““Entre Terre et Ciel”.
Writers such as Ella Maillart and Corinne Bille have been inspired to write about this old village, perched high above the Val d’Anniviers at 2’000 metres on a sunny spur of mountain. A group of 17 choir members and congregation made their way up from Geneva to this alpine paradise to enjoy a weekend of breathtaking views and strenuous walks culminating in a beautiful service of sung matins at the “Chapelle des Daillettes”.
The chapel was built by subscription at the end of the 19th century for the English guests at the Grand Hotel de Chandolin (opened in 1897) who would come up by mule from Sierre to spend the summer at Chandolin. We stayed at the Grand Hotel itself which is just next door so we like those English visitors of long ago could simply step across from the hotel to the chapel. The Grand Hotel itself has been restored, rather than renovated and so has retained its original charm and enjoys a wonderful view of the “Couronne Impèriale” – the five summits over 4’000 metres which are the glory of the valley. (Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Overgabelhorn, Matterhorn and Dent-Blanche).
On Saturday we made our way for lunch at the iconic Hotel Weisshorn, perched above St Luc. Some stalwarts walked from Chandolin others used the funicular from St Luc for part of the way. A few decided that the sunny terrace at the top of the funicular would do very nicely. Those who made it to the hotel Weisshorn were rewarded by the panaromic view and of course the famous “tarte aux myrtilles” of the establishment. Two of our walkers were challenged by losing the soles from their walking shoes – perhaps the shoes decided there was just too much air, sun and beauty to cope! On Sunday afternoon we split into two walking groups. One party walked up to the Illhorn cabin, a Swiss Alpine Club cabin above Chandolin, via a restored “bise” – the traditional method of watering the alpine pastures and vegetable patches. The other party chose to take the chairlift up the alp of Chandolin to Le Tsapé and explored the Illsee and Lac Noir.
Sung Matins in the chapel was beautiful and moving and much appreciated by the handful of visitors and local residents who joined us and asked us if we could come back next year!
All through the weekend, the spirit of Roy Damary, who was in fact the instigator of this outing, was very much with us as we remembered him with love and affection and missed his energetic presence – it was very much a few days “entre terre et ciel”.