Monday 21 July 2014

Monday began with mixed weather; sun and rain took turns in showering the valley. Although we were unhappy about the rain, the indecisive weather did give us a rainbow.

That day our plan was to drive to see the famous Gorges de l’Ardèche. At this point our ill-tempered GPS had given up completely, but we found our way with the help of maps and common sense. What we did not find was a good place to walk along the river. We stopped at the famous Pont d’Arc, the centre piece of so many of the pictures taken of the Ardèche. The arc was impressive as were the rock walls of the gorges, but as expected we were not the only people drawn to the gorges by their fame. Kayaks and canoes crowded the beach under the arc, and the sound of families enjoying themselves filled the air. We tried to find a walking route but only made it a short way through jungle-like growth before being forced to turn back. Luckily Loki was enjoying himself in the river, although he was almost swept away by the current again, this time with a beach full of people watching him.

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While on our way to the gorges I finally had some mobile phone reception so I took the opportunity to call my father who promised to transfer us some money. Unfortunately the 21st is a holiday in Belgium so the transfer would come a bit later, but we felt comfortable enough to shop for a few days on our way back to the house.

In the evening while my boyfriend barbecued I did some daylight snooping around our little hamlet. Let me present you Les Grisières:

9 houses in total, one inhabited by me, my boyfriend and Loki, one inhabited by a mysterious squatter and the house at the very end whose inhabitants we have never seen. Of the remaining houses one is unfinished, two seem to be in a livable state while two are in serious need of repair. The final house is a ruin, with four walls and no roof.

The neighbouring houses
The neighbouring houses
House on the verge of ruin
House in disrepair
Stairway to two entrances, the other in ruins
Neglected stairway
Stairway to the last house of the hamlet
Stairway to the final house
The main road of the hamlet of Les Grisières
The main road of the hamlet

The drive from Montpezat to Les Grisières is not a very long one, 4 km or so, but the route takes you around the mountain, down into the valley, across the river and up on the other side, much of it along a narrow winding mountain road with hair pin curves and sheer drops. Les Grisières is the end of the road.

Les Grisières as viewed from the road across the valley

As I investigated the hamlet I thought of what a good setting it would be for a thriller. It is relatively isolated, with bad mobile reception, but within reach of a small village. Of course the road to the village might not be accessible in bad weather… Imagine a young writer arrives at the house in the autumn, looking for some peace and quiet to work on her novel. As time passes strange noises and sightings unnerve her. It is as if there is someone else in the hamlet, which is supposed to be deserted. One night she runs into a scared looking unkempt man hiding in one of the houses, who tells her “I didn’t do it! I did not kill her!” Perhaps there is some blood on his clothes? He then disappears and she is left to solve a possible murder of an unknown woman. Is the man the killer or not? And is he still hiding in the hamlet?

After my explorations Loki and I returned to a delicious barbecue which we enjoyed on the terrace. And to our delight another, even more spectacular rainbow appeared over the valley that evening.