Around the world. ( Part 3)

I love going to Europe.  It feels so different than North America.  It is rich in history. Everywhere I  stop to  take photos. They help to  keep the memories alive.

The first countries I visited in Europe are France, UK and Wales. Then Denmark, Switzerland , Italy and Spain. There is not a country I like best . They are all interesting to me. I wish I could see them all.

What is your favorite country  in Europe ? Is  the language a problem when you visit a country where you cannot speak the language ? Do you try to learn a few words before you go ?

I will share a few pictures taken during my trips in Europe.

Every time I have been to Switzerland , I enjoyed the green landscapes. So many nice places to see .  Spending time in Gruyeres was fantastic. Another time we went in the Canton of Valais and we did some hiking. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces very scenic .

In Italy, the first city I visited was Rome ( I showed some pics from my 2003 trip in the previous post). In 2012, we went to Venice. It was a dream for me. I remember being so excited. We spent 4 days in the city walking everywhere and going to the islands of  Burano and Murano.  If you knew how  many pictures I took during that trip, you would not believe me.

In Italy, on other trips, we have been visiting the  Gran Paradiso National Park and  Turin. We discovered Piedmonte area and Cinque  Terre  ( on a walking trip). We really enjoyed Cinque Terre and went on hikes between the villages. We stayed in Vernazza one of the 5 villages of CT.  We also went to Genova,  Pisa, Lucca and Florence.

In 2015, at last, I went back to Paris after 23 years and this time my husband was with me. As French is my first language, there was no worry for me to get by.  On my bucket list was to go up to the very top of the Eiffel tower. The view was great.

On that trip we also visited the Bay of Arcachon, the Dune du Pilat, the lighthouse of Cordouan.  We even flew over the whole bay in a small airplane for 4.  So many great memories.

Bordeaux and  St-Emilion  were also part of that 2015 trip.

We were also lucky to visit Toulouse and  wonderful villages of the Haute-Garonne. Albi, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Carcassonne, Foix .  Here another collage for you.

Many  green vistas to see while we traveled in France.

Spain is another great country. We know quite well Barcelona as we have been more than once. We  walked on the  Camino for 11 days with a group and guides ( On Foot in Spain). You can find some posts on our walks here on my blog.

So many good memories . I can’t wait to discover more of Europe .

Thank you for reading my post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perpignan and Collioure (France)

It is October. We are lucky to have good weather for this trip in Southern France. We first have a short visit in Perpignan.

“Perpignan is a southern French city near the Mediterranean coast and the border with Spain. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca during the 13th century, and a significant Catalan influence is evident in its medieval core.”

In the hall of the City hall, we see a sculpture of Aristide  Maillot called The Méditerranée.

I enjoy walking in the city, looking at the buildings.

We visit the church – église Saint-Jean.

Porte Notre-Dame. (below)

Soon it is time for lunch and then more km ( by car)  to get to Collioure where we are going to spend the night.

“Collioure is a town on the Mediterranean coast of southern France. On the sea, the medieval Château Royal de Collioure offers dramatic coastal views. The bell tower of 17th-century Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church was once a lighthouse. The Modern Art Museum includes paintings by Henri Matisse.”

Collioure is a very charming seaside village who offers 31 flavors of pastel houses and 6 petite pebbled beaches.

It is good to take our time and capture all this. We also take a ride with “le petit train” to see the view from the hill top.

We can see the windmill built in 1344 originally used for grain but today it grinds out olive oil.

Charming village. We  have  sangria made with local wine.

Collioure is only 24km/15 miles from the Spanish border and shares a common history and independent attitude with its Catalan siblings across the border.

The story will continue  next week. Thanks for reading and comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the GR-65. Day 9 ( last day)

Saturday September 30. Lauzerte to Moissac. This day will be over 30km.

A difficult day as it starts with rain as soon as we leave the gite in Lauzerte. We are wearing our raincoat. We have a cover on our backpack but we really hope the clouds are going to get tired to spray on us.

I don’t want to take photos with  my camera. It is in a plastic bag in my pocket. I try to take pictures with my cellular but really I will take very few that day. But when I see this building I want a photo. This must  be a dovecote ( where pigeons or dove can stay).

We walk, we walk and we do not find a place to shelter for our lunch. We do not want to waist time  as we think it would be better to arrive  and rest. But it is our last day on the trail and we keep thinking about the arrival.

We see a few pilgrims  who, like us, have to deal with the muddy and slippery  trail. Without walking sticks it is not easy to climb the step trail.

We have booked a hotel room for this last night. I am quite happy to get in  Moissac.

We have been there a few days before this adventure. It is where I bought my créantiale and now I have many stamps on it. In France we do not have to show our créantiale when we sleep in a gite  but in Spain the pilgrims need to have one.

All day the rain doesn’t stop. It would be our most difficult day. Our feet are wet and I feel cold. The warm shower is the best thing to do when we get to the room shortly after 3 pm.   We rest and later we choose a restaurant close by our hotel. We indulge in pizza and red wine.

Celebration. We have done more than 250 km in 9  days.

The next morning, we have time to wander in the city. It is not raining anymore!

The  abbaye Saint-Pierre . Since 1998,  the church and cloisters have had international protection as part of a World Heritage Site “Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France “.

I really like the sculptures of the French artist Toutain.

Now that this adventure is finished , we will return to Toulouse for two nights and  continue our traveling  in   Southern France  and Spain ( Catalonia) . More to come next week! Thanks for reading.

 

 

On the Gr65- Day 7

September 28.  Walking from Cahors to Lascabanes. Should be 22 km. But we will end up with 25km …

We  leave our CH. Walk by the side of the road.  We take some time to walk on the famous Valentré  Bridge, a fortified bridge of the 14th century. There are a few pilgrims coming from the other side. One of those offers  to take a pic of us.

And then we get on the trail. It is a big climb . When we are at the top we have a great view on the bridge and the city of Cahors.

Sometimes we walk without talking, sometimes we chat. I always take photos.

I try not to slow down our pace that is fairly fast.  Soon enough it is time to eat ( again). We don’t find a table so we just sit by the side of the trail and we enjoy our food. We see some pilgrims passing by.  The weather is quite warm. I like it.

We arrive in Lascabanes around 3 pm. The lady ( Cecile) in charge of the gite  Le Nid des Anges is there but soon she has to leave. She is a very friendly person and very busy . I  still think she was an angel  just like the name of her  hostel ( gîte d’étape). This gîte d’étape  used to be the presbytery of the church that is just beside.

We are like at home. We find our room, take our shower. We also walk in the village (very small). We have time to enjoy a local beer and talk with other pilgrims before we get to the church for a special celebration.

The priest likes to talk to the pilgrims and has a ritual of washing the feet as Jesus did to his apostles. In fact , he washes one feet.  We are a  little group of pilgrims in the church.

After it is time to enjoy a delicious dinner. At the table, French, Swiss and Canadian. We are in good spirit and feel like a big family.

What a great day !  We are happy and  thinking we only have two  more days to walk is also  exciting. It kind of gives us the energy we need to complete what we wanted to do for this time on the Camino.  The story of the next day will be posted next Friday. Thanks for reading.

On the Gr-65. Day 6

Leaving Bach to go to  Cahors.

This is the beginning of our 6th day. After breakfast, we walk along the road ( on the safer side) as the traffic is going quite fast. I can see my long shadow…

We reach the town and soon we are peacefully walking on a trail.

We see sheep, a field with lavender. Once we meet a group of walkers and I tell them what happen to us the day before ( they were also looking at the post in front of that gite but were not staying there).

The weather is really nice for the end of September but we see that  the leaves are getting the fall colors.

 

We find a table for our picnic and soon we arrive in Cahors. Cahors is not a small village. For us it is almost too big .

We really   like the small villages. We have booked a room in a CH. We  get a map of the city ( in a little  kiosk at the  end of the bridge you see above )  and then  we find the house where we will stay for the night.

After a shower and a little rest, we must go and visit although we do not really want to add  more steps to our day. We see interesting architecture. I had advice from Frederique ( the owner of our CH) so we wander in the most interesting part of the city.  The old town features half-timbered houses and narrow alleyways. Imposing Cathédrale St-Étienne  was built in Gothic and Romanesque styles, with large domes and centuries-old frescoes.

Just in front of the Cathedral, by chance,  we see again Thomas ( the German guy we talked a few times since we started walking ). He  will take the train the next day to go back home. His pilgrimage is finished.

Of course this city is know for the Pont Valentré, a medieval bridge with 3 towers. We will walk on it the next day before we go on the trail.

Cahors is a lovely town  but we are not like tourists who spent the day in a car. What we need  is food and rest.  In our CH/gite  there are a few other pilgrims but we only going to see them the next day.

After walking here and there for  while – and taking some photos, we find a place for dinner ( just a very casual restaurant)  and return to our CH. At the end of the day my FitBit marks 34.34 km. I believe that the more you walk  you get stronger. Our feet get used to the demand.  We do not have blisters and our back is not sore from carrying our bags. That is good ! My spirit is good as long as the weather is good. And I like to meet nice people.

This is the story of our day 6. So we have 3 more days to go. Thanks again for  reading and comments.

 

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 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 !