Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hiking to the Gorges du Gardon

Today we planned for a hike right out of front door.  In fact, the trail begins right next to the boulangerie.  We took off around 9:30, before it was too hot and what a gorgeous morning it was.  We were mostly alone as we followed the signs, well one sign, plus some occasional yellow markers, very familiar to us now.  We had seen a French couple get out of their car back at the boulangerie and peruse a huge map but they never caught up to us.

This is the view of Sanilhac-Sagries from the trailhead.  Our house is nestled in there.

The path was level until it began to gradually descend.  We came to a magnificent view way at the top of that hill above Chuck's head.  I couldn't imagine we'd be able to make it all the way down to the water.  When we did get to the bottom our eyes just popped out of our heads.  Old ruins were on either side of the mountains.  We climbed up the stairs to see what was up there.

This little building is chapel Saint-Vérédeme, backing on to the cliff, at the entrance to a cave, and was for a long time a pilgrimage destination.  The exploration of the many caves and cavities has shown that the site has been inhabited since prehistoric times. During the 7th century, the Greek healer Vérédème (the future Bishop of Avignon) retired from the world to live in the Gardon Gorges.

 Inside the chapel

Around the corner along that path was a big cave and of course we couldn't resist. We were astounded at the size of this cave opening had to explore it.  The first room was huge and fairly well lit by the doorway but as we ventured further, it was pitch black.  We hadn't brought flashlights but each of our smart phones has a flashlight app that works quite well.
 Inside the cave, looking out.

I was all the way to the bend and there was no light whatsoever.  I shined my iPhone flashlight on myself and Chuck took a picture using his flash.  We continued to explore, moving very slowly--the ground went up and down but it was quite roomy inside.  No crawling required although Chuck did find a small cave opening along the way that would have.

At one point, we turned off our flashlights to see how dark it was and Chuck saw a light at the end of the tunnel!  We hemmed and hawed about whether to keep going but decided to go for it.  I took this picture of the doorway at the end and he is shining his flashlight on himself.

As it turned out, we had to go back the way we came as the trail outside was so overgrown we would not have been able to get around it.  What a fun morning.  The hike was 5 miles and not even difficult.  Unfortunately, the boulangerie was closed for the day.  It's Sunday.

We walked the 2 blocks home and settled into the backyard.  I was sure I would go in the pool--it was quite warm out, or at least we were, but it just wasn't hot enough.  In the shade it's quite nice and cool so that's where we settled for several hours with our books.  Chuck brought down a magnificent lunch of cheese, salami, bread, grapes, apples, cookies and orange juice.


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