Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Back from holidays

So here I am at home again. Back from camping in Samoëns, a little village-town south of the Geneva lake and 2 hours' drive to the Mont Blanc, highest mountain in Europe. A splendid little bourgeois holiday, just as I like it (or nearly so).

N° 1 and 2 = Those are the tourists - called "grockels" in English English - standing in front of the Geneva Lake. On the other side is Switzerland. As you see, not all French are slim and those people are certainly not Dutch.

N° 3 = Here you see the Mont Blanc, from a distance. I made that photo with a zoom at its maximum. Mister Big dwarfs everything around.


Coming to the camp site I was amazed to see for the first time in more than 20 years a sizeable number of tents. Till now, those campers were mostly people driving motorhomes (kind of live-in lorries) of various sizes and a slowly shrinking number of caravans. I suppose motorhomes simply were more fashionable. And lastly, in a corner, there were some tents.

This time big change: about half of the spots were occupied by tent campers. Some of those tents were real holiday cathedrals, never seen such big ones before. Stupidly I did not make any photos, it just did not occur to me.

The reason of this change is certainly the amazing price of gas and Diesel. Maybe in ten years' time I'll arrive on my holiday spot in a high-speed rickshaw, like in Vietnam. That might help us save gas and money.

And who is going to pull those rickshaws. Certainly not me but what about hiring some prisoners? All those murderers, thieves, crooks, dopers, dealers, rapists are idling in their cells. You cannot make them look at the telly for more than ten hours. That would be inhuman. Furthermore, it seems, here in France, the prisons are overflowing, they are now being put inside in layers, like sardines. So some rickshaw exercise would do them a world of good, add color to their pale indoor cheeks and lessen the burden of the unhappy impoverished taxpayer.

Well, so much for some social engineering of my invention.


But we went to the Alps for a little change of surroundings and furthermore, Samoëns is famous for its paragliding flying possibilities. Have a look

N° 4 = That is Plateau de Saix (yes, unpronouncable for nearly everybody). All those people are preparing for take-off. When you are in the air, you have about 800 m (about 2500 feet) of air below you. After soaring a bit above the launching pad Mount Blanc is clearly visible.

A fellow pilot told me that two years ago a guy was able not only to go there by paraglider but even land on its summit of 4800 m (about 14500 feet). And when he stood on our number 1 mountain he was all alone because Mt. Blanc was closed for climbers that day. A heat wave made the snow cap and glaciers unsafe and avalanche prone. So he just stood there for some time, Italy behind him, France in front and then flew away, happy.

Samoëns has not only two splendid launching pads but also a king-size landing spot. It has the size of about two football fields. Touching ground there gives me the feeling to land on Frankfurt International. No danger to hit a church tower, a car park, a lamp post or just a big tree towering in front of you.

N° 5 = The landing area though you see here only a small portion of it.

N° 6 = A better view of the landing area. Pure bliss.

Three days before the end of our holidays I had another start on top of Mr. Saix, see first picture. As there was no wind, I was running at top speed to get the paraglider taking off.

While running I fell into something like a rabbit hole and had my feet torn a bit. In the air I thought "that was a near miss" and when touching ground it hurt a bit. But next morning, I could not move my foot, it hurt like hell. The worst was going up and down the stairs to the lavatory. The night after I was even pissing in a plastic bottle to avoid climbing those stairs.

My wife told me about an old grandmother's remedy fighting inflammation. Just take good olive oil and add some drops of lemon and mix the stuff. It works, ladies and gentlemen. Really, it works! The third day I was already climbing those stairs up and down, bye bye piss bottle. Born again for further action.

Here, some more photos:

N° 7 = Mountain bike girl. T5his activity seems to be more risky than paragliding. Good to know.

N° 7, 8, 9, 10 = Have some more. Could not resist showing them.


  1. bonjour georg!!! i am afraid of heights and flying- so no paragliding for moi :) your little holiday was breathtakingly beautiful (piss bottle aside) and i can see why you would go an commune with nature in your tent. alas, your tourists looked like americans ;) and while ordinarily i would agree with you about prison exercise, here in the states we have been rounding up quite a few folks who haven't committed any crimes and tazing them and imprisoning them indefinitely. ah, such is life!

  2. Great trip and photos, Thanks for the descriptions. I too could have sworn those were some "ugly americans!"

    He ain't no cowboy, but is the 1st I will share:


  3. Welcome back Georg.

    Again some great photos. But this time you disappointed...perhaps the pain in your foot did not allow you to get to the 'bottom' of some interesting subjects! If you did, do share you finds!

    Next time, may be you will get to travel in the 'air car' that the TATA group is developing in India, after the Nano. This is powered by compressed air. Now that oil is going through the roof, I'm sure all the big companies in the world will be working overtime to find cheaper alternatives. Let's hope for a real breakthrough soon.

  4. Well come back sir,

    Nice pic.........

  5. Thanks for commenting all of you. That is a real pleasure.

    Betmo: You are not the only one afraid of height, I am, too and prone to vertigo. But fortunately, this does not apply to flying (airplane or any kind of glider). You get these feelings of fear only when you stand on firm ground (like a cliff or the edge of a roof and looking down).

    As to prisoners exercising, that's more or less a joke. Have a look at Vinod's comment.

    Coffee: Thanks for the link. I listened to Bill Haley's yodel performance. Funny, funni. Is this the same guy who performed "Rock around the clock" in the fifties of last century??

    Vinod: If I am not totally wrong, this car running on compressed air has been designed by a French engineer Guy Nègre. For years and years he tried in vain to find a car manufacturer ready to produce it. Now he goes with Tata Motors
    and Renault, Citroen and all the other European car makers have missed a chance that comes only once in a lifetime.

    Let's hope this car is more than hot air.

    Sachin: glad to hear from you again. But no need to call me "Sir". Just Georg is amply sufficient.


  6. Georg, yes, the Tatas are tying up with MDI, a company based in Southern France, for the air car. I'm sure Guy Negre must be behind it, as you have mentioned.

  7. Bon Jour and yes, it is he and is slightly amusing.

    Have you heard this one?


  8. Great photos--the lake and mountains look very inviting. The chalet style (?) homes are very interesting. I like them a lot.

  9. hello georg, vow ! that para gliding photographs stories of yours wants me to take up the sport. afraid of heights, yes, may be i will look up and enjoy what is above me than what is beneath me, what say.

  10. Dennis says HELLO nice vacation. Dennis never gets to go anywhere.

  11. Hi Anrosh, hi Dennis the Cat,

    Anrosh: as I said to Betmo, no reason to be afraid of heights and the void.

    Dennis: we, too, have two cats, Mitsi and Katsi and both don't travel. That's the problem, by the way. One has to find someone willing to feed them during our absence.

    Do you propose yourself??


  12. Thanks for sharing those amazing pictures!

    I liked your 'social engineering' idea; it'll also help deal with the obesity problem among social offenders!

  13. Je connais très bien Samoëns. J'y possédais un stutio de 1984 à 2004.
    Au début c'était une charmante station familiale.
    Mais les anglais sont arrivés et les prix ont monté. Les commerçants anciens ont laissé leurs commerce à de nouveaux moins attachant et étranger au département. l'ambiance n'y était plus. Nous avons donc vendu.
    Tu plaisante sur le mot "plateau de Saix" il y a aussi la piste " des gouilles rouges" (jeu de mots facile pour une piste difficile).