In which we drive into France, but not very far

After lunch today, we drove into France, just because we could.  We’ve rented a friend’s car for the month, and France is only about forty minutes away.  We drove to a lake just on the other side of the French/Italian border, in an area called Moncenisio, or Mount Cenis in French. Down on the Piemontese plan, there had been a sunny haze that bordered on a fog, and visibility was low. As we drove up into the Alps, the haze dissipated and the sky became piercingly clear.

When we got to the lake, we realized it would be an excellent place to hike, but we had gotten a late start, Sarie had forgotten her passport, and it was plain that the French border police only let us through to have a quick look. Still, the view was beautiful. We were just above the tree line, at what was probably a dammed up melt lake. All along the road on the way up were what had probably formerly been old roadside inns, now abandoned, and as we approached the border, we started to see partially melted snow (there was one cold, rainy day in Torino this week). Terra cotta roofs gradually gave way to slate ones, and sometimes there were both materials on the same roof. Signs, too, were a mixture of Italian and French.

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped for an afternoon macchiato at the first Italian bar we came to, in Clòo. We realized that we felt at home hearing Italian and following Italian customs. Still, we’d love to return to the Alps soon for a hike. Crossing the border almost makes me want to review my French–one day.

Clòo, where we stopped for macchiato.  It has both slate and terra cotta roofs


4 thoughts on “In which we drive into France, but not very far

  1. “After lunch today, we drove into France. . .”

    How amazing to be able to say that.

    The photos are so beautiful. So interesting.

    If I ever order a coffee (can’t remember the last time I did!), I often buy a macchiato, but if an Italian were to drink it, his/her reaction would probably be similar to what aBritish neighbor said (so many years ago!) about American tea. “It tastes rather like dirt, doesn’t it?” 🙂

    (And did someone say hike?!)


  2. It is amazing to be able to say that, isn’t it?

    I think the macchiato at Joe (in Manhattan) at least, competes with macchiato in Italy, though it’s larger and more expensive. Italian macchiato is more like a shot of coffee. And perhaps my taste buds haven’t been properly primed yet.

    I do wish we’d had time (and permission) to hike! I started to email you one of those photos anyway and claim that we’d finally found the melt lake on Broken Top. But someone wanted the computer, so I didn’t.

  3. Yep, Broken Top! 🙂 When I saw your photos, I did think of some of the high mountain lakes I’ve seen, even, somehow, of Crater Lake, which is actually a “melt” lake, come to think of it. I hope you will get to do a lot of hiking in your beautiful area!

    At the best coffee shops (American–and this does *not* mean Starbucks or any large chain) where I’ve ordered a macchiato, it’s simply been a shot of espresso with the tiniest bit of milk (and I mean a really, *really tiny* bit of milk). It’s almost just espresso. So in literally a swallow or two or three, the macchiato is gone. (This is not to be mistaken for a Starbuck’s macchiato that is actually a big, flavored drink.)

    Send me a picture of your macchiato sometime so I can compare notes (or is there one already on your blog? trying to remember. . ). 🙂

    Susan (who is now going to hit the books!)

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