Day 14 — July 14, 1996 (Sunday)
14.07.1996 - 15.07.1996
Today is Bastille Day (La Fête Nationale) so we’ll do our own belated Fourth of July celebration. Ed dutifully went out for our baguette while I figured out the kitchen. I bought the wrong coffee filters so had to make do. Ed plumbed the intricacies of the orange juice bottle and everything was ready when I discovered we had forgotten sugar for the coffee — gaaack!
We walked over to the church and discovered a little Bastille Day memorial service in the square next to the church. The church was larger inside than it appeared. They have a sun dial on the wall outside although I have no idea how accurate it is. Inside, there are eight side altars. The hymn numbers are preceded by a letter but I didn’t figure that out ‘til the last hymn. It’s a bit strange — you can have twenty-six different hymns numbered twenty-six. Since I missed the letter, we didn’t sing. Oh well . . . off to the laundry!
The nearest laundry was in Barcelonnette and it actually had a dryer. It took us a while to figure it out as the instructions were in French, but we now have clean clothes. That done, we started to look for a restaurant, and picked an outdoor table at a nice hotel on the main square — across from the fountain. We had a great waiter, a young skier type. We got the 82F menu with trout, figuring in the mountains trout would be good. It was excellent!
After lunch, we wandered the town (with a Mexican store!) until we heard a band. We followed our ears to Place Manuel to discover a Sbandieratori demonstration. Ed had seen one of the costumed men walking around earlier. There were drums with sticks that had egg-shaped ends, herald trumpets with flags and a troupe of men in medieval Italian costumes carrying large flags with crests. The men twirled the flags (each man had two flags) and they threw them up in the air back and forth to each other. It was great fun. [We later saw the Sbandieratori in Italy. They are always spectacular.]
Later we went to our supermarché and it had closed at noon — no sugar for my morning coffee! Headed home to rest and recuperate armed with tourist info and postcards. They were throwing fire crackers in the square at lunch so we’re hiding out on our terrace until Bastille Day is over.
After a quiet dinner on our terrace, we decided to explore. We started around our building when I became aware I had constantly been hearing rushing water. We found a little path and discovered the river Ubaye is less than a hundred yards from our room. We followed a footpath along the river to a bridge and crossed the Ubaye. It is narrow but swift. To our surprise, there was a park on the other side. Besides a lake, snack bar and children’s play equipment, they have a fake mountain to practice rock climbing. Several people were trying their luck.
We continued along the river to the Col d’Bonnette which is the road on the other side of our resort and the highest paved road in Europe when you drive into the Mercantour National Park. We spotted a castle way up on a hill and walked up the Col d’Bonnette to see if we could get to the castle. After a few dead-ends — all uphill — we gave up and walked down into the town exploring. It was very quiet on a Sunday evening. We stopped at the Tabac and got sugar and coffee filters and back to our rooms. (I thought a Tabac was a tobacco store, and they do sell tobacco products, but it is really a store akin to a quaint 7-11. They sell groceries, snacks and many other necessities of life.) [Later discovered the tabac is a good source of maps and tickets for local transportation.]
Jausiers Tourist Office web site
Web site for the mysterious castle in Jausiers
[Some background: The Château we couldn't quite find was the Château des Magnans, a Mexican villa built 100 years ago by Louis Fourtoul on the site of a former silk farm. The name “Magnans “ means “glutton” in the Provençal language and relates to the voracity of the silkworms raised for the local silk farms. A silk farm is called a magnanerie and the manager of the silk farm is a magnanier or more currently, a magnan. When I taught school, a fellow teacher had her students raise silk worms as a project and when you walked in the room, you could hear them eating. Voracious is certainly descriptive. Fortunately we had a grove of mulberry trees outside our rooms to keep the little fellows well fed.]