yet remains little more than a heap of ashes.
A char may be used as far as Bourg d'Oysans. The high road to Gap crosses the Romanche. That to the Col de Lautaret ascends by the right bank of this river through a narrow, but beautiful and well-wooded valley, which runs with Rearly the same wild character into the heart of the mountains for 6 or 7 leagues. In some places the valley widens enough for the establishment of a village or a hamlet. Of these Chicbiliane, Gavet, and La Clavet are the principal. Near Gavet there are some iron-works. This remarkable ravine or combe, which is also an English or rather Celtic pame for a defile, bears the name of the Combe de Gavet and extends from the plain of Vizille to the plain of the Bourg d'Oysans, which is a fertile valley surrounded by losty moun-.
tains. It is within record that a large lake was formed in
the eleventh century by the falling of ihe neighbouring mouna itains at the entrance of the Combe de Gavet; this damned, ahe river, and the waters accumulated in the plain above, I nd formed a large lake, of which the surface was three
eagues long, and one wide, and its depth from 60 to 80 feet. This lake existed for about 200 years. At length, in September 1229, it burst its barrier, rushed into the Combc of Gavet, swept away in its fury every thing that it touched, rapidly passed into the Drac, and thence into the Iseran, then flowing over the plain below the two rivers, submerged a great part of Grenoble.
Bourg d'Oysans, 7 1/2 leagues from Vizille, is situated on the left bank of ihe river, and near the upper extremity of the plain. The vegetation of its valley is remarkably rich; the lolly mountains that surround it offer in some places precipitous faces that present extraordinary instances of tortuous strütification. On approaching the Bourg, the enormous Mont de Lens, wrapt in glaciers, closes the head of the valley, and divides the torrent which flows from the dark gorges of the Vençon, which descends from the valley of St. Christopher, from that of the Romanche, which flows through the Combe of Malval.
The inn at Bourg d'Oysans chez Ratoux is the only endurable one on the route, it is therefore necessary to divide the journey here, and rest, at 11 leagues from Grenoble.
From Bourg d'Oysans, the road is practicable throughout only for mules. In many places a good char-road remains; but from point to point the road has been allowed to fall so entirely to decay that it is now become impracticable.
A little beyond the Bourg; the road lwice crosses the Romanche, and ascends by its left bank very high above the Infernets, as the inaccessible combe of Malval is called, and at least 800 feet over the torrent. The ancient road-for this course was known to the Romans, from Briançon to Grenoble-passed much higher behind Mont Lens, where there is a village of this name, 4200 feet above the level of the sea. In carrying the new road along, above the torrent, where the escarpments of the mountains are bare, smooth, and nearly perpendicular; wherever it has been possible to cut away the rock in open day, to terrace the road, this has been done; but where masses which could not be removed projected, these have been boldly cut through, and a gallery has been made, in one place, 200 feet longer than that of Gondo, in the route of the Simpson. (Route 57.) Three lateral openings were found to be necessary to light the gallery, from either of these a sight of the foaming course of the torrent, 800 feet below, is most appalling. At the further end of the gallery, the road
sweeps down to the banks of the river, and then passes nearly on ils level through another gallery. Such are the extraordinary works on this route, now useless to the world, for the want of doing something more to make them available.
From the last gallery, the road rises up through a sterile valley filled with rocks and blocks of enormous size that have fallen from the mountains above; in the midst of such a desert lies the hamlet of
La Dauphine, 4 leagues from Bourg d'Oysans : here refreshment may be had at a miserable auberge. Above La Dauphine the same savage and rocky character of the valley prevails.
Numerous streams are crossed which descend in falls from the glaciers that crest the precipices, and foaming over the steep talus formed on the sides of the valley by the disintegration of the mountains, cross the road and add to the fury of the Romanche. Not far from la Dauphine, on the left, a magnificent cataract gushes out from the top of ihe precipice, and falls in a large volume into the valley below; ibis is called Le Saut de la Pucelle. The universal story of a peasant-girl, leaping down unhurt, to escape the violence of a chasseur is applied to this fall also.
So vast are some of the blocks that strew the valley, that one among others measures 50 paces in length, and against several, stone huts and châlets are raised and sheltered; for though there appear to be little herbage here, what there is is rich enough to induce those who have herds to send them here to pasturage.
Still further up the valley, on the left, are the lead-mines of La Freux, belonging to M. Marat de l'Ombre, where many workmen are employed to rise the ore and smell il. The adits are seen high up the precipitous sides of the mountains; and ropes and machinery extend into the valley below; these mines are said to be worked to advantage. The completion of this road to Grenoble, would be to the proprietors a measure of great importance.
At the head of this savage valley the road rises to the miserable village of La Grave where there is a wretched inn. The author was once detained there in a storm, and the filth misery of such a gîte cannot be imagined and. It is rare to find bread there. "Eggs, however, may be had, and good wine.
The situation of La Grave is very fine, directly opposite to the vast glaciers of the Mont de Léns. During the winter the cold precludes the burying of the dead, the ground is too hard : the bodies are, therefore, suspended in the granges