Tag Archives: Morzine

On the road-Morzine, FR

Toulon sur Arroux, deep in French countryside, Sept. 18

A few days in the life of a French doctor extraordinaire

 I am writing this from an apartment above medical office Maison Medicale in Toulon sur Arroux deep in French countryside. It’s nasty, cold and raining, but a good time for writing.

My daughter Emma substitutes at this two-doctor general practice on regular basis. She also works as an emergency doctor on race tracks.

That’s how we found ourselves in Morzine at the elevation of 7,200 feet in French Alps on my third day in France.

 Morzine, Sept.6th&7th

 French Alps are approximately a three-hour drive from base camp Dijon. Cluses is a gateway town to the Alps where the 10 kilometer long climb on narrow roads starts. From here the roads fork out into different resorts hugging the majestic Mount Blanc draped year-round with snow, and as the French say eternal ice.

Mount Blanc Morzine rally 2013
Mount Blanc Morzine rally 2013

The road carved its way around cliffs with bubbling streams below, as the tree line eventually disappeared below us. We finally reached Alpine Morzine, a skiing resort that boasts activities all year including the 65th annual Mont Blanc Morzine race. The mountain road rally featured cars from Porsches, Czech Skoda’s, and French Peugeots to supped-up Renault Clio.

The major street in downtown Morzine was blocked off for the race cars and for the start ramp. Emma picked up her race gear at the Skoda sports center and hooked up with the support medical crew including longtime racetrack doctor Daniell. We lodged at the Petite Cheval Blanc (Little White Horse) hotel pitched high in the hills.

I noticed at the reception a sign stating that the resort staff speaks English and Italian. The off-season rate for a night including breakfast was 59 Euros.

Born to win in Morzine mountain rally.
Born to win in Morzine mountain rally.

As I tried to communicate with the Savoyard owners, I realized the sign greatly exaggerated the language capabilities.

We had the rest of the afternoon for us to explore this splendid resort with some mountain chalets covered in clouds. We walked alongside a crystal-clear stream that feeds the water bottles of Evian, a nearby resort.

The typical Alpine resort square was home to the town hall aka mairie and a church with its steeple blending into the mountains.

An adjacent street lined with boutiques, gift shops, restaurants and bars led into uptown Morzine by the ski lifts. A night at the four-star hotel by the ski lifts averages 1,000 Euros per suite. We marveled at the view below from a terrace café. The French are fond of their coffee at any given time of the day or night. The price can range from basic 1.50 euro to a fancy 4.50 euro depending where you get it.

We spent the evening dining with the race support crew at the Skoda sports center. Daniell happily showed us to the table. As in any race event, the support crew was more jovial than the race crew that did not dine with us to our disappointment.

Descending 10 kilometres down serpentines from Morzine.
Descending 10 kilometres down serpentines from Morzine.

On our way to Morzine, not knowing what to expect, we were making fun of the racetrack meal.

“We’re going to have pizza and drink lots of coke,” I said. “We’re going to eat inside a gym.”

“Not just a regular pizza, but a real European pizza with tuna and hard-boiled eggs,” laughed my daughter.

Well, I’ve learnt not to underestimate the French in regards to food. Even though the dinner was in a large sports hall, the meal was like in a first class restaurant. The full course included pate and Mediterranean salad, beef, congliatti pasta and vegetables, tons of French hard cheese and carafes of red and rose wine.

After dinner, we walked past the car tents, in the evening mountain mist. The next day Emma worked the rally with jaws-of-life paramedics without any incident.

“It was kind of boring, just standing there,” she said.

Morzine lives life to the full.
Morzine lives life to the full.

But, she got the first seat view of the racers and their cars. She wanted me to look for French version of Dale Earnhardt Jr. that is the handsome and rugged Sebastian Loeb, champion of Rallies of France. However, he was not in Morzine this time. So, I went to further explore the town around the lifts and the finish line watching the Clios inch in as the last.

I forgot about the French rule of the thumb: all stores close between noon and 2 p.m. Lunch is only served between noon and 2 p.m. unless you’re in a major tourist destination, and if you’re looking for a chain restaurant.

I decided to wait for the stores to re-open in the local press/tabac/café shop. When the waitress showed me two sizes of coffee cups, I picked the larger. Well, I ended up with the same amount of coffee only in a bigger cup.

Go figure French ingenuity.

To be continued with…..Into Spain, from sunrise to sunset

Copyright © 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova

On the road in France

Morzine, Savoy Alps, FR.- Sept. 7, 2013

         “It is said, that at Morzine, we live life to the full.”

I am writing this from our hotel Little White Horse in the Alpine village of Morzine nestled in the mountains at the altitude of 3,486 feet.

This is the fourth day of my fabulous trip to Europe that will take me from the chic streets of Paris to the rugged Savoy Alps, to Andalusia in Spain, to Prague in Czech Republic, to  Moravia and to the wine chateaus in Burgundy.

In the background I can hear the roaring of the motors of the 65th Mount Blanc Morzine rally. My daughter Emma Palova-Chavent is working on the track as a medecin or emergency doctor.

The sun has just broken through the clouds that you can literally reach from the windows. When I walk around the balcony of the chalet, I can see the peak of Mont Blanc floating in the clouds. And I finally have a few moments to jot all this down before it becomes one big blur.

Morzine in Savoy Alps, FR.
Morzine in Savoy Alps, FR.

The sun reflecting from the shingles of the mountain chalets is blinding and it’s heating up the wet streets after last night’s storm. We enjoyed a typical French breakfast of croissants, fruits and café.

As it drizzled yesterday, we walked the narrow streets of Morzine lined with fashionable boutiques and restaurants. It is of course off season in this French skiing paradise, so other than the race cars, it’s quiet and peaceful.

I arrived in Paris on Sept. 4. Paris was hot, hot, hot. It sizzled at 31 degrees. We took the local train to the heart of old Paris in St. Germaine quarter. We both love this part of Paris for its cafes, shops and relaxing Luxembourg Gardens. From our window of Hotel Globe, I could see part of the Eiffel Tower reaching above the roof tops.

We stopped at our favorite café Les Editeurs near metro station St. Michel/Odeon to get some energy before our trek to the famous cemetery Pere Lachaise.

Les Editeurs had just the right thing for us, that is Gourmand Café. During my travels all over the world, I’ve encountered a lot of curiosities, just plain bizarre things. But, I marveled at this chef’s masterpiece of tiny probably one tenth of a cup of café, Italian panacotti, macaroon, chocolate cake and ice cream.

Water is a tough commodity to get around Paris. Although it should be served automatically with café, it is not. You can ask for it, beg for it, but you might not get it.

“I’ll give it to you, just because I am a nice guy,” said one waiter later in Versailles.

View from hotel de Globe in Paris.
View from hotel de Globe in Paris.

The first day we walked up the hill in Pere Lachaise, I was captivated by the ornate sepulchres of the cemetery. Our goal was to find Jim Morrison’s famed grave site. Walking the cobblestone streets with names between the sepulchres was like walking in the city of the dead.

Copyright ©2013 story and photos by Emma Palova

……..to be continued with Pere Lachaise and Versailles Palace