Across Continents

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Alpine appeal

Epinal was a fairly typical French town popular with tourists.  The river Moselle flowed gracefully through the centre, a multitude of flags adorning its banks.  Expensive cafes and brasseries in the historic part.  In the quieter side streets I came across the ‘maharaja’ Indian restaurant.  A more affordable option.  I fancied a change to my usual evening staple of cous cous and tinned fish.  The menu was familiar, but there were differences.  You needed a beer just to eat the chicken tikka masala.  They had Kingfisher.  Some things remained the same.

In the morning I followed the river south east into the hills.  Open fields, save on the wide river flood plains, were quickly being replaced by cool, refreshing conifer woods.  The houses were also changing, much more Alpine in appearance.  Huge stockpiles of wood for the impending winter.  They were always the same.  Logs cut lengthways, a metre or so long, neatly stacked, each layer laid perpendicular to its neighbour.  Signs on side roads indicating the need for snow chains.

I stopped briefly in Remiremont.  Firmly a tourist town, it still retained a modicum of Frenchness, but this had been fading fast as I had headed deeper into the hills.  The place had little to offer me so I quickly moved on, now following the river Moselotte towards the ski resort of La Bresse.  Wooded hillsides were being replaced by tree clad mountain slopes.  It was getting colder.

But for the name, La Bresse could have been in Switzerland.  The prices reflected this.  It was quiet.  They were waiting for the snows.  A few enterprising individuals were offering paragliding on the nearby ski slopes, but there appeared to be few takers.  A few wooden clad hotels advertised garaging for bicycles.  It was tempting, but I wanted to camp up in the mountains.  I continued my steady climb up the valley.

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