Today we had a wonderful walk but I haven’t a clue as to what trail we actually walked. It was a bit confusing but maps.me got us onto a very good option that may have been better than the official trail. Who knows?
It all started with the weather. It rained last night and the 7am forecast made it sound that it was pretty good odds that we would have some rain today before noon. That figured into our thinking. Also, we had two GPS routes for the trail but the guidebook only showed one, the green, southern trail below. It appeared to only be 17km while the blue northern was 20km, a little more to our liking. The northern route looked to have a lot of roads though, including some busier ones at the top end while about 9km of the southern route was on tracks, including 3.5km along a canal. Hmmmm…. now the Southern route sounded better. We also figured that we could walk along the canal track for much of the first 6km too, thus making it close to an all off-road day. Hmmmm…. decisions, decisions.
In the end, we decided only to walk back up the hill into Saint-Gilles and see what other pilgrims are doing or what the Camino arrows say. When we passed by the church and gîte we didn’t see a soul so we just followed red and white blazes. They passed through a gate of the old walled city which was cool but then quickly turned us onto a road that appeared to show we were going on the northern route. We were cool with that but also noticed a sign that indicated we were following the red and white blazes of not only the GR653 but also two other GR routes that coincided for the moment. We had to be careful not to o off to the GR route leading to Paris or Lyon in error. Finally, I also noticed, too late, that we were only following the red and white blazes. On the Chemin d’Arles, they are pretty good at using the more traditional Camino arrow or shell.
We kept going anyway because those “too many” roads I had seen on the map turned out to be very small dirt or blacktop roads used only by a couple of cars driving through the vast expanses of vineyards. It was a very enjoyable 7km section to walk through even if it wasn’t the actual Camino route. What surprised us though is when we got to the part where we expected to arc west to head through the town of Générac. Instead of the gentle arc, the GR signs told us to turn left onto an even quieter road. We did as we were told, for a change, but after about 2km it appeared as if we were bypassing Générac. That was a shame. We planned to have something to eat and drink there. Very soon after that realization, we also noticed that the blazes disappeared. We had reached a crossroad that had Générac now in one direction as well as four or five nice looking trails heading toward the next town of Beauvoison. Melanie and I negotiated and agreed not to go out of the way to Générac but use the trails to get us to Beauvoisin in the speediest fashion.
The first 2km of these dirt trails though forest and between properties were actually the best sections of the day. We then had another 1.5km of farm tracks to get us into Beauvoisin. Sadly, the only place open in that whole town was a little, small bakery with a little, small-minded baker that just about covered the necessities to have been described as “serving us” a drink and some raisin bread. I think he was inwardly disgusted to have either a man wearing short pants in his store or an American in the same city that he was in. I’m not sure which but he was definitely a snob.
Back on the trail, we took a fairly direct 5km road through horse and bull farms for the final push to Vauvert. We chose this much quieter road rather than the blue option on our GPS. It was perfect for us.
By the way, at one point, early in the day, it did actually start to drizzle very lightly. I changed hats to the one I wear when it rains and I got my raincoat out and ready. As expected, because it always works this way, that simple preparation was enough to scare off the rain. In fact, it eventually scared the clouds away too. I don’t think we will be so lucky tomorrow. It looks like we have a full 23km wet walk ahead of us.
p.s. We just had dinner at this nice little pizza place. The pizza, salad, drinks, and sorbet were great. The woman who was the chef, waitress, cashier and owner was really cool. Her son, not so much. While we were her first customers, her twenty-something son walked into the restaurant to ask for fashion advice from his mother before his date. He knew already that he was God’s gift to women but he wasn’t sure whether he should wear jeans or khakis on the date. Just then, he noticed that he was not alone with his mother – that there where two customers in the corner. He quickly dropped the pants that he wasn’t wearing onto one of the dining tables and walked over to us. Without a word, he bent down, near Melanie, his head too close to hers. Seconds pass. Too many seconds. Was he whispering something to her? Did she have a strand of mozzarella hanging from her chin? Was he smelling her? Just then, it hit me. It took Melanie a second longer but the look of bemused confusion on her face for that second was priceless. Romeo was apparently there to allow Melanie that chance to do that French thing of kiss this cheek, no, that cheek, no, you were right the first time. I’m not sure I helped the situation by laughing hysterically but I bet he is not going to be as confident on his date as he usually is.
The Carmargue Cross is popular here