Roller-coaster and hiking in the Alps, France

Location: Rimplas, La Colmiane, France
Date: August 2010
Duration: One week
Distance: 1000 to 2500 meters of altitude
Transportation: Hiking, roller-coaster
Viewed: 6663 times
Comments: 2
Valdeblore is a district in the French Alps made of a ski resort named La Colmiane and four small villages Saint-Dalmas, La Roche, La Bolline and Molli?res.

Rimplas is another nearby village that is its own district.

The area is an absolute gem nested in the French Alps, a little paradise just a short distance away from the French Riviera with unparalleled air quality and peacefulness.

Outdoor activities are countless, ranging from lying down in the sun, enjoying the fresh and pure air of the Alps, to short hikes along the quite roads and trails, to more serious hiking in the nearby Mercantour. Mountain biking, paragliding, snowboarding and skying in winter, rock climbing and its Via Ferrata are some of other activities many come to enjoy.

A recent addition is the alpine roller-coaster, named locally 'luge d'été', built on the slopes used in winter at the ski resort of La Colmiane.

Alpine Roller-Coaster
It is curiously not so well advertised in the valley but it's really worth the trip. A ticket for one ride is quite expensive but booklets of rides offering a discount can be bought at the booth down the hill.

During the week, it's pretty quite in La Colmiane, there's no waiting at the ski lift and no waiting at the top to come back down. The weekends are said to be quite active with all the locals coming up from the coast. If you can come up during the week, the choice is a no brainer.

Each individual car of the ride is quite simple, a seat, a seatbelt and a stick to control the speed. Pushing forward leads to the maximum speed while pulling on the stick activates the brakes.

There's a second seatbelt to strap a young kid on an adult's lap. That's it, no waiver to sign, no deposit, no paperwork.

The slope is the one being used in winter by skiers and snowboarders. It's apparently the longest ride in the French Alps. I like to think it is the highest roller-coaster in the world, avoiding the need to fly to some Six Flags Magic Mountain park in America.
I was told that some bigger rides have already been built in the Swiss Alps. The concept is the ultimate roller-coaster.
Cars in line at the top of the ride
Cars in line at the top of the ride
Ski lift to reach the top of the roller coaster
Ski lift to reach the top of the roller coaster
One of the tightest turns down the thrillride
One of the tightest turns down the thrillride

Some of the tight turns like the one below are quite impressive but pushing the stick forward to the maximum will never make the car reach any kind of unsafe seed.
I was told that it's all been correctly engineered.
Small bump to cross a dirt road
Small bump to cross a dirt road

Find below a video I shot with my iPhone while also holding my kid next to me with the other hand. The shots are not super stable but you'll get the idea.
An absolute thrill ride that is really worth the expense and the trip.


Alpine Roller Coaster


Down the hill in La Colmiane there are many other outdoor activities for young kids and adults. One of the best is to simply lie down on the grass by the lake and enjoy the splendid view on the Mercantour mountains with the Argentera and the Gelas.
The peacefulness of the surroundings is quite unique.
Mercantour mountains viewed from La Colmiane
Mercantour mountains viewed from La Colmiane
Lake of La Colmiane
Lake of La Colmiane

Rimplas
Rimplas is a small village of roughly a hundred souls right outside the district of Valdeblore. It's made of a group of houses perched on the ridge above the valley at an altitude of 1000 meters.
The view from there on the Valdeblore villages and the valley is spectacular. It's a very quite place, that's a sure thing and only a short driving distance from La Bolline and Saint-Dalmas for grocery shopping.
There is a hotel and also a restaurant, Le Pous-Café that also acts like the only local grocery store.
Village entrance
Village entrance

It looks like the houses in the village are in better condition and better maintained than they used to be. There's also more activity most likely thanks to the local high school built in La Bolline, which must help families to stay away or move out from the crowded big cities down the coast.
Very cute house in the streets of the village
Very cute house in the streets of the village

If you happen to visit Rimplas, I definitely recommend a stop at Le Pous-Café. The decoration and ambiance are great. The food is very good, the owners are very welcoming and accommodating and the prices are very reasonable. I am pretty sure that the next time I visit the village I will eat there more often and save time on grocery shopping down the valley.
They also manage the tiny grocery store next door, the only one in the village. You will not be able to shop here daily but if you look for a last minute item for your meal, you might very find it here.
Also, if you order a baguette early enough, they can get it for you from the bakery in La Bolline.
La place du Champas 
 and the restaurant Le Pous Café
La place du Champas
and the restaurant Le Pous Café
A cute paved pedestrian street down the village
A cute paved pedestrian street down the village

During the season, hunting is quite developed among the locals. I thought this sign was quite unique and was worth the picture. It says 'Skins, heads and guts have to be thrown away at the old garbage dump (without plastic bag) at the beginning of the trail. Forbidden in trashcans inside the village. The hunting society.'
A message from the local hunting society
A message from the local hunting society

Like in many villages, cats can quickly become a problem as they breed freely without any real control from the humans who originally brought them in.
And without proper financing from the municipality, advising citizens is the way to go to educate and avoid costly solutions to the problem.
This sign is quite informative and the data are pretty astounding. It says 'Have your cats sterilized. Within four years, a couple of cats can lead to a population of 20 736 cats. Think about it today!'
Message from the Conseil General
Message from the Conseil General

Dog Rose Bedeguar - Bédégar de l'églantier
While hiking around the village, if you pay attention you'll find this kind of situation quite often.
A bedeguar also spelled bedegar (or bédégar in French) is a gall that looks like a soft and hairy little spongy bush like the one shown on the picture below.

Dog Rose Bedeguar gall caused by a cynips, the Diplolepis rosae 
 Dog Rose (Rosa canina) is known as the églantier in France
Dog Rose Bedeguar gall caused by a cynips, the Diplolepis rosae
Dog Rose (Rosa canina) is known as the églantier in France

A bedeguar is an abnormal local growth of the plant, here a Dog Rose, triggered by the intrusion of an insect, in our case a cynips called Diplolepis rosae, also known as Rhodites rosae.

This cynips is a small insect that looks like a tiny wasp of the order Hymenoptera. Hymenopteran females are equipped with an ovipositor that can also be a stinger, and it certainly looks like one, but its primary purpose is not to sting. It is a long piercing organ used to drill a hole into a host’s body and then precisely lay down eggs inside the space prepared to that effect. Not all ovipositors are stingers but when they are, a poison is injected into the host to paralyze the insect’s prey so that eggs can be laid inside it peacefully.

A few days after being laid down, the insect’s larva hatches. The insect intrusion into the plant triggers the birth and growth of the bedeguar. What’s interesting to note is that if the larva dies, the bedeguar dies too which means the larva itself nurtures the growth of the bedeguar.

The actual detail of the interaction between the cynips and the plant that triggers the growth of this abnormality is still unclear. It is as if the insect were modifying the genetic material of its host so that the bedeguar can grow as the larva grows, feeding the larva at the same time it provides a safe nest for its development.

Mother nature always has some quite impressive tricks in reserve to always amaze us.

Hiking above the village
It is virtually impossible to get bored while living around here. The possibilities for outdoor activities are just endless. The perfect recipe to stay in excellent shape and in a perfect mood. The recipe worked quite well for the oldest man in the village who will soon turn a hundred.
Just a short hike above the village offers breathtaking views on the valley below and even the Mediterranean Sea if you get high enough in altitude.
We hiked to the water reservoir used by the fire department in case of emergency. Helicopters can simply fly over to pump the water into their tanks.
It was tempting to soak our feet inside this private pool but the icy cold temperature of the water made it quite challenging.
Water reservoir used by the fire department 
 From there we can spot the Mediterranean Sea in the background
Water reservoir used by the fire department
From there we can spot the Mediterranean Sea in the background
View of Rimplas from the trail to the reservoir
View of Rimplas from the trail to the reservoir

Further away from the village and way higher up in altitude is the trail that leads to the lakes of Millefonts at roughly 2400 meters in altitude. A must do if you like altitude and the vegetation that comes with it. We spotted a group of Chamois playing and sliding down the snow further away from us, too far away for my small point and shoot camera to snap them.
The flowers were small and just gorgeous. Below, find a few of them like these white flowers that smelled quite good without even having to bend over and get close to the ground.
I don't know the name of these little guys but they are typical of the higher grounds when you hike in the Alps.
White flours 
 Intense smell caracterisic of the high alpine fields
White flours
Intense smell caracterisic of the high alpine fields
Joubarbe à toile d'araignée
Joubarbe à toile d'araignée
Lac Long 
 one of the lakes in 
 Lacs des Millefonts
Lac Long
one of the lakes in
Lacs des Millefonts
Rhododendron Ferrugineux 
 typically grows above the tree line in the Alps
Rhododendron Ferrugineux
typically grows above the tree line in the Alps

When you spot Rhododendrons growing in the Alps that means you have reached the tree line. The altitude is quite right for trees to stop growing, leaving the room for the short grass and smaller plants to grow.

When you're there, it really feels like you're in heaven.

(2) COMMENTS
On December 16, 2011 - 13:59 (GMT) from Ed Austin (United Kingdom):

Your pics are excellent, makes me want to go there next summer.
The luge looks awesome. How much was it per trip?
Ed

On December 31, 2010 - 13:35 (GMT) from LE POUS CAFE RIMPLAS FRANCE:

Thank you for your article on the Pous Café.
By hoping to see again you this summer in Rimplas!
Good continuation !
Elodie from the Pous Café

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