“4X4 recommended “, warn the signs. From Tende, you have to drive in places on stony paths, rattling between piles of stones and the machinery of reconstruction work, then take the road known as” 46 switchbacks “with a pass. Mandatory. Time slots prevent vehicles from crossing each other on this winding, vertiginous road which leads to the Col de Tende. At the top, the RD 91, the only one leading to Casterino, has been destroyed since the storm. difficult track, which allows you to reach the isolated hamlet.
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Anne Servel, the owner of the Auberge Marie-Madeleine, came back here in the spring. Apart from a few hikers and vacationers who have ventured here this summer, there is no one left. So the family takes care of themselves as best they can: “We tinker, we take care of animals, chickens, dogs … But she tries to see the positive side of this isolation: We discovered tracks that we no longer took, landscapes, animals … It’s great!“Camille, his daughter, has more trouble:”My parents, they are at home, they like it. Me, it’s a little harder not to see anyone. It was still quite touristy here …“
The opening up of the hamlet is long overdue, with the resulting economic consequences for Casterino, usually very touristy. Dominique, owner of another hostel, does not take offense: “On Casterino, in fact, it is October 3, 2020. A year later, nothing has been done. We have not had a passage, we have not had restoration, we have not had We have 86% less this year compared to other years. ‘there are no more cross-country ski trails, there is nothing left.”
Last spring, the inhabitants took matters into their own hands so that hikers could at least reach the village: “We took Italian companies to get equipment, backhoe loaders, etc. And we called on volunteer work, explains Dominique. A year after the storm, they must continue to fend for themselves. We are not supplied. We have to go, take our car, drive an hour and a half, so drive at least three hours to get bread, to get mail … we manage.”
“This winter, I close and I go. I’m afraid to stay here because there is no access.”Dominique, owner of an inn in Casterino
André will stay. Hotelier, he is preparing to spend his second winter isolated since the storm, and will once again have to rely only on himself. “We bought a barbecue in case the gas ran out. At least we can cook ourselves … ”
“It’s been a year since we are here, we manage on our own, we have not seen any machine other than us, continues André. It’s not normal to leave us like this!“
Direct access to the hamlet will not be fully restored until the end of 2022. In the meantime, to help hoteliers, a support system will be activated this month.
Casterino one year after the storm Alex: report by Farida Nouar