Gr5 day 13 – the grand detour de mercantour

I tried to sleep in this morning!  The next town is two hours away and is the last grocery stop for three days so I there was no point arriving before they opened at 8.  But of course my eyes were wide open with the birds at 4.45am.   So I had a delightful slow stroll up to St Dalmas in the blissful cool air.

Tinee Valley at Dawn
I could smell baking as I walked into town so I stopped off to pick up some quiche and blueberry tart for later and a pain au chocolate for now.

I hung out in front of the proxi superette until it opened and then bought as much food as I thought I needed for the next three days and then doubled that!  I am a bit fed up of being hungry so have made sure to stock up with as much protein and fat as I can, albeit not in the ideal form of nuts and chocolate.  I have also discovered this weird French hiking food called chestnut spread.  It’s basically sugar in a tube but it is pretty tasty.   And I bought some saucisson, cheese, Parma ham (it survives OK in the pack)….2 kilos of food!It really is the hikers obsession to think about food all day – I am already planning big meals of vegetables when I get home.  And I am really missing Greek yogurt.  And I can’t wait to eat a steak.   And yes I have already booked a nice restaurant for the first night I get home

French Hiker Fuel – Chestnut spread, totally delicious with bread, cheese or yogurt!
From St Dalmas to Nice is a pretty straight shot day and a half walk through relatively flat terrain.   As I am a bit ahead of schedule I am going to take the longer, harder more mountainous route to Menton through the valley of the Marvels.

So I headed north to climb the Col du Barn, and had a very lazy stroll up the hill.  Given the relatively short distance today I was cruising and taking photos.

Lac du Barn
Two young French guys caught up with me as I was having morning tea and they tried to keep up with me as I went up the hill but they had the worlds largest packs on.

How not to pack
After a gentle descent down the other side, I stopped for lunch.  Yes a very lazy day, as I never stop for anything.


Picnic of Champions – Quiche and blueberry tart
Just as I finished lunch two other ‘young guys’ came wandering past at a ‘bonne rhythme’ (a good pace).

I have never been overtaken by hikers before, and thankfully that didn’t happen today, but Benoit (Ben) and Emmanuel (Manu) walk at a fabulous pace so we walked together to Boreon. My first time ever finding people who walk the perfect rhythm. Manu is a Boy Scout extraordinaire who has all his maps laminated and annotated so I lazily followed him into town. They come from Picardy, so for the non French among you, I would recommend watching bienvenue chez le ch’ti, which is about their region and is my fave French film

Lovely men that they are we have agreed to tackle the big passes together tomorrow so I don’t have to do them by myself, and we are meeting at five to head off.  Again am very grateful for the fabulous French people I keep meeting around every corner.

I had a lovely dinner (quiche and lasagne) followed by a disappointing dessert (fromage Blanc and apple purée) with 11 Flemish hikers who were very entertaining.  In bed by 8.30 🙂

Gite Le Boreon dinner with the Flemish Hiking Club
Distance covered = 32

Ascent/descent = 1750/1265

Time on feet = 7 hours

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This picture made me laugh….

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