Posted by: sunshack | December 24, 2011


It’s not often that I get up in the morning and the day starts to go wrong, but when it does happen, clearly there is some catching up to do. My day started normally and well ordered. I was heading for Chamonix, just a quick hop by train from Martigny, Checked on the Swiss Rail website, no delays or problems showing, what could go wrong?

Everything was going to plan until I left to catch my Bus to Sierre. Someone had locked the external door to our apartment block. No problem as we have a Master key, which fits the outside door, so all was fine, right up to the point at which the key failed to turn. I was locked in!

Hmm, not good, but all was not lost as I could hear shovelling noises, and banged on the glass and and shouted until the snow clearing contractors came into view. They thought that being locked in was amusing.

I failed to see how it was funny and gave up on asking them for help. Of course we have two “identical” door keys and once I’d managed to dig out the other one, I got the door opened and even managed to make my bus. These are identically numbered keys, and are supposed to be the same!

So, my 1st bus was on time, the 2nd bus was late arriving in Sierre, so I watched my train connection pull out.

The next train was late, so I missed my connection in Martigny. On arrival in Martigny, I look at the service board to see that my next train, and all others will terminate in Le Chatelard Frontiere with no linking bus or rail service towards Vallorcine and Chamonix.

I decide to ask in the SBB Ticket Office, where I’m met with a shrug from the staff and a suggestion of a taxi. My day was turning ever so slightly Pear shaped.

My train departs with me and a handful of other passengers. I chat to a fellow passenger,  who tells me that there has been no service for several days, but the service might start from 4pm. I’m the only person getting off at the end of the line. It’s now raining hard.

I head into a Bar which has a very friendly dog!

The staff tell me that a Taxi will cost 100 Francs and suggest that I hitch to Vallorcine, it’s only 2km. So, off I set in the rain, across the Border with my luggage and skis, and up the road to Vallorcine which runs beside the rail track, with thumb extended!

Not many cars passed me! I’d got close to Vallorcine and got a lift with a lady who works at Chamonix Tourist Office, which was wonderful. She drove me to the rail station in Vallorcine, which was closed for the day. She drove me to her home, loaned me some dry socks and made some phone calls on my behalf. I was getting closer to Chamonix, one village at a time!

Apparently, when the train service does not run, and the Col des Montets is closed, then cars can go through the rail tunnel in single file at set times during the day. This is how I arrived in the Chamonix valley, courtesy of a lift from Ski Instructor Richard Etellin of
Apparently the train was derailed by snow, though I can tell you that the roads were fine that evening.

The night before I was due to make my return journey to Switzerland, I went to Chamonix train station to ask about the service. “No idea when it will run” was the response.

So I caught an Alpybus and returned via Geneva, first time I’ve used them, and a very good service it was.