You hear the term “stepping back in time,” but you can’t truly grasp the meaning until you experience it yourself.
I first visited Paspus, a mountain top across from Saorge (and a cool 2400 in elevation), two years ago when my mountain man invited me and my family up for a picnic.
We were in awe of the place, but it wasn’t until I returned on this trip that I really absorbed the place and its story.
I’d read that Paspus was on the salt route from Nice to Tende in the 12th (I think) century. Salt was a huge commodity then; it would have to be for anyone to haul it up and around those mountains of the Piedmonts.
At some point, a small community cropped up on that particular mountain. Gibi said his house was built in the 1700s. You can see the terraced land where farmers once tried to make a go of making a living on not too friendly inclines.
“Il n’y a person,” Gibi told me. There is no one, except him, living on the mountain. And he is only there part time. He has an apartment in town and a job nearby.
But I suspect Gibi would have it no other way. For life at Paspus is simple in a way it cannot be anywhere else. Everything he has in his rustic home, he’s lugged up the mountain. Lunch might be pasta and lapin (rabbit) he caught himself. Or a salad he foraged along the trail. He will proudly offer you a Paspus Kir, white wine enhanced with blueberry syrup from his crop.