France 2007 Day 7: Les Meyries to La Chalp

Posted on 4 September 2007 in Travel and Holidays (No comments)

The sun woke up on another day and before long we were up and about. The routine was kicking in. Yes, we were off walking again. Get up, pack up, eat breakfast, stash the packed lunches in the rucksack, pay for the wine and beer, and then be on our merry way.

This day was going to be a bit different to the rest. Mainly because it was the last day walking. Tomorrow we'd be packing up, and zooming through France on a train. But before that there was the simple matter of 14km to walk.

Fort Queyras as seen from Les Meyries

The day started easily enough with another taxi ride - this time to pick up the GR 58 A in the small hamlet of Les Meyries, looking down majestically on a fantastic valley view which included Fort Queyras below. The taxi had taken us past the fort at ground level - built in a commanding position on a small hill on the valley floor. From above, it looked even more dramatic, but also in a way, so insignificant. So small, so tiny.

The GR 58 A followed a dirt road, and during the first part of our walk, was swamped by crickets which would leap around closely to our legs as we walked. Not surprisingly a fair few squashed ones could also be spotted on the ground. No matter what you did, they followed you intently - as if there was something hugely interesting about our legs that required them to dance around to see closely.

Walking along the GR 58 A

It was only when we moved into the shade that the dances seemed to cease - the path/road began to rise slightly up hill in a densely wooded area with high trees blocking out the morning sunlight.

The trials of following a road where felt by the number of cars passing us - going up to a small car park at an area called Bergerie de Péas. It seemed to be the beginning of a few walks in the area, although notably those in the car park when we got there, didn't seem to be making much of a plan to move and our path continued to be relatively empty as we walked on towards the Torrent de Péas.

The Torrent de Péas

After stopping for a bit of a sit down and some food at a very attractive little spot near the stream, it was time to move on and climb up a hill. Despite being relatively early in the day, we were soon passed by a family going in the opposite direction, who'd no doubt had their own early start to the day.

Walking towards some big hills

At the top of the hill, we joined onto our old friend - the GR 58 proper - and walked on in the sun for a while. Again, it was peaceful - almost deserted - as we headed back into trees, and then slowly but surely made our way along to the small hamlet of Souliers - before which were were passed by a small herd of donkeys and a bigger herd of children with the odd adult.

We'd seen signs about donkey trekking here and there - the donkeys carry tents and other supplies whilst people walk along with them. Whether the donkeys enjoyed it is another question, although some of the kids didn't look hugely keen. Mind you both children and donkeys were climbing up hill at the time.

Looking back at Souilers

It was about lunch time when we arrived in the hamlet and, on the instructions of our itinerary, we stopped off in the small gite there for a drink.

Catherine's attempts to have a citron presse having been thwarted (which for some reason, often seems to be the case) we both settled down on the gite's terrace balcony to sup cold bottles of Orangina in the afternoon sun.

Souliers was also a place of decisions. Our instructions proclaimed that we had two choices. One would be to head up the Higher Route which would take in the majesty and might of Lac de Souliers. The Lower Route would instead take us past the less attractive Lac de Roue instead.

With only 3km between them in distance, the choice was obvious. We took the lower route. Something to do with the fact that the higher route would actually see a total ascent of 1460m, whilst the lower one would be only 975m. Oh and they said it would probably take 3 hours longer to go the higher route - which would mean we'd arrive at the hotel around 7pm.

Actually, we'd never really planned to go up the Higher Route - whilst it may have been stunning, it just seemed a little too hard. Yes, we could have gone out with a blaze of glory by doing one of the highest climbs of the holiday, or we could take it easy and relax in the hotel swimming pool instead. Hey, sometimes you just have to cop out.

Lac de Roue

Lac de Roue was described as "too popular for comfort as it is accessible by car" and that popularity was clear by the sound of children running round the trees shouting loudly. Slightly annoying, although livable with given that the Lac was rather nice looking, and it certainly gave us a good spot to chomp down the statuatory bread and cheese, and for me to eat two salads thanks to the hotel giving Catherine another batch of fish... Tuna this time. For some reason that hotel just had a blind spot to vegetarians and fish...

After a walk round the lake, we picked up the GR 5 and headed downhill towards the small and rather unintersting hamlet of Les Maisons. After that it was back in the trees again as we walked along a path high above the valley which we'd eventually need to descend towards.

Looking down into the valley

To call it a warm afternoon was probably a bit of an understatement - it was the hottest day of the holiday and the lack of any real breeze made the afternoon walking a little hard going, even if we were in the shade for most of it. The tree lined path meant that good views were rare on the ground. Despite the fact that we'd walked through plenty of tree lined paths over the last few days, this particular one just seemed rather unrewarding. There was an element of me that wanted some major dramatic climax, but instead it just felt like a bit of a slog. The end of the days walking couldn't come soon enough.

Coming down into La Chalp

Maybe if it had been a little cooler I would have enjoyed it more, but there was still a sense of achievement to be felt when we finally came down the hill and approached the village of La Chalp. The village itself is split into two, with us entering in what is basically a holiday village. Walking on a little took us to our hotel - the delightfully named La Ferme de l'Izoard.

Having been shown into our last room in the Queyras region, we removed our sweaty clothes and took off our hiking boots for the last time. And collapsed on a bed, completely ignoring the cold water of the outdoor swimming pool.

Duly rested we popped down to the bar and for the first time in our hotels, failed to find any La Tormente beers and instead supped some Wilfort Bierre Brune.

Just as tick follows tock, so does dinner follow pre-dinner drink. We took our place in the dining room, which featured a wood powered grill (which seemed a bit much on a warm evening). Some confusions in translation lead to me not originally recieving a creme agnes sorrell soup at the same time as Catherine's salad, however it was worth the wait.

Whether Catherine's plate of legumes was worth waiting for, well I couldn't say however my white fish filo parcel was rather tasty. This was then followed by a selection of local cheese and a lovely tiramisu.

By the time we'd polished off our bottle of wine, it was getting on for 10pm. We had to depart at 7:15, so with heavy hearts, it was time for bed.

The next day would see us being whisked to the train station, then several hours spent going north. Yes, we were going to Paris!

Number of different cheeses eaten on day 7

For more photographs of this holiday, have a look at my France 2007 photo set on Flickr

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