The third whale, on which the Paradiski zone stands, is the resort of Peisey Vallandry, located between La Plana and Les Arcs. When the legendary Vanoise Express ski lift was launched here ten years ago, a two-story car carrying two hundred people from La Plana to Payze-Vallandri at the same time, Paradiski was able to combine all 425 km of tracks accessible via a single ski pass.
We lived in Arc 1800 and every day we went to Peise-Vallandri on skis and snowboards (it’s a very picturesque and pleasant skiing area there), but we didn’t see the village itself, or even five local villages, so we decided to go on an excursion Payze for the whole day.
No sooner said than done. We report – Peize differs from other Paradiski resorts primarily because it is not a settlement built specifically for tourist purposes, but genuine old alpine villages that climbers began to actively visit about a hundred years ago. In addition to the two high-mountain stations Plan-Payze and Vallandry, you will find five villages here: Payze, Landry, Le Vilaret, Nankrua and Moulin.
Like a couple of hundred years ago, life here flows in a calm and measured manner: cows moo, kids are dragged along to school, cheese-makers make magic on huge round beads of Beaufort cheese, and in small chapels they call for Sunday service. Peize is also great for a family vacation, because one hundred and fifty houses and chalets with history are only rented here, in some of which you can even live, as some like, side by side with the owners. In addition to the chalet, a couple of hotels were built here, including Club Med, and three residences with a spa and sauna complex, including the pretty CGH network, in whose four-star apartments we lived in La Plana.
In addition to skiing opportunities, Pase is famous for the region’s best cross-country skiing area. Forty-three kilometers of scenic cross-country skiing and biathlon trails are never sold out, despite numerous French schoolchildren brought here from major cities for holidays.
Isolated hiking trails are laid along the slopes, so that non-skaters will be able to walk and meditate with comfort overlooking Mont Blanc and Bellecte. In addition, here you can master ice climbing on the frozen waterfalls and ride a sleigh in dog sledding.
The day of our excursion turned out to be sunny, at night ten centimeters of snow were sprinkled, so we hired snowshoes and, on the advice of the tourism office, pricked up our new sports equipment for a two-hour hike to the baroque Vernette Chapel chapel, which climbed to a height of 1816 meters.
In the 17th century, a source of mountain water was discovered here, which miraculously healed leprosy and other skin ailments, so in 1703 a local resident, Jean Bodin, decided to build a chapel near the holy spring. Work began in 1723, and the main altar was entrusted to the artist Joseph Marie Martel.
In addition to the rich interior decoration, the surrounding landscapes are also impressive – in good weather here, in full view, the peaks of Alt and Belkot are visible. The road to the church is extremely picturesque and peaceful, with the exception of skiers unexpectedly flying out of the bushes, who have come here from nowhere in search of off-piste routes. In general, the complexity of this pleasant hiking trail is below average, quite feasible for children and grandmothers.
After drinking healing water and having admired the breathtaking scenery, we went downstairs for lunch, after which we had a trip to the farm and the cheese-making factory. Free visits to three different farms with wine tasting and local cheeses like volume and bofora three times a week are organized by the office for tourism. In the summer at one of these farms, you can even spend a day – help the farmer with the cows and see in detail the steps of cheese production. “Before the trip here, some city children seriously think that milk is produced at the factory and cows have nothing to do with it,” says farmer Patrick, who seems ready to call us all two hundred cows for the unique local breed, Tarrin Abondance, by name. A hereditary cheesemaker, Patrick together with his 72-year-old father produces about 300 kg of excellent bofor cheese per day, for which 1 kg of milk is consumed. About a quarter of this cheese is sold in nearby stores, the rest goes to big cities like Paris, Annecy and Albertville.