Monday, May 24, 2010


Wow! That's all that there is to say about Chasteuil. You need to find it on Google Maps, if that is at all possible. It is near Castellane.

Chasteuil had been a 'must return' promise I had madeyself when I had presented at a conference in Juan Les Pins a couple of years ago (when I was gainfully employed). It had been a Saturday and the conference was finished and I took off on a rental motor scooter and headed for the hills. Got a point when time and the road had run out and decided to head for home. However, a sign on the road pointed up a hill along a tiny single-lane, overhanging with trees road to the village of Chasteuil. Up I screeched on the little scooter, higher and higher till I reached the village. It emerged out of the mist and the trees and stood hauntingly in front of me. A sign indicated that rooms were available in a 'gite' or 'Chambre d' Hotel'. I was stunned. How could a tiny village like this contain a hotel? How wonderful! Time was on the wing, however, and I had to get back to Juan Les Pins...

Long story short, I retraced my steps on Google Earth on my return to Austrslia and made plans to stay at the 'gite' on this current trip. [The hotel has a great website]. Pascal, the owner/operator is a natural born host. A wonderful 63-year-old who made us feel very welcome indeed. His advertised 'light meals' for dinner turned out to be scrummy hearty soups, accompanied by aperatifs, wine and cheese for dessert.

Our room looked out over the magnificent mountains through which we had driven to get there and it was glorious to watch the colours change as the sun came and went throughout the day. Not that there was too much sitting and watching done. Nosirree! There were gorge valleys to be walked, cliffs to be descended to get to them, tunnels to be negotiated (750 metres of pitch blackness - except for the torches Jude remembered to bring) and stairs to help us climb out again. Roaring river below, we completed the 7-hour walk in about 5. A marvellous, but rewarding and tiring experience.

Later in the afternoon we explored Castellane and scaled the lava pipe to a church that seemed to be toppling on to the town some 600-odd metres above. Home soon after that to the second of Pascal's 'light' dinners.

On both nights at Chasteuil the hotel was full. It holds 10 people (5 couples) in total. We all ate dinner together, sitting around a huge table, looking out over the mountains through enormous open windows. Four of the guests were from Leipzig in northern Germany and were about my age (not Jude's). They were very interesting people, fond of travel, but having Bern brought up the other side of the Iron Curtain. All their travel prior to the fall of the wall was to other Eastern European destinations, though these days they are able to travel much further abroad. Their lives (and their travels) were funded by payments that were owed to them while working 'free' for the government over many years. Suzanne had been a chemical engineer and her husband Heinz had worked for the government and was now on a pension. All too much to take in, really. I wish I had more time to spend with them.

... But we had to get Ramblin' and say 'Hoo Roo' to Pascal and his chums and head off to Juan Les Pins, where we are now. Gotta go! See youse later!

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