Monday, October 25, 2010

Le Berghon: Festival des Chataignes Part 1

Despite a tempest last night: sheets of water coming down,  flash flood, stabs of lightening and "tonnere",  today was relatively mild with just a little spitting rain.

After some typical Niçois resistance to going out in the rain,  I managed to go to the gym, clean two apartments, get in some food, make a tasty zucchini risotto for lunch and do the washing up.

  So I am taking the rest of the day to myself and to tell you about my unusual weekend.

 For the birthday celebration of a trio of good girlfriends, we decided to take advantage of one of the many autumn festivals in the area, the Chestnut festival at Berghe.  Berghe is actually the name of two towns, Inferior and Superior named by religious types because one had the top guy and a church and the other did not.

They are known as hamlets ( Berghe Inferior has eight year round residents, superior has 30) in the National parc de Mercantour, and it is where we stayed at a tiny gite called Le Berghon.  A gite for the uninitiated is our equivalent to the bed and breakfast inn.

Le Berghon has modern accommodations with a welcoming breakfast room featuring a wood burning stove.  This last was our meeting place to start the festivities with a few bottles of mother's milk/ champagne and wait for the others to arrive.

                                  Pauline in the dining room

Lucille helping in the kitchen

I was surprised to find two charming 16 year olds were in charge at the Berghon.  They were cooking the meals, taking the money and making us welcome.  I never did see the parents and was very impressed that their daughter, Pauline and her friend from school, Lucille were so ably attending to every need.

 Les filles

 Apparently most of Berghe was destroyed during the last war so many of the buildings have had to be restored.  I am happy to report that they have kept the original flavor of local stone and slate and it is hard to believe that it hasn't been standing since medieval times.

Luckily Berghe will never be a tourist destination.  To get there you have to climb a steep narrow mountain road that is basically one switch back after the other.  No place for a tour bus or even a big car. Ha.

Autumn colors abound

                               Looking down the mountain to the village of Fontan

But this was only the start of the fun.  I will leave you here for the moment breathing the fresh alpine air and continue on our trail tomorrow.

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