Before I retired, I put my name down to help with a group of Nestlé volunteers, who give up their time to take disabled people into the mountains. They use a specially designed ‘Joelette’, which has one wheel supporting a sort of modern sedan chair. (See pic 5 or link below). It has a disc brake to slow the descent and a little motor to help going uphill.
The weather forecast for the afternoon of our trip (i.e. last Friday) was not good, so the route was changed to be a relatively straightforward meander through the vineyards above Saillon.
I’ve been to Saillon a few times, but I learnt so much that day from Jean-Michel, the organiser and leader of the group. For example, I learnt that:
- The vineyard region is named after a guy called Farinet (1845-80), who escaped from an Italian jail and was a famous counterfeiter. You would think that this would make him unpopular, but he became known as the Robin Hood of the Alps, because he helped the poor. He’s now buried in Saillon and there’s a ‘Fausse Monnaie’ museum in the centre of the village in his honour.
- The world’s smallest registered vineyard, which has just three vines, is located above the village. Each year famous personalities from the world of sport, art and politics, come to ceremoniously work on the vines. (Some of their names are painted on signposts in the vineyard).
For a long time, the vines belonged to Abbé Pierre, but he bequeathed them to the Dalai Lama, who is still the owner today. There are hundreds of hand-written plaques placed near the vineyard with religious or spiritual messages.
Unfortunately, due to the rain and my hands being busy holding the Joelette, I didn’t manage to capture any images of this particular area. Sorry !
*For more information on the HandiCapRando organisation please see this link (in French).