According to the Cicerone guide there’s a campsite where we stayed next to the river but I can’t remember anything about it.Journal
Well the reason I can’t remember anything about camping in Monistrol d’Allier is because after looking more carefully at the journal, we didn’t stop there but pressed on to Saugues. The photo was taken on the endless hill coming out of Monistrol where we were passed by quite an elderly man who was admittedly travelling light but making rapid progress. I said something about it being steep, and he replied- “no, Mont Blanc – that’s steep!” So here’s the day in full from the journal. It includes a stretch I’ve already written about.
20th May 2010
Monster monster day. Crossed over a big ridge to Monistrol d’Allier where we found an unlikely Englishman called Peter running a restaurant. Couldn’t stop him chatting. Had a coffee and a triangular toasted sandwich – the machine for which he hopes to sell in Korea (!) –filling was made from last night’s leftovers gratin dauphinoise, bits of dry cured ham and cheese sealed in a kind of crêpe.
After that the going got more and more tough. We laboured up the side of a gorge and climbed upwards and upwards into a new landscape. Dairy cattle, sheep for milking (with bells) and goats too. Very like high Mendip. Pastures completely untouched and covered with spring flowers. Dandelions seem to be at their peak here – a month later than at home. Lady’s’ Mantle and all sorts of stunning wildflowers. We fell in with three women from Nice who were totally shocked at the appearance f a peasant farmer’s wife. One of them said to me with a horrified look – “This is DEEP DEEP France!”
Eventually we reached the top and down into Saugues. Found a good campsite next to the river and in the middle of a sports ground. Walked back into town and found a brilliant restaurant – 4 courses 12€. Met up with Serbian woman called Jacqueline and two Germans. Miss Serbia spoke about 5 languages and just loved organizing us.. Cold night. Slept well and woke up at 6.30. Bananas and orange juice for breakfast.
This part of the journey – aside from being very arduous, as the Cicerone Guide warned – gave us a first glimpse of some of the most lovely countryside I’d ever visited as we approached the Aubrac Plateau. The weather was fine and clear and – being pretty high at approaching 1,100 metres – it was cool enough to enjoy the walk once we’d levelled out. The campsite at Saugues held one further surprise because when we stretched out for a rest alongside the river, M’s bivvy mat was punctured by a sharp stone and we had a frantic time hunting for the repair kit. We had a bit of a barney about the fact that I had a long gossip with Jacqueline which evidently touched a raw nerve with M in the shadow of his ex wife’s infidelity. Anger was constantly simmering not far under the surface and was always inclined to break out without warning.