We ARE on a Camino! We walked a beautiful, varied full-length trail today that was very challenging but rewarding as well. It was the most Camino-like walk this trip even though we only briefly exchanged hellos with one French couple we had not seen before and had a nice chat with a French day-hiker. We also saw the French couple from yesterday but they were ahead of us and we saw them detour to the GR7 route instead of continuing to walk the Chemin d’Arles.
Today’s route had all kinds of trails and lots of climbs including the main 520m one. Lodève and Lunas are only about 10km from each other, as the crow flies, but the route today resembled a lazy drunken S, going west, then south, then west, then north, then west and finally south again into Lunas.
The one obstacle that was the biggest challenge – that I failed at – was water management. Before leaving Lodève, I only drank a small apple juice and about 200ml of water. I only carried 1.5l for the walk and the only place to top up water was at the 22km point. I really should have drank a liter of water before stepping out of the hotel this morning. I probably should have carried more water too on this hot, sunny day. By the time we climbed into the town of Joncels, I drank the last sip that I had and I nearly dove into the town’s fountain. I learned my lesson.
After crossing the river along side of Lodève, we were immediately on a lovely small forest trail and the climbing began on a rocky terrain. This is a new route, different from the guide book but fairly similar to one of our GPS tracks. It was cool in the forest and a great start. After a few kilometers, we dropped out to a short road that led us to a park entrance where the steeper climbing started. This was thankfully, sort of, on a better terrain, basically a wide packed gravel trail. It was good in that we could move faster but tougher that the next 9km or so was a steady shadeless climb.
We passed by at least three sets of wind turbines and apparently passed by a Buddhist Temple though we did not see it. Lots more of forest trails, farmland trails and some road walking got us below the village of Joncels with its 10th century Benedictine abbey. We climbed the old stone trail to the town and nearly ran for the water fountain in the main square. I immediately drank 750ml and refilled my bottles for the last 4km to Lunas.
Rather than visiting the abbey, we looked for a place to get a sweeter drink and found the coolest little Auberge. This home stay / bar / restaurant was decorated with scores of the most whimsical driftwood carvings I have ever seen, as well as lots of other cool artwork. They also had two dogs that had to me at least three quarters bear. There we found a lovely spot to get a soda and rest our feet although I doubt that they get many similar visitors. For anyone following us, it looks like a great spot to rest for the night if it fits your schedule.
The final 4.5km into Lunas was happily not on the trails our GPS said they were. It was a lovely forest trail with a short packed dirt road section before coming directly into the village on a ancient rock walking path, rather than a zig-zagging road walk. We then very quickly found our room for the night in L’Auberge Gourmande (highly recommended). We have dinner planned in a few moments in the highly rated restaurant on the first floor which, if I recall the final climb of the day that we did, 4 floors below us.