Date: 21st July 2018
Travelled: 164 kilometres from Col d’Izoard to Guillaumes, both in France.
Visited: Embrun and the Route des Grandes Alps
Stayed: Guillaumes municipal aire, free. Usual services €2. N44.08825, E06.85286
Looking out the window before bedtime we see that several other motorhomes and campers have joined our little group on top of Col d’Izoard. Dark clouds are circling and the weather looks ominous. We get the first round of thunder and lightning around mid-night, then heavy rain. I hear the rain a couple of times through the night, but by morning the rain has stopped. In fact there is little evidence it rained at all.
There is some cloud or mist down in the valleys, but it looks like another beautiful day. Mind you it’s a bit brisk around 3-4 degrees according to the weather app. As usual, Pam is keen for a walk, so we hump up to the viewing platform above the Col. Note, Pam is in shorts despite the chill, stylishly layered however with her pashmena skarf. Looking down on yesterday climb up the D902 from Briançon. In my younger days I would have enjoyed it a lot more on a motorbike.
Post our morning walk and back in the Hymer we start the descent from the Col at 2360 metres asl down through the Casse Déserte. Considered one of the most isolated and desolate areas in France. ‘Isolated and desolate’ is west of Broken Hill my friend. We did find the vista through the Casse Déserte amazing. Finally the D902 turns south-west following the river through a gorge known as the Combe du Queyras. The D902 crosses the river several times as we descend. The narrow tunnels add a little anxiety to my navigators day. But as I always say you cannot live forever. Mmm…lift right foot may be prudent.
Driving out of the gorge we try to find a parking spot in Guillestre without success. Our Rough Guide describes it glowingly but not perhaps not on a Saturday morning. The only spot we can find is well out of town so we drive on…to Embrun.
Further down the valley we find Emdrun also in our guide books. The parking is just as bad here, but we jag a lovely spot at the back of the church, near a small park overlooking the valley. Making some coffee (still using your cups after 6 years Julie) and take in the view. Let’s be frank, no one does a small park or jardine as good as the french ! It was a particularly good reverse park if I do say so myself. As its highly likely we are parked in the Bishop’s spot, we go over to visit the Church. According to the blurb, the Notre Dame du Réal is the largest church in the French alps. Within the Cathédrale Notre Dame du Réale, looking forward from the naive to the alter. Lovely stained glass rosette window. So Pam finds a hairdresser for a wash, cut and dry, telling me it’s a good price, whilst I go to the tourist office to upload a blog as the day slips away. We spend the later part of the afternoon driving the D902-D2002 combination. This road over the Col de la Cayolle is without doubt the most challenging drive I have every undertaken. Finally at the top it’s even worse going down. Narrow bridges, single lane tunnel, and blind corners it doesn’t get much more challenging than Col de la Cayolle. Looks like fun !
We are very relieved to see the turn for Guillaumes.
Michael and Pam