Dwight Peck's personal website
l'Eglise, Lac Retaud, and Bretaye
brief weekend in Vers l'Eglise and rain-soaked environs
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.
of us are losing patience with the wayward weather these days, and the weekend
of 6-7 August 2005 did not improve our mood.
living in the resort of Leysin, we used to smile sympathetically at the Belgians
and Dutch who'd come for their holidays and found impenetrable fog all week,
and not much to do but watch the curling team practice down at the ice rink. The
sympathy was real, but the smile was because we lived there and had merely to
wait out the fog. Now the shoe is on the other foot.)
to go to Les Diablerets and take our chances. Well,
not exactly Les Diablerets, which has mainly newish resorty hotels and the more
interesting inns were fully booked -- so here we are in nearby Vers
l'Eglise (1125m), on the road up from Aigle and Le Sépey, and not
far from Leysin, in fact.
the lovely Auberge de l'Ours, built in 1833 and renovated in 2001, run by Mady
and Dirk Krauter who really know how to mix up a great wok and keep the guests
smiling despite the forbidding weather. It's not much of a town and much the better
for it. Just the eglise, the auberge, a few other beautiful old buildings, and
a train stop on the way to Les Diablerets.
church is fairly old, the Chapel of St Théodule dating from the 14th century,
and must have particularly fantastic acoustics, because for many years it has
been the site of a much prized musical series in winter, and more than once,
whilst living in Leysin, the narrator drove down to catch the odd string
trio or quartet.
eglise from our hotel window. The room, rented to us as a mere double, had an
upstairs loft with a row of bunkbeds for ski groups in the winter. And two showers
instead of merely one.
the hotel room looking past the church towards the Leysin Tours in the distance
between the buildings.
they are, in a fine blue sky on the morning of our departure: the Tour d'Aï
on the left and the Tour de Mayen on the right.
downtown Vers l'Eglise, the church and auberge on the right, train station in
the background. And that's pretty much the lot of it.
flowers on our balcony
Chaussy and its abandoned skilift station looming to the north. Many grim wintry
adventures have been had up there, mainly from the other side over Les Mosses.
in the world a poor kitty may try to hide, Kristin will find it.
blank and cloudy weekend hike near the Lac Retaud
off for a short hike to have a look at the famous Arnensee (or Lac d'Arnon) from
mountain restaurant at Lac Retaud (1685m), on a grim sort of Saturday, 6 August
2005. The little lake lies just above the Col du Pillon (1546m) on the road between
Les Diablerets and Gstaad to the north.
Lac Retaud, not much of a lac but a popular tourist place for a nice day out --
linger over a huge cheese dish for lunch and gaze across at the Diablerets massif
in a wonderful surrogate alpine experience.
The restaurant at Lac Retaud -- no time for a fondue or raclette today, or giant ham sandwich, because we're on a mission. The
Diablerets is hidden in cloud, but anyway we're headed over the Col des
Andérets to have a peek down at the Arnensee, for old times' sake.
farm of Isenau (1855m) at the end of a dirt road above Retaud. The narrator used
to have a good annual running route through here up to La Para ou Tournette
(2540m), behind the stuff on the upper left, so this was a kind of much slower
homecoming. [This place used annually to be the summer-festival home of the world's
biggest rösti, stirred with 3-metre rakes, and may still be.]
at the Col des Andérets (2034m)
the Col des Andérets we gaze down upon the Lac d'Arnon (1542m) to the north,
and the dammed ravine leading out to Feutersoey on the road between Gsteig and
a circle from the Col around La Palette (2170m) up on the right, cunning hikers
turn southeast in a drizzly rain towards the Old Chalet (Chalet Vieux) at 1950m, with
the bottom of the Oldenhorn across the valley in the distance.
above the Chalet Vieux, on the far side of the Col du Pillon, the Sanetschhorn
(2924m, left) and Oldenhorn (3123m, right) in the distance. The narrator once
saw over 100 chamois in one day there whilst coming down from the Glacier de Tsanfleuron
through the Oldensattel (2737m).
a one-day chamois record except for 120 near the Col de Base above Château
d'Oex in 1990 but that was an overnight and included counting the nearby pitterpats
of tiny hooves, like raindrops on a tin roof, in the early morning hours.)
look back at the Arnensee before vacating the premises. The col at the far left
is the Fenêtre d'Arnon (1885m), a key milestone in our beautiful annual
running route from Leysin to Gstaad. Back in the day.
lowering clouds and an ominous drizzle, we turn famishedly towards dinner.
Chalet Vieux (1950m) in a drizzle, from the southeast.
the Diablerets summit and glacier hidden in cloud, Kristin pauses to recall the
high points of the dinner menu at the Auberge de l'Ours.
to the Lac Retaud, just as the dinner gong rings out with a voluminous echoing
call back to Vers l'Eglise.
the Chaux Ronde from Bretaye
just here for the weekend, early August 2005, and have NO patience with this foul
weather. Well, actually, we LOVE this foul weather, many people look askance at
that and can think of nothing to say in reply, but be that as it may, foul weather's
no good on the glaciers.
planned escapade over the path laid down on the Glacier of Diablerets (technically,
the Glacier du Tsanfleuron) is undoable, which saves us the expense of taking
the cablecar up from the Col du Pillon (a LOT of Swiss francs) but leaves us with
the responsibility of figuring out something else to do with our holiday besides
going to the movies and watching Brad Pitt in French.
by consensus, it's the Lac de Bretaye, where rain doesn't matter very much, except
for the wetness. Bretaye (1805m) is on the "far side" of Le Chamossaire
(2112m) from Leysin, overlooking Villars-sur-Bex and at the top of a skiers' cograil
train from Villars. We've driven up a little mountain road from our auberge in
Vers l'Eglise to the Lac des Chavonnes (1690m) and walked on up to see where the
hamlet around Bretaye is looking forlorn and unrewarding on 7 August 2005,
and one can only hope that things will improve soon, before the inhabitants get
cabin fever and go barking mad.
(A sunnier visit to Bretaye, June 2014)
auberge at Bretaye, dripping dejectedly. Well, this is silly, plodding about
wondering if the rain's going to stop. We've just had a coffee in the nearby skilift
restaurant, and now we've got to make a decision.
Do we go back to the hotel and read enlivening articles from The Guardian
and MondoWeiss to one another all day, or do we grip the bit between the teeth
and get still wetter?
grip the soggy bit between the teeth and set off to circumambulate the mountains
overlooking Bretaye on the east, above Villars. First we have to clear the Star-Wars-modern
skilifts at Bretaye, at the top of the cograil train, leading up to the summit
of Chamossaire, and turn abruptly east again.
the hamlet of Ensex (1785m), all the way around the Chaux Ronde from Bretaye.
We're doing a loop over the col at L'Encrene (1936m) and hoping that the gods,
to whom we are as flies to wanton boys, will relent with this rain and not drench
us for their sport.
where evidently in ski season there are teepees with great views and nearby cuisine,
and they march the ski-lodgers out in the snow from the railhead just the way
we've come. One wouldn't want to do that wearing ski boots and dragging a suitcase!
Ensex street scene
Us! We're trying to have a private conversation here, do you mind?"
on a dreary day
Septic" on the hat, and no apologies
Chamossaire from the "back side", the side facing away from Leysin,
on our way back to the Lac des Chavonnes
Chamoissaire from the "front side", facing Leysin, January 2005.
in a rainy August 2005, we're completing our circuit from Bretaye and arrive at
the cute little hamlet of Perche (1790m)
brief pause in Perche to converse for a few moments with a cat sitting up on a
balcony. We've come from Ensex over the col on the horizon.
Lac des Chavonnes, such a beautiful little lake.
on the lakeshore. Water levels are way down.
little restaurant on the Lac de Chavonnes
packing it up, we're blessed with a fine albeit cloudy view of the Leysin Tours
from La Forclaz as we drive back to the old feedbag at the Auberge de l'Ours.
Truex, seen from across the ravine in La Forclaz.
Leysin towers, the Tour d'Aï and the Tour de Mayen.
good hike to the Col des Andérets, and a soggy hike near Bretaye, and then
-- as the weather finally clears -- we say farewell to the Inn of the Bear in
Vers l'Eglise, recommending it to all similar vacationers who don't require
the discos of Les Diablerets. Website: http://www.aubergedelours.ch/,
info at email@example.com.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative,
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 21 September 2005, revised 8 May
2008, 22 June 2014.