Day 43: Ponte-Saint-Martin

Number of kilometres today: 30.7

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,112.0

Total steps since Canterbury:  1,575,760

I didn't write a post yesterday.  By the time I arrived into Ponte-Saint-Martin I was exhausted and blogger still wasn't working properly for me. Two thirty-kilometre days in a row, hiking up and down hills as I worked my way alongside the mountains on the east side of the valley wiped me out.

These past few mornings have been some of the most beautiful mornings I have witnessed.  In the past, I never described myself as a morning person but on this journey, it is no chore to wake up early when it is still dark no matter how sore and tired I am and specially in this area.  The light is at its prettiest until around 10.30am and then it starts becoming a little harsh and glary. It is the mornings when I take most of my photos and tend to meander and pause a lot.

Oh, there are some hills around here.  Sometimes it was just a matter of looking down at the ground and taking one small step after the other until I finally made it to the top where I was almost always rewarded with a stunning view.  But then what goes up must come down.  Where possible, I zig-zagged my way downhill to try and spare my poor knees which wasn't alway possible especially when the paths were narrow and rocky in which case my descent was very slow and jerky.

I arrived into Berraz around lunchtime and started crossing the river Dora Baltea when I suddenly decided to turn back and fnd somewhere to buy lunch. I normaly carry lunch with me so I can eat it whenever and wherever I feel to but I didn't see anywhere in Chatillon where I could buy it on a Sunday.  I walked into the nearest hotel which had an Irish Pub and a restaurant attached.  It was meant to be.  My waitress spoke excellent English and showed me on my map a way I could walk that would be a little more direct than the marked path.  I ate a delicious lunch; porchetta in spices drizzled with olive oil, ratatouille, a glass of the local Val d'Aosta red served at 13 degrees and the most amazing dessert of all time, a version of millefeuille finished off with an espresso. I left the restuarant with a bounce in my step, almost sprinting towards Ponte-Saint-Martin I felt so happy.

However, even with the more direct paths, it was still another 4.5 hours of walking and around 18 kilometres.  Over the course of an hour the sprint reduced to a fast walk to my usual pace to an almost plod by the end as fatigue slowed me down.

I arrived into Bard, about an hour's walk from Ponte-Saint-Martin, in the middle of Marche au Fort.  The streets were filled with Sunday strollers making their way up into the narrow streets of the old town where there was lots of local produce to buy and try.  In any other circumstances, I probably would have strolled with them and lined up in the ridiculously long queues to try the delicious food items I had not seen before.  But after all these days of being by myself in the middle of fields and wodlands or on the sides of mountains, I was completley overwhelmed by the crowd and as a small spectacle myself with the Devil on my back, I just wanted to get out of there.  It was no easy feat on those narrow streets filled with a meandering crowd but with a lot of patience and skillful overtaking I finally escaped and made it into Ponte-Saint-Martin, famous for its Roman bridge that dates back to the 1st century BC!

A comfortable hotel room.  A delicious pizza of stracchino and ruccola.  Then sleep, sweet sleep.

View of Chatillon from the chruch of St Pietro.

Gate of the day...note the skull and cross bones.  This was the entrance to a large grassy area that I believe may have been a cemetery.  There was at least one obvious tomb for a famiglia built inot the stone wall.

After a stiff climb comes the reward of a view.  I'll take the climb.

Beautiful morning light after a night of rain.  Everything is soft and glowing.

Me and the view looking back towards Chatillon.

Wooden walkway jutting out over the edge of the mountainside.  I didn't feel that confident in it.

View looking up the valley.

Mountain stream on the way into Saint Vincent

Small village on the way into Saint Vincent


There was a meeting of cats.  They liked me marginally more than the dogs but at least they don't hiss at me.

River Dorea Baltea, crossing at Berras.

My millefeuille...

Another old Roman bridge 

Fort de Bard built in the 19th Century by House of Savoy and is now a museum.

View of Ponte de Bard.

Walking up the narrow streets of Bard.  The crowd had thinned here.

Folk-singing and dancing.


Vineyard terraces buil into the side of the hill near Ponte-Saint-Martin

Ponte-Saint-Martin, dating back to 1st century BC.