In the distance you see a small triangle of cloud. It covers the village of Lescun where I’d started my walk and camped for two nights. It’s one of the most delightful places I know. The Aspe valley is further below. It’s a long and arduous climb to reach Lescun. I’ve not done it and wouldn’t like to. In 2009 I hitched to the village with a family. Two French girls in the back of the car, one of them testing her English. The father in front, delighted as we arrived. They’d taken holidays there a few times and knew it well.

It was like a French movie. His joy was child-like but understandable. This year needed four rides from Oloron because I missed the bus along the valley. The final ride up to Lescun was in a cramped car smelling of dogs with the seats covered in hair. She was about thirty, from the Basque country, on holiday too. She asked me where I wanted to stop and I told her “la place.” She didn’t know Lescun and had taken me up the hill then set off down again for the sake of helping me. In 2009 a local chap did the same. I was distraught at Oloron because I’d missed the last bus and he approached me, at the station, with a polite “may I help you?”

His wife, he told me, was buried at a cemetery slightly below Lescun and he had “nothing else to do” so he was happy to assist me. I offered him a drink at the little hotel and we discussed US carbon dioxide policies and the fact – he said – that French and English relations used to be problematic. I can’t speak of Paris, which I suppose is distinct like London, but my experience of the French is they are polite and charming with good manners you rarely find in Britain. This area of irises is quite distinct. It was the same in 2009 and I’ve seen nowhere else like it. There are large patches on the slopes above the Ossoue valley but mixed with other flowers and rocks. This is initially a gentle area, similar I suppose to Provence or the Cerdagne. Col de Pau is about the highest point of the walk to refuge Arlet, a climb of about a thousand metres from Lescun.

 

Pyrenees Mountains: Above Lescun

Friday December 5, 2014