Les esfourniaux to Simiane-la-Rotonde
Simiane-la-Rotonde Travel Blog› entry 13 of 19 › view all entries
June 11th, 2004 – by: jsbuck1
We have brought a small magnifying glass and now used it in earnest to carefully examine the trail possibilities. We have decided that we like the rugged trails and don't like walking on the roads. We now plot a route that will start on the GR following a road and then we will depart from it and follow a thin black squiggily line on the map that should lead us into Simiane la Rotonde from the south, perhaps for lunch.
Well, the trip was a little longer than we thought, so we had lunch at the edge of a farmer's field. We had gotten off the GR to avoid any more road walking although we rarely saw a car. Now we were off the secondary trail because of land ownership changes, so we were navigating by map and compass until we came across the trail again.
As we approached the town, Dawn got wind of the goat farm by smelling the cheese, and soon the barn appeared. The sign said closed, so we were not able to replenish our supply. We continued on into town, arriving after lunch but before anything elsa opened. I left Dawn at the bottom of the top and went and searched for a place to take a breather. I found a cute hotel with a small outdoor terrace that wouldn't open for an hour or so, but we were in no hurry and we could do some writing while we waited.
The travel gods took pity and someone came out and asked us if we wanted anything to drink. Oh, yes. There is a world of difference between hanging out with or without that beer.
While I relax, Dawn investigated the town and looked for an ATM.
I walked all the way up to the public water fountain and public phones. It was very steep, but again beautiful in that magical "every corner reveals another surprise" way that only old hilltowns can provide. A young woman in high heels was having an animated conversation on one of the phones. I glanced down at my hiking boots and trail clothes and wistfully wondered if I would ever look chic again. She confirmed for me that there was no ATM in town. I spied the Mairie up another hill and up some steps and found that it was actually open. After a conversation with two very bureaucratically inclined women, I established the fact that there was no ATM and no bank in town (although we could hike another 10k to find a bank in another town...non, merci as it was already about 4:00p.m., we were tired, and we had another hike still to get to Chaloux.) In addition, I had called the Gite de Chaloux from the public phone and found out that they do not accept travellers' checks, even in Euros, whch turned out to be the case almost everywhere we went.
We were refreshed by our stop at the hotel and ready to head down to Chaloux. We picked up some food at the convenience store and managed to get a hundred euros in cash back which will certainly help our cash flow situation. Once we got off the road, it turns out to be a beautiful walk. We skirted a farmer's field, crossed over a small stream and then headed into a small canyon. For the next forty five minutes the gorge seemed to change every five minutes. Some places looked like English gardens, others were fields of new growth trees and in still other places we would be skirting the base of granite cliffs. Simply a pleasurable walk.
Soon we started the inevitable end of the day climb. This one was made a little easier because we were looking forward to our layover day . As we climbed, we began to hear cars and finally a view. A few more steps and we were there. I don't think they had a sign, but we had downloaded a picture of the place, so we recognized it.
If we do this again or another trip like it, I will definitely get maps of the towns. At the end of the day, the packs are their heaviest and the hills are their hilliest and I don't feel like walking around looking for our night's lodging. We always seemed to need to search for it, even here at Chaloux, we had trouble finding the front door. We had a little competition as we try to figure out where to go. I found my mind totally engaged, trying to use all the clues from the e-mail, the signs we have seen, footprints on the ground, noises from inside to save my feet a couple of extra steps. Rarely am I successful. Next time maps. This time our first guess was correct and we were greated by Sylvie, a young women from Prague who was temporarily standing in for the owners.
Chaloux (Simiane le Rotonde)
She showed us to our room and we did our daily laundry and had our before dinner nap. As you can see from the photos, we wear the same clothes every day. The gear came from REI, this includes the Kelty redwing packs and the lightweight quick dry pants, shirts and underwear. For dinnertime we carried a small selection of things to put on. I was really happy with the packs. They were very comfortable and we could find things easily enough.
A B&B, called a gîte, is not like a hotel. A hotel has someone at the desk. If you want to find out something, you go to the desk and ask. At a gîte, after showing you your room and asking or telling you what time breakfast will be, their officials duties are complete. Since we had made arrangements ahead of time to have dinner, they might tell us some info about that, but usually not. Actually, at Chaloux we negotiated an earlier time, but she assumed we would know where to go. So at the right time, we just wandered around, looking at the sights and appreciating the gorgeous view until she found us and led us to the table. The night before we ate by ourselves, tonight we would eat with Sylvie, a simple pasta meal, a salad, a pitcher of the local red.
That night as we were lying in bed, we heard the phone ring in the other part of the house. We dozed on, thinking we were again safe from outside calls.
Saturday, June 12
At breakfast we met our host Gilles and two young families who were also staying there. We also found out that the call the previous night had been for Dawn. It was her daughter, Amber, and while we think we were told that everything was allright, we were not sure considering the multiple language barriers the message had needed to leap. We began to plan how we were going to return her call.
In the meantime, we got to do yoga. Dawn chose a nice outdoor site and I used the studio. The studio was a little musty,so I opened a door and did my yoga looking out it. Yoga is a great help both mentally and physically. You get to stretch out all the knots that you get from all this hiking and you get a calming down from the excitement caused by living in so much uncertainty.
The rest of the day, we did nothing except for talking to Amber who called back after having recalculated the time difference.
Dawn read, we both wrote notes for this travelogue. Eventually we ate our packed lunch. I planned our next part of the trip. Later our hosts called a B&B in Viens that we had already e-mailed from the States. They made our reservations for Sunday night and also a reservation for dinner at the restaurant in town.
That night we had "Gallettes de Bretagne" an egg inside a buckwheat crepe, a light alternative to the large meals that we had been eating. Much of what we do and eat and see seem to be alternatives. Certainly the motorcycle group that drove up that afternoon and would stay that night. Motorcycles and hikers are not two groups that easily coexist, but we would find out more the next morning.
Sunday, June 13
As we were getting ready to leave in the morning, the owners of the motorcycles appeared in great outfits, ones with much more style than we were wearing every day. Dawn got to talking and I felt to need to grab the camera. The trip gods were laughing at us again and we were laughing with them. We have been pretending to be in a different century and all the while our own century had been existing right beside us and now was even visiting us. Dawn is not really a motorcyclist fan, she especially doesn't like the noise, but she will always make exceptions when he speak French and was "très génial" Actually they all were and were happy to pose for some pictures, We had a lot of fun. They were from Cannes and this was one of their weekend trips
We had someone get a picture of us with Gilles as we left. Don't be fooled by the photograph. It is still the same orange shirt that Dawn was wearing. we had a chance to talk to him about how he came to be at Chaloux.
He showed us the best route and called ahead to let the restaurant at Oppedette know we would be there for lunch. It was again confusing to us. This would be the much talked about Sunday dinner in the country. We would find out when we got there.
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