This past weekend, we explored a little part of the Valais, and the villages of Vissoie, St. Luc, Grimentz, and Ayer.
These beautiful, ancient towns are full of little houses made of "madrier," solid, squared blocks of wood which notch into one another on the corners like Lincoln logs.
These are granaries in the picture above. Many of the granaries, and some of the houses, are built on stilts, sometimes with flat stones on top of the stilts, to keep out mice.
Since this is a traditionally Catholic area, there are many roadside shrines and crosses. This beautiful little roadside shrine carries a carving of Mother Mary carrying baby Jesus. Carved at the bottom are the words, "Notre Dame de La Route, Protege Nous," or, "Our Lady of the Roads, Protect Us." And we do need protecting on the narrow, cliff-edged roads of this area.
The wood on the old houses has turned black with age and exposure to wind, rain, snow, and sun.
Some of the streets are too small for cars, and are pedestrian only.
Some of the buildings are decorated with hand carving.
This area was settled by farmers who herded their cows into the mountains for the summer, to eat the fresh grass and herbs of the alpage, made cheese with the milk, and tended their vines in the Fall after coming back down into the valleys with their herds.
I like the weathered wood on the old granaries which line the cobbled streets.
I wonder what this kettle was used for. Making cheese?
We saw a wonderful garden with a miniature village carved by a grandfather who lived in the chalet where we stayed. We were fascinated by the time and care which he put into creating the little buildings.