Day 11: Nevache

Day 11 - View of Nevache Started at 7:30.  In 15 minutes was out of town climbing into the forested mountain.  Again met William from three days ago.  He took a day off and asked his friend to give him a ride to Modane where he picked up the route to Nice.  I planned to finish this day at Refugio i Tre Alpini.  But the col was not too strenuous so I was at the refuge before 2 pm - too early. So I did the second col which was even easier and descended into the village of Nevache. 

Day 11 - Auberge In Nevache Both hotels were "complet", so I went to the gite d'etape.  Also "complet", but I insisted that they should be able to find a place for une personne.  Got a small kitchen where the host promised to put up a bed.  And I am getting dinner and breakfast.

For three last days the trails are crowded with all kinds of people.  Long distance hikers like me but many more casual one-day hikers.  Day 11 - Auberge In Nevache 2 Many families with little kids sometimes using a rented mule to carry the backpacks.  The parking lots at the end of mountain roads are over flowing with vehicles.  Here near the village of Nevache all parking lots are full and the cars are parked on the sides of the road for more than a mile.  And this is not a weekend.  It looks like the whole France takes a vacation in August.

Day 11 - Nevache Today I experienced an interesting cultural phenomenon.  When I reached the first col there were two mountain bikers who asked me to take a picture.  They spoke Italian (grazie not merci).  And while descending to the refuge several people asked me questions and all in Italian.  People including waiters at the refuge restaurant were all speaking Italian.  When after the refuge when I reached another col and started my descent it was all French again.  It turns out that the French annexed this little valley after WWII, but people still fly Italian flags by the refuges.

Day 11 - Killing Time Before Dinner The nature also changed south of the col.  No fir trees are seen which were predominant so far, but pines and some other coniferous tree the name of which I don’t know.  It is hotter and drier and there are very few places to get water.  Getting closer to the Mediterranean, I guess.

The dinner was great.  18 people at my table and nobody could speak English.  Day 11 - Makeshift Bed But some knew a couple of dozen words and I by now know several French keywords and phrases.  So I was not left out.  Got some advice on my future route.  Just watching how French people behave at the communal dinner and hearing French for two hours was great.  What an immersion into the French culture.