Friday 3 October.
There was no hanging about this morning. I made a cup of coffee and we were up and packing before breakfast. We had a hard boiled egg, yoghurt, bread and jam again with our coffee and were ready to leave the hotel at just after 7 am.
It was dark as we headed up to the bus stop but we could see the sky beginning to brighten in the east and it looked like another good day. The bus for Besancon city centre was on time and we read the newspaper that we had downloaded to our iPads before leaving. We were in the city centre and on our way by 8 am. We made our way through town which was very quiet at that time of the morning reaching the river on the far side of its loop where we had lunch yesterday. After an easy stroll along the river side we turned left and went straight up the hillside. It was a tarred lane at first then a footpath then stairs that took us up to a road. It was very steep but fortunately not very long but a sample of what's to come over the next few days. This was just softening us up for the serious stuff when we reach the Alps. The road kept going up but now more gradual and the VF signs said 1.9 km to Chapelle des Buis which was at the top. We thought it was just an easy couple of kilometres but the guide book said we would see the chapel on the skyline. There is was high above us, it was not going to be easy. The route took what was said to be a short cut to the top, this meant that it went straight up a grassy and then stony path rather than the zigzags of the road.
On the road with about 200 m to the one side had the Stations of the Cross symbolised at intervals and other religious statues. At last we reached the Chapel and stopped for a five minute breather. The church seemed to be closed but from the outside we got outstanding views back over Besancon with the Citadelle now standing out in the foreground. After getting ready to continue Moira discovered a side door into the church that was open. It was a small church but some very attractive windows from which the sun again projected a spectrum of colour onto the walls and pillars.
From the chapel we had 3 km to the next village of La Veze where the plan was to stop for our coffee break. About a kilometre down the road we came to a junction that didn't correspond with the instructions I had transcribed into my note book this morning. We consulted maps but couldn't figure it out. A car came along and I flagged it down but the driver just shrugged his shoulders in the typical French way and said 'je ne sais pas'. A couple of local walkers were coming up the road and I tried them and got a more positive response. We followed their directions but the route didn't tie in with my notes. We reached a main road and there were no signs indicating La Veze, this time I asked a man in his garden. He told us to turn left and it was about 1 km, he was right and we were soon back on track. We stopped near the church in the village where we found a bench and had our coffee and a biscuit. I rechecked the Cicerone and after cursing its author vehemently earlier discovered it was my fault. I had left an important line out of the instruction which made the route now crystal clear. Moira had been going to sent a email of complaint to Cicerone and even considered getting a question raised in Parliament but now just shouted at me instead.
From La Veza to Tarceny the next village, though more town sized now, it was 7km. We left the minor road for a country lane through a predominately wooded landscape. It was still more climbing as we went through the tiny hamlets of La Baraquet, La Vieille Baraque and Les Coutiers before dropping into Tarceny. These hamlets were no more than three or four houses but they did give us guide to our progress and that we were on the correct route. In Tarceny we sat on a wall for a 10 minute rest, it was only 12:20 pm and too early for lunch. We decided to carry on for another half an hour before our break. Leaving Tarceny it was a climb up a hill and we passed the local primary school. The little kids were out in the playground and we got a cheer and a wave as we struggled up the slope.
At the top of the hill we met the D67 that made its way down the valley of the river Loue to Ornans. It was a busy road, we had a tiny 'hard shoulder' and a grass verge for safety but it wasn't very pleasant and we couldn't let our minds wander and admire the scenery. We did our 30 minutes and reached an area called La Tuileries which was a derelict farm house and barn. It looked a good spot off the road for our lunch and we headed for the farm house but found a car parked in the garage. We retreated to the barn which was obviously disused and set up the cooker for tea there. Nobody bothered us and we had a peaceful lunch of bread and cheese.
On the D67 again, it was becoming more and more treacherous. There were lots of twists and tight bends making it difficult to see the oncoming traffic. Then we saw a cycle track that appeared to run parallel to the road. We weren't sure if it was going our way but decided as long as it was close to the road we would be all right. After a short distance a couple of cyclists came along and confirmed that it did in fact lead to Ornans. Now confident that we were going in the right direction we began to stride out. It looked like it was an old railway line that had been tarred over, it was level all the way whereas the road dropped down to cross a river then climb steeply up the other side. Our track used an old railway viaduct to get over the river.
Soon the track arrived in the outskirts of Ornans and at a large roundabout, as noted by Cicerone, was a supermarket. Moira went in and stock up for tonight's dinner while I sat on the ground outside and kept an eye on the bags. It was still a fair walk into the town centre and now we had a bag of shopping to carry. We didn't quite go into the centre but crossed a bridge over the River Loue and turned back up the other side . The campsite, Le Chanet, and the gite was signposted all the way but turned out to be another fair distance. I had been doubtful about the instructions we got about a key for the gite being left in an envelope for us. I thought it would be at the campsite reception but it was closed, but the envelope was taped to the window. The key was in it and instructions to finding the room, though a man nearby directed us to the door up above the reception. It was great, a dorm with 12 bunks, a kitchen, dining area, toilet and shower. The sun was still warm and shining outside so the first thing we did was to wash our sweaty t-shirts and hang them out on a line. Then we relaxed with a cool beer that Moira bought at the supermarket. Next it was a shower, the water was lovely, the water was piping hot and a great flow. I could have stood under it for hours.
For dinner Moira fried a hamburger with tomato and mushrooms and we had it between bread. To follow there was yoghurt and an apple. After washing up we sat and read in the dining area but it want very comfortable on the hard chairs. We went to bed and curled up in our sleeping bags. We were the only people there and got bottom bunks, the tiers were three high and I was glad it wasn't busy and I had to climb up to a top one.