9th July, la Léchère, Ferret 1877m – Issert 1055m – Hotel Splendide, Champex 1466m, 5 h
This stage is the easiest and lowest of the Tour, not crossing any passes, but can be very pleasant. The route wanders down-valley from La Fouly amidst arguably the most charming scenery of the whole trek, past meadows, the river, la Drance de Ferret, and through forests. It passes along the top of a wooded glacial morraine, the Crete de Saleina, before reaching the villages of Praz de Fort, les Arlaches and Issert in the valley floor. Peter and Uli followed this route but in view of the still miserable weather I took the Swiss post-bus. At Issert (1,055m) I started the gentle ascent through woods to Champex (1,466m) and its high position in a saddle between the mountains le Catogne and la Breya. Fortunately after several nights in huts Peter and I had again booked a luxurious stay at the traditional Hotel Splendide, normally commanding fine views over the Val Ferret. The weather did relent enough for us to walk along the picturesque lake before an excellent dinner at the Auberge au Club Alpin where Uli was staying.