Like many walks into or out of big cities, we never expect much but sometimes we are rewarded with stunning entrances or exits. Today was not one of those days. It really wasn’t like the walk into Toulouse, up the canal, past many beautiful old houses and buildings, through parks and grand boulevards, etc. On our exit, we saw more than our share of homeless people, graffiti, vandalism, urban sprawl, industry, etc. That said, there were some nice trails off the roads after Pibrac.
For anyone following us, again, please plan your stages carefully. Also note that the route today was the Camino marked by yellow arrow signs that are pretty obvious, but not always. The red and white GR blazes / trail headed off on a longer, circuitous route around the airport and other places. It doesn’t come back to the Camino until after Léguevin. We did see some red and white blazes today crossing our path but I believe they were for a different GR route. If you take the GR route, I have no clue where you could stay with a reasonable walking day.
Another thing to note, if you are following us: never plan on stopping in a small town’s gîte on a holiday. Léguevin is small but it at least has a pizzeria, patisserie, boulangerie and small grocery store. Unfortunately, all of them are closed today because of the holiday. The other two pilgrims in the gîte, Melanie and I have raided the closets for things left behind by other pilgrims as well as our bags Dinner will be interesting tonight. We have a small can of ravioli, a very small bottle of olives, 20 crackers, some rice, noodles, dried fruit, assorted nuts and several stale hard mint candies. Melanie should be able to do something with that, right? Alternatively, do what we did in Italy and always carry some food in the backpack, just in case. Noodles, tomato sauce and canned clams, sardines or something like that could save you. I have enough body fat that I know I won’t be starving anytime soon but I am not sure about tomorrow’s 30km stage on an empty stomach. (Edited to add: the Camino provides. A pizzeria opened up in the evening and we chanced upon only while lost, looking for a bar that was supposed to be open, showing the football match.)
We met several French people along the route today who were happy to stop and chat with us. They had lots of questions, all of which were the same as the ones from the last person who spoke to us. It’s okay though. It’s helping me improve my French through repetition or it is helping their English.
We met a young pilgrim from Germany just a few kilometers before Léguevin. We had seen him with three other walkers in Castres but since we never saw them anywhere else, we assumed that they were walking a different route or direction. It turns out that we just never crossed paths. The other three took a train today to Pibrac before walking to L’Isle-Jourdain. It’s possible that we haven’t seen those three on the trail before because we don’t usually look in train stations. We raced the German to the gîte (and won!j but found that there was already a German woman who beat us all. I know; it’s not a race, but at least we beat the young guy.
Before I forget, we were worried about it being too hot down here at the lower altitudes. Nonsense, this morning was a chilly 3 degree Celsius. Where did that come from? And I still wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt while all the French were bundled up for winter.
We stopped yesterday in the lovely Basilica of St. Sernin yesterday to say a prayer and collect a stamp for our credencials. It was a bit of a mistake though as we were on our way back from the laundry with our clean and dry clothes. After 30 minutes in the church, we came out to a cold rain storm. It didn’t look like letting up so we walked as quickly as possible from cover to cover. We were drenched by the time we got to the hotel, only about 600m away.
Today, while passing through Pibrac we also stopped by a cool old church, Saint-Germaine. The priest was just locking up as we walked up but he said we could run in for a quick prayer while he waited. If we had not stopped for “lunch”, we might have even gotten a stamp. The lunch, across the street from the church, was lemonade and a croissant. They didn’t have any other food because it’s a holiday. I am starting to think that all holidays in the French countryside are celebrated the same way that Muslims celebrate Ramadan or Christians celebrate Good Friday – fasting.
Since we are in a municipal gîte and there is nothing open anywhere nearby, I know wi-fi is impossible today. I’ll post this tomorrow or the next day. Tomorrow’s stage is either a short 16km day to a hotel or a long 30km to a gîte. We are aiming for the gîte but we have checked ahead. They will cook dinner for us and they are supposed to have wi-fi. Let’s hope. (Edited to add: there IS a bar showing the football match and they have wi-fi!!!)