The last day of the holiday. The day the tour de France was going to be whizzing through the department en route for Puy Mary. The day we decided not to try and see it. Been there, done that in 2012 when Wiggins won. We camped on the side of the road and after a long morning of waiting enjoyed the craziness of the ‘caravan’ and then the mad few seconds of the peloton hurtling past in a swishing of rubber on road.
We were going to have a quieter day. A morning walk, a lazy lunch, a swim and then the packing. The walk would be a shorter one and, preferably, without too much climbing.
In my file I had a walk called ‘le chapelle de Granges’ which started from Tauves and made its way up to the plateau, across the main road and then wound around a few villages before arriving back at the start. 9.2 km. Far too long a walk for Friday but the mention of a medieval chapel and the vestiges of its accompanying chateau sparked my interest. Himself grunted assent so it was back to the starting point of the plateau walk opposite the cheese factory where we could pick up the track to Granges and be able to park easily.
Conveniently, there was an ubiquitous yellow sign giving us the distance to the chapelle. An easy aller-retour of 3.2km. Perfect and an added bonus was no wind!
We set off along the track that ran between the two parts of the cheese factory and straight out into the downland. I waited to hear skylarks as it seemed the right environment but maybe that pesky wind keeps them at bay…or ‘les chasseurs’.
After a while we began to drop down between fields with the ever present sound of cow bells coming from somewhere in front of us. I dawdled, taking photos of hedgerow flowers, particularly excited to see a tiny wild pansy hidden in the grass.
Further down we crossed a small fast running stream and climbed up to a junction with more yellow signs.
We were only half a kilometre from Granges. Gosh, this felt so easy after the clambering and scrambling we’d been doing this week! The cowbells were getting noisier and a few cows with long curving horns stared dispassionately from above our heads.
As we came down into the village we were surprised by the sound of a car. There was a crossroads with a proper road. I don’t know why we were surprised. It was a village, after all!
From my Google earth snooping I knew the chapel lay behind the barn opposite and was pleased to find a notice board with lots of information about its history.
Sadly, the chapel was shut but its two side windows were open so some shifty poking of my phone through them revealed something of the interior.
From reading the board I knew that there was only the remains of a tower from the chateau and looked around for it. Hidden in the trees and up a slope it could just be seen. Ever the curious one (nosey, himself says) I scrambled up with the help of my trusty stick and investigated the ‘vestiges’.
As I scrambled nearer I could see that the tower was almost a complete circle despite the encroachment of saplings etc.
The size of the remaining stones amazed me. How tough were these chateau builders in those days, heaving these great weights up a hill before even beginning to build?
I bet the village kids love playing around this site. Imagine having a real castle to fire your imaginary games! Meanwhile, I needed to slither back down to the chapel where ‘I’m only the chauffeur’ was waiting for me.
Time for the return walk. We were at 890 metres and so it would be uphill almost all the way to 940ish but no scrambling and no wind. A doddle, in other words.
Before we left Granges I took a photo of a house with a tin roof. I assume this would have had the traditional lauze roof at one time but as these are so expensive to repair this would explain how many such roofs we saw in the area.
So back past the cows with their jangling bells, back past the little stream and back past a field which seemed to contain a bull we hadn’t noticed before!
Then it was up across the downland to the cheese factory which was quite noisy even at a distance.
And back to the car. I hoped my cheese I bought yesterday was a proper ‘fermier’ and not from this factory but who knows?
One last look at the Massif de Sancy and ‘home’ for lunch.