Thursday 24 July 2014

Thursday was the first day of our holidays that we woke up to a sky completely free of clouds. The weather was perfect with full sun and a gentle cooling breeze. A few days earlier we had found a booklet that described walks around the nearby village of Thueyts, so we decided to try one of the walks.

After parking at a square in Thueyts we followed the directions below a bridge onto a steep cobbled path that wound down the mountain side. We stopped to look at the Cascade de gueule d’enfer (Waterfall of the mouth of hell) but in the dry season there was not much to be seen of the 100 metre waterfall. Soon we arrived at the famous Pont du Diable (The Devil’s Bridge – Thueytsians seem slightly obsessed with the hell and the devil, judging from the choices of names.) As expected there were quite a few people at this tourist attraction, and the little beach below it, although inviting, seemed a bit too busy for us to linger.

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But we kept our eyes open for other places to reach the river and soon enough we arrived at a steep stair leading down to the water’s edge. There was a perfect little beach just for us! As it was a very hot day and we were sweaty from the walk we immediately stripped down to our swimwear and waded into the water, which turned out to be freezing cold.

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Loki immediately discovered a ball in the water and wanted us to throw it. But the naughty ball kept escaping from him. We could not help but laugh as our dog snapped after the ball which kept jumping away from him further down the stream. He only caught it once he managed to corner it in the shallows. This repeated itself several times until one time the ball was fleeing towards the rapids and my boyfriend had to jump in to save the ball and prevent our dog from following it down the river. As it happens I was filming the adventures of Loki and his ball, so you can watch the video here (sorry for the bad quality):

P1100801After my boyfriend had handled a couple of last minute rescues (hurting his ribs on some rocks in the process) he made a rule: We were not to throw the ball into the river anymore. My boyfriend might have fallen out of love with our new toy, but Loki was in love. Playing hard to get seems to work on our dog.

Since everybody else had swum in the river (some less voluntarily than others) I had to at least submerge myself. And that is exactly what I did, no more, no less. A quick dip and out again. Of course this meant that my bikini was wet and I wanted to let it dry a bit before putting on my clothes. So we sat on the beach for a while throwing Loki his ball. As we were sitting there my boyfriend became hungry and we realised it was lunchtime. Continuing the 3 hour walk we had barely started on did not seem feasible so we cut our hike short and headed back towards Thueyts for something to eat.

As we were passing the Pont du Diable Loki was running after his ball when a man turned to us and said:

“Where did you find that ball? Was it in the river?”       

It turned out that the man’s son had lost his very special World Cup ball, bought in Germany. They had lost it at the Pont du Diable, so it had travelled quite far down river before Loki found it. The boy took his ball and held it tight, while Loki sat in front of him, staring intently at the ball that he had come to love. The ball was somewhat worse for wear after having been repeatedly pierced by Loki’s teeth, although it speaks for the quality of the ball that it still held its shape after all it had gone through. As compensation for Loki, the family dug out an old sad looking ball which they donated to us. When we left the boy was studying his ball with some consternation.

At Thueyts we sat down at a restaurant/ice cream café and my boyfriend ordered some entrecôte while I ordered filet mignon de porc. We could not help but notice that the waiter had the appearance of a formerly heavy drinker who had been recently rehabilitated and been given a chance to get his life back on track. He was friendly and helpful buP1100843t looked slightly disheveled and his face bore the marks of a less than healthy lifestyle. He kept forgetting things and seeming somewhat lost, but he brought Loki a bowl of water with ice cubes in it, so he was forgiven for any other shortcomings. The food was delicious and afterwards we decided to have some ice cream. I had a coupe with vanilla, chestnut and bilberry ice-cream and chestnut cream. It was even better than the food, and because we both ordered ice cream with traditional Ardèche flavours we got funny fridge magnets on sticks in the ice cream. As we left my boyfriend went over and gave them to two little girls at another table.

All in all Thursday might have been the best day of our holidays so far, despite the antics of the ball that would not play ball.

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