The mountains on the horizon drew nearer until we were among the foothills. Other bikes were out to play on the road to Aosta and the Great St Bernard Pass.
I should admit that I had only insisted on the Great St Bernard in the hope of seeing dogs. It turned out to be a wonderful pass, though, with wide bends, smooth tarmac and stunning views.
We stopped at the top, where bright white mountains rose up around a blindingly blue lake, and watched a trio of St Bernards come lolloping down the slope with their handler (can you spot them in the photo?). One of them honoured Howard by shoving its face in his crotch; then it bounded over to say hello to a little girl, who burst into tears.
There was, naturally, a shop selling all kinds of doggy tat, and naturally I bought some of it: a tiny model, and a sticker for my top box to show I'd been to the 2,469-metre summit.
My enjoyment was spoiled somewhat when I caught sight of the slushy snow lying in a shaded patch between two buildings, where the sun had melted it from the rooftops. We would have to ride across ten metres or so of this stuff. Seeing other motorcyclists manage it successfully didn't help, especially the French lady who was caught off-guard and screamed her way through.
Howard made it across, despite the church roof dumping a fresh load of snow on his head as he passed. I came to a scared, slithering stop halfway when an elderly tourist wandered into the road in front of me, then faced the task of picking my feet up and moving off - once you stop in that sort of situation, it's terribly hard to start again.
But I got through, and we were in Switzerland. From here we had a choice of routes to Annemasse, near Geneva: one through the mountains and one around Lake Geneva. I fancied lake, while Howard preferred mountains. (There was also the autoroute, but pfffft! to that.) Howard, as leader and navigator, won, and I had to confess as we pottered along with Mont Blanc hovering in the distance like some sort of giant dessert that it had been a good call.
We ended the day in France, and added to the multinational experience by going out for a Chinese.