Each new spring season, ❄️ the snow melts and the 🌷 first spring flowers peep up shyly from the lawns; this re-awakening of nature is the perfect invitation for a buggy stroll . . . Early in 🌷 the spring season there may still be too much ❄️ snow along the river paths at higher altitude in 🏔 the Pays du Mont-Blanc, but there is a lovely stretch of 💦 riverside down in Passy, along the 💦 Arve river, where you will get 🎨 art, as well as 🌿 nature, on your buggy stroll: the Parcours de l’Eau Artistique (artistic waterside walk).
This 💦 waterside walk, which leaves from Mountain Store, was provided by the 🎨 Fondation Art Oxylane, a foundation set up by Decathlon, offering new and current perspectives on the links between art and sport. It made sense to set up another art parcours in Passy, which was rich in art.
[ ⇒ see here for more information about Passy’s art history ]
And, as well as the sculptures, you will also find 🌿 the landscape trail set up by Mountain Store, and a fun game – Le Labyrinthe de l’Arve, which teaches youngsters about the 🌿 riparian forest along the Arve.
An added bonus of this short stroll is that you can ☕️ stop for lunch or coffee on the sunny Mountain Store terrace (Restaurant Camp de Base and snack bar), pause at one of the picnic tables, or indulge at one of the regular 🍔 foodtrucks that are on-site during the week (currently limited, but hopefully all to re-open soon).
Oxylane Art Foundation (Fondation Oxylane Art)
The 🎨 Fondation Oxylane Art was set up in France in 2009, and ran through until 2015, the central aim being to create a link between art and sport, allowing the greater public to enjoy and appreciate art creations, as “l’art, comme le sport, génère un dynamisme optimiste, contagieux pour les collaborateurs et les clients“; in our area specifically, this manifests as a fusion of 🎨 art and 🗻 mountains.
Parcours de l’Eau Artistique
This stroll starts from Mountain Store, and you follow in the sense or the 💦 Arve river current, for about 1km. On your return stroll (same river path), you’ll be facing 🏔 Mont-Blanc. There are 🎨 three works of art along the way, with benches for musing. The path is easy and works well with a buggy, and is also great on 🚵♀️ a bike, or with a child on a draisienne.
Roulement by Basserode
Basserode’s steel stone, le rocher sonore, is the first creation you’ll happen across: « Camouflaged on the banks of the Arve, Basserode’s Corten steel rock sings in the passing water. This sonic fossil intones, for walkers, the murmur of timeless nature. A fruit of the industrial revolution, the Corten steel is a material specifically created to help buildings resist atmospheric conditions. Rusty in essence, Basserode’s work is at once the ruin and the celebration of this science. While water cannot oscidse it any firther, the rock is complicit in its moods. Did it tumble down from the ice heights with the tumulmtuous waters of the Ave? Or is it a reminder of a time when the river ran faster and wider in this valley? ». Stop and listen – do you hear the rock murmering?
Basserode details: born in Nice in 1958, and he studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts;
The walk continues along the 💦 Arve river . . .
After a while, you’ll come to:
Flaques by Fabien Lerat
Fabien Lerat’s Flaques are so peaceful, with the 💦 water sometimes reflecting 🍃 🍂 leaves or 🏔 mountains, sometimes still, sometimes moving. The rain water fills the cast iron basins, reforms, becomes a mirror, sometimes overflows . . . « . . . a puddle of water reflects the peaks. On one side the current, the speed, on the other calm water, a still image, that never stops infiltrating and digging its hole in the earth, to be totally absorbed. The whitewater measures the time, the calm water reflets space ».
Fabien Lerat details: born in 1960, Fabien Lerat lives and works in Paris / website;
If you stop to really look, then you’ll see reflections in the water.
A bit further along and you’ll come to the last of the works of art, which is visible from the main road, if you are driving or biking:
Les Gardiens by Gloria Friedmann
Gloria Friedmann’s Les Gardiens show « an ibex and a bearded vulture – both found in the Arve Valley – Gloria Friedmann’s work renders the surrounding nature in all its many dimensions. ». Both endemic animals are mounted on a globe, like a totem.
Gloria Friedmann details: she was born in 1950, in Germany / more information here;
[ good to know: pick up a leaflet about the parcours and the artists from the Tourist Office within Mountain Store ]
Le cheminement en bord d’Arve – worksheets for children here;
L’Arve: la rivière du Mont-Blanc au Léman
Le Syndicat mixte d’aménagement de l’Arve et de ses affluents (SM3A) has put together a themed walk along 💦 l’Arve, for walkers and bikers, with the ultimate aim of linking the💦source de l’Arve and Lac Léman. This project has put into valor this important river, whose riverside had fallen into decline. Over time, different sections are being restored. See here for the website details.
Around Passy, 💦 the water theme is divided into three sections:
- 🏭 l’eau mécanique – this section extends from l’Abbaye to Mountain Store;
- 🌳 l’eau naturelle – this is presented as a labyrinth for children, located near Mountain Store. Within this labyrinth, you will learn about the 🌿 riparian forest, situated along the river channels. This unique ecosystem aids aquatic life and is made up of very specific flora, adapted to the fresh water: ashes, willows, alders. The riparian forest is fundamental for the proper functionning of the river: 1) it protects the riverbanks from erosion; 2) it offers hiding places for local animals; 3) it absorbs nitrates, by fixing phosphates and by generating shade, which helps to retain a good water quality; 4) it can prevent flooding, by limiting the force and speed of the water during high rise;
- 🖼 l’eau artistique – this is the sculpture trail, highlighted above;
My elder son and I explored the labyrinth last week . . . it was great and felt especially wild, as it is currently a bit overgrown!
It is fascinating to explore the 🌿 riparian woodland and flora along the river path:
As you walk along the 💦 Arve river path, you’ll catch glimpses of the river. At certain points, you can get down closer to the river (note: be especially careful with young children as the 💦 Arve is a fast-running river!).
This path is great for buggies, as it is wide and fairly flat. On ☀️ hotter days, you’ll find many spots in 🌳 the shade of the trees.
You’ll also find some well-appointed benches, for rest and reflection.
And you’ll also find lots of picnic tables (and some BBQ facilities too!).
Mountain Store landscape trail and rock garden
We’ve had a few 🍏 goûter stops here, after swimming lessons nearby . . . it is a good play area for children! Mountain Store, with the help of the 🦌 Centre de la Nature Montagnarde, has set up a virtual small-scale tour of 🏔 our mountains and river valley, with the use of explanatory pannels and features (a rock desert, a gouille, a peat bog, etc . . .).
The small on-site gouille (a small mountain pond):
Some explanatory panels:
Some 🌸 saplings have recently been planted:
There are also some 🐝 ruches (beehives) nearby. We saw 🐍 a little grass snake nearby! (it was too fast and I only managed a photo of his tail, as he was retreating to calmer terrain!).
If you work at Mountain Store, you sure do have lots of lovely space for breaks!
Mountain Store visits – « Wed’ze inside »
It is in Passy, in the shadow of 🏔 Mont-Blanc, that Mountain Store unites ⛷ the three ski mountain sport brands of Decathlon: Quechua, Wed’ze and Simond. But did you know that all of the Wed’ze products (the brand dedicated to ski and snowboarding) are conceived and developed at Mountain Store centre international de design? And you can see what goes on there, derrière les coulisses (behind the scenes). This innovative creative hub is located near the ski stations, skiers and snowboarders that it is trying to attract, and it has a 70 strong team working to design new products. It takes 18 months from conception to production of a new product: on board are engineers and designers, and then a group of people who test out the first prototypes at the store and also out in the wild . . . they then head back to the lab, where they are perfected. Having the shop within the design centre offers a space to test equipment and to exchange with clients.
when can you visit? FREE visits are offered on Thursdays, upon reservation: 04 50 78 50 00;
address: Mountain Store, 170 avenue Léman Mont-Blanc, 74190, Passy;