Day 17: Refuge de Longon to St. Dalmas
The first of three long days. It started with a very long, very gradual descent. First around the alpages of Refuge the Longon, taking care not to let the dogs follow us. A sign at the refuge informed us that if we took the dogs, we might as well take the cows, too, but I hate cows so the dogs had to stay put. We were definitely out of the high mountains though. Most of the day we walked through the forest or along broad tracks between villages. The first of these villages was Roure, which clings to the hillside overlooking the Vallée de Tinée.
Next up was St Saveur sur Tinée, down in the valley itself. We had lunch there and spent a good deal of time hunting around for an ATM since we were almost out of cash. However, the only one we could find was out of order.
Rimplas was the next village along the route, reached after a steepish climb through the forest (good thing too, it was slowly becoming unbearably hot) followed by a good trail past purple rocks which suddenly changed to pale limestone just before we reached Rimplas. Rimplas had no ATM.
After Rimplas the path descended slightly to cross a road, then began to climb again. It had also started to rain, but it was still unbearably hot so it was uncomfortable to wear rain jackets (and equally uncomfortable not to wear them). The next villages were La Bolline and La Roche, where we sheltered from the rain until it had mostly stopped. Neither of these villages had an ATM. However, we could get some cash out form Chez Edhy, a tabac/bar in La Bolline. Crisis averted.
After La Bolline, we took a very roundabout way to get to St Dalmas. There were three paths leaving La Bolline/La Roche, and we ended up taking the one marked with red and white paint and signposted St Dalmas. Not unreasonable, right? It turned out this path was not the GR5 but the GR52A variant which instead of going directly to St Dalmas loops around a bit through the forest. After a while we thought we might be going in the wrong direction but by then we were so far along we just kept going. It’s not that much longer than the GR5 (3 km maybe) and it avoids the road, so all in all maybe it was a good thing.
In St. Dalmas they were having a festival of some kind with a jeu de boules tournament and annoying music that went on until at least 3 am. Why do brutal murders to stop village festivals only ever happen in Midsomer?