On the Gr-65. Day 5

Day 5. St-Jean de Laur to Bach.

Well rested after that night in the quiet gite Mas de Jantille.

After  good breakfast, we are ready to go. No rain ! Every morning it is easier to get organized . By 8:30 we are on the trail. This day is not going to be  so long, only 20km.

I mostly stay behind and look for anything unusual or interesting. 

It is quiet on the camino. Feeling that the trail belonged to us only. Around mid-day we try to find a good spot to have our lunch.

Luckily we arrive in a place where there is a bench. I don’t think we walk very fast  but at 2:30 pm we are in Bach.

We see that the gite ( where we had planned to stay that night) is not open yet. So we walk some more to get to the village. We find the church ( open) and a bench. Actually my feet are sore and I am more than happy to sit down.

To make a long story short. When we go back to the gite at 3 pm  and ring the bell, we do not get a very nice welcome.

I am rather surprised. It looked like they had forgotten about my reservation. I knew they had confirmed with me ( via email)  that they would be having a bed for us on that day  but I couldn’t show the message on my cellular as  I  don’t have connection to prove that .  I started to think I made a mistake.   What I did not understand is that most pilgrims do not book ahead and this gite did not have a sign that said  closed.  They had other plans for the night and were not willing to accommodate us.  With this attitude from the owners, we were surprised.   I looked in my book  ( Miam Miam Dodo) and saw there was another gite in the town. The lady called and we got the OK that we could go. It was a bit outside the town (maybe one more km) so when we arrived we were more than happy to relax.

The lady was not there yet  but the door was open.  She arrived  shortly after us and we discuss about the dinner. I was happy that she did not mind to prepare something simple for us. Everywhere we could we liked to take the demie-pension ( dinner, bed and breakfast). Once again, we were the only 2 pilgrims in this gite. Relais Arc-en-Ciel was a bit old   but the lady was very nice . That day was a good lesson for us as we never  know what could happen on the way.

Later that night, I found the message  with the confirmation for the first gite ( Grange St-Jacques), so I followed up with the lady to tell her it was her mistake and not mine.

After dinner, we needed  to sleep and get ready for a longer day. It will be the story for next week.

Thanks for your comment. It is always nice to see what you think of this adventure, especially that day.

 

On the Gr-65, Day 4

Day 4. Grealou to St-Jean de Laur

We got up well rested. We took our breakfast upstairs in the kitchen of the house. I could see the sky and the great colors. I quickly took a picture.

When we were ready to leave the rain has started. We put our raincoat and covered our bags. We found the trail and followed it for a while but then we were not sure at all which direction to go.

We followed a trail but it was wrong. We backtracked our steps to only take another direction (walking along a road) and it was wrong also. We only  needed to see the markers:  two horizontal lines, one white, on red but there were nowhere. How frustrating! Finally a nice man driving saw us and stopped to tell us where to go and told us also that this section of the GR-65 was not very well marked.

I was so happy when we got back on track .The rain had stopped. We walked until we reached the town of Cajarc. We found a little park with a picnic table and we had something to eat. On the other side of the park , there were some public washrooms.

We walked through the town stopping quickly to see the inside of the church ( it was open).

And then walk, walk, walk. Mostly we were in the countryside. Fields of corn and sunflowers.

We only saw 2 pilgrims that day. There we going further than us.  I was really happy when we reached our gite, le Mas de Jantille. Roger and Colette have renovated this old farm to make this gite for the pilgrims. They have been doing the camino and they know exactly what we are our need.

Colette  welcomed us with a cold drink. We chatted a bit with her. I had  reserved our beds on line a few weeks before we left for our trip. That gite had 10 beds but that night we were the only one to stay there. We had time to do some wash, had a shower and rest a bit. We bought some food in the little “grocery store” of the gite. We chose what we wanted and put the money in a box. We cooked our dinner ( pasta  with sauce and cheese) and enjoyed some red wine.   We  prepared some boiled eggs to bring with us and eat the next day.

We were not going all the way to Santiago but those reminders were interesting to see.

Thanks for  reading my story on the Camino.

 

 

 

On the GR-65. Day 3

For our third day on the GR-65, we had plan to walk  with 3 French  pilgrims. We left Figeac and  started the day shortly after 8 AM. Again another morning when you warm up as you get going.  We had around 26 km to do on that day.

I was a bit upset when I realized I had lost a sock that was put outside my bag in order to dry. You get to bring as little clothing as possible   and you wash it when you can. Our friend Joelle fix the remaining sock with a good  safety pin. I had my lesson of the day.

We were having a good time with our friends. We stopped in a small village for a coffee. We saw some people participating in a running race. They were actually going in reverse of us so we   tried to step out of the way to give them a chance to go at their pace.

We saw some interesting buildings called “caselle”.  They can be used for animals or storage . The first picture below  here is not really a typical one  but on  the  following  photo you can see the difference in size.

The real “caselle”  are much smaller and are used as a shelter . The name for those buildings  can be capitelle or borie.

A capitelle is a dry stone hut, made without mortar, formerly serving as temporary shelter for small landowners, their tools and their agricultural products.

A borie is a dry stone structure, usually a one-room cabin. The smallest can be a single low room where a shepherd could resist a storm or a cold night. More generally, the single borie piece is large enough to stand up, with space for a fire and often a shelf or two in thick stone walls.

After our picnic , our friends took another trail . I know this choice was a good one  and I hope to walk over there another time. There are many alternate trails  (variante) from the main “chemin”. No matter where you walk you will always see something interesting. And if you don’t care much for the landscapes, you can just meditate and count your steps.

We arrived in Grealou  very tired. We had trouble finding our CH  but at last we got there. All we wanted to do was to have a cold drink, a shower and a little rest. This is the  house  where we stayed that night. No other pilgrims here . The friendly lady is renting a room and offer the dinner.

We were in a very small village without restaurants or stores. We had plan to have dinner with the family. It was nice to know about the area and talk to “the locals”. Our dinner was excellent . What was interesting for us is that each day was not the same except for the walk. I guess we were happy to get going  on our adventure. More on our adventure next week. Thanks for reading !

 

 

On the Gr-65. Day 2

Day 2. Livinhac-le-Haut to Figeac.

That morning after a wonderful breakfast, we were getting our bags ready.  We could see some pilgrims walking by our bedroom’s window.  We were eager to join them as fast as we could. There was  fog. It did not stay like that all day. It was usually getting warmer after an hour and had to strip some layers.

We stopped at a chapel with very old frescoes ( XIII century).

Again we met with Thomas, the German walker. If you stay in the same city  there is good chance you are going to see the same people from time to time. He was a friendly man. We enjoyed connecting  with other walkers.

Then we heard some gun shots. Oh !  I knew it was hunting season but it was a bit scary. We saw a man and his dog. I took time to talk with him and asked him if I could take a photo. He did not mind. So here it is with his dog.

My stomach started to  tell me it was time to eat. Luckily we found a picnic table by the church in St-Felix. There was also some public washrooms nearby. It is a good thing if you don’t want to have to put your pants down in the nature .

We arrived in Figeac. A much bigger town  than our last stop. We found our gîte. Although we were a bit tired  , we decided it would be nice to visit the area. We ended up walking slowly with a couple from Quebec. We bought some  local beer and wine for the dinner . We enjoyed the architecture of Figeac. We  did not have time or energy to wander too far  but this trip was not really about sightseeing.

Dinner  with other pilgrims was a good time to share our stories. We were making plans to walk with our friends ( the 3 friendly pilgrims from France)  the next day. Nobody wanted to stay up  very late. We all needed a good night of sleep. More on our travel on the camino in France  next week. Thanks for reading. Always a pleasure to read your comments.

 

On the GR-65. Day 1

Day 1. Conques to Livinhac-le-Haut.

That day started early with great anticipation of our walk on the trail. After a quick breakfast, we left the “gite” , passing on the Roman bridge. It  was a moment  I wanted to capture as best as I could.  I did not want to spend too much time taking pictures  but  I needed to do it. John , from South Korea was also taking pictures. We can see him here  ahead of my husband.

So, quickly after a few photos, we were going up on the trail and up it went until we reached the Chapelle Sainte-Foy.  We were not the only one  as  most “pilgrims” are eager to start the day as soon as possible.

I remember not being sure if we were going in the right direction as there was 2 options. A German man ( Thomas)  talked with us and told us the right way. We were walking  fairly fast even with our backpack. Mine was around 8 kg and my husband a little more , 10 kg or more. We needed to get use to it. We  were mostly in the countryside   which was nice. Fall can be such a great time to walk.

When the hunger started to bother me. We found a picnic table to eat some of the food  we had  bought in Conques. I was hungry  but not too much. And we did not want to waist too much time. I wanted to arrive as early as possible  in our next gite.

Weather was good. Spirit was good also. 23 km is not too long  but we were  quite happy when we reached the village of Livinhac-le-Haut.  We found our CH (meaning chambre d’hôtes); the lady was not there  but she kindly left for us 2 beers and a delicious piece of pie. We  had a shower and a little rest and then ventured to see  the small village.

We  saw our 3 new French friends  that had dinner with us in  Conques.  I did not know  they were going to spend the night in the same village. We had a beer  and a chat  with them . We reserved a table at the only restaurant of the village after they told us  they were also going to eat there. We met our lovely lady at our CH and then returned to have  our dinner. Finally my Fit-bit was showing 26 km. I was happy with this first day and was looking forward for the continuation. All we needed  was a good sleep and we would be ready for another day on the trail .

France (part 2): Conques.

We were in France with a special  plan . Our friends drove us to Conques. Ah! What a lovely village.  On a sunny day it was  so pleasant to walk around .  The Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy  in the middle of the village has been  a popular stop for pilgrims traveling the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela.

There is little exterior ornamentation on Conques’ abbaye  except necessary buttresses and cornices. The exception to this is the Last Judgment tympanum located above the western entrance.

This was the reason for us to go there. We were going to start a 9 days “pilgrimage” on the GR-65 that is also called Via Podiensis. This route starts in Puy-en-Velay.  200 km east of Conques.  For us it was just  easier to start our adventure in Conques. But we have plans to go back and walk the part we missed in 2017.

We had time to enjoy the  village before and after we left our bags at the Centre d’acceuil Abbaye Sainte-Foy. A team of volunteers help us to check-in. We bought our lunch for the next day and someone  showed us our room. We could feel this place was perfect for us to start our adventure.  There was much to explore in Conques. We decided not to visit the cloister. Maybe we will go back and have more time.

In the Abbaye , in the afternoon, a lady was playing the organ.  It was fantastic to visit the Abbaye at our leisure.  We had a busy schedule ( vêpres, dinner, pilgrim’s benediction , explanation of the tympanum of the Abbaye, organ concert). “Vêpres”  is s a sunset evening prayer service. We did not have to attend  but I felt this was part of our experience on the Camino.

At dinner, we met some friendly French people at our table. There were about 70 other pilgrims. Most of them would be walking the next day but some were ending their journey.  They  were from France,  Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Quebec.

On my next post, I will  start tell what happen during our 9 days on the Camino. Thank you so much for reading my story. And if you have time and feel like leaving me a short comment, I will be happy to read it and reply if you have questions.

 

 

France (part 1)

We  flew from Amsterdam to Toulouse where our friends were waiting for us.              Over the next few days we did many outings in the area with them.

Château de Mazères. This large residence was  the country residence of the Archbishops of Auch, “resolutely limited to two floors, sitting in the center of a large winery and folded into five bodies of irregular buildings around a courtyard longer than wide, accentuated its cold and residential character, if it were not illuminated by the use of bricks and stones harmoniously mixed, playing with their differences of color and materials. It is flanked by a medieval square tower. ” The couple who bought the building is renovating. A big job  but I think they do it with passion!

Toulouse.     A city with unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose (“the Pink City”).

The violet of Toulouse is the emblem of the city of Toulouse. You can get pretty much everything you want with that flavor.

It was blue that made Toulouse wealthy. Varying shades of the color are everywhere on shutters, on lamp-posts, doors, windows and ornamental ironwork. It’s a subtle blue-grey that perfectly complements the ancient red brickwork. Trade in pastel (woad, the yellow-flowered plant whose leaves yield a blue dye) allowed Toulouse merchants to amass vast fortunes.

St-Jacques  or St-James  seen in Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques.  We were going to see “him”  or at least his image  many times during this trip !

At the market, we bought some typical sausages of Toulouse. Delicious !

We also went  to Moissac. Known worldwide for its prestigious Abbey of Saint-Pierre, the capitals of the cloister of the abbey and tympanum are listed by UNESCO under the roads to  Santiago de Compostela.

Another day. Another direction. A quick visit in St-Felix Lauragais. Taking time to admire the view on the area. Isn’t it  beautiful ?

Back in Toulouse . Enjoying a walk along the Canal du Midi on a sunny afternoon. Many people were cycling. The perfect terrain as it is quite flat. I will say thank you to my friend Claude for taking this picture of me and my husband.

Good time for sure.  It was soon time to get ready other adventures that  will be the topic on my next post.

Thanks for reading. And for leaving a comment if you have time and wish to do so.