Sunday, 13 April 2014

It's not looking beret good

Saturday is market day in Bourg-saint-Maurice and we drove down into town to take a look. It's not a big place, but it has a fair-sized market and there seem to be a few different stalls each week.
We were hoping the miniature pigs would be there, but there was no sign of them. My eye was caught by a hat stall and by a large collection of that most distinctive item of French headwear - the beret.
After a poor effort at putting one on, the stallholder came to help and arranged it at a rather jaunty angle. Sam took a picture for me to see (no mirror on a hat stall is a bit of an oversight), but I don't think it worked. It was also far too big. I tried a smaller one, but that was too small and then a Breton beret, but that didn't work either.
Margaret, meanwhile, was persuaded to try the first beret, which (it turns out) is a French army beret used by mountain troops. I couldn't carry off the look, but I think Margaret succeeded. She struggles to find hats to fit her, but this one was spot on.
After the market, we had planned to drive to Beaufort for a look around. However, we'd overlooked the fact that Saturday is change-over day and the road out of Bourg towards Moutiers was already forming one long traffic jam. We turned around and came off the main road at Bellentre, where we'd walked through the other day. The road winds up the side of the valley through Villarivon and Montgirod, where you can turn off for the high village of Les Chapelles.
This is an interesting place, the main village for a group of the higher settlements. There's a collection of very old buildings, with newer homes surrounding them. The church and the churchyard was interesting and there was a really old grand, but crumbling, farm and barn next to the church. We were adopted by a friendly dog, who followed us around town for 15 minutes just to be sociable.
The road down takes us back to Montgirod and then to Vulmix from the top, so we got to see the parts we missed earlier in the week when we walked through. There's a restaurant and another interesting church. The churches in this region are in the baroque style - many of them were remodelled during the 16th century in a show of strength and wealth designed to counter the spread of Protestantism.
After a bread-and-cheese lunch, Sam and I walked up to the Chapel St Michel and down via La Rosiere, before climbing back up to Villaret.

In the evening, we had dinner at Restaurant Arssiban in Bourg. We went for their €27 set menu, which was quite good. It's a nice place, very light and spacious for a French restaurant (or any restaurant come to that) and with large, roomy tables. It seems popular with families. Waitresses were two mature ladies (about my age), who got things done in an unfussed manor. It was very much like dining in someone's house.