July 17, 2008

Day 28: 11 May- Auvillar to Miradoux

I found myself really enjoying the countryside in this area, clearly a fertile area that is a fruitbowl and a vegetable patch for many.
It didn't take long to reach the villages of Bardigues, then St Antoine, a beautiful village where I could easily have stopped the night if it wasn't still so very early in the walking day...I had some unexpected company along the way - a friendly dog. Turns out this wasn't the first time in the past week he had followed pilgrims though, and the barman in St Antoine knew the number to telephone for the embarrassed young owner.
There was a climb up to Flamarens, and again some farmer along the way had put out coffee etc for pelerins... and some boiled eggs. I gratefully ate one of those.
At Flamarens were the ruins of a church and a chateau that had commanded a prime hilltop position. An artist who had a painting studio also had a 'buvette' and I was glad to have a break, sipping a lemonade under a shady tree. He had quite a few non-bag-carrying pilgrims stop for a drink, but seemed impressed I was carrying my luggage, and gave me another drink for free.
Before I left Flamarens, the bells rang from the church tower with great joyful abandon, presumably because it was Pentecost.... I loved these sounds when I heard them in Europe: sadly we have largely controlled such 'nuisances' out of existence back home...
Only four kilometres of walking remained, but there was another climb, to another hilltop town.
In Miradoux I was staying with Therese, who has welcomed pilgrims into her home for many years. She used to be a farmer, and now works hard to nourish plants that grow in profusion around her house. Most of the others staying this night were a German group who were 'car supported'. There was a French woman cyclist there as well with whom I enjoyed conversation: she had passed through Aubrac just a few weeks later than me and she found that the spring flowers blooming there were amazing. The elderly Swiss couple were also here, and it was wonderful to see them still on the road.....

Everything was quiet in the town for the holiday, but a slow wander in the village soon showed signs of the pilgrim history of this place, with these scallop shells decorating the church.

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