Spaghetti puttanesca with raw tomatoes



This recipe is a raw version of the classic spaghetti puttanesca. The secret of this simple pasta is in the very fresh and tasty ingredients; cherry tomatoes and basil at their best, freshly grated parmesan, organic whole wheat spaghetti, and the very best olive oil. 

It is a great recipe to make during a heatwave as you only need to cook the spaghetti!


2 servings

A small tin of anchovy fillets in olive oil
A small shallot, minced
½ clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. black olives, pitted and sliced
½ tsp. Piment d’Espelette or some other mild chilli
About 12 cherry tomatoes
About 3- 4 sprigs of basil
A handful of freshly grated parmesan
Olive oil
Organic whole wheat spaghetti for 2 servings


Soak the anchovies in water for 5- 10 minutes to remove some of the salt. Then dry with kitchen paper, place in a large bowl and chop.

Wash the cherry tomatoes, chop and place in a colander for 5- 10 minutes to get rid of the excess water.

Bring a casserole of water with a little olive oil to a boil for the spaghetti.

Slice the olives and add to the bowl with anchovies. Mince the shallot and garlic and add to the bowl. Add the Piment d’Espelette, cherry tomatoes, and 1 tbsp. olive oil and mix. Wash the basil leaves, chop and add to the bowl. Mix well.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti and grate the parmesan. 

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and divide into two bowls. Fold in the parmesan with a fork and divide the tomato sauce on top. Serve with a green side salad.




Abriès: Hike around Gilly


Collette de Gilly in sight
Collette de Gilly in sight


Gilly
(2467 m) is a mid-altitude mountain above Abriès 1550 m). We are in Queyras Regional National Park, in the upper Guil River Valley.

The hiking trail around the mountain is included in some local guides and with a good reason: The trail offers a highly variable experience and great views. Moreover, the itinerary starts and ends in Abriès.

Abriès centre
Abriès centre
Initial ascent from Abriès GR58
Initial ascent from Abriès GR58
Good signposts by the trail
Good signposts by the trail
Bois de la Brune Abriès
Bois de la Brune Abriès
Le Roux and Bric Froid
Le Roix and Bric Froid
Bric Bouchet
Bric Bouchet


From the village centre, we walked about 200 m along the D441 road, then forked right at the signpost indicating GR58, Collette de Gilly etc. We ascended past an oratory, heading northeast. We ignored several other trails which was easy as our trail was a GR itinerary, with the usual white/red markings. The direction turned to the east, and we came to Bois de la Brune, a beautiful larch forest on the northern flank of Gilly. We saw the hamlet of le Roux below us, and further away in the north, the summit of Bric Froid (3302 m). In front of us, we saw the hamlet of Valpréveyre and Bric Bouchet (2997 m).

Bois Noir Abriès
Bois Noir Abriès
Collette de Gilly 2366 m
Collette de Gilly 2366 m
View to West from Gilly summit
View to west from Gilly summit
Descending from Collette de Gilly
Descending from Collette de Gilly


We continued quasi-horizontally, still heading east, and reached Bois Noir. We crossed Torrent des Estachons, and came to a crossroads where we forked right (south), and started to climb. The trail was very good all the way. We passed a signpost at Clot de Bessey, then continued mostly above the tree line to Collette de Gilly (2366 m). After a break and a detour to the summit of Gilly (100 m vertical climb; 20-25 minutes extra), we started the descent along the southwestern slope which comprised alpine meadows and some ski runs. Our trail zigzagged in the incline, then turned southeast under some ski lifts.

We came to a small pond named Etang du Moussou (1917 m). At this point, we left the GR trail which went down to Ristolas and took a PR (yellow) trail back to Abriès, passing some ruined buildings before reaching the D947 road. We crossed the Guil River along a bridge and took a footpath back to our starting point.

Distance: 14 km

Duration: 5 h

Climb: 920 m (including the summit)

Map: 3637 OT Mont Viso St-Véran Aguilles PNR du Queyras

Gilly loop hike track
Gilly loop hike track

Abriès in Queyras: Hike to Lake Egorgéou

 

Lac Egorgeou Queyras
Lac Egorgeou Queyras

The upper Guil River Valley in the Queyras Regional National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Here, you’ll see trekkers doing a week-long Tour de Queyras as well as families using the same trail for shorter walks. The nature is spectacular and obviously Mont Viso (3841 m) on the Italian side gives the region a special appeal. The main villages here are Abriès, Aguilles and Ristolas.



Signpost to Lac Egorgeou
Signpost to Lac Egorgeou



Today’s hike goes from l’Echalp (7km from Abriès) to Lake Egorgéou (2394 m) along the Grand Randonnée 58 trail. In fact, GR 58 and its variants crisscross the mountains and valleys here.

Leaving l'Echalp along GR58 south
Leaving l'Echalp along GR58 south
Bric Froid seen from trail to Lac Egorgeou
Bric Froid seen from trail to Lac Egorgeou
Good GR58 trail to Lac Egorgeou
Good GR58 trail to Lac Egorgeou
GR58 trail to Lac Egorgeou
GR58 trail to Lac Egorgeou
View to southeast from GR58 trail
View to southeast from GR58 trail
View over Guil River Valley from GR58
View over Guil River Valley from GR58
Mont Viso seen from GR58 to Lac Egorgeou
Mont Viso seen from GR58 to Lac Egorgeou


We drove to l’Echalp (1700 m) from Abriès (1550 m) along a good paved road.

We crossed the Guil River along a wooden bridge, turned left and followed it a bit before starting to ascend along the GR58/ GRP Tour du Pain de Sucre. It was a straightforward itinerary, a well-marked (white-red) trail first through a mélèze, larch forest. The trail followed The Bouchouse Torrent. Mont Viso became visible in places. The imposing Crête de la Taillante in front of us was nearer, rising to 3197 m southeast of Lake Egorgéou.

GR58 trail under Lac Egorgeou
GR58 trail under Lac Egorgeou
Approaching Lac Egorgeou from north
Approaching Lac Egorgeou from north
Crête de la Taillante Queyras
Créte de la Taillante Queyras
Lac Egorgeou view north
Lac Egorgeou view north
Pain de Sucre summit seen from Lac Egorgeou
Pain de Sucre summit seen from Lac Egorgeou

We climbed past some alpine meadows, meeting numerous hikers already on the way down to l’Echalp, and reached the beautiful mountain lake in 2h 20. From our picnic point above the lake, we saw a glimpse of Pan de Sucre (3208 m). The area is a protected habitat.

Having reached our planned goal today, we took the same trail back to our starting point. 

Climb: 770 m

Distance: 11,4 km

Duration: 4h 20 active

Map:  3637 OT Mont Viso St-Véran Aguilles PNR du Queyras 

Lac Egorgeou trail track

Trout with tapenade, lentils, and saffron sauce

Trout with tapenade, lentils, and saffron sauce



This recipe was inspired by an article in the magazine Paris Match. A known Annecy chef told about his trout recipe made from local ingredients. The trout was covered with poutargue de lotte du lac d’Annecy; burbot roe probably salted and dried like poutargue in Provençe.

I wanted to use local ingredients from our supermarket and organic vegetable shop in Nice and compose my recipe from the photo in the article. The result was so good that I want to share it and encourage you to twist this recipe according to your local ingredients.

2 servings

2 pieces of fresh trout fillet
4 tsp. tapenade noir
100 ml green lentils, organic
½ broccoli
Chopped chives

For the sauce:

1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
200 ml white wine
Pistils of saffron

Start by cooking the lentils. They need to be cooked for about 25 minutes to be soft but not falling apart. Add a little water if needed. When they are done, cover and keep warm. Any leftover lentils can be added in salads.

In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallot and garlic for a few minutes. Add the white wine and saffron and continue cooking until the sauce has reduced to about half.

Warm the oven to 200° C.

Place the trout pieces in an oven-proof dish and roast for about 7- 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet.

While the fish is roasting, steam or microwave a few broccoli florets. Place the trout pieces in the middle of the plates and spread 2 teaspoons of tapenade on top. Divide the sauce around the fish and place the lentils and broccoli on top of the sauce. Decorate with chopped chives.

Vars: Hike around Peynier Mountain


Bois Noir Peynier



Peynier (2273 m) attracts walkers because of an easy access along a dirt road from Refuge Napoleon, and of course a super panorama from the mountain top.  Most of the mountain’s flanks are forest-covered.

Hiking and trail-running paths circle Peynier. We wanted to explore these, and hike around the mountain.

Peynier southern slope
Vars and Point de l'Eyssina(L)
Dirt track in Bois Noir Vars
Peynier ski run facing north

We started from Vars les Claux, and walked towards Refuge Napoleon as far as to the dirt track which connects the Refuge and Peynier. We forked left and ascended gently along it as far as to a crossroads and a signpost where we took the left-hand trail (also a dirt track, see image+arrow) which continued straight and almost horizontally to Bois Noir, the forest covering Peynier’s western flank.

A clearing in Bois Noir Peynier
Bridge over Torrent du Vallon
Ascending east of Torrent du Vallon
Crête de Vars in background

We walked past a few ski runs and gradually turned to the east, descending simultaneously. The dirt track ended, and we continued along a path that descended to Pont d’Entraigues (1865 m; the lowest point of this hike). We crossed Torrent du Vallon, forked left (north) and soon reached another crossroads with a wide dirt track. We forked sharply right (south) and ascended along the eastern side of Torrent du Vallon, first in the woods. We left the dirt track and continued along a path (yellow markings).  There was a menacing thunderstorm approaching the valley. Fortunately, we got just a few drops as the main storm changed its direction. We now had Peynier’s eastern flank on our right-hand side, and the telecom mast on the summit came visible.

Crossing Torrent du Vallon higher up
Ascending to Peynier
Climbing to Crête de la Mayt Peynier
Almost at Crête de la Mayt Peynier

We reached a clearing and a crossroads signposted “Peynier”. We forked right, crossed the torrent again (not a bridge, just two tree trunks over the water). We climbed a bit more before we reached the ridge at 2213 m elev. (Crête de la Mayt) south of Peynier. We circled around a water reservoir, then reached the main dirt road from the summit. We descended along it all the way to the crossroads to Vars, and took the hiking path back to the village.

Images are displayed in chronological order.

Distance: 14 km

Climb: 530 m

Duration: 4h45       

Map: 3537 ET “Guillestre Vars Risoul”

Peynier loop hike
Peynier loop hike

Risoul: Belvédère de l'Homme de Pierre loop hike

Crête de Martinat Risoul
Crête de Martinat Risoul



Risoul (1850 m), a mountain resort above Guillestre, offers several great hiking itineraries during the summer season. 

We are in the Southern French Alps, in the department of Hauts-Alps.

The following loop hike must be one of the most popular walks in Risoul. We saw families on the trail. Some of them might have just hiked to the mountain top and back, instead of completing the loop.

Start of trail at Pelinche Risoul
Signpost at 1975m Risoul
View to east from Risoul
Larch forest above Risoul

We started from the spacious Pelinche chair lift parking (1900 m), located the dirt track which ran under the Pelinche ski lift and ascended to a crossroads with a signpost ( elev.1975 m; 2nd image) showing the itinerary to the summit. We forked left and ascended along a trail, initially in a larch wood. We crossed another path in a clearing and continued the ascent.

View to northeast from Risoul
Short steep section of trail above Risoul
l'Homme de Pierre in sight

The path soon turned to southwest, we left the woods and had alpine meadows on both sides. We climbed over a small summit and had Belvédère de l’Homme de Pierre (2374 m) in sight (a telecom mast, ski lift). The summit marked the highest point of this hike. 

We continued the circuit by following the path to the northwest then north where we descended along the magnificent Crête de Martinat. This part of the hike was definitely the highlight of the itinerary. We had the Durance River Valley deep under us. Further away, we had a glimpse of Lake Serre Ponçon.

Belvédère de l'Homme de Pierre summit
Leaving l'Homme de Pierre summit
Serre Ponçon Lake seen from Risoul

We eventually reached a dirt track, a clearing with a hut and a picnic table. At this point, we forked sharply right (southeast) and walked past Lac du Pré du Laus, then ascended a bit before descending back to Risoul along the same track.

Image of our track below 

Duration: 4 h

Distance: 12 km

Climb: 570 m

Map: 3537 ET “Guillestre Vars Risoul”

Risoul loop track
Risoul loop track