There are traders from the surrounding districts selling their wares. Everything was available from fruit and veg to wooden kitchen utensils, to clothes. There was an area allocated for the locals selling their bric-a-brac. Guzzisue was stopping at many of the stalls to have a look with Ian and myself getting restless. The weather was good and the mountains were calling.
Today’s challenge is to climb the Col de la Bonette, sometimes mistakenly called the Col de Restefond. The Col de Restefond is a gravel track, located off the D64, close to the summit of the Col de la Bonette.
There are claims of the Col de la Bonette being the highest mountain road in Europe. These claims can be argued with good cause. Although the actual Col de la Bonette rises to 2715 metres, there are three other passes that go higher. These are Col de l’Lseran (2770 metres), Stelvio Pass (2757 metres) and the Col Agnel (2744 metres). There is also a no through road in Spain, reaching 3392 metres to the village of Veleta, Sierra Nevada. Col de la Bonette’s road reaches an altitude of 2802 metres, but cannot be described as a “pass” because it is merely a loop road around the Cime de le Bonette. There is no argument that it is indeed the highest asphalted road in Europe.
I am not too sure of the route we took to arrive at the northern side of the Col de la Bonette, but it was an interesting journey nonetheless. One of the buildings we passed was this.
It looks like it may have either been a prison or military building in an earlier time. I believe it could now be a tourist information centre. If anyone recognises it I would be interested for future reference.
Having passed through a village,
we caught up with a local taking his trials bike for a spin.
Leaving behind a holiday resort that is in the process of being expanded we began to climb into the mountains.
Eventually we saw the ski lift, some distance from the resort.
And still we climb.
Eventually we reach the summit and have to refuse the welcome sight of a café due to the time. Guzzisue continues taking pictures on the decent.
The first pass of the day completed, refreshment is taken in Jausiers, prior to turning onto the D64 and the Col de la Bonette. O n the climb we pass an old military building, Casernes de Restefond.
Close to the summit there are some bunkers by the roadside, dating to the Second World War.
Deciding not to take the circular road to the highest point, Ian pointed the Guzzi to start the descent. Negotiating the mountain’s rush hour,
8kms from the Col de la Bonette, well camouflaged from a distance we came upon this little ‘settlement’.
The settlement is Camp Fork, built between 1896 and 1910 with additions up to the Second World War. There are a total of 26 buildings, built to look like cottages but included stables, kitchen and a bread oven. There was a cable car built in the 1930s, giving contact with the village of Pra, thus a supply route was built. Unfortunately the building was destroyed to widen the road at the forts entrance in 2006.
When at full strength the fort was manned by 150 guards, less in the winter months. Although there was fighting in the area around the fort in 1939 and 1944 there are no records of the fort being damaged in conflict.
Inside the command post there are some murals painted, along with some in the other buildings. These are slowly crumbling away, like the buildings themselves.
Having spent some times wandering round the camp it was time to head on down the pass and back towards Digne.
It was on the return journey that the mountain pass was not the only thing to be heading in a downwards direction.