Day 16 – Thèze to Les Bons Enfants, 22.4km, 7.0hrs (5.0hrs moving)

It wasn’t our best trail ever. In fact, it should be rated down near the “marginally tolerable” category but we have to take the good with the bad. If we don’t have bad days, the good days would be boring. Also, it got us to where we need to go.

As advertised, our taxi driver showed up at 8am to take us back to Thèze to the same spot where he dropped us off at the church yesterday. A Monday morning ride, compared to Sunday morning, saved 20€ so I was slightly happier. I quickly took my bearings and we set off. After 120m, I rechecked my bearings, turned around, and we walked past the church again in the correct direction. Never do important stuff quickly.

Once again, we were walking on the D4 but this time southward. It was a bit busier than Sunday but still a tolerable average of seven cars passing us for every kilometer we walked. There weren’t any motorcycles or bicyclists either. For the first section, it was a little hard to find places where we could walk on a gravel or grass edge of the road but that got much easier further south. Still no blister (knock on wood).

After 8.5km of this road, it merged with the D304 and was a little busier but the only way over the Durance River. Past the bridge over the river, we had a small climb but then turned left onto the nicest of Camino trails. It was dirt in some places, grass in others and shaded in the beginning too. Unfortunately, that only lasted for 1.5km before coming out to a gravel farm road. Normally I would be happy on that but it was running parallel to, and only 20m away from, the very busy A51 highway. With the farm road like this, followed by an industrial complex road on the other side of the highway, we walked 4.5km within sight and earshot of the cars and trucks roaring past.

There is a citadel up there someplace

This took us into Sisteron, crossing the Buëch River below the mighty Citadel fort that protected the town and Via Domitia travelers in this narrow gap in the mountains where the Durance passed through. We spent almost two hours there having lunch, wandering around and visiting the tourist office. We normally would not do that in mid-walk but our hotel was only 5km away and didn’t open until 5pm.

At the tourist office, we asked for help in finding a room for tomorrow night, somewhere near Lurs and a restaurant. We tried everything we could think of and the few options there were, none of them answered phones or e-mails. We found one more B&B on Google Maps (that’s how desperate we were) but gave a chance to the tourist office before trying the B&B number. The very helpful woman at the tourist office made a few calls and found us beds in the Lurs municipal gîte (hostel). We were told however, that nine other people have already reserved beds there so it was pretty full. Also, the only restaurant in town is right next door… but closed on weeknights from October to April. Are we having fun yet??? We will need to walk past the supermarket tomorrow, just 2.5km from our hotel tonight and buy dinner supplies to carry another 25km. Now we are having fun!!!

The final 5km to Les Bons Enfants started out on a very quiet road between the rail tracks and the river that had a bike lane we could walk on. However, as soon as we could, we crossed over the rail line near the station and walked on the busier D4085 with a narrower road shoulder. Why? Because that road was mostly shaded and the quiet road wasn’t at all. At 2pm, it made a HUGE difference. I may have gotten run over by a car but I wasn’t going to be all sweaty and hot on the way to the hospital.

As I wrote this, we are sitting on the veranda of the hotel’s restaurant. It’s almost 5pm and we are praying that they open up soon and, just as important, open the restaurant tonight too (edited to add: they will be open!). There is nothing else within 2.5km of their place and, rumor has it, even the closest restaurant is actually a McDonalds. God save us.

Peace y’all.

We walked from Thèze (top left) to Les Bons Enfants (blue arrow at bottom)

… instead of from La-Motte-du-Caire…

… and I include the elevation profile because I think it looks funny.

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