I like boats. There is something about sailing away into the (literal) sunset that just seems so right. It’s even better when you’ve sailed away (a little sadly) from Corsican paradise and you end up in a tiny, rambling Provençal village bowered with flowers, holding hands with your lover and waiting for delightful friends.
We were meeting the French Chef and the Irish Yogini, a sunshine-y couple I had met in Nepal on my yoga course. We were to stay in their family summer house. If you just let your mind wander to the subject of honey coloured homes in Provence, bathed in the lavender light of the long twilight and you’ve probably got an excellent idea of their place.
That first evening we were whisked away to dine with a gregarious bunch of friends – all laughter and waving hands and glasses of pastis and fields of dripping cherry trees. Over the next few days we entered into the summer lifestyle.
Late rising, delicious breakfasts, short walks through fragrant fields to the local matriarch’s pool and long luxurious meals under a generous tree.
There were World Cup games, tipple in hand and me slightly confused about what was going on, games of Patonque (my new favourite summer sport), excursions to achingly scenic medieval villages and monasteries (my god! the lavender fields!) and even a few yoga practices in the cool of the morning or afternoon. The light was golden and mellow and perfect.
We were left far too relaxed to bother much with climbing, though we did though take a day trip to Buoux.
Buoux is in a very pretty little valley – a small stream runs along the valley floor and cliffs rise up on both sides. The walk-in is quite short but the crag seems to have fallen from favour and thus the tracks are getting a little overgrown. Navigating without a guidebook can be a bit tricky and one should be careful not to accidentally lead one’s wife up a ten metre vertical scramble, unless one has a plan for getting her back down again.
Other than the polish, the climbing was reported to be very good and the view was charming. We probably would have spent a few more days there except that we had some delicious french food and a pool to return to.
In the fullness of time we did eventually tear ourselves away from the Chef and the Yogini to head to Ceuse. Unfortunately, by the time we got to this legendary crag the Climber had managed to pick up a disgusting bug and wasn’t in much shape to climb. Nevertheless we spent two days there and he got to touch the rock and say hi to a few Spanish climbers who had also come up.
Ceuse is a big horseshoe of cliff, thrust up from the surrounding low hills. From the campground or the carpark (we stayed in the campground for the fun of having hot showers) it is about an hour walk uphill to the crag. I was dreading this as I’d envisaged a revolting climber style path scrambling it’s way up a slippery hill. However, up until the last 200 meters or so, the walk-in is along a properly marked and reasonably maintained walker’s trail and so, although steep, it is quite easy going. The scenery as you ascend and at the crag is lovely. Green rolling hills, with mountains off in the distance and trees and ferns and wildflowers at your feet. Very romantic, if you like your romance tinted with the odour of sweat, climbing chalk and shoes…