When you are living in the 🏔 ❄️ snowy mountains in WINTERTIME with a newborn or young baby, your quotidien can feel tough . . . getting out for a buggy walk is more challenging than usual, with icy pavements or snow impeding certain routes you would normally take. Of course, using a baby-carrier or baby-carrying scarf is one brilliant alternative (as baby keeps warm and you have free arms), but if you have had a caesarian or you have a weak back, then this is not always an option. I had both (with each birth!), so I can empathise!
After the birth of my first son 8 years ago, I spent my first weeks in a new town – Sallanches – trying to figure out how to get to Monoprix for milk and essentials, without having to deal with the ups and down of curbs! And I did succeed in finding one route – much longer than the normal route, but flat (and interesting too!).
Sallanches is actually a fabulous ❄️ WINTER BUGGY WALK destination – we don’t get much snow that truly settles down here (at around 550m altitude, at most we’ll have half a metre once or twice every winter and this tends to melt pretty quickly). Because of this lack of snow, and the fact that it is located in the Arve Valley (and hence flat), Sallanches makes for easy strolls with a buggy and is also the perfect terrain for draisiennes or small pedal bikes!
I have already outlined a historical Sallanches stroll down the quais on this website (see here), and this new suggested walk is around the area of La Braconne and La Salle Léon Curral, perhaps an area of the town you have never been to . . . but worth exploring with a little one!
NB – some of the photos for this walk are from a lovely 🌷 springtime walk & pedal bike run (taken while big brother was playing football at the local stadium), but I have done this walk with a buggy regularly in wintertime too!
Starting & Ending point of stroll
🅿️ where to park: car park opposite La Salle Léon Curral (Régie Municipales, Eaux Assainissement / Gaz, Electricité);
Les Bois de la Braconne
Living so close to the Bois de la Braconne, we have been frequent visitors over the years . . . furry four-legged friends aren’t supposed to enter, so you should be safe from their little gifts! One entrance is right by the Restaurant de la Braconne, the other comes out along the Bialle stream.
❄️ with a dusting of snow . . .
🌷 springtime in the Bois de la Braconne . . .
. . . if you find yourself here at lunchtime, then you could stop at the lovely Restaurant la Braconne – there is an outdoor terrace in the summertime. This restaurant is well known among locals and it is popular for business lunches and seminars – very professional and friendly and great food! The new Sallanches swimming pool is being built in the fields next door, due to open in 2020!
Salle Léon Curral & Pré Curral
The Salle Léon Curral is a superb cultural centre . . . why not have a look at the programme as you walk past? / see MBFF post for more details.
Just in front of the Salle Léon Curral, you will find the Pré Curral – a green field with a few trees (there are some new plantations, as some of the large trees were lost to disease a few years ago). In springtime and summertime, this is a great spot to bring a rug and a picnic.
Bialle river path & water wheel
This path is part of the bike route network in Sallanches, and it is perfect for children competent on a trottinette, draisienne or pedal bike (as well as nice and flat for a buggy!). But do keep an eye on the little ones, as the path runs right next the Bialle stream (this is a lovely shaded walk in summertime).
At the end of this path, you may recognise that you are right by the entrance to Sallanches hospital ! From here, if you turn right and walk past the hospital, it is a short walk down to the fabulous skatepark (see MBFF post here)!
But, if you turn left, then you come to the old waterwheel . . .
Sallanches railway line
Continue to walk up rue de l’Hôpital and you will walk past some vintage cars at Garage Services Motors V8, and then as you turn right, you come to some old wooden train huts, and perhaps you’ll even see a train pass . . .
Turn left onto the main through-road avenue de Saint-Martin, cross the railway line and then immediately turn left again onto the rue Jeanne d’Arc (there is a veterinary surgery on the corner here). Carrying straight on at this point would bring you into the centre of town.
🏨 Hôtel Beauséjour & 🚉 Gare SNCF
Carry on, along the rue Jeanne d’Arc, and you’ll soon pass 🚉 Gare SNCF on your left.
Opposite the station is the now boarded up 🏨 Hôtel Beauséjour, which was still functioning (in a jaded form) a year ago.
a little history: Founded at end of 19th century, for a century this hotel and others in Sallanches were an essential stopover for tourists arriving in the Pays du Mont-Blanc by 🚂 train; in fact, just 50 years ago, there were still around fifty hotels in Sallanches! Sallanches was the port of entry for the next stage of the journey, after the train ride! From the hotel’s early days, it always commanded an exceptional view of Mont-Blanc and also the Aiguilles de Warens. Guy Cattin’s family bought the hotel in 1923: ” Ma famille a repris l’hôtel en 1923. Du côté de mon père, ma famille est originaire de Cordon. Mon grand-père, comme beaucoup de Savoyards, est parti à Paris gagner sa vie. Là-bas, il a exploité un café puis une brasserie. Puis il est revenu en pays du Mont-Blanc et a racheté le Beauséjour. Nous étions connus comme le relais de Megève. Les voyageurs arrivaient en train et prenaient ensuite une calèche pour aller à Megève. Il y a toujours eu une ambiance très familiale. On retrouvait souvent les mêmes clients. Mon père avait fait l’école hôtelière de Thonon alors le restaurant était aussi très apprécié pour la qualité de la cuisine”. From its heyday, it was a long decline for the hotel, which eventually suffered the same fate as the other once-prominent Sallanches hotels that no longer exist (Hotel de Paris, Hotel Saint-Jacques, Hotel la Grenelle, Hotel des Sorbiers, Hotel Crémaillère). The apparition of the car, and hence main roads, in the 20th century meant that Sallanches was no longer an essential stop, and the hotels became less frequented: ” L’usage de la voiture s’est développée donc l’importance de la gare s’est réduite et puis les demandes de la clientèle ont évolué. Le client n’accepterait plus des WC et des salles de bains sur le palier. Les investissements sont très lourds par rapport à la clientèle qui est la nôtre. D’ailleurs, nous n’utilisons plus toutes les chambres.”. (information from Le Messager article, by Julien BERRIER, published 21st March 2017: « Sallanches : le déclin de l’hôtel Beauséjour marque la fin d’une époque » / see full article here)
The rue Jeanne d’Arc turns into the rue Hauterive after the Gare SNCF . . . continue along the length of this road, and then at the junction you will join rue des Trois Lacs / avenue Albert Gruffat, and turning left here will bring you back to the car park opposite the Pré Curral.