Day 20 and 21, August 29 and 30
Plampinet to Briançon
Three weeks on the GR5. Two more to go. It does not feel like we are even half way. There are changes in landscape and culture as we move through France, but we seem immersed in a different world rather than on a journey that will end in two weeks.
By road from Plampinet to Briançon is 13km and downhill. But the GR5 doesn’t work that way. We are on the grande traversée des Alpes and there are Alps to visit between Plampinet and Briançon. It was our longest day so far (27km, 1350m up, 1650m down) but we did well. Some very good alpine walking after a long but easy climb up. As always, the weather was great. Deer and lots of marmots.
The hard part for me was coming down into a heavily developed ski area. We walked smack into ugly Montgenèvre, an old town that has grown into a modern high-rise condo ski town. In summer it is as attractive as a sleazy bar with the lights turned up. It felt like a slap in the face after the solitude of the alpine and I was surprised by the effect it had on me. We took a short break there. Inge ordered a large coffee and I ordered a small beer. The waitress brought a large coffee and a large beer. I didn’t complain.
We ended the day in historic Briançon. The GR5 trail enters the city through the upper part of town, Vauban, which is old and fortified with ramparts, moats and drawbridges. We found a very small and basic hotel in Vauban which is a touristy area but full of good places to eat and quiet at night.
The photo is at one of the gates to the old town.
Today we are taking a day off. Lazy morning, lunch in a park by the river, laundromat. A difficulty of taking a day off is that we said goodbye yesterday to two friendly old French guys we have running into on the GR5 for the last week. They walked on today while we took a day off and we won’t see them again.