At the end of August 2019 I had the pleasure of spending a week in the picturesque mountain village of Grand Bornand, a ski resort located in the Aravis Mountains in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps. Although most popular during the winter months, the surrounding mountains and forests make Grand Bornand a fantastic place to visit in summer. There are plenty of outdoor activities offering access to amazing landscapes, warm sunshine and gorgeous soundscapes of birdsong and distant alpine cowbells.
One day we decided to rent mountain bikes and spend the day exploring some of the nearby mountain range. Knowing I would be nearer towards the summit and further away from human activity I was hopeful there would be some interesting, and quiet, natural soundscapes to record. With this in mind, I made sure to pack my portable recorder in my backpack. The ascent was physically challenging but took us through some gorgeous mountain scenery, initially through winding country lanes and paths, passing many wooden chalets and the odd field of grazing cows. Then we entered some beautiful pine forests with a refreshing coolness accompanied by a strong smell of pine.
As we came out of the forest we began to climb again not far from reaching the summit of the Col de Châtillon at 1650 metres. Just before reaching the top of the steep hill we passed a large open meadow with a mix of very tall thick grass and beautiful pink flowers. I immediately noticed a very loud insect presence coming from the meadow, so I pulled over to the side and got my recorder out. As I approached the edge of the meadow I saw a hive of activity including bees buzzing from one flower to another as well as grasshoppers and crickets. I setup my recorder on top of a fence post which marked the edge of the meadow and recorded this gentle summer insect chorus.
Each time I listen to this I am instantly transported back to that very moment standing in a beautiful meadow surrounded by stunning mountain views. I really enjoyed exploring the Aravis Mountains and the Haute-Savoie region is definitely one I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t been here before.