Rest Day: Volonne

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Walking in France: Camping under an ancient olive tree, Volonne

Camping under an ancient olive tree, Volonne

We had worn all our clothes to bed but were still cold in the night. We should have worn our socks as well.

In the morning we collected a plateful of cherries form the adjoining site to improve our muesli, and while we were munching it we formed the idea of having a day off in this splendid place. We felt slightly the worse for wear after yesterday’s vicissitudes and my blisters needed looking after.

Walking in France: The makings of first breakfast

The makings of first breakfast


The first thing was coffee at the camping bar, accompanied by a pleasant chat with the young barman, who was from Aix-en-Provence.

Then we wandered back towards the bridge, through a hillside of olives, and found the centre of the village, which was further up the slope away from the river. We had not got that far yesterday.

Walking in France: Writing the diary in the central square of Volonne

Writing the diary in the central square of Volonne

The village was on a knife-edged spur and was more substantial than we expected, with three bars, a war memorial, a supermarket, two boulangeries and various other shops.

The rising main street was lined with plane trees, not too badly hacked, and there were crevasse-like lanes branching haphazardly off it.

Another round of coffee, this time with croissants, gave us the strength to explore some of these lanes.

The old village above was beautiful, with little squares, staircases, flower boxes and sudden views from archways.

Walking in France: Exploring the back streets of Volonne

Exploring the back streets of Volonne


Beyond the houses a dusty path continued up the ridge towards two half-ruined towers that we had seen from below.

Walking in France: On the way up to the two towers

On the way up to the two towers


Walking in France: Looking up to the two towers behind Volonne

Looking up to the two towers behind Volonne


Here Keith began to feel the familiar pain in the kidney that had plagued him for years and had just been pronounced cured, after an operation. This was a worry to say the least, and he decided to sit down at a corner of the track and wait for me to finish the ascent.

The two towers were one above the other and seemed to be joined by the remains of a wall, like a sort of Great Wall of China transported to Provence.

Walking in France: Looking down on Volonne and the Durance beyond

Looking down on Volonne and the Durance beyond


On my way down I lost the track a little and managed to arrive back at the houses without seeing Keith, who was still waiting at the same place. I assumed he had become bored and retired to the village, but when I got there he was not to be seen, so I went up again and there he was.

It had occurred to him that I was taking a long time, but he was preoccupied with his unwelcome pain.

Walking in France: Our second dinner at the Volonne camping ground

Our second dinner at the Volonne camping ground


Back at the camping ground, we had a late lunch under the olive tree, followed by a rest in the tent. It was too cold to be outside. Later we went over to the bar for a glass of rosé and in due course we walked a few steps and sat down again in the restaurant section.

We had the customary cleansing salad to start with, then Keith had an enormous pasta carbonara and I had the plat du jour again. This time it was a delicious poulet farci.