Over the Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo

Little Spreet came out to see me when I was walking back across the courtyard after my shower – he didn’t bark at all and even let me pick him up!  He cuddled for a bit, then I had to put him down and get back to the campervan for a bit to eat.

Got on the road just after 9:00 – back up past Torino, then north/northwest past Aosta and onto a small, winding mountain road heading southwest in the Alps.

B68D63B6-F6A0-4D8F-A634-643DA3FDDD9266F5F89E-3738-47EB-9146-1A69F0CD5689Stopped at the lovely town of La Thuile for a cappuccino – seems like both skiing and hiking are really big here.

96CD40BC-A57E-431F-970C-3717237566E13324AA01-B653-4110-BF6C-5B09F5E07216Not long after leaving the town and climbing up yet more hairpin turns we hit the snowline – several feet piled on each side of the road and no trees in sight.

E9F41A23-E4E4-4E4E-9477-68201AE5E01FThe summit, which is the ‘Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo’ in Italian, or the ‘Col du Petit San Bernard’ in French (almost all signs here are in both languages) is at 2,188 metres, and there are carvings of St. Bernard dogs everywhere, as well as a couple of statues of the man Saint Bernard.  Also lots of depictions of marmots as well as the odd ibex.

Not far after the summit we crossed over into France – you could tell the difference immediately – no guard rails or fences or anything at the side of the road now.  Getting close to our destination of La Rosiere, which is the finish of tomorrow’s stage, we started seeing ‘no parking’ signs and tapes in every available pull-out or possible parking space.

64366F36-B2BE-4700-A77A-0D027110A21DWhen we reached the town we parked and went into a cafe and were told there would be no overnite parking anywhere in or near the town – not even for the Tour de France which is coming thru in July.  She advised us to ask at the tourist information centre about where we could park for the night – it would be open in about 20 minutes. We looked at the price of a cup of cappuccino and decided not to wait there but strolled around a bit instead.

74FE7BF6-7534-4CF7-A32D-B7EC4D7E65A8At the tourist centre Colin spoke with a ‘very officious’ lady who told him there is a campground down the road a bit and the race will be going right past it.  Apparently there is a trail from there back up to the town if we want to see the actual finish of the stage.

We drove down out of town and very shortly at the first hairpin saw what would have been a perfect place to park – it was already occupied by 3 french campervans and there wasn’t really enough room for us to park without being on a steep tilt.  The folks were very nice and told us there was another space on the side of the road not much further along.

9E6088F6-6E01-4A88-AADB-3D8775924C46Sure enough there was a large pull-out with only one other campervan there – a couple from Belgium with four dogs (!).  We got parked and settled in – got the satellite dish going – reception is perfect. Got to watch the last 30 km of today’s stage on tv, and noticed out the window 3 or 4 VW micro-busses go by, then a few more, then some more along with some beetles.  All in all there must have been 20 or more busses and 6 or 8 beetles – don’t know if they’re here for the race, or heading somewhere further.

After the stage was over on tv we walked down to the campground that’s only a couple hundred metres away on the other side of the road.  Used their bins to dump our garbage and recycling in and checked out their bar, which wasn’t open yet.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening more campervans arrived – last count was a total of nine.  We’ll see if any more can squish in tomorrow. Had fresh tortellini with Italian tomato sauce for dinner – it was a bit spicy.  I looked at the ingredients on the label and it did include peperoncino – one of the spices used in a lot of the Italian cooking shows I like to watch so much at home – no wonder they only use a little bit at a time.

 

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