The village of Guillaumes is our base for a few days. Its one of those places with not much to offer but somehow very rewarding. After the last mountain pass we need time to recuperate! Plus the weather is pretty dam hot but the mountain air is fresh, so it makes it a pleasant and enjoyable stay.
In between, walking, zipping off on Eor, washing, cleaning, doing the donkey work and chilling we watch locals play boules. Every night at 6pm a group congregates on the aire for the daily championship. In between the banter, the heated discussions and the sulks there are plenty laughs. Our neighbours are a great couple from Aus. In the evening, we share stories and enjoy drinks in the open air. At about 11pm one evening we catch a glimpse of a few fire flies. Flashing in and around the river, it was lovely to see albeit only for a short period. We tell them of our first encounter of the fire flies a few years back.
The village doesn’t have a touristy feel and the locals are really friendly. Along the high street a few cafes, a barbers, small supermarket and a pharmacy provide you with everything you need for a short stay.
As you walk off the high street a set of informative historical plaques provide a numbered route through the old village. The village has an interesting history, and there’s a large collection of photos in the old town. On a pinnacle high above the village are the ruins of the Chateau Reine Jeanne. During summer, the area remains, unhurried, uncrowded and authentic, which us suits fine.
The medieval village dates back to middle of the 15th century. Guillaume’s castle was destroyed by La Reine Jeanne and so King Rene built a fortress on the pinnacle overlooking the village. Three centuries later, castle was later restored and fortified by Vauban. But 50 years later it was dismantled when the villages was handed over to Italy. A hundred years later, in 1860, Guillaumes was returned to France.
It’s seven o’clock in the evening and the sun light is starting to dip behind the mountains. Great time for a zip on Eor. We take the old mule trail alongside the dry Tuebi river bed. The boulders in the river bed are huge and you can imagine how bad the torrents must be. As we continue up the road it climbs through slopes of fragrant pine. We arrive at the small village of Peone.
To be honest, initial impressions weren’t great but the huge flower arrangement on the bridge caught our attention. We stop for a toot.
Life seems utterly restful here. An young girl prunes the flower baskets and a group of village elders sit on the bridge wall putting the world to rights. All the window shutters are closed to keep out the sunlight with the exception of the local bar come pharmacy come shop. Its closed for renovations but the doors are folded open to reveal a solid wooden counter and rusty wrought iron table and chairs.
We spot a little village map with a walking trail. We follow the trail taking us through the myriad of alleys and hidden paths through the village. Its a maze. Eventually, we wind our way to the top passed the original wash house, cat alley and village life. Its fab (click to enlarge image).
Tomorrow we set off on the final leg of the Route des Grandes Alpes, so an early night in store