July 17, 2008

Day 10: 23 April- Saint-Come d'Olt to Estaing

I woke to the gentle sounds of the church bells from the nearby church of Saint Come d'Olt, at 7am.To start the walk, there was a bridge over the River Lot, which was flowing full and fast after all the rain. But this morning's walk started out very pleasantly, with no rain, and along a quiet road that passed close by the river.
I had shared my room at the top of the historic gite with this lovely kind French couple. They walked faster than me though and soon outpaced me. I never saw them again, sometimes the story of the Chemin.What I did soon start to see again though was sunshine- first it was just a hesitant light that seemed to be enlivening the buildings of the town that I was just leaving behind....
but soon the sunlight was illuminating all things around and making them look quite beautiful. It was an easy morning's walk near the River Lot.

Not long before reaching the attractive town of Espalion, you come near to the historic church of Perse, though you deviate slightly off the modern route to reach it. The deviation was made all the more tricky on this occasion as there was actually a circus- literally a circus- with the big top and animal's cages etc, along the path. With another pilgrim I walked through, heard lions roaring etc....This Romanesque church is in the process of being restored, and is on the UNESCO list of monuments associated with the pilgrimage to Compostela.
It was a reminder that pilgrims had walked this way in centuries gone by, and we were just a later part of the stream... And indeed here also, I saw my first horse-pilgrim go by.
Espalion itself was a very attractive town, alongside the River Lot, with the river running swiftly beside it. After so much rural quiet, it was a surprise to see how busy Espalion was with traffic etc. I took advantage of the modern pilgrim's means of communication and checked my messages on the internet! Then I decided to walk on, perhaps not the best decision given my tender feet and wet shoes.
To begin with, there was more walking on a road close by the Lot. I loved this particular region of France, Aveyron. It was green and restful, and full of historic interest. The building style had these roundly curved roofs which I found very attractive.

The next treat was to see the ancient church of Saint Pierre, just a short way off the track at Bessuejouls,

a treasure, where one could climb up to the upper chapel with its time-worn arches and look outside to the green growth that lay all around.
Two French families, that I had been meeting for several days in gites, also lunched here. Just behind the village, we all soon discovered that the 'easy' day walk was over.
Next came a climb in red sticky mud up a hill: after recent rain, climbing up the gooey mud on this hillside was quite a wee adventure in itself.
But the reward was some magnificent views again, so magnificent that I got lost as I regarded the fields of wildflowers. 'On the roof of the world', I missed a turn-off down a hill!
It meant an extra hour of walking on my already tender feet so by the time I had retraced my steps to find the turn-off for the downhill path, I trod slowly, feeling every stone and getting to Estaing seemed to take forever!
However, one of the special things about walking from Le Puy
was the warm welcome in so many gites.
Hospitalite Saint-Jacques was a place with a warm welcome, and when I arrived already late, 5.30pm, I asked to stay another day to rest my feet.
Strangely, this evening was a Kiwi-Oz night
and I slept near a bunch of English speakers
one of the few nights in France I met anyone else who spoke English!

No comments:

Post a Comment