Sometimes our Sundays become a game of passing child batons. I (try to) run and Tim cycles....but if we are organised enough we can combine our own hobbies with family time.
Often I pile the boys into the van and arrange to meet Tim somewhere at the end of his ride. Sunday was a beautiful day so after an early morning run for me we did just this.
We hadn't been to the lake at Valbonnais since the end of last summer - it's definitely a fair weather destination for us as the boys all end up partially or fully submerged in the water. Through the winter the lake often freezes over, and I wouldn't trust any of my children not to try and dip their toes!
Tim set off an hour before us, leaving us time to pile all of our kit (Oh the kit!) into the van. I would have made a great boy scout I think as I assemble all the 'stuff'; my mothering motto has most definitely become 'be prepared'. We take a different route to the lake than Tim; up and over the Col d'Ornon. The drive is spectacular; winding up through narrow roads, past several mountain villages, farms, rivers and pastures. The col is at 1371m - and temperatures were a chilly 9c. We jumped out to watch the Spring avalanches that continuously pour out of steep gullies lining the route, then quickly jumped back in; it was 22c when we left the house and the shorts we had on were in no way adequate for windy mountain passes!
It's about a 40min drive directly to the lake, but we normally park a few kilometres away by the 'Pont des Fayettes', a wonderful covered bridge over river 'La Bonne'. We then bike the rest of the route via a riverside path that leads directly to the lake. Theo did the whole path on his balance bike, swinging his little legs furiously trying to keep up with his brothers....meanwhile I ran with the buggy piled to tipping point with our 'essentials'.
The lake is also a popular fishing spot (the Bigger Trekkers often come here with their Grandad to fish); the cycle path loops around the lake before ending at the 'beach' our usual lakeside destination.
True to form, within minutes shoes and socks had been discarded and shorts rolled up thigh high to paddle in the FREEZING water.....I notice that my boys were the only children actually in the lake, the far more sensible French children kept their toes safely in their socks!
We spend a happy hour building moats and dams before a phone call from Tim (heading in from the opposite direction) alerts us to fast approaching rain clouds, and within minutes we are having to quickly pack up bags and tug socks on over damp feet as the first raindrops fall. I swiftly realise I'm not quite as prepared as I need to be; all our waterproofs are in fact, at home. It's a long way back to the van in a rain storm! The wind had kicked off from nowhere and we struggled back up the riverside path getting absolutely soaked!
By the time we reached the bridge, the clouds had mercifully blown past and a perfectly timed Tim appeared on his bike. We all sat around in the sunshine to dry off before heading back up and over the Ornon again. Middle Trekker decided that the rain had added to the sense of adventure although I'm not so convinced, next time I'll be even more prepared...........
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Nikki and Tim Siggs, and the three 'Sigglets'; Rudy (11), Jensen (8), Theodor (2.5) and a Jack Russell called Tofu. Four years ago we swapped the rolling fields of Hampshire for the dramatic peaks of the French Alps to pursue a long held dream .... so far the adventure has exceeded all these dreams.
Favourite place in the world:
So hard to choose an all time favourite! As a family we have been holidaying in 'La Drome', (the bit of France sandwiched between the Alps and Provence) for ten years now; a beautiful, less well known and consequently unspoilt region, we have come back year after year to set up camp amidst the truffle oaks and rivers. But we are still busy discovering our adopted home in the Oisans Valley. A definite favourite is hiking up through the Sarenne Gorge to the plateau where the boys can paddle in the (icy cold!) river and we can picnic on the grassy tufts, keeping an eye out for the elusive Marmottes!
Favourite things to do outdoors:
The older boys belong to the local ski club so the winters are all about being on the mountain ... in the summer you can find us biking, hiking, picnicking and walking - until it gets too hot (and it does get REALLY hot here) where we seek out the blissfully cool waters of the Veneon river for hours of dam building and feet paddling.