Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Col du Marchairuz

Bringing in the New Year


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

A couple of rewarding walks in the Swiss Jura near the Col du Marchairuz

European attitudes towards workers' holidays are so humane -- five or six weeks of paid leave for almost everybody, and sometimes they just throw in the Christmas to New Year's week. Somebody's thinking of the workers and not just the Bosses.

But nine days of wandering about in the forest with not a care in the world can make going back to work . . . painful nonetheless.

But not when you go back to work on the 3rd of January, and the 5th is SATURDAY! A wonderful, snowy Saturday, at that.

This is the Hotel at the Col du Marchairuz (1449m), 5 January 2008, as we're just setting out southwestward in the forest.

Marchairuz has always been a special favorite, and we were pleased to contribute, as an Ami du Marchairuz, to the renovation that was completed a few years ago. This road wasn't even kept open in the winter until the early 1990s, but it's now a popular centre of winter family fun.

So popular, in fact, that on a fine day in winter there is virtually no parking space, casual strollers jostle shoulder-to-shoulder within a few hundred metres of the carpark, and Geneva drivers with summer tires block the road gliding sideways.

If your intent is to get away from it all in the silence of the snowy woods, you really don't come here now unless the weather is really not so good. Like today.

So we, the Royal We (Pluralis Majestatis), are clumping off into the forest, exploring about a bit, trying to get lost and refind ourselves over and over again, in the direction of the Crêt de la Neuve to the southwest, up and down the little knolls and dells, in the lovely wet new snow.

Just time for a commemorative photo before the dark comes along

And then back to the hotel at the Col du Marchairuz at day's end.

Some hardy diners undaunted by the road conditions, and the place looks warm and lively.

The hotel serves as the "Maison du Parc" for the protected area throughout these forests, and the management organizes educational lectures and walks in the area on a wide variety of environmental subjects.

Passing through here on a week-long run the length of the Jura mountains in the mid-1980s, I (Singularis Majestatis) had the privilege of staying in one of the little rooms upstairs, basic but cheap -- well before the renovations. Sitting in the restaurant in the evening, reading my Dorothy Sayers novel for the third time on the trip, I was entreated by the Town Council of Les Brassus, who wished to have their council meeting there, to remove myself to the overflow room adjacent, which was then rather church-hall functional. They instructed the waitress to keep my beer glass filled throughout the long evening, and she did a very good job of it. I have fond memories of the hotel at Marchairuz, but of that occasion almost no memory at all.

(The Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey novel was Murder Must Advertise, which I first read in 1974 whilst living in a B+B (£3.30 the night) on Shaftesbury Avenue, and it turned out that the fictional advertising building on Shaftesbury Avenue in the novel would have been precisely where my B+B really was.)

These are some of the wood sculptures of the incredible Paul Monney of St-George, two of more than 60 works scattered throughout the region (some of them nearly inaccessible up in the forests).

Another of Paul Monney's works can be seen at the bottom of this page.

An excellent, quiet early evening, and time to go home and take a shower . . .

. . . if Dieter's door locks haven't frozen up.

Next day, Sunday, 6 January 2008, back to the same region to answer some unresolved questions about which trails go where.

Very good snow this weekend, but not enough to get us through the winter.

Intriguing little limestone cliffs and hollows. Each with its own story to tell.

And back again to the hotel at Marchairuz. And back to work tomorrow morning.

Since we've been viewing two of Paul Monney's wood carvings above, this is an opportune place to work in some photos of another one, "Le Chamois", permanently on the roadside (it's still connected to the root system) on the tiny road called the Chemin de la Glacière that leads up from St. George to the cave system called "La Glacière".

More of Paul Monney's works can be seen here.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 26 January 2008, revised 10 September 2014.


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