A slow start to the day got slower after only 70 meters where we found a patisserie that was open on Sunday mornings and served coffee in addition to some scrumptious pastries and croissants. I could not complain though. We were told to expect only a chance of a place to get a bite in La Boissiére (5km), nothing in Aniane (13km) and possibly nothing even in St-Guilhem either, after all, it is St.-Guilherme-le-Desert, not St.-Guilherme-le-Dessert.
It was a short trek out of Montarnaud and to where the only real hard work of the day was. There was a single climb of 150m but it was very steep and on a thin rocky track. We all got to the top but in different times and conditions. It didn’t matter though because it isn’t a race.
Most of the rest of the way to La Bossiére was downhill on a quiet road that gave some needed speed and rest for the feet. Just before the town though, there was a path that led us south of the village that went through a vineyard. That part was okay but the path was more of a stream in places and at the bottom, we had to cross a deeper small stream. Jerry’s and my legs were long enough to use the single wobbly rock in the center as a stepping stone but it was a team effort to get Melanie across. The small cafe at the entrance to the town, near the square, was worth the effort.
Most of the trail to Aniane was along a former railroad track bed. These repurposed tracks are sometimes a God-send but not always. They are useful in that they are usually quite flat and direct from town to town but they never have shade. No problem today, right? Just as we made our first steps on that track, the sun came out for the first time since our arrival and it was blazing hot in no time. So who was praying for the rain to stop yesterday??? That trail was also paved with very large sharp gravel stones – the worst choice of surface to have under foot. I prefer the cobblestones in Portugal.
After the rail trail, we missed a turn and ended up walking a bit extra on a road. The error also confused things later and got us walking in the wrong direction for another few hundred meters. Eventually common sense, luck and GPS got us back the right way. The trail was marked properly that second time but with the sun out and so hot, we all had our heads down instead of looking for the blazes.
In Aniane, there was no problem finding food. Several bars were open and there was a festival in the town too. The only thing I can say about the sandwich we ate was that ham, butter and chutney on French loaf is awesome. Also, when I say French loaf, I mean the whole loaf!
The next six kilometers was a fairly easy, mostly dirt trail though vineyards or scrub. That took us to the impressive L’Hérault River. The waterfalls and raging water over the final 3km was lovely to look at but too much of it was along a very busy thin road hugging the cliff. Also, as we reached St.-Guilhem, we still had to put off kissing the ground. We had a steep climb to the far side of the village to get to our “hotel”. That is in quotes because they have 30 tables in the hotel restaurant but only six rooms in the hotel. That’s more like a restaurant that also has some beds. For the fun of it too, they only had one room left with three beds so we grabbed it. After drawing lots, Melanie ended up in the bunk over Jerry’s and my heads. We’re all family, right? Other than the small room which required stacked beds, I can highly recommend the La Taverne de l’Escuelle right on the upper town square. Room 1 has a great view of the cemetery from the balcony too.
For those following us, the GPS was very useful today. Sharp eyes would have been better though. Also, apparently food is an issue on today’s walk but only something like from November to March. We did not have to buy a whole day’s rations in Montarnaud as suggested.
Tomorrow will be a tough day so we just carbo-loaded at dinner. Crepes and ice cream are carbos, right? With a 6am wake up, we’re off to bed at 9pm.