Val Chaviere Hotel
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But it’s all an experience, doing car repairs en français. I’m amazed really, that at half past four on a Friday afternoon a) anyone is up for doing any work, and b) they can whip the wheel off, and the tyre, and fix a puncture, all within about 15 minutes.
Bar Gritty, opposite station, 2.30pm
I have just driven through the Fréjus tunnel from Modane, France to Bardonecchia, Italy. Coming out of the tunnel and seeing the buildings you are in no doubt that you're in a different country. I'm not sure what it is – the size of them, the style of roofs, or the windows – but they’re definitely different from French. I guess with the mountains ...
... leads me to two possibilities – my feet smell really bad or someone has urinated. Yuck.
There’s a great big display case by the tills in here, with different Opinel knives contained within. There’s an Opinel museum in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. You can tell that this handy pocket knife is a much-loved icon of the area. ...
Plan Lachat, between Valloire and the Col du Galibier, 7pm
I'm part way through driving up to the Col du Galibier, a beast of a mountain. It’s such a beast of a mountain that many years ago when I was working in Valloire ...
... who calls you by your first name. You are shown to your room. And to the bike stores – Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is a mecca for cyclists. And traditional also in the authentic, down-to-earth sense. It's an old building with a carpark accessed through an archway, like a coaching inn. Reception smells of stale cigarette smoke that somehow adds character to the place; it’s not trying to be squeaky clean ...