This year’s summer solstice also happened to coincide with our anniversary date, so what better way to celebrate than to return to the region where the adventure began? To some it might come across as funny that we basically left one mountain village to visit another, but it says so much about how we like to travel – simply and with a preference for serenity. There’s an italian expression – staccare la spina – which means to take a break, to relax and unwind (even if translated word-for-word, it sounds macabre to pull the plug).
Planaval (from Planum Vallis meaning flat valley) is even smaller than our village, but it has a modest hotel-inn that appears to be a popular stop-off for winter sports enthusiasts. The owner’s inquisitive dog – Kimbo – insisted on entering our room (he would just nose the door open if it wasn’t shut tight) until the Mister took one bite out of his tail. Our dachshund is a psychopath. Fortunately, the tail-biting incident didn’t deter Kimbo from joining us on our walks. I bet he doesn’t get a whole lot of doggie visitors.
With a couple of hours to spare before dinner, we drove to neighboring Valgrisenche (of the like-named valley) to pay our respects…at the cemetery. Well this was a first, and the idea of gingerly stepping around a tiny graveyard wouldn’t have crossed my mind had it not been for the tourism website. It mentions the special “epitaphs” on the tombstones, but unless you can read and understand french, it won’t make a whole lot of sense.
Back at the hotel and famished, we went with the menu du jour: a mixed plate of cheese and meats, bowls of steaming hot minestrone, berry crostata and a bottle of local red. Simple. Comforting. Unpretentious. Perfect. Bon appétit!