Monday 30 August 2010 Corps 930 metres
Got up about 7, having gone to bed at 9.30 and fallen asleep immediately, in our peaceful terrace looking to the lake. Jim looks out and sees that it is cloudy and we decide to get on before it gets wet. Pack up, enjoying our small compact loads. At the campsite café, we get coffee and croissants, and then set off , back up the steep hill we had to descend to get here. Then the road undulates through beautiful deserted country, gorges, defiles, rocky escarpments and turrets, distant views of snowy mountains – the Ecrins. A very steep road led us to an electricity station, down in the shady bottom of the defile, and the road up out of it opened soon to wider fields full of brown cut stalks and a merry group picking orange pumpkins and throwing them to each other down a human chain and onto a large trailer.
We stop for a sandwich on a bench in the centre of St.Jean d’Herens where a lady fetches us water from her house.
Approaching Corps, we are sailing along on a high plateau at about 800metres high, with fast, smooth descents, further climbs, and then open wide clear vistas; the brown cut fields, the trees bending in the mistral, and the far jutting mountains. The mistral – we changed our whole trip around because we saw on the weather forecast that the strong winds from the North would be blowing for days at the start of our trip. We were planning to go from south to North, from Orange to Grenoble, but now we are going North to South. It is good to feel that as we travel it will get warmer, less cloudy and more Provencal.
The plateau brings us to Saute Dam, bluer than blue itself. The fine white arching bridge over it funnelling a ferocious wind that knocks us sideways. Corps, our destination is the high point of the whole day at 930 metres demanding a long toil up from the dam where the pretty hilltop town seemed all the better for having been anticipated for so long. We look at a couple of campsites as we pass, and go for beer and gold ice creams to consider the options, before rolling back down hill to Les Rouilles, a small, friendly campsite, where the lady owner offered us the use of her caravan awning, to shelter from the wind. But in a far corner we found a sunny sheltered position, where Jim identified a hollow that he wished to sleep in. We sat around in the sun, on the tiny sleep-mats, washed and dried clothes, and walked up to town for aperitifs in two bars before going to the Hotel de la Post, where we had booked to stay last year. The Fin de Siecle, over the top exterior did not disappoint, – inside was even more extravagant, and fancy, every table ready with a massive array of gleaming glass and silverware. A great silver champagne holder full of heavily scented lilies dropped the perfume down to us all evening, and every table was set with towers of amuses bouches on ornate stands which were whisked away and renewed at each new course. When, finally the brandy course came, we could not resist and were served with enormous 100cl brandies that finished us off. A short flip-flop walk took us back to the camp and a comfy bed even on hard ground.
View from the tent