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Summer School panorama. Photo by Martin Sharman

When in Peyresq

Practical information about staying in Peyresq


PeyresqThe weather and what to wear

Peyresq (44.0978° N, 6.5561° E) is a tiny hamlet – too small to be called a village – at the end of a road in the southern French Alps. It's roughly 100km north of Nice, but the road winds along a river valley and weaves through villages on the way, so the trip from Nice takes about 1½ to 2 hours by road. The hamlet huddles on a precipice at the head of a long valley giving a wonderful view to the south. Since it is 1530m above sea level, the mornings are fresh and the nights are cold, and you'll certainly appreciate having something warm to wear. The days can get hot, however, so light summer clothing is also going to be welcome. Dress code is totally comfortable – think tee shirts, trek pants, flip-flops.

The schedule includes a 4 or 5-hour walk in the mountains, so bring good walking socks and shoes. The path is quite steep and rocky, so you may want to bring a walking stick if you like walking with one. A field trip is also scheduled, and you might appreciate a hat and sunscreen – and a swimsuit. Don’t forget your camera (as if you would). Some participants bring binoculars.

Although it is usually sunny, September can bring quite thick fog and rain, so please come prepared for wet weather too.

Domestic'll need to do your bit

A small staff helps to make our stay in Peyresq even more agreeable by tending to the meals and washing up, but you and your room mate (students share rooms) will be responsible for making your beds and keeping your room clean. There is a washing machine in the hamlet that we can use.

How much money should I bring?

There are no shops in the hamlet and nothing to spend money on, so the absence of a cash machine will not be a problem. Please bring some cash with you, however, since we like to give the staff a small gratuity for their support, and although the bar is free (!) we also like to leave something to help to compensate for our consumption.

The internet and cell's limited!

There is (usually) access to the internet through the Wi-Fi in the lecture theatre, but bandwidth is tiny, so do not expect to Skype – or do much more than up- and down-load email. (An unsubstantiated rumour floats around that there might be better internet access in one particular building in a village that is 25 minutes' drive away.) If there is a thunderstorm we will unplug all electrical equipment to prevent a lightning strike frying all the electronics.

Cell phone coverage is good in parts of the hamlet and absent in others, but you can (usually) depend on being able to use your mobile phone from somewhere in Peyresq.

Local's also limited!

The hamlet lies 4km up the road from the nearest settlement, which consists mainly of a bus stop and a bar-restaurant. The closest place to buy anything (pens, cigarettes, toothpaste or aspirins for example) is about 25 minutes' drive away, and to get there you'd have to negotiate a lift with someone who has a car – that is, with one of the few organisers or lecturers who might have rented one and – rarer still – who can be persuaded to leave Peyresq even for an hour. If you want – say – gluten-free cereal for breakfast, you'd better bring your own.

In summary

  • Facilities: fresh air, nature and companionship.
  • Activities: walking, nature-related pastimes, and depending on what is on offer from the talent in the summer school, yoga, dancing, singing – and excellent discussions from breakfast until late.
  • You can find a little more about Peyresq and its history here:


[Adapted from text by Martin Sharman]