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LOL - James Cove, Manigod
Saturday July 27, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

It is an alpine hike with a difference. A route with a series of activities including massage, yoga, nature trails, story telling & a lady who teaches people to laugh, out loud. We are not joking.

"You need to breath in, raise your diaphram and then just laugh. Think of a joke or something funny if you wish but the best is just to laugh. It should come naturally you know," said Madame Chausson. 

"It will help your circulation, bring more oxygen into your system and make your heart work. It is very good for your health and general well-being," she added solemnly.

I was standing in an alpine pasture high above the beautiful French resort of Manigod near Lake Annecy.

I certainly felt like smiling, but perhaps not laughing.

The Lake Annecy Ski Resorts of Manigod, La Clussaz, Grand Bornand and Saint Jean de Sixt have been hosting a week-long series of free events for families this month.

We will be reporting later on PlanetSKI about the week and what is on offer for families, but the event that caught my attention straight away was a workshop on how to laugh.

It was certainly no laughing matter heading up to 1,650m in +30c heat in the middle of the day but when I arrived I was pleased to see Madame Chausson also offered massage in the shade.

She believed a massage was the best way to get one in the mood for laughing. 

Before I quite knew what was going on a rather odd device was being moved up and down my back.

It certainly tickled;  I almost laughed.

laughKeeping a straight face











My hiking companion, Stephanie, was having her feet gently soothed.

Grand BornandGetting in the mood for laughing












Gets the circulation goingGets the circulation going












Next Madame Chausson turned her attention to my feet.

'No laughing matter,' I thought as my feet were somewhat hot and sticky after the hike up, but she set to her work with good humour. I wondered if she was going to tickle them to give me my first laugh.

Instead she was quite serious.

She said she could tell my character from my feet.

She studied the soles of my feet through her glasses, paused and then declared I had nice feet - "good and strong," she said. "You are happy and content with life."

"You are a good communicator," she added.

I had heard about people reading the palms of hands, but not the soles of feet.

I looked down at my pretty dreadful looking feet, drew some different conclusions about myself and laughed.

It's all in the feetIt's all in the feet












"Laughing separates us from the other species of life and it is so good for health. We do not laugh enough," Madame Chausson said.

Now the real laughing was about to begin.

She asked us to jog round in circles and laugh as loud as we could.

Off we went.

Next she asked us to lie on our backs and put our legs in the air.  I didn't need to be told to laugh as it came somewhat naturally at this point. 

Laughing out loudLaughing out loud













I tilted my head to see some walkers passing by and starring at us.

What they must have thought I have no idea.

"Mummy, what are they doing?"














An abondance cow grazing nearby had clearly seen it all before.

No laughing matterNo laughing matter













Then we had to make noises similar to monkeys.

"Hoo, hoo.... Ha, ha."

By this stage the laughter was coming very naturally but I was verging on hysteria as my son, Max, looked at me like I was completely bonkers.

I had detailed him to take the photographs.

Laughing out very loudLaughing out very loud












Madame Chausson is a professional.

She is hired by firms to teach stressed out executives how to laugh more and she gives seminars to workforces to help bonding and team skills.

She earns a living showing people how to laugh.

Next we had to sit cross-legged, throw our hands in the air and guess what? 

Yes, laugh; as loud as we could.

Throwing caution to the windThrowing caution to the wind












By the end of it all I felt exhausted. It is hard work laughing.

Fortunately the following activity involved lying in a hammock.

A well-deserved restA well-deserved rest












Next up on the alpine tour was barefoot walking in the woods to feel the different sensations underfoot. It was surprisingly good.

Perhaps the earlier foot massage has helped.

We walked over bark, grass, leaves, fir cones, moss, herbs and stones. Plus a few ants.

Best foot forwardBest foot forward












"We have forgotten how to walk without shoes so we cannot feel different sensations underfoot and appreciate nature correctly," said our barefoot guide, Eric Jacquin. 

He was altogether more serious than Madame Chausson.

On the rest of the alpine walk there was a French Canadian storyteller, a nature treasure hunt for kids, pony rides and a host of other activities to teach people of all ages about the mountains.

Story timeStory time













But the one that had tickled me the most was the workshop on how to laugh. 


Smiles all roundSmiles all round











Madame Chausson also offers a range of massages and treatment from her chalet in Marigod, Le Chalet des Sens.

James Cove will be reporting back later this week on the host of activities there are to do in the mountains for families in the French ski resorts of La Clussaz, Grand Bornand, Saint Jean de Sixt and Manigod.  There is so much more to a summer holiday than a beach.

For the spirit of the mountains

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