Day 11: Barcelonette to Briançon

3 July 2011

We had a light day of riding today to recover from Col du Parpaillon. At Arjan's suggestion, we drove from Barcelonette to near Vallouise, then biked up the road into a national park. We had only allotted a bit of time for riding today, so we stopped after a few miles, ate lunch at a shaded picnic table, and then descended back to Vallouise.

Lunch in the park

At Vallouise we put away the bikes and drove to Briançon, trying to find a place to stay inside the old walled city. The place was packed because there was a medieval faire happening that weekend. The old castle town, with its moat and old buildings and narrow stone streets, was perhaps the only place I've ever been where a medieval faire did not look kitschy or out of place.

The streets were filled with exhibits and vendors. (And they had trucked in a lot of hay to throw in the streets.) I saw a trebuchet, stained-glass making, dancers, musicians, …

Medieval faire

Also, some attractions that were not, I think, quite so historically accurate.

Wait, is that a man of the cloth…playing three-card monte?

Piaw wanted to eat duck confit for dinner, and this seemed like a large enough town that we could find a place to do so. We walked around town until we found a restaurant that had duck confit on its menu (Le Gavroche), and then we were decided.

Dinner turned out to be spectacular, and perhaps the best meal we had in Europe. Melon with port, duck confit, and crème caramel. The duck confit was very well prepared, and tender enough to basically fall off the bone. And the taste of duck fat… I thought I there was a good chance I had died and gone to heaven.

Dinner in Briançon

Fortuitously they had even seated us right under a bicycle (with a trio of marmots in the basket). To top it all off my meal was just €19.

Piaw sitting under a bicycle and a trio of marmots

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