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My Chamoson days

  • Chamoson and Wallis.

  • Under construction.

  • The beginning, “Jean-Louis” and “La colline”.

  • Digging snow and then to work.

  • Favorite meeting points.

  • Class 45.

  Chamoson and Wallis.

What is maybe a evidence for the swiss people, is a little less evident for the others, then when I talk to some people over here in “Normandie”, about “Wallis” I could be talking about a place on the Moon.

No, “Wallis” is not on the Moon, it is the light colored region on the map shown aside making up an big 'L', and goes from the source of the river “Le Rhône” up to the lake of Geneva, or “Lac Léman” for the Swiss.

The village Chamoson is somewhere in the circle on the map, which comes by the way from an excellent French web server “Mappy, on which you can find maps of towns and road and distance information.

Wallis has besides an important tourist activity, as main activity agriculture and wine production.    But you can also find important industrial activities higher up into the valley.    Wallis is also a very big electricity producer, there are a lot of hydro-electric power plants in Wallis, from which the most impressive one is the “Grande Dixance”, who is big enough to bury the Eiffel-Tower in the concrete up to the most upper floor so that only the antenna on the roof would stick out.

The image shown aside displays about the region inside the circle of the map shown above.    You will find here the village Chamoson with the surrounding villages Ardon, Leytron and Riddes.

You could find (and still can of course) the house I did buy on the end of the road marked in an area called Les Vérines, underlined in red here aside.

Chamoson is a community who lives mainly from wine fields and associated activities, nearly all the inhabitants do have their own piece of wine-field.    Most of the final treatment however, is done by the co-operative cellarage company Provins, but there are a lot of independent cellar owners who do the cellarage themselves.

Chamoson has also a very important tourist activity,and that higher up in the mountain, in an area called Les Mayens, near to municipality of Ovronnaz, who has a skiing area in the near.    The area of Mayens de Chamoson is an ideal place for people who like mountain hike in the summer and ski (walking) in the winter.    For more information on Chamoson or on Wallis, click on the hyperlinks.

  Under construction.

There we are, finally I could start to finish of the inside of the house, in other words, from 1975 to 1979.    During this period I went regularly to see my architect Gaillard, who was looking after it and doing the follow-up of the work done.

When I went to see him, he picked me generally up at the “Chamoson - Saint Pierre des Clages”, railway station or sometimes to from Sion, because I did not have a car yet at that time, what has come a lot later.

When time passed by, a friendship has build up between me and the couple Gaillard and their two suns.    I came very often with Gaillard to see the houses under construction he took care of, see the constructors and see other people.

It has been this way that I started to know plenty of people in Chamoson, even before I started living there.

Ok for the moment, we had to find lots of things, chose the floor coverage, find a complete kitchen at a reasonable price, get an open fire place installed.    Even when an open fire place looks nice, it does not heat very much, and therefore we needed electric heating, which has been installed for this purpose.

By chance that the municipality of Chamoson was installing waste-pipes that moment, even then when the installing company had sent a rather heavy bill, we had to do with it, we had no choice anyway.

The other advantage of those works were, was that the Swiss telephone company did use this to pull in new phone lines.    Increasing the number of possible connections on the Vérines from less than half a dozen to a largely sufficient number.    I did reserve a phone number that time, but the phone itself has been installed later when the house was finally finished.

  The beginning, “Jean-Louis” and “La Colline”.

Once the whole thing finished, there was of course nothing in it, completely empty.    The moment has come that I had to get furniture in, tables, chairs, some cabinets and obviously a bed !    But in the beginning I did not have any, no bed, no table or chairs, nothing, it was during the first week-ends that I passed each time by an Swedish dis-mountable furniture manufacturer to pick-up as much as possible.    Unfortunately I had to travel several times because of to volume.

It is during the first week-ends I came only Saturdays, in order to mount the stuff, do some painting and other things, and went back home in the evening.

It was this way that my first meeting point was at the place of Jean-Louis et Adeline, the couple running the “Café au Lion D'Or” in the village “Grugnay”, just a little higher up then Chamoson.

This picture shows Jean-Louis as retired man having an job at a park to look after the parking lot.

Those two people did help me a lot to integrate with the others, and it was good to be able to talk to someone, especially when my knowledge of Molière's language was not that what it is today, this because at the site of C.E.R.N., where I used mainly English and some German.

In fact, it has been the periods in Cointrin - « 33 » and at the beginning in Chamoson, which have largely contributed in improving my knowledge of Molière's language.

After having reasonably furnished my house, I could stay there the week-ends and started to go frequently to other places.    One of them was (and is still there of course) an open-air Restaurant called « La Colline Aux Oiseaux », which was at that time only open from April first until November first.     And when my information is correct, they should now be open all year now.

As single, I did make myself rarely to eat, I went rather down to the village to get my dinner at Jean-Louis place, la Colline, or at place called Saint-André, meeting point of the youth of Chamoson.    Then as anyone knows, you will not make friends nor do you get to know anyone when you stay closed up at home and watch TV.

  Digging snow and then to work.

Yes it was after I had accepted a job as system analyst at the site of l'E.P.F.L. in Lausanne, that I started to live in my house more and more frequently, and I finally finished up living there permanently.

This had on the other hand some inconveniences, because in the mountains when it snows it really snows, that means that you can count rather decimeters instead of centimeters.    And in those years it was for sure that I would have several centimeters of snow in the morning starting half December onwards.    This usually when I wanted to catch the train in Martigny or Saint-Pierre-des-Clages to go to work in Lausanne.

What anyone needed up there was a big snow-shovel, good shoes, and 4 wheel driven car.    In the little models of 4 wheel driven cars we had the choice between Subaru, Subaru and Subaru.    Anyway I could at least choose the color.

Of course writing this lines is a joke, then there were other models of 4 wheel driven cars available, even French models, however the choice for entry level models was limited to the one mentioned above.

It was not always fun in the morning, just before leaving, because very often I had to take courage and my snow-shovel, try to free the car, and then try to descend hoping that I would not cross the two guys with their snow engines busy to clean up the road.

This picture on the right shows how the mornings might sometimes look like, so nothing left than take courage and you snow-shovel before you can leave.    The road was usually kept clean by the Chamoson municipality and did not give any major problem, provided that you would not leave to early in the morning.

The Chamoson municipality used two big tractors with snow-shovels on it to do the job in the area where I used to live.    And for the road leading up to Les Mayens de Chamoson, they used to use a special modified truck.

In the beginning I have wondered why they rarely used salt to treat the road, but one could remind that that this was not only because of the environment, but also that salt has no effect what so ever as of than 5° C freezing (+/- 22° F) and more.    There is in fact a risk that the problem gets even worst, they used fine gravel instead.

  Favorite meeting points.

Of course that I used to know more people as time passed by as the ones I met at Jean-Louis and his wife Adeline's place.    They already retired for some time anyway and handed the place (Au Lion D'Or) over to Rose et Roger, with whom I became quickly friends.

You should not get the impression that I did nothing but going out, because I cannot write about evenings I sat at home and watched TV, that's no fun.    No, better write about the times called “apéro” and the week-ends, when the people had a little more time for them self and could go out.    Besides the fact that the people of “Wallis” tended and probably still do, more than others to meet in public areas.    It was in that time not rare that someone would pick up his accordion or his harmonica and create some atmosphere.    But that was usually only the week-ends, then at week-days it was rather “Boulot - Apéro - Dodo” (read: work - a quick drink - and then to bed).

Voilà, a little souvenir of a place where I frequently came that time.    Then I came there one day with a friend, just to have a drink, and there was a good atmosphere, and the result was that I continued to go there.    The lighter was a new year present that Fabienne, the girl who was running the “Pierrot”, gave to all her regular customers.

Anyway I do not smoke, and with the few times a did have to light my fire place, I did not have any risk on emptying this thing, so it ended up in a box with souvenirs.

So after time passed by, this lighter has become the memory of all the good time I have spent there at the “Pierrot”, with the (always the same) pinball players, for my part I was unable to play correctly this thing, then for me the ball goes always there where it should not go.

NOTE: The French word for pinball is flipper, which nothing to do with this dolphin TV series !

I went of course frequently to other places, for example “Buffet de Gare” in “Saint-Pierre-Des-Clages”, this is very obvious, then a Buffet de gare is there where can wait for the train, then in order to go to Lausanne I had to take the train either in a while in “Saint-Pierre-Des-Clages”, or in Martigny.    But so once in a while I did just go to “Buffet de Gare” to get one of those excellent cheese fondues of “Marie-Jo”, who was running the place, used to make.

Obviously when getting back from work, I did stop on the way up sometimes at Rita et Jo's place, a couple of my age who had taken over the place from their mother.    It was good be able to talk about anything but work, and specially when just coming back from work.    Then we are not at work twenty four hours a day, then staying with colleagues from work, you will finish of talking work.

Finally I hope that all of them and all places who haven't been mentioned, do not become displeased, then after 15 years I have know so many people and places that this page would have been to long.    Anyway I will never forget my neighbors in Vérines and all the friends over there.     I could unfortunately not include more pictures in this page, then I do not have them.

  Class 45.

It has been at one this so called “apéro“ meetings that I came across my Vérines neighbor Simon, who is a carpenter and farmer in his spare time, with two others.    It was by talking about anything that we found that we were all of the same year, 1945, and so came that one of them, I believe that i was Simon, asked me why I haven't been coming at the meetings.    So I have got as answer on my question “Which meetings ?” “Of course, the Chamoson Class 45 meetings”.    In fact it is usual, at least in the “Wallis” part where I used to live, that the inhabitants of a village having the same age meet once or twice a year to go out or have a dinner.    This was an offer I could not refuse, and this way I became part of “Class 45” of Chamoson, and thereafter I have gone out frequently with them, sometime with a bus up to into France.

This type of meetings existed in the past in order that class mates could meet after having left school.    But as today this meetings have become meetings of inhabitants of the same age, both boys and girls.    However spouses or boy and girlfriends where not allowed to come unless they were from the same village and the same age.

It was was when I have sold my house in

« Vérines de Chamoson »

that my day here have ended.

  Some important events of those days (1986 - 1995).

  • The Berlin wall.

  • The end of U.S.S.R.

  • The golf war.

  • The Oslo peace talks.

  • The Palestinians have their own piece of land.

  • The Maastricht agreement.

  • Yitzak Rabin has been killed.

To know more about:



La Colline aux Oiseaux




Click on the links.

Wolter Smit, Freelance Computer Engeneer
15 Rue du 13 Août 1944
27940 Courcelles Sur Seine - FRANCE