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Trip Report 1998

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This is a casual report of Beyond's vacation trip into the northern part of Beyond in the summer of 1998.


Day 1 - Sat 4 July
[Barcelonnette - Ubaye Region]

7h15 - left Grasse.
8h15 (63 km). Castellane, café stop.
9h15 (121 km). Digne-les-Bains.
10h15 (162 km). Seyne-les-Alpes. Brief photo stop.
• Saint Vincent les Forts - tiny perched hamlet above the road.
• Going over the pass Col St Jean there's a great view of the Lac Serre-Ponçon.
• Ubaye Valley.
10h40 (207 km): Barcelonnette.

10h50 (216 km): Jausiers. Café, bought groceries for lunch, visited the OT. Took some pictures.

Drove up the valley of the upper Ubaye river (D902), past the Redoubt de Berwick (Jausiers). Through Saint Paul, Seranne (Petite and Grande) to the Pont du Châtelet (St Paul). Picnic lunch near the "pont", overlooking Seranne and Saint Paul.

Driving back down the valley, found old sundial in La Grande Seranne.

Saint Paul: visit. [photo-1]

Continued into the Upper Ubaye valley. Many old military installations.

Larche: visit. Talked to elderly habitant and learned more about the "transhumants". Started back down the Upper Ubaye Valley.

15h45. Saint Ours and Meyronnes. Short (1h30) loop hike above the village of Saint Ours. Military pill-box installations "Fort de Saint Ours", and "transhumance" trucks unloading sheep far below.

18h00. Barcelonnette. Hotel. Walk around town. Bought a hat in a very ancient looking maroquinerie for the "next century" [photo-2]. Listen to live jazz. Dinner in terrace restaurant. Had another look at some of the lovely "Mexican" villas in town [photo-3].

Hiking
Everywhere we went there were Petite Randonée (PR) trails marked with signposts, often indicating destinations and times. There are also, of course, GR trails in these hills, crossing through Les Orres, for example.

Wildflowers
We didn't get seriously into the forests searching for Alpine flowers, but we saw fields and roadsides covered with spring wildflowers. Some examples were:
- wild roses, everywhere, in different shades of pink and white
- tall yellows [photo]
- thistles
- "peonies"
- purple vetches
- darker purple bell flowers
- masses of clear blue "chicory" flowers [photo]


Day 2 - Sun 5 July
[Barcelonnette - Embrun Region]

Barcelonnette, past Lauzet-Ubaye, Lac Serre-Ponçon, Les Démoiselles Coiffée, Savine-le-Lac (45 km) and nearly to Embrun (junction D40; 53 km). Turned up the D40 to Les Orres village, a total of 64 km and 1h15 drive.

Visited Les Orres. Walked out a road 2 km to the hamlet Le Chateau, and back; but for the walk and the scenery, not the destination.

Drove down to Embrun for a late Sunday lunch in a café-brasserie.

Drove back north a few km and turned left, up through the Boscodon forest to the Abbey de Boscodon. Leisurely visit of the abbey.

Drove back up along the lake and up the Ubaye valley, looking at the scenery, and the rafters and kayakers coming down the white water rapids.

Back to our 3-star_really_2-star hotel (Barcelonnette) to sit in the garden about 19h and write up the day's notes onto the PowerBook (drinking a half-bottle of Domaine de Regusse - Coteaux de Pierrevert, a white wine from the Alpes de Haute Provence, a bit south of Barcelonnette)


Day 3 - Mon 6 July
[Embrun-Guillestre]

Coffee-croissant breakfast in Barcelonnette, then drive to Le Lauzet-Ubaye. Short wake-up walk to watch early-morning farmers and visit the Roman bridge across a deep narrow gorge of the Ubaye.

Drive to Embrun. Visit the town, look for the fountains, drive down to the Durance below the town to watch kayakers.

Drive to Guillestre, have lunch, find a hotel, explore the town until late afternoon.

Drive to Mont-Dauphin (just a few minutes away), first climbing a hillside to photograph the fortress from outside. Visit the fortress. Discuss sundials (cadrans solaires) with a man who's been creating them for 13 years (since 1985), and talk about his Web site and ours. Long café stop before heading back to Guillestre.

Dinner at "Le Grange" restaurant in Guillestre, sitting on the terrace to watch the sun go down over the mountains during the entrée, and watching the stars come out during dessert.

After three days of clear blue skies, we were wakened in the night by an impressive thunder storm with a lightning display we watched for an hour. In the morning, the skies were clear again -- for a short while.


Day 4 - Tue 7 July
[Guillestre; St Véran; Queyras Region]

Drive from Guillestre up the D902 through the beautiful Gorge du Guil and the Combe du Queyras, with the river flowing far below between narrow cliff walls. The road is excellent, but there are some single-lane tunnels bored through the rock. Stopped for a short while at the very impressive Château-Queyras, then continued on to St Véran.

Long visit in St Véran, including lunch and plenty of walking to see the old wooden houses, barns and fountains, and all the sundials (cadrans solaires). Leaving Guillestre at 9:00 with blue skies, we arrived about 10:30 in St Véran, 32 km away, with nothing but clouds, storms and some rain, not an unusual weather change for the mountains.

Back down the road, stopping at Moulines-en-Queyras, Ville-Vieille and Château-Queyras before returning to Guillestre. Time for an hour's rest before dinner in the hotel dining room.


Day 5 - Wed 8 July
[Briançonnais Region]

Drive from Guillestre to Briançon, very slowly, searching for sundials along the way. Found some by the Gare du Mont-Dauphin Guillestre, St Martin-de-Queyrières, Prelles, Sachas (a real adventure), Pierre-Feu, and Villard-St-Pancrace.

Search for more sundials around the outskirts and town of Briançon. Lunch from the marketplace, mainly a variety of tourtons (pomme de terre, epinard, fromage de chevre, pruneaux, pomme), and a café before continuing the sundial search.

A visit up into the citadelle part of Fort Vauban, at the top of the town, then out to a hotel just outside the town. The "hotel" Le Castor turned out to be more of a clinic, and it was like spending the night in a hospital; very quiet though.

Dinner at Le Valentin in Briançon and a walk around the town at night.


Day 6 - Thu 9 July
[Briançonnais Region; Vallée de la Clarée]

Hiking during the morning. Took a hike listed in the 30 Balades en Famille autour de Brainçon, from La Vachette (only about 3 km from Briançon) across through the forests to the ancient Fort Dauphin and the Fort des Trois Têtes that sits up behind Briançon, then back along the lower part of the valley beside the Durance.

Sundial searching in the afternoon, going through La Vachette, Le Rosier, Val-des-Prés, Plampinet and Névache, all villages or hamlets in the Vallée de la Clarée running north of Briançon. A very beautiful valley, nice little villages and lots of lovely old sundials.

Hotel l'Airelle in Le Rosier, about 10 minutes (6 km) from Briançon. A very small familial hotel in a tiny hamlet/village. Large room with good view and absolute calm.

Dinner - in the Hotel l'Airelle. The demi-pension meal was Raclette, self-melted cheese poured over chunks of boiled potato and charcuterie. The reblochon cheese, potatoes and much of the hams were from there in the valley; some of the cured hams were from nearby in Italy. When we ran low on potatoes we were given more. When we ran low on cheese we were given more. We never did run low on the charcuterie -- a platter of different types of hams and sausage slices.


Day 7 - Fri 10 July
[Briançonnais Region; Vallée de la Clarée]

Hiking during the morning, from Montgenevre to the source of the Durance. We took 6 hours to do a 3-hour hike, climbing from 1830 m to 2300 m, with frequent photo stops along the way up and the way back, and a long lunch-photo-investigation stop at the top.

Hiking up through forest of larch, through carpets of wildflowers; vast thick fields of mountain geraniums up to about 2000 m. From 2100-2250 m, open grassy fields full of orchids. The top at 2300 m had different wildflowers, a family of weasels, and an incredible view, including a little "cabane de douaniers". The mighty Durance river starts here, first from a small grassy basin that collects the snow, then a tiny creek running down through the trees.

Clouds of butterflies on the way back down, around mid-day.

More sundial searching during the afternoon, visiting the villages of Fontenil, the northern edge of Briançon, Chamandrin and Saint-Blaise south of Briançon.

Visited Montgenevre (12 km northeast of Briançon) to start and finish a hike, and to have our laundry done.

Dinner at the hotel L'Airelle in Le Rosier. Two types of Tartiflette, one with the classic reblochon and the other with fromage de chevre. Authentic, about 1h30 to cook, doing onions slowly, big pieces of ham, thick chunks of melted reblochon, each serving enough for two people.


Day 8 - Sat 11 July
[Briançonnais - Serres-Chevalier Region]

Decided to stay an extra day in this region; just to beautiful and too much to see in such a short time. Continued exploring by searching for sundials. Visited the hamlet of Le Pinet in the hills just southwest of Briançon. From Le Pinet we saw a sundial on the church steeple of Puy St-Pierre, a few hundred meters straight up above us.

From Puy St-Pierre and Briançon, we drove northeast up the Vallée de la Guisane, where the group of villages has formed the region of Serre Chevalier. We visited the villages and hamlets of Saint Caffrey, Le Villard-Laté, Chantemerle, La Salles-les-Alpes, Villeneuve, Les Guibertes, Monêtier-les-Bains, Le Casset and Le lauzet. Monêtier-les-Bains was one of several places where we saw white-water rafting [photo-4].

The valley runs along the northeastern edge of the Massif des Ecrins, a high and magnificent range of mountains with peaks over 4000 m. In mid-July we could see large patches of snow and glaciers at several places.

Hotel Le Christiania in La Salle-les-Alpes. Three star and 390 F for a double, but it was a last-minute choice on 14-July weekend. Pretty good though, and the river was running just below our window; a great soothing sound in the evening.

Dinner at the hotel. Not much energy left for searching out a restaurant, and not much point looking for something "regional" in this resort area.


Day 9 - Sun 12 July
[Briançonnais - Vallouise; past Ecrins Mountains]

Left Villeneuve (La Salles-les-Alpes), driving down to L'Argentière-la-Bessée (16 km south of Briançon), then northwest into the Vallée de la Vallouise.

Another dramatic looking gorge into a wild and beautiful mountain valley.

There's an Office de Tourisme at the foot of the first village, Les Vigneaux, called "Porte de al Vallouise".

Lunch. Stopped at La Casse and ordered some tourtons (apple and potato) from the boulangerie-restaurant. They were made for us while we visited the village of Le Grand Parcher, timed to be ready and still hot when we came back. Had a picnic lunch in the woods beside the river Gyronde, at the Center for the Parc National des Ecrins.

We had planned a couple of hours around Vallouise (actually, we had planned to leave the Briançon area 2 days previously), but stayed in the Vallouise valley all day, setting out for our northern loop around 6 PM.

In the valley we visited the villages of Les Vigneaux, Puy St Vincent (including Les Prés and Les Alberts), Petit and Grand Parcher, La Casse, Le Villard, Vallouise, Le Poêt and Pelvoux.

We left Pelvoux - La Claux (north of Vallouise village) at 16h20. Passed Briançon at 17h00 and got to the Col de Lautaret (2058 m) at 17h30. Stopped a couple of time to photograph the glaciers. We saw some beautiful waterfalls while driving down the other side, but the shadows were already deepening.

It was almost 7 PM when we got to Vizille (100 km from Briançon). We found a simple hotel, the Sandra, for 175 F, and had a simple French meal at a local familial restaurant nearby.

In the restaurant we met a couple who were about to start the Tour d'Oisan, a 10-day hike around the mountains of the Ecrins, with a stop each night at a refuge. They were teachers who had arrived from Nantes to Grenoble by TGV, and then to Vizille by bus.

We got caught up in the excitement of the World Cup finals, and watched the first half of the game in our room before falling asleep. The horns, shouting and fireworks an hour later confirmed who had won, and we met many happy people the next day.


Day 10 - Mon 13 July
[Ecrins Mountains; Valgaudemar Valley]

We left Vizille at 8h00, drove down past Corps to Saint Firmin, the 56 km taking an hour and a quarter, with more incredibly beautiful scenery.

We visited the Valgaudemar valley all day, starting with Saint Firmin. The road up the valley runs along side the Séveraisse river, a fast mountain stream fed by frequent snow-fed torrents coming down from the steep mountains on both sides. At the lower part of the valley, there's a secondary road that runs up the south side of the river, making part of the trip up and back a loop.

We picnic-lunched at La Chapelle, again with tourtons from a road-side stand, and watched the rafters set off down the river. (The strawberry tourtons were like jam filled beignets, not very authentic, but the spinach tourtons were excellent.)

After lunch we took a short "digestive" walk out to the Oules des Diable [photo-5], where the swift mountain water has worn the "Devil's caldrons" out of solid rock. We then took a slow scenic drive back down the Valgaudemar valley, then down the Route Napoleon (N85) to Saint Bonnet-en-Champsaur.

At St Bonnet, the man running the Société d'Initiative at the place Grenette had in his head the sundial locations for the all the territory round-about. The church was being restored and the sundial there was covered by scaffolding and plastic. After a short visit of the village, we spent the afternoon and evening visiting the Champsaur region.

Our thematic sightseeing took us to tiny farming villages and hamlets, some so isolated we had to ask along the way where they were, including Les Payas, Les Pelloux, Pisançon, Les Héritières, La Motte, Villardon, St Eusèbe, Le Fare and les Farelles. We then worked our way up the Drac river, past St Julien, Buissard, Chabottes and Chabottonnes, Pont-du-Fosse and up to St-Jean St-Nicolas.

The only two hotels in St Bonnet were pretty bad (one with no windows and one a snobbish rip-off) so we stayed the night in St-Jean St-Nicolas. The two hotels there were small and simple. We chose the one just outside the village -- beside a discotheque, and it was fine. Asking the waiter at the snack-restaurant in the village for advise, he pointed out that after Friday night and Saturday night dancing and Sunday night World Cup celebrations, nobody would have the energy to party on Monday night before 14 July. He was right and it was very quite. We did have 15 minutes of fireworks from a tiny village on the mountainside outside our window, and the colors set against the background of the forest, with an evening storm setting in, were fabulous.


Day 11 - Tue 14 July (National Holiday)
[Drac Valley; Orcières; Gap; Serres]

A grey overcast morning in Pont du Fossé (St-Jean St-Nicolas), with low clouds sitting in the valley. We drove further up the valley and into the Drac Noir (Black Dragon) valley to visit Orcières. Clouds beginning to lift and show some blue sky as we went up to the tiny hamlet of Montcheny to find a stone sundial with the head of Chronos [photo-6]. The house was From 26 Mar 2005, so we had to modify the scaffolding a bit to get a picture, but with no sun on the sundial.

Clouds clearing even more as we drove back down a few km, then followed the road north up the Drac Blanc (White Dragon) valley, with no goal other than the wonderful scenery.

Drove back down the Drac valley, turning off before St Bonnet to follow small roads over the Col de Manse and south into Gap.

Gap was quite on a National Holiday day. Lunched at La Cloche, a café-restaurant-hotel on the Place Alsace-Lorraine. Had a great Plat du Jour for 55 F: Filet du Loup in a sauce of shrimp and oysters, baked potato and carrots not overcooked.

Visited the quiet town a bit, which we already know pretty well, and found a small Roman bridge tucked away over a shady little stream. Decided not to wait to see if the museum would open at 14h30 on 14 July, and headed out of town to the south.

Followed little farming roads over the hills with ripe fields of grain just starting to be harvested. Stopped at the little village of Jarjayes, then further south to Valserres and Tancs. Tancs (12 km south of Gap) is so tiny it took a couple of back-and-forths in the car to home in on it and be sure those houses were really the village, but were rewarded with another nice old sundial.

Drove about 5 km west to Tallard, on the D942. Stopped for a short visit of the chateau ruins, and bought local specialties of Sablets and Tartelettes to eat at a café.

Drove back north on the Route Napoleon to Gap, then west on the D994 past Veynes, and southwest to Les Serres, in the Pays de Buëch. The whole area southwest of Gap was full of orchards.

Serres is a very charming town (that we've only driven through before) and in a beautiful location, so we decided to (probably) stay here for 2 or 3 days. The 2-star hotel Fifi Moulin is excellent, with a big room and great view. No phone plug in the room, but our host let us connect to his direct line in the office, bypassing his switchboard, to download our e-mail.

Visited the village briefly, and found a unique sundial on the front of the primary school.

Dined in the hotel dining room, a glassed-in terrace with a fantastic view. With the 99 F menu we selected salade de chevre chaude and grilled salmon. Finished the evening in bed answering e-mail and getting our trip notes caught up.


Day 12 - Wed 15 July
[Serres Region]

Spent the day driving slowly around the Pays de Buëch, enjoying the low mountainous farming country and the tiny villages. Started out looking for lavender fields and distilleries. The lavander fields were lovely, but the small distilleries weren't in operation yet. The lavander harvest should be starting just about now, but we seem to be too early.

West of Serres on the D994 to Rosans (24 km). A very nice little village, once fortified, and being restored. We discovered in a small square a "recent" sundial from 1981, in deteriorating condition; the phrase from Jean Giono was about half legible. The co-op distillery wasn't in operation (and an un-used distillery looks rather plain and dead).

Followed a very small road southeast along a valley through the hills, past Laux-Montaux (a very small village with an even smaller distillery) and eventually to Orpierre.

Sat in the sun at a café terrace for a salad lunch, watching the rock climbers on the nearby cliffs. Wandered through the village, revisiting the old vaulted streets and noticing the number of houses refurbished since our last visit here.

Drove northeast to the village of Legrand, and then followed another tiny valley road west again, to the village of Montjay, were we found a sundial. It's so rural and peaceful out here, we had deer dash across the road in front of us -- at mid-day. From Montjay we took a tiny valley road due north, passing through the village of Vaucluse, not much bigger than a farm.

We drove up past Serres to Aspres-sur-Buëch, a large town on a main road junction 11 km north of Serres. We visited the town, but didn't find it very interesting. Then, northwest out the D993 to the Col de Cabre (17 km), where a unique sundial was built high on the cliff wall (17 m up), commemorating the engineer who built the road. We found bright fields of sunflowers along the main road just north of Aspres-sur-Buëch

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Back through Aspres-sur-Buëch, then north on the N75. In the Durbon forest near St Julien-en-Beauchêne we walked out to an isolated Maison Forestière to find an 18th century sundial.

Lunch had been very light, so we stopped at La Faurie, a tiny village 9 km north of Aspres-sur-Buëch, for regional pastries from a small "biological" bakery, which we ate while sitting at the abandoned train station.

A short ways out a tiny road west of La Faurie we found the hamlet of Pusteau where there was a carved stone sundial said to the smallest in the department. We had to ask local people to find the hamlet, and once there we had to ask around to find the sundial. The first person in Pusteau we asked was surely about 100 years old and couldn't hear us well enough.

Back to Serres, for dinner in La Tanerie, a obviously converted stable. With the 89 F menu we selected:

- Papeton d'Aubergine au Confis de Tomate (Maison)

- poivron Farci a l'ancienne (Maison)

- Daube Taniere a la Provençal avec Pommes de Terres Dauphinoises

The starters were good. The Daube and Pommes de Terres Dauphinoises were great, and we were so hungry we over half (barely) of what we were served. Two meals and a 2 pitchers of wine were 228 F.

We like this region well enough, that's still pretty much outside the part of Beyond that we already know, that we reserved our hotel room through to Sunday morning. We're also getting somewhat saturated with "touristing", and plan to do some hiking in these forested hills.


Day 13 - Thu 16 July
[Serres; Hiking; Veynes]

A café breakfast in Serres and then a hiking morning, with a loop hike starting at La Faurie, near the Durbon forest 20 km north of Serres. During the hike, between 840 and 1270 m altitude, we passed through two tiny hamlets on the mountain side.

Notre Dame had an orthodox monastery (small but active), a catholic chapel and a small farm. We talked with the old lady at the farm, who was at least in her 80s and had very clear opinions about world and national politics and the progression of technology, and knew all the hiking trails by heart.

The hamlet of Le Villard, even smaller but still inhabited, was centered on a fortified farm that looked like it was in the same condition as when it was built centuries earlier.

Looping up through the forest and down a narrow canyon called "les marmites du diable" (the devil's cooking pots) was an adventure for these city-dwelling hikers. At one point, a very large stag crashed out of the trees about 30 meters from us and dashed across the clearing beside us; his hoofs seemed to shake the ground. Later we came around a bend in the trail and saw a large stag chamois posed on a ridge above, outlined against the blue sky and obviously on watch. For about 5 minutes he watched us, giving a hoarse cry now and again, and we watched him. Finally deciding that we must be danger, even though frozen in place, he gave a louder cry and bound away.

Coming down through a narrow rocky gorge, we discovered that the devil's cooking pots were a set of deep gouges and pools the stream had worn deeply in the solid rock on its way down the mountain.

Late afternoon, after the hike, we stopped at Veynes, 16 km northeast of Serres. The town was very nice, with almost all the old houses painted in many different combinations of contrasting Provençal pastels [photo-7].

We visited Veynes's Ecco Museum of railway history, and got even more local history from the people running the museum; one man had been born in that building, when it housed 11 families of railway workers during the war.

Dinner in Serres at the hotel-restaurant du Nord, on the outside terrace under the wide-spreading branches of a huge plane tree. Our fare was a simple Salade de Foies de Volaille au Vinaigre de Framboise, Tagliatelles au Saumon, and a half-bottle Roulepierre, a Côte du Rhône from Gigondas.

Three Days around Serres

Wild lavender everywhere.

Ripe grain and clover being harvested.


Day 14 - Fri 17 July
[Serres; Hiking Beynon Forest; Orpierre]

Breakfast at a café in Serre, watching the cyclists prepare for their day's riding [photo-8], then off to the Montagne de St Genis, about 11 km southeast, for a hike in the Beynon forest.

Started at the Jubéo pass (840 m altitude), hiking through a forest of tall Austrian black pine. Worked our way up the sunny southern slope (adret) through pine forests to a narrow ridge at the top (1435 m), with a 365-degree view: across the valleys to mountains all around.

Down steeply through a thick forest of beech on the shady northern slope (ubac). Worked our way back around the mountain on forestry roads, picking wild raspberries along the way. The wildest animals we saw on this hike were clouds of butterflies.

Drive down the road to Laragne-Montéglin for a boulangerie snack and a café, and a little walk-around the few shops.

A drive out past Orpierre to Sainte Colombe, a very tiny village in the hills at the end of a little road up a narrow valley. A sundial on the village chapel, and lovely hills and little farms.

Back to Serres, and dinner (cabillaud a la Provençal) at the Hotel-Restaurant des Alpes, on the terrace with a view of the mountains just beside.


Day 15 - Sat 18 July
[Serres Region; Gorges de la Meouge]

Morning café and market in Serres, then the start of a drive-around tourist visit of the small villages in the region, staying away from the main roads and towns. Going through the hills east of Serres (south of Gap and North of Sisteron). Visited La Batie-Montsaléon, Chabestan and La Saix. Drove through the little villages of St Auban d'Oze and Chateauneuf d'Oze and over the Col d'Espréaux to Barcillonette.

From Barcillonette down into the Durance valley, joining the summertime traffic on the N85 for a couple of minutes, then off through Monêtier-Allemont and up into the farming hills to the southeast. Passed through Claret and Melve and stopped in La Motte-du-Caire for a picnic lunch under the shady chestnut trees in a village square.

After crossing over the route-nationale holiday traffic at Sisteron, stopped at Ribiers for a café pause and to watch the local action around the fountain.

Turned off into the Gorges de la Meouge, 10 km of deep, narrow twisty canyon with a lovely green-water river. Below every wide spot in the road we could see people frolicking in the water or sun bathing on the flat rocks or small shingle "beaches" alongside the river.

Followed some very narrow little roads, along small valleys in the hills, always beside a stream of some sort. After going through the village of Lachau, with a classical little medieval castle with four round towers, we followed the valleys north across the Col St Jean on the Montagne de Chabre and into the valley west of Orpierre. The hills here had lavender fields tucked between pine forests and wheat fields [photo-9].

A final diner at the Hotel Fifi Moulin dining room, with Terrine avec Confiture d'Onion and again the grilled salmon in lemon sauce. After dinner festivities provided by Serres' annual Sound and Light historical show of the village, finishing with some real big-city fireworks, and the night's restful sleep punctuated by the live-music dancing in the village square until some time after 2 AM. Actually too much fun to be a real annoyance.


Day 16 - Sun 19 July
[Serres; Clues de Barles Geology; Digne; Grasse]

A hotel breakfast, then off to see the prehistoric footprints north of Digne-les-Bains, and hopefully some marketplace shopping somewhere on the way back home.

The drive from Serres, south to Laragne-Montéglin, then northeast past the Lac Serre-Ponçon to Seyne-les-Alpes took 1h30 (84 km). Stopped in Seyne-les-Alpes for café and a short visit, including the Vauban citadelle at the top.

South of Seyne we took the D900a route through the very beautiful Clues de Barles, a narrow twisty canyon with deep cliffs and a lovely river. For about 20 km of its length we found cars parked along the side and people splashing in the cool river below.

Stopped along the way to visit geological sites, including 300-million-year-old fossilized plants, 130-million-year-old fossilization of water-flows, and 20-million-year-old footprints of shore birds, from when this valley was under the sea.

Lunch in Digne-les-Bains, at the Brassiere-Restaurant Le France.

- Filets de Rougets au Coulis de Langoustines - 70 F (a Mediterranean red fish, on a bed of rice and mushroom with lobster sauce) [photo-10].

- Poêlée de Noix de Saint Jacques au Caviar d'Aubergine, 75 F (scallops on a thick bed of chopped egg-plant).

After lunch, drove southeast from Digne to Barrême and St André-les-Alpes, then north to Thorame-Haute. Found a couple of nice sundials in Thorame-Haute. Continued north to Villars-Colmars for a couple more sundials, then south again to St André, where we stopped for the pottery market, a café and some produce market shopping.

South to Castellane and southeast to Grasse. Finished the day, and the two-weeks of vacation, with a fresh tomato-onion salade at home.



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