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Take a rack railway through classic Alpine vegetation, alongside the melt water channel of the glacier. A small cable car travels down to the ice front and a tourist tunnel gives students a unique viewpoint of what happens underneath the glacier. This is an excellent location to look at features and processes directly related to the ice and to consider weathering and erosion; possibly the ultimate location for a case study specific ‘field sketch’.
The Bossons is the steepest European glacier and as a result has the lowest ice front. It has been used by scientists for decades as a key indicator of climate change. A chairlift takes you to 1,400m. From its terrace, there is a fabulous view of the glacier’s terminal tongue and the ice-pinnacles of Plateau des Pyramides. An exhibition in the form of an interpretative walk relates the glacier’s fascinating history with panels along the path explaining the life of the glacier, the Little Ice Age and the evolution of the glacier.
Take the highest cable car ride in Europe to 3,842m at the top of the Aiguille du Midi and take in the incredible view. A lift travels through the rock to the topmost balcony where views extend across the glaciers and mountain pass into Italy and Switzerland.
Chamonix is the winter sports capital of the Alps. More recently it has rebranded itself as a summer adventure destination and the gateway to southern Europe via the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Students can gather information on a number of different topics and present their results. Conduct a settlement comparison between Chamonix and Courmayeur on the south side of the tunnel. The tunnel itself and the surrounding landscape provide good examples of hazards associated with the Alps and their management. (An additional road toll may apply)
Take your group on a half day visit to Le Bettex, which is a small village with ski slopes that make up part of the vast St Gervais-Mont Blanc and Megeve ski area. This half day module allows groups to consider the impacts of tourism on the natural alpine vegetation.
The Emosson Dam provides a stunning example of management of the Alpine landscape for both hazard control and economic advantage. The view from the front of the dam across the Mont Blanc Range is stunning. The dam can be reached by local coach or by taking the ride of a lifetime on Europe’s highest funicular railway.
An amazing piece of engineering which travels 12.5km through spectacular scenery to the Nid’ d’Aigle overlooking the Bionnassay glacier. This location provides a good introduction to the Alpine landscape.
The Col des Montets on the Swiss border provides an excellent opportunity for some practical river study measurements. Sediment analysis investigations to examine the possible origin of deposits beside the river can also be carried out. A short drive into Switzerland provides excellent views of farming, settlements and industry in the Rhone Valley.
Take a full day visits to Annecy, which is often described as the Venice of France, and is situated next to what is claimed to be the cleanest lake in Europe. From the monastery high above the town you can get an overview of the layout of the settlement. This is an excellent and safe place to carry out studies looking at land-use zonation and service provision. Later in the day there is time to take a boat cruise around the lake.
Bex is in the heart of the Rhone Valley, 30 minutes drive from Sion. An audiovisual presentation and exhibition relates the fascinating story of salt mining over three centuries and is shown in an old reservoir that was dug in 1826. A narrow-gauge train takes you on a journey 400m below the earth. A guided walk through caverns allows your pupils to discover the effort that went into searching for salt sources and into breaking up the rock to extract the salt. This option provides a good industry case study and can be used to introduce some basic geology. This is a full day visit.
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