The day after I arrived, I hurtled off by TGV to visit Anke and Bob in the Ardeche in the southwest. About 600 km in 2.5 hours – I’ll never see anything like this in Canada in my lifetime (I used to belong to a ‘high-speed rail in Canada’ forum, but realized the futility…)
They have a beautiful home in a 12-house hamlet called La Roche de Juvinas, which is a 2 hour drive from the TGV station of Valence. It’s a restored stone farmhouse, a very nice balance of the old and new. The hamlet is gorgeous as is the rest of the Ardeche. Very interesting scenery – remains of volcanic activity millions of years ago. All the mountains in the area were worked on by people a long time ago – they terraced the mountain sides by building stone walls so they could eke out a sustenance farming life – dead at 30 because of the backbreaking work. We went on a long hike that was a lot fun and visited a couple of small towns in the area. Feet are OK, though hiking boots are necessary in the area.
La Roche de Juvinas
La Roche pathway
A pathway in the forest (damaged by wild pigs that root for grubs)
Almost all the trees planted in the mountains of Ardeche are châtaignier, the chestnut trees that have edible chestnuts
Rocks – the only building material