Thursday, 12 July 2012
Distance 7 km
Duration 1 hour 35 minutes
Map 147 of the TOP 100 lime-green series
As our train did not leave until 10:25 am, we lay in bed late. When we crawled out, a lot of our fellow campers were already packing or gone, an unusual state of affairs for us.
We gathered ourselves together and went straight to the station, collecting some bread and pastries along the way. The railway café was open so we had a delightful breakfast there while we waited.
The train started off up the gorge of the Tarn, retracing the last of our journey downstream in 2007, then swung away over the causse to Rodez. Here we had more coffee before taking a second train to Brive, eating our picnic lunch as we sped along. From Brive a third train delivered us to Tulle.
Each of these trains was sleek, modern and on time. It was a remarkable demonstration of the power of the SNCF to move people about the country.
We arrived at Tulle at 4 pm, and after walking into the centre we managed to find the bus-stop for the trip to Treignac, just past the church near the Prefecture.
The bus was supposed to come at 5:13 but did not appear until 5:30, late enough to make us anxious. It was a white minivan with a red stripe and our presence doubled the number of passengers. It cost €2 each.
We got to Treignac at 6:10 pm and set off immediately for the Lac des Bariousses, about 5 km north, where there was a camping ground that we had stayed at before.
The way was marked by GR signs and we found it fascinating (last time we had taken the road by mistake).
Below the main road was the old part of the village – grey-roofed stone cottages clustered haphazardly above a clear, rushing, pebbly stream, spanned by an ancient footbridge.
Crossing the bridge, we climbed a cobbled path between walls to the edge of the houses.
We passed a graveyard, then another one, and entered a wood of beech and pine.
The track rose and fell in the forest, and after a while we came to some houses. Here there was a split in the GR, with the GR46 going straight ahead, while the GRP (des Monédières) veered off to the right in the direction of the dam wall of the artificial lake.
Although we intended to take the GR46 the next morning, at this hour we favoured the GRP as we needed to find accommodation for the night.
The wheel track descended through the pines and emerged onto the road just near the hotel, or what had been the hotel when we had been here in 2009.
It was now reduced to a set of rooms for hire, and some cabins in the woods opposite, but the grand restaurant overlooking the lake no longer catered for passers-by like us.
Soon after we came to the camping ground, which had also undergone great changes. The old reception office had been replaced by a splendid new one, and there was a covered swimming pool under construction at the front.
By this time it was 7:30 pm and the office was closed, so we took our packs up to the camping section and left them under a tree while we hurried down, through a tunnel under the road, to the snack bar on the lake shore, hoping that we could get a meal there.
The weather had changed during our travels and it was now cold, grey and nearly raining, so we were relieved to see the snack bar lit up and full of people. The plastic curtains had been rolled down against the cold wind and there were even overhead heaters going, so it was a pleasant place to be.
We had entrées of tomato and mozzarella, helped down with a lot of bread and wine, then steak with salad, our traditional standby.
Before we left, we asked the waitress what time they opened in the morning, as we fancied the idea of a café breakfast, but the disappointing answer was noon, or possibly 11 am.
Back at the camping ground, we put up our tent and set off for the showers, but finding them almost stone cold, we cut our losses and went to bed unwashed.
Not far away, a gigantic blow-up jumping giraffe was being deflated for the night and the children clustered around its dying body, kissing it on the lips and declaring that it was still breathing.