Often when we have visitors we take them on a “Pilat Day”. The Pilat mountains are about 80km away from us, beyond St Etienne, and we have refined our day out to be very enjoyable.
We went there on Friday with MiL. My bad back was getting better, thanks to pain killers, and to the fact that I have been doing some walking (very slow but it has definitely helped) so I thought I’d be able to manage the day.
First we drive to Rochetaillée, a small village above St Etienne, and from there to “Le Gouffre d’Enfer” (“The Chasm of Hell”) which is actually a really lovely gorge, which leads to a barrage.
Mr D and MiL were walking faster than I, so they went on ahead while I walked slowly. I thought it would take me longer to reach the bottom of the dam, but I was there in 10 minutes. Feeling okay I decided to climb the steps up the side of this edifice. It was built in 1862 and the resevoir still provides water for St Etienne. It took me about 10 minutes to wend my way to the top, but I was pleased when I got there. It was another 20 minutes or so back to the car, where I sat and read my book, waiting for the others who had walked around the resevoir itself. As I returned to the car I kicked myself (mentally) as I had forgotten to take any photos.
After this, we return to Rochetaillée and go to the Auberge de Rochetaillée, for their lovely rapées (a type of rosti) with a chive-and-yoghurt sauce and a glass of chilled beer. We love this place for its 1950s style décor (although looking at pictures, it seems to have been done up a bit) and the amazing view from its windows
Unfortunately it was closed for holidays, so we went to a pizzeria instead. Mr D and I both chose the Pizza du Saison – which had girolle mushrooms, artichoke hearts, parma ham and shavings of parmesan – lush!
The next part of our “Pilat Day” takes us to the high ground above Le Bessat, from whence one can often see for miles. Again Mr D and MiL went ahead while I walked at a slower pace, but this time I did remember my camera.
Mr D & MiL get to the Table d’orientation before me
I wish I could recreate the scents and sounds – the sun was warm, and the bees were busy in the clover and heather that covered the tops. The constant buzz was overlain by the sawing noise of the crickets which stopped abruptly as I stepped near one. Every now and then one would leap high out of the grass, or off the path, a rapid movement which just caught the corner of my eye. The scent of warm heather and scrubland herbs wafted in the breeze – it was delicious!
There had been a sign warning us of Troupeaux en Estival (Herds on sumer pastures) and here I met some of those Troupeaux taking advantage of the shade.
I met up with Mr D and MiL and we went to complete our “Pilat Day” by taking tea and Tarte aux Myrtilles at a restaurant at the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret
Here there is an amazing selection of tea – I chose a black tea, flavoured with red fruits such as myrtille and blackberries, while MiL had a green tea with cherry and raspberry leaves infused in it. The Tarte aux myrtilles came with a myrtille sorbet as well. Delicious!
That brings us to the end of our “Pilat Day” – quite a lot of walking, interspersed with delicious food and drink! This time it was a little different, as the auberge was closed, but we had a lovely time nonetheless!
And as the walking obviously did my back no harm at all, I have to ruefully admit that I need to do more exercise. So I will stop what I’m doing and go out for a 30 minute stroll around the village.