Saturday 24 August 2013
Yesterday we travelled here, to Peyreleau in the Cevennes, nestled at the confluence of two gorges, the Tarn and the Jonte, and inbetween three Causses, the Causse Noir, Causse Mejean and Causse Sauveterre. Causse is a very distinct and individual type of terrain, defined as a small limestone plateau deeply pitted with sinkholes common in south-central France.
At Toulouse Gare Routier we sat outside the bus station for 3 hours watching everything go by on the big green canal. We couldn’t move very far because of the Airnimals in their large suitcases. Men of the road and hobos with fishing rods and big dogs abound, hanging out in the bus stations and on the pavement outside and on blankets beneath the canal bridges.
The bus ride was long, trailing languorously along the D999 to call at every backwater station, where no-one got on or off, the driver maybe dropping off a carton of brandy and cheese somewhere, and continuing, or shutting the bus with us all on and going off for 15 minutes. In the heavy silence as we wait, an old lady carries on an animated conversation with herself, while the hobo-pilgrim chats to his small dog, breathing pernod fumes over our shoulders.
We pass directly below the giant Millau viaduct, its 1000-foot columns plunging down into the valley below our wheels, whilst soaring white and airy up into the sky above us. Tiny traffic floats along high in the sky, suspended on airy ribbons of pale steel. Millau is a big and historic town with great architecture and views. After a half hour wait the local bus takes us to Le Rozier, where we find the Grand Hotel des Voyageurs only 100 yards down the road.
This is a simple and basic hotel although traces of a grander past remain in old photos. The bed is comfy, plumbing comical and we go out to eat and explore Peyreleau, which is beckoning to us from its rocky perch across the Jonte river. In the dark we go to find our cottage that we will go to tomorrow. The village is a steep stone maze, with stairs and snickets leading in every direction so that a small and simple collection of houses becomes a puzzle that is difficult to fit together.
We peer up steep alleyways, some too dark to venture up, and all leading up towards the tower and the church on top of the cliff. I imagine an equally complex maze of subterranean passages leading in all directions. It is a marvellous labyrinthine village. We locate the Gite Lavande and it looks brilliant.