Distance: 22 km (Cum: 330 km)
Ascent: 1220 metres (Cum: 17,670 metres)
Time taken: 8.25 hrs including 1.75 hrs stops
Weather: sunny and hot
A truly beautiful day on which to continue our journey. It was a fairly standard 'up and down' day on GR10, with a few day walkers and folk in training for something more serious seen. But trekkers are absent from today's list of encounters.
After a tasty breakfast straight from the boulangerie, we settled our bill and left the drowsy town sometime after 9 am. An excellent path took us up through sun dappled woods for an hour or so, when we reached the sunlit haven of Hotellerie de la Reine Hortense. Coffee was in order, but my real purpose for stopping, stimulated by the book I read yesterday, was to chat to the hundred year old man sitting outside with his binoculars trained on Cauterets far below.
Oops! I should apologise. It was John Howarth, from near Clitheroe, on holiday with his wife Alice, and John is a mere 88 interesting years old. His daughter married a Frenchman, so they spend quite a bit of time in this lovely spot, which I gathered was part of the family's property empire. Alice had been thrilled to be given a quad bike ride to Col de Riou by her grandson.
We dragged ourselves away from this most pleasant of encounters, too climb steadily up to the same spot - the 1949 metre Col de Riou. A lovely climb through shady woods and then up a lazily switchbacked path over open ground with Alpenrose finally coming into flower.
Lunch on the summit (pictured) - a delicious home made goats cheese and tomato baguette, was savoured in the summer heat that will no doubt bring storms in the days to come. But currently it just feels like a regular heatwave.
The east side of the col was scarred with ski debris, but we soon got past that and onto delightful paths, mainly through woodland, for the rest of the day.
Grust was a smart little village whose residents were enjoying their Sunday lunches outside in the sun. We savoured some yogurts on a bench by the fountain that spurts water that flows from nearby springs under the church that dates from 1731.
After the village of Sazos the path rose to contour through woodland to the south of Luz. A magical path that eventually led down to Pont Napoleon, where a 90 metre bungee jump was in full flow. We stopped nearby for a coke break, which was punctuated by regular screams as the bungee victims were chucked off the bridge.
From the bridge, near where I recall getting a lift in a delivery van last time I was there, as I was too early in the season for a bus to Gavarnie, it was a pleasant stroll into Luz, where we were booked in to the Le Piolet gite. We had passed nice looking gites in Grust and Sazos, but had decided to honour our Le Piolet booking.
The gite was shut. They might have told us! Next door was a Youth Hostel. We booked in and we have our own room. There's no sign of anyone else staying here.
Since Susan and Roy (TGO Challenge friends from the USA) are staying at the Hotel des Templiers next week, we thought we'd better carry out a survey for them. It's very 'french'. The staff wear berets and the €25 menu features snails or salad (with courgette shavings and dotted balsamic vinegar), then a choice of gallettes (crêpes made from fancy flour), with courgette shavings and dotted balsamic, then a choice of crêpes for dessert.
Quite tasty but a bit expensive and repetitive. Round the corner, pizzas were about €10.
Walking around town, it was clear to see the devastation caused by the mid June storms. As with Cauterets, access has been limited due to destroyed roads, and businesses here are no doubt suffering badly.
I was pleased to hear that Andy Murray has won at Wimbledon.
Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary