If at first…..

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After a certain amount of faff we finally arrived at the small parking area below the Roc de Courlande, the morning’s walking destination. A jolly family group came skipping down as we began. ‘We have to go up by the path to the right’ I confidently told Lou.

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After half an hour of trudging upwards with the Roc being slowly left behind us I called a halt, admitted failure and we trudged back down!

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Taking the jolly family’s route we soon saw the right turn up towards one of the three statues of the virgin which are sited on the Roc. Suddenly there was a shout from Lou behind me – the sole of one of his, admittedly, elderly walking boots had fallen off.  So we gave in to fate, stopped and ate our lunch (freshly made sarnies bought that morning from the baker in la b, part of the faff) perched on rocks above the virgin with a fantastic view in front of us.

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With a change of footwear back at the car we cut our losses ,or rather Lou’s, and drove up to the espace nordique of Chasteix- Sancy that we hadn’t visited before. Finding a cafe/bar open it was a cappuccino and a beer taken in the glorious sunshine. Time to count our blessings.

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Not wanting to waste that sunshine we backtracked to la stele, where we usually raquette walk, which had been virtually deserted when we came past earlier. There were still only a handful of cars parked up , perhaps Lac de Guery was similarly quiet? With only ski de fond signs to follow we struck out on Les Mouflons, just under four kilometres.

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Not far but far enough in the event as there was a fair bit of climbing….again. A black piste for ski de fonders, brave souls. We did find a fair bit of snow too where the trees provided shade.

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Luckily no one’s shoes fell apart and the tiny bar was open for tea and juice when we got back. A nearby monument to fallen resistance fighters reminded me how lucky we are to have our freedom to do this.

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So back to our room to watch the rugby.. ….again

I had hoped that a quick swim between the rugby and apero time would relax the aching muscles. But it was not to be. As I slipped into the water I realised the advertised temperature of 29/30 degrees was not happening and this swim would be invigorating rather than relaxing! After a few lengths avoiding some excitable children, clearly impervious to the chill factor, I trudged back up to the third floor and relaxed under a hot shower.

We took aperos in the bar opened up just for us (!) where I enjoyed a kir made with birlou, a locally produced sweet liqueur made from apples and chestnuts.  A bottle to take home, I decided.

Dinner was booked at the rather quaint Hotel de la poste et Europe.  The dining staff seemed a bit flustered but relaxed when I said we had booked. A straightforward menu with not a huge choice but with the mountain dishes well to the fore. I was surprised that half the dining room behind Lou was empty. Then about 8.45, late by French standards, in came the hordes. A coach party, we decided. Finishing off with creme brulee (me) and fruit salad (him) we left them just starting on their soup.

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We wandered along to another favourite restaurant to book the birthday dinner before climbing the seemingly ever steepening road back to the hotel.

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