The Crête du Puy is a ridge above the village of Lesches-en-Diois, the scene of the spectacular fireworks on 15 August every year (pandemics aside). I’d been told it has fantastic views in all directions, so for our final walk of the holiday, this was our destination. The forecast was ambivalent about whether/when showers might come in, but with their likelihood being later, we hotwheeled it to Lesches, and set off up the mountain.
Starting at about 1000m in Lesches, it was only a (mostly) gentle 500m ascent to the ridge: once there, indeed, there were views in every direction, to the Glandasse and beyond, to Dévoluy to the east, the Trois Becs to the west, and Valdrôme to the south: As the walk went on, storm clouds gradually edged down from the north, but in the end the drama of thundery rain started just as we reached the car for the drive home, having given us the pleasure of observing its threatening darkness for the last part of this most excellent stroll.
And since I’ve already provided you with my departure photo, and I’m up to date with my homework, the blog will estivate (well, I don’t think one can etymologically call a summer lull ‘hibernation’) until my return to Romeyer (all being well) at the end of July. If you do Facebook, I’ll keep posting stuff on un anglais en diois, though you’ll either have to put up with my French, or Facebook’s rather weird translations of my efforts!
If you know a bit of French, and are worried about the title of this post, fear not… it’s the name of a prominent hill near the top of the Quint Valley. I’ve no idea why it’s got the name (it looks nothing like a head, male or female), but that’s what it’s called, and the three of us walked to it on Saturday. Gradually I’m ticking off some of the ‘landmark’ hills I’ve seen many times from roads, and whilst I have a car (and this time, friends, to share it with), it’s too good an opportunity to miss.
As you see, it’s yet another stunner, circling around the massive pastures of Plateau d’Ambel, which will soon be stocked with cattle and sheep. But for now, just walkers and wildlife, and the odd farmer doing maintenance, were in evidence. Despite the thick haze, the views were still stunning!
I’m aware that I’ve not completely caught up with the last couple of days of our holiday yet… we seemed to spend too much time walking, eating, talking and laughing for me to finish my homework on time.
Anyway, apart from a 90-minute delay to our flight from Lyon, everything else today worked fine: easy drive in the hire car along the western flank of Vercors before heading west to Lyon, the car hire return was done in a flash, and everything in both airports bucked the trend for meltdowns.
So, for now, a last look back at home before departure!
So, back to Friday, and our one group bike ride! John borrowed the Cannondale CAAD3 bike I bought from someone in Romeyer, and Helen hired a electric-assisted road bike from Vélodrôme bike shop. Following mostly bac roads, we trundled sedately to Laval d’Aix, St Roman, Châtillon, Menglon and Recoubeau. I’ll admit I rather let down the ‘group ride’ ethos right at the end, as there was a stonking tailwind coming back from Recoubeau along the beautifully empty main road, and I couldn’t resist a quick blast. Thankfully, Helen & John let me off for my misbehaviour. But then they have known me for forty years…
Today we largely forwent feet, and made good use of the hire car to cover more miles and get in some of the further-flung sights & sites: I wanted Helen and John to see the amazing Combe Laval, and as John is a glider, currently reading Paddy Ashdown’s great book on Vercors in World War 2, we stopped at the Nécropole at Vassieux, with its wartime German glider, en route.
Then the return was via Léoncel and its abbey, Gigors, for its view, and Gorges d’Omblèze and the Gervanne river for the coolth of the running water and the beauty of their locations. We might just have accidentally had a rather nice lunch in la Taverne in St Jean-en-Royans. Oops.
It was almost exactly five years ago that I brought my late mum to Vallon de Combeau – although she didn’t walk very far up the valley from the car park, it gave a real taste of the floral riches of this very special spot, and so today it was delight to return, this time with university friends John & Helen, to do a much longer walk (as far as Tête Chevalière, where I’d never ventured to before), but again to take in both the scenery, flora and fauna.
I’ll just give you a taste here (many more photos on the Facebook Page), but, suffice to say, this was just one of the most incredible walks you can imagine: orchids galore, meadows full of wild flowers, marmots, ibexes, linnets, Alpine choughs, vultures, and views to take your breath away (quite apart from the 600m ascent!)
The forecast for today was for grey clouds and some rain, so plans were limited to morning shopping and then… something else. Well, in fact, we had plenty of sunshine in the morning, so walked to Die. And then after a short heavy shower, it looked promising again, so jumped in the car to visit the village Aurel and taste (and buy) some clairette nearby at Domaine de Magord. And we had more sunshine… we won’t complain that the forecast was wrong!
The forecast this morning was for sunshine with cloud coming in later, and tomorrow grey and damp, so although we have slightly tired legs, an early start was in order to make the most of the weather. Wanting to get up high quickly, we headed to Col de Rousset, to walk up to But de Nève: I did this walk anticlockwise last summer, so this time we did it in the other direction. It’s not a long walk, but its 300m or so of ascent and descent are quite sharp, so lots of stopping to take photos of flowers, butterflies, and views seemed like a good idea. Oh, and a lunch stop with a view, of course!
Having a car certainly gives more flexibility with activities, and today we did something I dreamt up in April: I took the car to Valcroissant with the bike in the back, cycled back home, then set off from there on foot, ascending up to le Bichon, across to to Col de Ménil (which I’d done before), and then descending to Valcroissant. And, remarkably, the first time I’ve done a longish walk like this here, at this time of the year. There’s no doubt, the colours are very spectacular now!
It’s lovely to be back here for my summer half term, my first one here for five years, and this time with friends (my first guests here for 3½ years). John, Helen & I flew to Lyon from Bristol yesterday, from where we hired a car and made a very late arrival at Romeyer.
For our first day, it being a Saturday, we had to make the pilgrimage to Die market to stock up on cherries (and a few other things), then we attacked the jungle of my garden: it seems that there has been enough rain not just to make my grass grow profusely, but also to keep all the plants I planted at Easter alive, even the sickly-looking myrtle.
Then this evening, before a delicious supper cooked by John & Helen, we had a quick pootle in the car as far as Ponet, to see if the lavender was yet in flower: not yet, is the answer, but compensation came in finding the door to the temple open.