Rustrel Travel Blog› entry 15 of 19 › view all entries
June 14th, 2004 – by: jsbuck1
We turned west from Viens, beginning to head back the way we came. Once we get to Rustrel, we will head south again. On the way, we saw signs to an old chapel and decided to take a look at it and have lunch there.
Downhill, in the distance we saw an unusual area of trees. They seemed to be extremely dark green pines of some kind. As we got closer, we found ourselves amidst acres of burnt trees, with new green grasses shooting up out of charred earth. The chapel we had hoped to visit was situated smack in the middle of this burnt area. There were a couple of men working to clean up the dead trees. I asked them if we could visit the chapel. He said that it was now privately owned by a family so it was closed to the public. I gestured to the acres of burnt trees and asked him what had happened.
The area had an odd beauty to it with the blackened branches making a latticework against the blue sky , and the new green grassy shoots asserting the tenaciousness of life.
We made our way along farmland and forest and took a long break in the woods for lunch and rest. Another couple walked by sometime during our break, an unusual sight on this still "low season" hike. The customary "Bonjour...bonne ballade" greetings were exchanged. Stephen and I actually dozed off a bit after lunch with me using the Goretex rain jacket, this time as a ground cover to keep all the prickly things off my legs and arms. Finally we seem to have figured out how to relax for a longer time in the early afternoon.
Approaching Rustrel, we were hiking down along the edge of one part of le Colorado, a sort of Canyonlands of southern France. As in Rousillon, these bizarre and multicolored formations were made of ochre which used to be quarried there. I missed my one opportunity to get a great photo looking down into the pinnacles from our path. The right light never returned, but it turned out that the next day offered a multitude of photo ops.
The weather played the same game, feinting rain, making us get out our jackets, then moving away. - Stephen
As usual, we still had one more uphill hike to get to the town of Rustrel itself, but it wasn't too bad. Stephen was grumbling a bit about not knowing exactly where the hotel was and that I hadn't gotten directions before our time ran out on the coin phone that morning, so I asked a woman at the local alimentation (corner store) where Lou Rustreou was. "Voila," she said, indicating the sign on the building two doors up the street!
The hotel patron showed up in shorts and a tee shirt. He knew immediately that I was the one who had called that morning. He showed us to our second floor room which was a bit dark and dreary but perfectly clean and had a private bath. The room overlooked a small square which seemed to be the small center of this small part of what was already a small town. Rustrel is not one of those unbelievably quaint, beautiful medieval towns. While there are some old buildings there, it is more of a workaday kind of place. There is a tourist biz because of le Colorado, but geared more to young hikers, climbers and bikers. In fact, one of the fanciest old buildings in town has been converted to a youth hostel.
We had a couple of beers outdoors at a cafe across the square, with plenty of moto and truck noises to keep us squarely in the 21st century. We decided to have dinner at the hotel. The dining room was a surprise, quite elegantly decorated and sporting a deep well right at the entry to the room, that must have gone down about thirty feet! It was illuminated, and covered with a grille, of course. Quite bizarre.
Tuesday June 15
We grabbed a croissant and coffee at the cafe across the square where we had a beer the night before.
When I could not find my hat after breakfast, I returned to the cafe to see if I had left it there. I had, but not at breakfast as I had thought but after our beers the night before. I was pleased with my ability to retrieve the hat in French as well as comment on the country's football team performance the night before. And I was really happy to get my hat back, a gift from my brother Johnny, an authentic minor league baseball hat from the New Jersey Cardinals, and a necessary tool a week before the summer solstice.. - Stephen
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