6th August: Barcelonnette via Col de Vars

Our race is tomorrow in the Ubaye valley so we prepared the van for a night away from the campsite and set off. We headed up numerous hairpin bends, with beautiful views, to Col de Vars where we were meeting the Moorcroft family for a walk.

The walk was a gentle bimble around the hillside… Nothing too strenuous. We could see what looked like a shepherd’s hut in the distance and decided to stop there for lunch.

When we reached the hut, Ian opened the door. Inside we were surprised to find it had a wood burner, cooker, tables, benches and various other bits and pieces to make it homely. From the visitors book, it was clear it was a bothy, probably for ski tourers in winter. We decided to make use of it and have lunch inside where it was cool.

We then continued our walk through alpine meadows of beautiful flowers and along forest tracks, with jagged mountains high above us. We could hear marmots in the distance and saw lots of burrows, but none of the furry creatures close up. There were thousands of brightly coloured butterflies flying around us, and thousands of grasshoppers jumping around our feet.

After we arrived back at the van we had an ice cream and headed down from the col to Barcelonnette, a pretty town with some huge villas. We found the camper van aire quite easily but a sign said it was closed from 5.00 ’til 11.00 because of a firework display. We found a place to park on a road by the river Ubaye and wandered into the town centre.

We finally found where race registration was and collected our numbers, checking that the route was marked, as we wouldn’t be able to understand the race briefing. After treating ourselves to dinner, we headed back to the van.

Some of the roads, including the road we were parked on were now blocked off, and other camper vans that had been parked near us had gone. We didn’t want to be moved on so we quietly sneaked into our van to put some warmer clothes on before sneaking out again to watch the fireworks, preceded by a torchlit procession of kayaks and rafts on the river. What a lovely evening.

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