The Barry’s Abroad – Part 2

All is well here in Menthon, St Bernard. The kids are settling into school, they are both enjoying some freedoms here that are quite different to Australia. For example, the school day commences at 8am and is quite long, officially finishing at 4:30pm. The French kids have Wednesday afternoons off. If the children do not have a class scheduled they are allowed to leave the school. As our girls are not completing end of year exams they have enjoyed a bit more time off than Tom and I had imagined! This has meant a few family walks exploring some of the local trails but if the girls have their way, a visit to the town of Annecy to do some shopping and exploring. We have dipped our toe into the lake but only the girls have been brave enough to go for a swim as its still pretty cool.

As Menthon St Bernard is a tourist town, we are enjoying some quiet time here getting to know a few locals before the influx of French holiday makers in July and August.

Not many of you will know this, but Tom and I have always enjoyed a bit of bike racing. As the Giro D’Italia is currently racing at the moment, we took the opportunity to travel 3 hours south west through the Alps to watch a couple of stages with the kids.

We were lucky enough to be at the finish of Stage 14, a particularly exciting stage eventually won by an Englishman racing for an Australian team. Until the final kms there were quite a few in contention for the win. One, a soon to be retired Italian who had the whole country baracking and another, a young Aussie having a great race so far and second currently overall. We knew the Italians loved their bike racing but it was still bigger than I had imagined to experience first hand.

We had a great position to see the end of the cycling stage. Big crowds, warm day, no COVID here!

Tom and I have also enjoyed a little bike riding of our own, conquering a few of the local mountains.
In our early weeks here we realised that the gradients were more than we had experienced and it was a wise move to put a few more gears on our bikes. There is no warm up here, the road goes straight up away from the lake. Because of the inclines, we are not traveling too many kms and we are never really too far from home, nor a good restaurant if you need one!
We are constantly surprised as to the variety of modes of transport around here. E-bikes have certainly allowed much more access through the hilly area we live, but the French are overwhelmingly healthy (in spite of much smoking – but that’s another story) and they opt for a bike to get from a – b.

Mount Semnoz is the mountain directly overlooking the City of Annecy. It was an epic day on the bike. I’m hoping with some fitness, it’s easier next time!

The lake (Annecy) is more beautiful than I could have imagined. It was formed by a glacier 18,000 years ago and has a maximum depth of 80 metres. It’s the 3rd biggest lake in France. About 25 years ago the French made a big effort to get it clean and it really is the bright blue colour you see in the photos. Even I seem to be able to take some beautiful pics here.


Our lovely little village of Menthon St Bernard. Lots of paragliding here and this is a view of the lake from a different angle. 

We are all going really well. I am particularly enjoying the quality family time but it’s probably time now to start getting out there to practice our French a little more and meet some people.

– Lisa Barry