Through Oppedette to Viens
Viens Travel Blog› entry 14 of 19 › view all entries
June 13th, 2004 – by: jsbuck1
Today started with a nice gentle downhill slide back down into the valley of the Calavon. We were headed for Oppedette. I had read about this small town on the Internet, mostly about its cafe. I wanted to see it for myself. The town has only a hundred inhabitants or so and I had read that a traveler had gotten fed here in the middle of winter. All this is made more complicated by the fact that today was Sunday. We had read that many country restaurants serve a midday dinner for mostly their regular customers and then close for the rest of the day. That was why were so careful to make sure that we could get dinner that night in Viens. It wasn't like we could just motor on to the next town to find an open restaurant.
Well yes, sort of.
Gilles had called ahead, but we found out that they were full for the midday dinner, but that they would serve us a beer or two and some sandwiches from there bar menu. We have spent considerable time on these pages raving about French food, but here was an example of when it isn't very good. Yesterday's bread and some sausage. We supplemented them with some food that we were still carrying. I don't mean this to be a criticism of this restaurant. I would go back to taste their food when they were paying attention. Their focus was on dinner.
We did better than other people who began to arrive without reservations; for them the restaurant was closed. And it turned out that a lot of people did begin to show up, not to eat dinner, but to the hike the gorge d'Oppedette.
We never did see people arrive to have dinner, There may have been another door or just that they would come later.
I insisted that Dawn take a picture of me in front of the cafe. I wanted proof that after seeing a picture on the Internet at my desk two months before, and deciding that I wanted to go there, I could in fact land us there on a Sunday afternoon. The fact that we didn't have some sumptuous meal there or some fascinating adventure is beside the point. Just the walking up the street, turning the corner and recognizing the place gave me a great deal of satisfaction. It is a little embarrassing, but there it is.
We worked our way out of town, the trail markers seemingly taking us through back yards and passed afternoon picnics to the edge of the gorge. I would have climbed down and gone down the middle but Dawn felt more comfortable staying up top. If you are in the area, take the hike. The trail twists and turns away from the edge and then back. It is all in miniature but very rugged. We pass more other hikers in this hour that it takes to get to the end than we do the other eleven and a half days, kids in various states of enjoyment, old folk like us, the whole gamut of tourists and locals out for some air. It was fun.
The rest of the day's walking took place mostly on the road. I looked for an alternate route but could find nothing. We met a man in his back yard next to a church that we wanted to go into.
As we approached Viens, the weather began a game that would continue for a couple of days. Clouds began to pile up on the horizon and then moved our way. The wind picked up and soon we decided to get our rain jackets out. The clouds allowed a few drops to fall and then moved away. We stopped again to repack our jackets.
The trail did follow a back way into town which I missed, much to my chagrin, so we took the main road in. I have complained about not having maps to guide us to our B&B, but here we did have one that had been attached to an e-mail that she had sent to us.
For the first time we would share toilets with other guests. We had our own sink and shower and then down the hall there were a row of three WC's. The room was beautiful with a headboard hung on the wall behind our heads. There was a large common room with a kitchen and a TV. The house itself was fairly modern and was just outside the old town, surrounded by a large field enclosed with a fence through which we entered and left by password-protected powered gate.
Everything was impeccably clean, and the sheets and towels were the most luxurious on the trip so far! - Dawn
We did our normal rest, shower and wash and headed for the restaurant which we could see as soon as we got out of the gate. The Restaurant Le Petit Jardin had a garden terrace which we ate on once we ran the gauntlet of the local drinkers at the bar. This was the only establishment in town so it had to take care of everyone. Our waitress was playing kissy-face with her boyfriend between serving all the diners. She was wearing his jacket because it had turned a little cold. In fact, I was sent back for more clothes for Dawn. Dinner was good and the place eventually got more crowded with a multi-lingual crowd. We noticed a large table of either Germans or Dutch at the other end of the terrace.
As previously noted, we pretty much hiked in the same clothes everyday, occasionally alternating between shorts and long pants. So in the evenings, I really liked to dig out one of my two lightweight skirts, my go-with-everything black tank top and my sandals. I brought along my lightweight, compressible black cardigan as well, but after an aperitif, I just knew I was going to be miserable for the rest of the evening if I didn't have more clothes on. So gentleman that he is, Stephen walked back to the B&B and brought my black pants, my fleece top, socks, and even a pair of pantyhose and my raincoat. I declined to visit the ladies' room to put on the pantyhose, but I managed to slide the long pants on halfway under my skirt, squeeze the socks on in my sandals, put the fleece over the black cardigan, and don the purple Goretex rain jacket on top of it all. If I was really desperate, I even had a pair of gloves in the pocket of the rain jacket. I was warm and comfortable and happy to enjoy the rest of the meal in that lovely garden setting. It was, however, a bit embarrassing to exit the restaurant with my print skirt worn over my baggy exercise pants and socks inside my sandals. Apparently I have reached the age when warmth supersedes vanity . - Dawn
After dinner, we went for a walk. Another place that would be wonderful to live in. A lot of renovation, but no tear downs. They gut the insides in some cases, but the village remains the same.
When we get back, I turned the TV on and by accident found the European Cup soccer match between England and France. We were almost immediately joined by the group from the restaurant who turn out to be Dutch and were very interested in watching the game. At least the men were, the women went to bed. The game is great, at the end France scores two goals in injury time to win the game, something that England never should have allowed. In the meantime, we found out that the Dutch folks were getting up early and hiking in the same direction as we. They will go much farther. They are three couples and they have two houses in Provence and this year they are hiking from one to the other. Dawn has done some performing in Holland, so she chatted with them about cities and people.
Monday, June 14
They beat us to breakfast and because they arrived late the night before without reservations, Arlette hadn't had time to get more food; they ate most of our breakfast. We didn't really mind. They were like a small energetic herd and were fun to be around. They were off down the driveway as we were still becoming fully awake.
We got the explanation for the pieces in the front hall from Arlette. She had lived in the Cameroons during the sixties and had brought a bike that was used to go to and from the fields. I can't imagine riding it. With wooden tires it would have been a very harsh ride.
We found out over the past couple of days that our travelers checks, even in euros, are worthless. No one will take them. They cost too much to deposit and the expose the income to the tax man. So we went to La Poste to see if they could cash some of them. The answer was, "Go to Apt," Our hike so far has made a semi circle around this city. We have never been very far from it. It is a town of some 11,000 inhabitants and we had no intention of going there during our hike. It is too big and the only way we could walk there would be on busy roads. His solution is no solution. Luckily the restaurant the previous night had taken credit cards, so we still had some cash left.
As we were standing at the edge of the old town wall, overlooking the view and trail by which we had approached Viens, a gentleman approached me and said that he had overheard our conversation in the post office. He said his wife was driving to Apt later that afternoon and would happy to give us a ride there. I was touched by his generosity, but since we needed to be on our way that morning to hike to our next destination, it wouldn't have worked out. - Dawn
We were surprised to find out that there were no public card phones in town. It is here that we meet the coin phone. Because we only have 50 cents, we end up with a short conversation with the guy at Lou Rustreou, a hotel in Rustrel. He says he has a room and he gets Dawn's first name before our time runs out and the line goes silent. That seems enough, so after a stop for lunch supplies, we are on our way.
I had begun to fantasize about becoming a travel guide, selling this trip to people who wanted to do the same kind of thing. I would make some changes; cut Roussillon, go to Lioux instead, which would make the trip to Saint Saturnin a little more manageable. For people don't speak French, we could make the reservations for them and back them up by phone. In talking about it with Dawn, I realized that it wasn't going to work. They would be taking our trip rather than their own, and we would be cutting out its heart, the adventure. We know very little about our day, where we will eat lunch, exactly how we will get to the next town, whether the trail will be beautiful or ordinary. It is the finding out, the dealing with it, the dealing with each other that is the soul of our journey. No one else can take this trip. What we like about it and what we are trying to bring home with us is the sense that we can be comfortable in a state of uncertainty. We seem not to have to care whether we know what is going to happen in the next few days. For me this is very freeing.
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