on the way to peillon via the peille train station
Can one be lost and not know it? In other words, does one need to acknowledge being lost at the moment of the crisis in order to be lost? Does it count as lost after looking back at a successful journey and noticing the way had been . . . what? . . . lucky?
Sherlock Holmes need not be consulted. No sensible person with a modicum of brains, except for Bertie Wooster perhaps, would have crossed the tracks at the end of the train platform in Peille. It is clearly forbidden . . . interdit. There is no marked pedestrian way.
Is it true then that one need be foolish, maybe naïve is a better word, to be safe?
I arrived at the train station for Peille, France, and from there I wanted to hike to Peillon, un village perché, which requires a climb over a colline, a “hill” with a modest elevation gain. (Les géographes considèrent que la limite entre colline et montagne correspond à une hauteur moyenne de 500 m.)
I left the train and looked around a bit. I realized I did not really know where to go. I did not see the pedestrian crossing–I was not wearing my glasses–nor the way to the station building which was closed, locked up, shuttered. But I did know that I would need to walk somewhere to the right after having descended from the train. That I knew. Go right, eventually.
Before going to Peille by train, I did do some research. I read the following directions in RandOxygène for finding the path to Peillon from the Peille train station: “Depuis l’arrêt de la gare de La Grave-de-Peille, suivre vers le Sud une petite route sur 500 mètres avant de traverser à gauche la voie ferrée (barrière); un chemin s’élève dans la pinède face aux vastes carrières et à la cimenterie Vicat.” (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Roughly and freely, the French directions are as follows: from the train station and the parking lot in front of it, go south (to the left if facing away from station) for about 500 meters where one will see on the left a barrier, a pedestrian crossing, and a path that goes up the hill and through the pine trees and eventually past the cemetery in Peillon.
I forgot to read the directions again before arriving at the station. I took a path less traveled and that made all the difference. I saw a man descend from the train, walk to the right and to the end of the platform, cross the tracks there, where it is forbidden, and climb a path. OK, I will go that way. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
After three conversations with three locals at three different times, I learned that I was walking in the right direction. I arrived eventually at the junction where the path from la voie ferrée met the path I was walking. I walked the correct path from there at last.
Once you reach the top of the colline, which does not take very long, maybe 45 minutes or less, the descent into the village is easy and the distance short. Follow the sign that points to “Cimetière” and “Peillon Village.”
Peillon is like many villages perchés: it is perched on a mountain that overlooks the valley; it looks fortified and is; its walls thrust up; its streets are narrow and labyrinthine; it is quiet, even peaceful; and it easily conjures up visions, excites the imagination about the daily lives of its inhabitants many centuries ago.
I stepped away from the village. I found the path that led to other villages. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
I spent some time here and waited until 12:30 when I would eat at l’Auberge de la Madone. One can enter and turn to the left to the Restaurant l’Authentique or turn to the right to the Bistro à la Table d’Augustine. I chose well. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)