Back in the Valley, in the French part, at the Lac de Géronde, with other friends (one from Japan, another one from Italy), we tried the Paddle with Peter, who comes from the same country as I do.
Peter is a season worker. During the wintertime, he teaches skiing, and the summer time…he didn’t know yet, until trying his paddle business. Every sunny day he is standing there, under a white arbor, ready to welcome new customers.
Though, during weekdays, the activity is really quiet. The weekend brings a bit more people. Peter hopes to have more.
Many people do not know the sport activity. Some some of them think it is also hard to practice, which actually isn’t. It comes from Hawaii. It is easy to use this activity to carry things or people around the lake. Peter’s wife was carrying their children on board.
The paddle looks like surf and kayak, with a wide board, where you stand up and paddle. It is really steady. If you don’t feel comfortable getting up on it, you can always start on your knees. I am not a fan of sport, and I can say that I really enjoyed that one. It is really rare to fall in the water with it. Of course, I managed to, and got back on board with the help of the lash, which was not mandatory to wear.
Peter said that outside the leisure aspect of this sport, some people compete too. They paddle in Paris or in the Lac Souterrain de Saint Léonard. Athletes wear there a sport suit because of the coldness of the water.
Le Lac Souterrain
My Swiss friend found himself involved that day at the Lac Souterrain of Saint Léonard, where I was attending for an underground tour on a boat. The cave is the biggest natural water stock in Europe with 260m lengths and 29m widths. The water temperature remains at 11 degrees the whole year.
We discovered the lake in 1943, and then it was opened to the public in 49. The earthquakes, plentiful in the Valais, made the lake accessible to small boats.
Our guide, a young student who is 17 years old, was speaking German, French and English. Impressive isn’t it? Despites his lack in self-confidence, it was driving well the boat and could tell us few stories with a “gently-scary” atmosphere. My Swiss friend though said that he used to go there a couple times, and the previous guide was showing much more. Guides notably shows on the walls marks and shapes that are interesting to spot, like the crocodile on the ceiling.
Sometimes, there are concerts happening inside the cave too. The acoustic underground is really good, as I already notice in the salt mine in Turda, Romania. In Saint Leonard though, music bands perform on a boat, and the public listen on some other ones too. Dancing is then complicated.
At the end of the visit, our young guide said something that shocked both of us. He was asking for tips because that would be his only wage.
Nevertheless, the Lac Souterrain de Saint Léonard was a good cultural and historic moment, of about 30 minutes. It is open everyday during the summer time. Take patience if you want to visit it a day where the thunderstorm comes too (To 900 visitors those days). More visitors tend to come at the same time; they would rather enjoy the nice sunny days outside.