April 27-29, 2023

We left Saint-Quentin early on Thursday arriving at Paris Gare du Nord in time to take the metro to Paris Gare du Lyon, have an espresso and share a pain-au-raisin and catch the train to Geneva. A direct train to Turin left just before us, but was fully booked. In any case, we had time in Geneva to reminisce and enjoy a leisurely patio lunch at La Matze. Two trains later,  we joined the TGV from Lyon to Turin (Torino).  It was noticeably warmer when we eventually arrived in Turin, the summer feel confirmed by the nocturnal drone of mosquitoes in our hotel room! 

Turin and Aosta

Friday morning, we took the slow train to Aosta which gave us a sense of the alpine valley we will be walking through. We checked into one of  Le Lion apartments,  very well-appointed and a 5-minute walk from a supermarket and the old city centre. There were also welcoming gifts of local products, including candies,  cookies, apple juice, beer and a bottle of Aosta Valley wine (Torrette). We took an extra day off to see a bit of the city and to prepare  to continue our trek. First, new poles were in order, having had ours confiscated at security in YYJ. We also decided to try to arrange baggage transport for what we wouldn’t need to carry each day,  considering some climbing that we will have to do until we are out of the Alps. Locating someone to do this took some help from the local tourist office. We hope it works out!  

Despite the mist and light rain that fell today, we had a lovely day exploring the city. Enclosed by the Alps to the north, south and west,  the spectacular setting for the ancient city of Aosta competes for attention with the city’s impressive Roman ruins,  pretty cobbled streets and  historic centre, the latter filled with enticing restaurants, pasticcerias, gelaterias, and high-end shops. With some restraint, we limited our eating out to lunches and coffee stops, buying fresh pasta to cook for dinners (along with the excellent bottle of Torrette). Following a self-guided tour, we visited the Praetorian Gate, dating from 25BCE, and the remains of a Roman theatre from 1AD. Apparently,  there are some arches still standing from the amphitheater, but to see them  requires knocking on the door of a convent and requesting entry from the sisters. We had another gelato instead!

An unexpected treat was an exhibition of the art of Jean Miro which opened today in the Regional Archeological Museum.  The well-curated and extensive exhibition gave us a quite different perspective on the influences and life of an artist we have both long admired. 

Foodwise, espresso is much better here than further north (7.5/10 in Turin – from India)! We sampled gnocchi and fonduta – a cheese sauce made with fontina cheese which is made in the valley

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