Celebrating Ceillac in Summertime

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Tuesday 4 August 2015

Celebrating Ceillac in Summertime

Nestled in the Queyras Regional Park at around 1650m altitude, Ceillac sits at the confluence of two alpine rivers, the Melezet and the Cristillan. Surrounded by jagged, bare mountain tops, forested valley walls and flattened agricultural plains it is an idyllic and picturesque small village that has been our base now for over 3 weeks. So well placed for hiking, cycling, for day trips to other parts of the Queyras and also for quiet reflection that we have felt increasingly at home as the days have passed.

WRITTEN: 02/08/15
When we arrived inCeillac to attempt the Tour de Queyras we knew very little about the place and had no intention of spending so much time here, initially leaving after less than 24 hours with heavily laden packs and a plan to be back in around a weeks time. In the end it took just over 24 hours before we got back after our aborted attempt on the Tour de Queyras GR58.

Yet, as I havewritten about elsewhere, the events of that trying day and night were really a blessing in disguise as we have used the time since to recover, explores ourselves and do some much needed talking but at the same time be based in these peacefully surroundings.

Plus, as an added bonus, our extended stay in Ceillac has also allowed us to more fully appreciate what a fantastic place we have chanced upon. We have often told people and even written that rather than racing from place to place we like to stay in an area and really get to know it. However, even when we stay in places for 3, 4 or even 8 days it's not really true to say that we 'get to know them'. Sure, we might do more or learn more than we would in a 1 or 2 day stay, but we still feel very much like tourists passing through.

However, in Ceillac we have really lived our mantra of 'getting to know' somewhere. From the friendly local store, stocked with a surprising diversity of fresh and frozen produce (including organic food grown locally) to the welcoming and sweet smelling bakeries we sampled, we have been made to feel so welcome and at home. The staff in the shop have come to know the products we buy as soon as we walk in and a couple of times people have even nod in the streets as we pass. It is a good feeling and we certainly feel at home in the narrow, ancient alleys and old buildings we have visited.

But not only have we experienced Ceillac as amazingly friendly and beautiful, it also has many practical benefits. As mentioned above, it is very well served by a shop and 2 bakeries (plus several cafes and outdoor stores). Plus, every Thursday the market arrives to provide evenfresher produce from the diversity of friendly vendors, some of whom we have also got to know very well during the few times we have bought their wares. Or, if you're lucky as we were, you might even find yourself buying fresh produce straight out of a local garden as we did when chancing upon a 'Salad a Vendre' sign and found ourselves walking back to our motorhome swinging an impressive, freshly cut salad head and chard leaves. From garden to stomach in under an hour! Wonderful.


In terms of hiking and cycling there is so much to do here from gentle walks and rides in the valley to strenuous ascents and even opportunities for multi-day walking tours on the GR58, GR5 and various other regional tours such the Tour de Pain du Sucre and Tour de Pays. Plus, you can even choose to start in other parts of the park as Ceillac is part of the brilliant Queyras bus service offering rides to pretty much all of the park's villages for just 2 euros per journey no matter how far you travel and we've particularly enjoyed catching an early morning bus and walking back. The bus drivers we have spoken to have gone out of their way to be helpful and offer guidance on routes and timings far above what we would ever expect.

Or on those days when we wanted to be a bit active but haven't felt like several hours of hiking we've tested our fell running legs on the shorter loops and tracks nearby, running beneath the wheeling, colourful and impressive para gliders who are seen daily overhead.

Then there have also been those chance encounters and events that we will remember fondly and might otherwise have missed on a fleeting visit, such as the thought provoking art exhibition in the old church, the image of a llama escaped from the visiting circus running past the motorhome one evening or taking part in a yoga class in French. Just before leaving we were also very grateful to attend Ceillac' annual festivalof flight and wind. An impressive and full day with plenty to do and see that really rounded off our stay here. Or the fact that having spent so long here we have been able to experience the changing beauty of the surroundings beneath varying skies, from unbroken sunshine to violent thunderstorms and all offering a new perspective and feeling.

So, as our time in Ceillac draws reluctantly to a close and we become aware of a gentle desire to move on once more, it is with good memories and gratitude that events conspired to have us settle here as a much needed stable base for some physical,
 and emotional recuperation. We have not yet decided exactly where we will be moving on to, but we doubt it will be very far and, who know, we might find ourselves back in Ceillac once more.

1 comment

  1. This is the most cool location and i would just love to get into there. I have recently been to west coast tour from san francisco and the whole stuff was great. Hoping to find new regions in terms of discovering them so that all good comes to me.


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