Day 19 – Mane to Céreste, 24.8km, 7.75hrs (6.0hrs moving)

Today felt a little like one of those dog days on a Camino where you just put your head down and keep going. We still had lovely scenery and great trails but we are past the excitement of a new adventure and the happiness of being about half way. We are not yet close enough to Montpellier that we are excited about the ending. Sometimes we just have to put our heads down and keep going.

Due to the late night yesterday, and a longer breakfast than normal (talking with our lovely hosts), we started late today. We only got out the door at 8:30am. To think that many pilgrims on the more popular routes start walking at 6am or earlier, I feel a little lazy. We had decided to trim down today’s route to just under 25km from the expected 29km day (which a few days ago I thought was 23km!) so the first 1.5km section was down the D4100 out of Mane under a beautiful cathedral of trees. The road was busy with commuters but it really is a stunning road. We should have taken one detour in the middle of this to walk over a Roman bridge but I forgot to mark that on my map.

Rejoining the Camino via a short walk on a side road, we were soon in and around broad fields, heading to Saint-Michel-l’Observatoire. Melanie had to answer the call of nature so she found a quiet spot behind a bush where she watered the plants. Just as we started walking again, we realized that there were hunters in camouflage all around us. I don’t know what they saw but I am glad that they weren’t shooting. We must have passed dozens of hunters over the next 4km and Melanie swears that they all had the same looks on their faces as we passed them like “oh this must be the one who was just peeing in front of Jacques.”

In Saint-Michel, we stopped for a drink at a restaurant whose only other customers were a young mother, her cute but naughty four year-old son and his adorable three year-old girlfriend. Melanie spoke with the mother as I made faces at the kids. The little guy was definitely more interested in flirting with the girlfriend though. After getting recommendations for where to eat in the next town, we were soon off and walking again.

Once again, we shortcut a silly loop that added almost 4km to the stage, just to see some artwork about the Via Domitia. It didn’t make much sense to do that so we were happy to save the kilometers. That 1.7km along a quiet road was our last non-GR trail of the day. We trudged the next 5km to the village of Reillanne where we had another refreshing drink and shared a salad after saying hello to Anton, the restaurant owner, from his friend in Saint-Michel.

Once again, that last 10km to Céreste was mostly downhill but still a bit of a trudge on loose rocky paths. One highlight was walking around and in the ruins of the 14th century Prieuré Saint-Pierre. It was an important part of the Via Domita pilgrimage route back in the Middle Ages.

We are staying tonight in the best place so far, Chez Adeline’s B&__. We’ll have to find our own breakfast but we are in a nice apartment that has everything we need and was about 20m from an excellent restaurant that was actually open despite the fact that we were their only customers of the night.

Peace y’all.

What we we told to walk

Without the pregnant bulge at the beginning

My heart rate monitor

An old chapel

There’s a windmill up there!

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