Posted by: Richard | July 1, 2009

Day 14: To Bramans

June 27: Today was a day of decisions.  At the upcoming village of Bessans, we could either continue down a great valley, enjoying little towns and, though lots of km’s, no big altitude gains.  On the flipside, we could climb up into the Vanoise and look down on the villages from up high, enjoying great scenery and some good tough days.  As we left Bonneval, we didn’t know which way we’d go.  As it stood, we decided we’d let the decision make itself.  If it was cloudy up high, we’d stay low.  Conversely, if it was a lovely day, we’d go up and enjoy the views.

As we left our hotel, the valley was clear but all the peaks were surrounded by heavy cloud.  We walked the 2 hours to Bessans and the weather didn’t change, we had lovely weather in the valley, but the path we wanted to take was obliterated 1000m up by clouds.  Lynn and I discussed and agreed that it was pointless to climb to see nothing, especially as we had seen so few villages and this valley was so nice.  (of note, Bonneval is listed as one of the prettiest villages in France).

Our decision to stay in the valley meant a long day.  About 40 – 45 km in hot weather.  We pounded from village to village, enjoying lovely little towns as we boogied to our iPod’s.  After some music, we both settled into good books.  I was listening to ‘The Man Who Loved China’, a fascinating biography of eccentric scientist Joseph Needham and his life in Cambridge and eventually in China. 

Particular highlights of this day were passing a village that must have been 500 years old and had very few updates since then.  Alas, I have forgotten my book so I’m going to guess that the village was called Le Verney.

As we approached 10 hours, we came into Bramans.  We were greeted with a wedding party coming down the hill out of town, horns blaring and the bride and groom in the front of a giant digger. Now, any 6 year old boy would dream of getting married and the limo being a digger, but it seemed strange to use the digger as adults.  As the valley is still quite rural (most of the alps are decidedly touristy), perhaps the digger is part of the rural lifestyle.  Lynn snapped a photo and we both had a giggle.

We got to our hotel, it was very old and quite fun.  We watched some BBC news (funny, the same news stories from two days before were still running on BBC) and tended to our very very pained feet.  We noticed that the bed was squeaky, but didn’t think too much of it.  We walked down to the little general store, bought candy (Lynn is very persuasive when it comes to candy) and I got some old time Pop Rocks!!!  We came back to our room, ate candy, a beer and some olives and waited for dinner.

After dinner, we quickly fell asleep.  During the night, every movement of our bodies caused the bed to squeek loudly.  We didn’t sleep well.  As if that wasn’t enough, the crazy wedding party came back through town at 5am.  Horns blared, people yelled and a cowbell (later confirmed to be an iron pot) was banging to beat the band.  A groggy Lynn quizzed me on how to hurl obscenities in French at these lunatics.  Thankfully, I demurred.  After 15 minutes, the hootenanny (note: that is the first time I’ve ever written that word) stopped and we went back to a light sleep interrupted by our squeaky bed.

Read the post of the next day to find out more on the strange early morning disturbance.

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