After a long and arduous descent into Saint Privat d’Allier yesterday, we needed a little pampering, and that is exactly what we got at our gite l’Etape Gourmand, run by Sonja from Holland. She runs a small but very attractive and beautiful place. She agreed to cook us dinner, which was fabulous We were the only guests last night, so we had a nice time chatting with her. She has a wonderful heart and enjoys people (she also speaks English very well).
Saint Privat d’Allier is gorgeous with stunning views from all sides.
The town is indeed, gorgeous, but there are only two stores (a butcher shop and a bakery). With a long hike of 19 km ahead of us, we stoked up on a baguette, goat cheese, tomatoes, croissants and fruits (our picnic breakfast and lunch).
We left our gite at 6:10 a.m. this morning before the sunrise!
The day started with alternating ascents and descents, but after an hour, it was downhill the rest of the morning.
What a surprise when we reached a town around 9:30 a.m. to find coffee (for Pat) and Gelato (for me).
At 10:00 a.m. we began a continuous, long climb of over 10 km with beautiful panoramic views.
Halfway up the mountain we came to the chapel Madeline which originally was a 36,000-year-old cave, in front of which a facade added in 17th century.
The climb continued while the views and shade allowed us to enjoy the early afternoon.
We stopped along the way for our picnic lunch in the shade beside the trail. The baguette with cheese, tomatoes and chicken tasted great, and the ability to sit for awhile after the few hours of climbing was fantastic (especially with the pack off our backs).
It was a 90+ degree day, and the afternoon sun was merciless towards the top where there was only intermittent shade. After 10 hours, we finally climbed down to our destination of Saugues.
We are staying in a large gite tonight and just finished our communal dinner with other pilgrims and hordes of kids vacationing in this town and gite!
BTW, it was supposed to be 19km hike, but based on my Fitbit, it recorded 217 floors of climbing and 26km of hiking. We are beat.
P.S it is nice to have wifi and a strong cellular service for the first time this week so that I could upload more pictures!