Day 16 — July 16, 1996 (Tuesday)
16.07.1996 - 17.07.1996
Last night we watched The Angry Earth on TV. It was partly in English, partly in Welsh and had French subtitles. It was a good movie and we enjoyed it.
Woke up this morning to clear skies and sunshine! Ed went out for our baguettes while I fought with the French shower. There is a very large bathtub and the shower is hand held on a pretty short hose — a challenge, but I persevered.
After breakfast we headed west past Barcelonette to Lac de Serre-Ponçon. We stopped for photos a couple times. At one point near the west end of the lake you go through a short tunnel. As we emerged, the end of the lake was as still as glass and reflected the mountains — photo stop!
We turned south on the N85 toward Sisteron and found ourselves on a “fruit and wine” route. We were in an Alpine valley covered with small farms, orchards and vineyards. As we neared Sisteron, there was a lot of road work that didn’t do much for the view.
Sisteron is dominated by the Citadelle which commands an entire mountaintop. My immediate reaction — after awe — was, “I’m not going to climb up there.” We wound through town and Ed found a parking place in a huge lot on ave. des Arcades. We walked down to the river and then back up the hill looking for a restaurant. Sisteron is très cher! We ended up on the sidewalk at Les Arcades. It was okay, but definitely not memorable.
I had earlier spotted a little train parked in front of a building labeled Hotel de Ville, but flying at least a dozen French flags. As we finished lunch, I heard a lady at the next table say it was time for the train, so we quickly followed them and got the last two seats on the little train. It chugged up the hill running a recorded commentary on the town and the fortress — in French, of course. We later discovered a Hotel de Ville is the city hall, not a hotel. That explained all the flags.
We were dropped off at the Citadelle and then started climbing. There was a glorious photo in any direction. We climbed and climbed — all the way to the top . . . . another monument I cannot add to my list of things I have not climbed.
It was very hot; I had turned red and was sweating as only I can do. There was an art show in the chapel, and I studied each work with great care . . . . in the cool church. Ed, in sympathy, got me my first French Coca Cola. We shared it on benches in the chapel. There was a French lady beside us with a kitty in a carrying sling. In France you seem to be able to take food, drink, cats and dogs anyplace — including restaurants and museums. It almost makes up for their lack of guardrails! [Chapelle Notre-Dame du Château (XVth century) has stained glass windows by Master Glassmaker Claude Courageux.] The Citadel web site
We rode the little train back downtown to discover Ed had gotten the only parking place in town in the shade! The car was cool. We drove back along the Durance River to the lake and along the Ubaye River to our supermarché. Got another bottle of wine, some water, olives and cheese. Clouds have come up during the day and we now sit on our terrace in a cool breeze listening to thunder in the mountains.
Olives and Temptation of Saint Felician cheese make a great sandwich! Took a walk after dinner and found a Gite and the local school. Jausiers is a quaint and charming little town when you get off the beaten track.