Day 7: Serres to Rosans

Saturday, 21 June 2008
Distance 29 km
Duration 6 hours 15 minutes
Ascent 317 m, descent 405 m
Map 60 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)

Walking in France: An early start at the Serres camping ground
An early start at the Serres camping ground

We left at 6:40, taking the pathway to the village, where the bars were temptingly open, but we kept going.

On the way out of town we looked around the lanes of the old town, with the remnants of the glory days before Richelieu.

Walking in France: Crossing the Buëch river, Serres
Crossing the river Buëch, Serres

We were obliged to take the main road, as it was the only one. It had been the only one in the age of the salt trade, and during the papal schism, and it still was.

It was hemmed in by a gorge at first, but when we climbed out of that, past the few houses of Montclus, we were in a wide grassy valley.

Walking in France: Coffee stop at l'Épine
Coffee stop at l’Épine

At the compact little village of l’Épine we came to a bar on the highway, just right for a second breakfast after two hours of walking. The owner had spent a few years working in Quebec and wanted to practise his English. I ploughed on relentlessly in French and we were both happy. Another customer joined in the conversation, making it a very pleasant interlude.

On the longer stretch to Rosans, Keith’s kidney pain came back and did not ease, no matter how much water he drank. The act of walking seemed to be the thing that provoked it. At long last we arrived in the town, or rather at the strip of shops and cafés along the highway (the old town was off the highway, on a steep rise).

The supermarket on the highway was still open so we got some lunch supplies and asked the woman about the camping ground. She said there was one right in town, but it was closed except to permanent residents. There was another one two kilometres down the road, with a restaurant.

Walking in France: The old and the new of Rosans
The old and the new of Rosans

Armed with this reassurance, we had coffee and a long rest at one of the highway bars, then started going up the side road to explore the old town, but Keith was in no state for unnecessary excursions. We gave up and set off for the other camping ground.

It was a hot, gruelling walk. On the way we passed a nasty-looking concrete bunker with a sign “Restaurant”, and, on the other side, a sort of leisure park with a pool and children’s amusements.

The camping ground was a considerable way off the highway along a dirt road, and the actual campsites were further way again, past the reception.

Walking in France: Rosans' pizzeria
The bar/pizzeria at Rosans

Our host said that there was no restaurant on the premises, but the one on the highway (that we had walked past) was only five minutes away. He showed us on the map how we could take a short cut behind the leisure park to get to it.

In the afternoon Keith lay motionless on the springy turf while I followed a track at the back of the camping ground, across the stream and up through a bramble-infested lane, finally scrambling up a loose bank of stones to the road near the restaurant.

On the inside, the place was as bleak as it had appeared from the road and the menu looked absurdly dear.

Walking in France: Our humble dinner in Rosans
Our humble dinner in Rosans

It had taken me almost half an hour of hard work to get there, not the promised five minutes, and I returned scratched and sunburnt, having got lost on the way down. Once back at the tent, I told Keith the sorry tale, and we decided to go back to Rosans for dinner.

I had noticed a GR (the GR91) branching off from the track I had explored, heading for the village, so when the sun had declined sufficiently we set off together, walking cautiously so as not to aggravate Keith’s pain. The path was well-marked, although steep, and delivered us to the highway near the bar we had visited earlier, which was also a pizzeria.

We had a salad and a pizza under an awning on the terrace, and got back to the camping ground as the last light faded from the sky.

Previous day: Laragne-Montéglin to Serres

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