May 292011

The building of our gite – La Cabourne – in Saint Privat looks like the other old buildings in town but inside it smells new, and they are still finishing some of the showers. The rooms are airy, and not crowded. You can opt for a demi pension which means you get dinner and breakfast. Dinner was delicious, a paté plate as the appetiser, pork cooked in thyme and honey, rice, and a chocolate pear tart that was to die for, coffee or infusion (aka tea) followed by a dollop of a liquer if you wanted. Unlike in Spain, the wine is extra. Beate, Guylène and I shared a half-carafe. We sat across from Patrick and Jean-Claude. Patrick is nice but said very little as we walked yesterday. He spoke a bit more at dinner but speaks so quietly I could not quite understand him across the table.
I have been thinking about the differnces between this camino and the last. The most important is that we are in France, most of the walkers are French, this is just one of many grande randonneées in France and the other walkers are likely to be tourists. It sounds like the Spanish part of the camino is regarded with a little bit of wariness. One other differance I have noticed is that it seems like the pelerins are older, but it could just be that the places Guylène has arranged for us are a little more expensive and attract those of us more accustomed to comfort, because I did see some younger people as I set out yesterday. These aren’t bad things, but the things that change the texture of the experiance. Since I arrived so much earlier than Guylène and Beate I was originally in a different room. The others looked to be a mother and her children, but in fact the young woman proved to be a sister, Marie, with her younger brother, Paul and the two women, like the three of us, had met on a previous pilgrimage in Spain! I spoke briefly with the Marie and we smiled as we saw the the other person understood the joy each had found in walking the camino.
It rained during the night, was cold and overcast in the morning. Actually great walking weather. I got off to a very slow start to Saugues, My feet felt like lead and it seemed my backpack had doubled in weight overnight! We wound around to a very intersting remains of a castle and a church perched on a basalt outcropping overlooking the Allier river valley. Ran into Dinu there and spoke briefly. From there the rocky path dropped very steeply, and even with sticks was very rough on my poor ankle still smarting from being twisted a couple of weeks ago. I was limping slightly by the time we got to the town of Monistrol d’Allier at the bottom of the valley at the mouth of the gorge. Very dramatic. Lots of pilgrims drinking coffee at the cafe on the main drag. Then it was up up out of the valley (equally hard on the ankle) past amazing basalt outcroppings and a little chappelle built into a cave. Lovely, but very slow going. Marie caught up with me and we talked about the differences in this verses prior experiance. It felt like the conversation I needed to have, and that things were falling into place.
Once at the top it was very very beautiful. It was still very cool, but the gray skies were replaced with sun, blue sky and enormous puffy clouds, a strong, fresh breeze. The country side rolling filelds of wheat and flowers with a fantastic view of the Alliers canyon one way and gentle hills and farms the other. Tucked into sunny pockets protected from the wind or under a tree pilgrims were napping, eating lunch, enjoying the views. The sun lit up first one field then the next – whole fields of queens anne’s lace or mixed wild flowers or wheat. The scots broom brilliant yellow in full bloom. I watched a tiny sheep dog herd naked sheep from one field into another, sheep bells clanging. Uncurious cows blinked as I went by. Walking was much easier, but my whole body was very tired when I arrived at almost 4 in the afternoon at our gite in Saugues, a distance of about 19k.

 Posted by at 3:25 am

  One Response to “Part 6 Saint Privat to Saugues”

  1. It’s hard keeping up with you! I didn’t get tired when I was really walking, but reading about your walk makes me feel a little tired. It seems as though you’re bearing up well. Hope the ankle doesn’t bother too much.

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