The terrain is clearly transitioning from mountains and deep river valleys to a wide valley with foothills at least on one side. Theoretically, we have several more days of tough climbing but that’s in question at the moment. Tomorrow we plan to walk to somewhere around La-Motte-du-Caire and finding accommodation is an issue. Even using a old trick looks tough. We thought about staying in Tallard two nights, taking a taxi to La-Motte in the morning and walking back here, then taking another taxi the next day to the same spot and walking forward. The problem with that trick is a taxi would be very expensive because La-Motte is not easily accessible from this side of the mountains. We’ll work something out.
The walk again today was a mix of the signposted trail and our own way. The first departure from the trail started almost immediately because there was the Saturday morning farmers’ market going on in Gap and we preferred walking through that, rather than the parallel road with the blazes. Also, shortly after the Cathedral, the Camino took the quickest route away from houses and the city but that meant a very circuitous route to the south, our eventual direction. We preferred to go past the cemetery and then down the quiet residential Rue des Sagnières to meet back with the GR blazes before they went onto the quieter suburban and farm roads and a few tracks.
There were quite good sections all the way to the N85 (our new highway to hate) but a little too much of it was blacktop roads. One of the highlights though was passing the small Chapelle Saint-Jacques de la Tourronde. Mass is at 9am on the first Sunday of every month so we were 22 hours early. On the side of the chapel was a prayer to St. James for pilgrims that I have to get translated. There was also some recognition of its position on the pilgrim route although I wish it only mentioned the Via Domitia and not the GR653d. Instead of waiting for mass, we continued down to cross the footbridge over the highway.
Once on the eastern side of the highway, we were soon off-road but we also had a tough trail to climb on loose rocks. The ascent was only 180m but it took us 30 minutes on the toughest kilometer. It was short though so we enjoyed doing it even though the guidebook recommends skipping that part. It is when there are eight or ten kilometers of those trails in a row that we don’t like it. After that climb, the GR trails continued higher towards Tallard. The problem was that we could not find accommodations in Tallard so we headed towards our hotel at the Tollard airport, two kilometers away from the town and the Camino. we made our way on gravel tracks, dirt roads and, eventually, quiet roads through Châteauvieux to the airport. Rumor has it that they get one flight a week coming here. It’s not your typical airport hotel or airport.
I should mention the only hotel we could find is quite good and almost worth the extra mileage. They asked when we were arriving and when we told them about 2pm, they immediately responded that they only open reception at 4:30pm but they also gave us the code to enter the building and told us how to find our key, room and wi-fi access. Better still, we have a space outside where we could hang our washed clothes in the sun and they dried in less than an hour. Our room will not look or smell like a laundry room.
That’s it for today. We have some serious planning to do for tomorrow. I should probably go check into the hotel now too.