Another lovely day for walking with cool weather, sunny skies, lots of shade and flat, dry trails. We had two rest stops in patisseries today and still managed a good bit of mileage in a reasonable time. The trail today was supposed to be longer but we walked a further 3km past Dourgne yesterday to get a bed and early this morning we short-cut about 2km but that is another story.
Our hostess from yesterday, Isabel, fixed us a nice continental breakfast with homemade jams. We found out today that last night’s dinner was almost all home grown / made too. The pâté she made from leftover animal parts that most other people throw away, the vegetables were from her garden, the chicken was also running around the garden yesterday morning, the apples for the pie were from a friend. The only thing bought was the potatoes and pie crust. She and her husband also treat all credential-carrying pilgrims to the dinner. How sweet!
What wasn’t so sweet of her was as we left her house to start walking today, we made a right turn to go through the village, planning to turn right on the other side of St. Amancet back to the main road then left on the main road until Sorèze, the next village to the west. This route was avoiding the extra 700m back-tracking to the marked trail where we got off yesterday and also about 2km of walking north, then west, then south, just to avoid the main road. Unfortunately, Isabel saw us turn right and she came running out of the house calling for us. She insisted on explaining the correct route in French so I could practice and then she watched us walk away so that we couldn’t short cut…. well, at least as far as she could see. We still shortcut on the main road but we hid behind a tree every time we heard a car coming, just in case it was her.
Soréze ended up being a cool little town with lots of homes dating from the 14th to 16th century. We walked past an ancient looking parish church (the doors were locked, Mom. We tried.) and stumbled across the original parish church that was mostly destroyed in the religious wars in 1573. The bell tower, sacristy and altar area, walls, floors, ceiling and all, were still in excellent condition. We also met two men who were painting / repainting the red and white blazes for the trail. We thanked them profusely. Finally, we found a patisserie owned by a 55 year old punk rocker with a mohawk, tongue piercing and tattoos all over his body up to his neck. His chocolate brioche was out of this world delicious.
The 6km or so from Soréze to Revel was mostly on quiet back-country lanes but a little boring to be on blacktop roads so much. Also, once in Revel’s city limits, we still had 1km to go along the quietest road in the universe. This road was so quiet, we didn’t see or hear and living being until almost the center of town. At one point, I instructed Melanie to take the rubber tips off her walking sticks and use the stick as a spear in case any zombies attacked us. That’s how dead the place was. Rounding the last bend in the road though, we found the central market that looked to be at least 600 years old. The market and surrounding 16th and 17th century buildings were full of life with fancy restaurants, bars, businesses, etc in the renovated buildings. We also had breakfast #3 here. It is a Camino, after all.
Up until this point in the day, the trail was almost all road and pretty flat. The highest altitude was 280m in Soréze and the lowest point was the market in Revel at 210m. Jerry would have loved that. But wait…
After a short walk of about 700m from the center of Revel, climbing up a whole 14m along the way, we turned onto a lovely, shaded, dirt path next to a canal. For the next 13km, we followed every twist and turn of that one canal. Our altitude slowly worked its way down at a very steady one meter per kilometer. I tell you, ballbearings wouldn’t know which way to roll on that path, it was so flat. I must say that I enjoyed it though. The walking surface was perfect and easy on the feet, the trail mostly shaded and there was only a single fallen tree that we had to navigate around. We made excellent time on this section.
The final two kilometers to the excellent chambres d’hôtes La Barraque was on hilly roads again but we didn’t mind too much. This renovated home is a working organic vegetable farm with a separate apartment for a pilgrim couple with a bedroom, a bathroom with the best shower in France so far and a sitting area / kitchenette too. The hostess is from Italy (pasta!?!?) and the host from Lille but of Italian heritage. They are both fluent in English too so we get a rest from practicing French. In fact, when the guide books says they speak Italian, Spanish (the wife previously worked in Barcelona), English and French, it really means it. Other places that we were told had English speaking hosts, rarely do.
We had a lovely dinner with the hosts, Xavier and Lucia, with a fantastic garden fresh salad, a lovely pasta (yes!!!) with asparagus and ham, cheese (it’s still France) and homemade plum pie. We also talked well past our normal bedtime but they are such an interesting couple to chat with. Life is great. If only the wi-fi worked better, I could have posted this last night.