Monday July 13 I arrived at Chauvet 2 Cave, here, around 8.45 am to visit the reconstruction of the prehistoric site of the closed Chauvet Cave in order to avoid the pollution caused by the visit of tourists. The day before, I booked a ticket online for a visit at 9.35. You have to download the Chauvet-2 site on the smartphone with headphones to follow the comments during the progression in the gallery of 10 stations, no-photo. This reconstruction is a technical feat of three years of work. The Aurignacian rock art is unparalleled in the prehistoric world. At the store I bought the DVD "The geniuses of the Chauvet Cave". On the way to Vallon-Pont-d'Arc I stopped at a picnic area. For the record, I did not visit the Aven d 'Orgnac due to the 700 steps to descend, there is certainly an elevator to go up.
Tuesday, July 14, France's national holiday, I traveled the Ardèche gorges, here, by the splendid panoramic road from Vallon-Pont-d'Arc to Aiguèze, 38 km from a succession of belvederes to admire the meanders dug by the Ardèche in the limestone cliffs. I took almost three hours, stop included. The Green Guide devotes more than 6 pages of description and comments that I would not plagiarize, to read. The Pont d'Arc here is the result of the erosion of the water that cut limestone rock for millions of years.The canoe trip is, according to the Green Guide Book, an unforgettable, but difficult moment. The Great American Parks clearly distinguish Windows, wind erosion and Arches, water erosion. At the end of the morning I visited the medieval village of Aiguèze. Then I bivouacked in the parking lot at the entrance to the village.
|Map by Green Guide Book|
Wednesday July 15 was a day without much interest and the weather was gloomy. My road map provided for escapades in medieval villages, alas very often the small departmental roads were either inaccessible or blocked leading to detours sometimes in very narrow streets. From a distance I can see Alba-la-Romaine's castle here. Then there was the fiasco of the non-visit of the Abbey of St. Mary in Cruas, here. Indeed the tourist office indicates that the visit is guided for a duration of 50 minutes every hour. I waited outside the gate 65 minutes without result. I expressed my displeasure at the tourist office, in a very vocal way.
|Abbatiale Ste-Marie, tour-laterne, sur plan carré, Cruas|
Thursday July 16 was a long walk in the Vivarais mountains of deep France crisscrossing very, very narrow and often blocked departmental roads for work due to the three months of Covid-19 pandemic lookdown. "Que la montagne est belle" (How beautiful the mountain is) sing Jean Ferrat. But at the end I was dizzy going from detours to unflected deviations. I was stranded at St-Romain de Lerps, here, where I parked at the foot of the Pic chapel, the hyponym belvedere offering a panorama of thirteen departments and the Rhône valley, superb. I discovered, at my expense, that the Internet connection is random. Telecom operators, FAI, do not cover all of France, the gray areas are very important in mountainous regions. A certain owner, self-proclaimed of the left, of a network would be wiser to invest in the coverage of the departments instead of ranting on the television sets for 5G.
Friday July 17 was a long trip in the country of Boutières, here, from Lamastre, D578, passing by Le Cheylard, D120, St-Martin de Valamas, and the D278, very picturesque and very narrow up to La Rochette and finally the D410 the Croix de Boutières. Landscape, here, of chestnut trees and terraced cultivation. Alas the weather was overcast, gloomy and cold, certainly the altitude was above 1000 meters at the foot of Mont Mézenc, here, peaking at 1753 meters. I bivouac in the parking lot at 1517 m, brrr.
On Saturday July 18th the weather was no better than the day before. I decided to go and get food at the Monastier sur Gazeille by making a detour to introduce myself to the owner of Chik’Ânes who will hire me a donkey to travel the GR 70, "Chemin de Stevenson", in September. After my purchases at the Intermarché supermarket at the Monastier I noticed that the weather had started to look good. I returned to La Croix de Boutières to climb Mont Mézenc, 1753m. The Green Guide bbok gives 1h15 round trip from the Croix de Boutières to the top of Mont Mézenc. Left at 9:50 am I reached the summit at 11:05 am! Then I went to the orientation table in the east then to the crucifix at 1744m finally I finished the journey back to the Croix de Boutières at 1:10 pm, i.e. 3:20. The trip is mostly done in the undergrowth on a wet track, the terminal part is quite rocky. The panorama, the visibility was perfect, gives a view of the Alps, the Rhone valley and to the south on Lake Issarlés. The ascent is worth the painful endurance.
|Ascension du Mont Mézenc, Climbing of Mont Mézenc|
|Les Estables, bivouac|
Sunday July 19 I crossed the Ardèche mountains in particular from the Bourges valley to Thueyts, postponing the hike until later. I stopped at Lake Issarlès then at Ste-Eulalie to admire the Clastres farm with its slate roof and the barn with the broom roof. As all primary school students know, I went to the sources of the Loire river at the foot of Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc, here. Then a photo stop at the Bourlatier farm typical of Ardèche. The Ray-Pic waterfalls did not hold my attention. Finally after a magnificent D26 road I ended up on the N102 for Thueyts, too late considering the heat to hike to Pont-du-Diable. I bivouacked in the parking lot dedicated to motorhomes.
|Ste-Eulalie, le ferme de (farm of...) Clastres|