Monthly Archives: August 2016

Foggy Morning

We woke up to a beautiful and foggy landscape. We had a short distance to travel today, so we stayed behind at the gite long enough to have a typical French breakfast of bread, jam, coffee/tea/orange juice.  We ate with the other pilgrims with whom we had had dinner the night before (about 6 pilgrims and 6 tourists). 

We left around 7:30 and began enjoying the wide open vistas. The cows were out grazing in green pastures while the clanging of their bells filled the air with sweet music.  Clouds still hung low in the valleys.

Miniature wild flowers were abundant along the path and became my curiosity. 

After 11 km and 50 floors, we concluded our easy day of walking to Nasbinals.  Our backpacks now just feel to be a part of us. It is nice to be finally comfortable with them.

Back in the Sadle again

Aumont Aubrac is a sweet little village with one grocery store, one church and two of everything else. Most of the stores are closed Sunday afternoon and 1/2 the business are closed on Monday. Fortunately we were in one of the well-known gites in town (most people book their rooms 3 months in advance!) and had wonderful dinners on two nights at the gite. 

Our chef serving us mashed potatoes with cheese, garlic, and cream (a local delicacy). 

Enjoying the town. 

This morning we left early as usual.  The sky was cloudy with a cool breeze blowing. 

It is so peaceful and serene as the light filters in and the sky gets brighter as we walk through the wide open ranch/farm land. 

The sun made a few vain attempts to break through the clouds but never quite made it through. First time during our hike so far that we wore our jackets through the whole way. 

We see people carrying all kinds of backpacks. Today these two caught our attention. 

We made good time covering 16 km with a climb of 85 floors. 

We are settled in a Chambre  d’hôte located out in the middle of fields.  This is the view from our window.  As you can the sun is finally victorious. 

Pat’s message to our girls

We are here, ensconced in a very pretty gite. We are showered, our clothes are washed and drying. Dad is napping, and I am sitting on a chair next to an open, screened ceiling-to-floor window overlooking flowers and the courtyard 6 ft below. And writing to you!

It’s 3:15 pm here. Today’s walk was lovely. We left at 6:20 am to sweet, dark coolness with the sun just about ready to rise. I love this time of day, with the air still, the village asleep, roosters soon to crow their cacophony off in the distance.

The path was gently rolling today, the views, breathtaking. We walked steadily until about 11:00 am when we stopped beside the trail to take our packs off, rest and eat a baguette sandwich of lettuce, mayo, chicken. It hit the spot.

I thought this was beautiful and conveyed our scenic walk. All I need to do is add the pictures. 

Today also turned out to be a social day, especially after lunch. We met Bart from Belgium first. 

As finishing lunch, we met Renee, Jacque, and Claude again (we had had dinner with them a few days ago). 

Pat having conversations with Claudine and Marie-Claude, two French former pre-school teachers.

This is the gite where we stay tonight and tomorrow night (tomorrow is our rest day after 6 consecutive days of walking). It will be nice to check out the town while wearing our sandals and without backpacks.  Simple joys. 

Btw, we walked 15 km and climbed 117 floors. 

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was a hot day, and we walked 17 km and climbed 107 floors. We stayed in a tiny town 1/2 km away from the GR 65. The town consisted of few houses, a restaurant, and a sizable cemetery.  The whole town was without electricity all afternoon.  That should not effect cellular service, I thought.  But no, besides no electricity, there was no cellular service, either. Even when the electricity returned, the phone did not work properly.  We had fun taking our showers in a pitch dark shower room!
Here are a sampling of pictures from yesterday. 

We wilted from the heat yesterday.  Climbing in the blazing sun was draining.  After our showers (without electricity) and a rest, we had a nice dinner at the restaurant with 5 other pilgrims (all from France) at a table outside the restaurant. It was a pleasant way to enjoy an evening. 

We decided to leave our gite before sunrise this morning so that we could finish our 19 km before the day became too hot!  It was a beautiful morning with some wide open vistas. 

We came across this alburgue 6 km from our starting point.  It has 40 beds, is the only place around, and is always occupied (based on a discussion with our French gite-mates). We stopped there  for a brief breakfast before we moved on.

Most of the morning was cool with a nice, refreshing breeze. 

Later in the day, we ran into the  French couple, Sevreen and Fredrick, who stayed at the same gite with us last night.

We also met two ladies from South Korea. We have seen mostly French and a few Germans.  These were our first South Koreans.

We made it to our destination without a meltdown. The early start, rolling hills, and cool breeze allowed us to complete our 19 km and 85 floor climb with just sore muscles.

No service!

We walked 15 km and climbed 107 floors today. We are settled in this tiny town that had no power most of the after (hence no service). 

The power is back but the network is not worth anything as I can’t upload any pictures at all. We are doing great and enjoying a peaceful day. The best way to beat the heat is to be done early so we will start again early in the morning.  We will try and post pictures when we have a better connection. 

Long day

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!

Gite experience 

We stayed in a gite last night, our first experience of this concept. 

The family built their own new house right next door to their former family home and farm of several generations, and converted the former family house into a 17 bed gite.  There  were 8 others staying for the night. We had a group meal outdoors at the gite (there was no restaurant or grocery store in town). 

We left at 7:10 am in the morning as we had 15 km to cover. An hour into the walk, we spotted a shepherd with his dog driving the sheep. 

An hour after that, it was the cows’ turn!

About 8 km into the walk, we came across this chapel that was originally built in the tenth century. 

We were steadily climbing, but after the town of Montbonnet, the climb became steeper. 

We stopped for our meager lunch of boiled eggs, tomatoes, and bread (which is the only meal we could purchase without pork from our gite owner). 

What goes up must come down. We had a steep drop to our final destination of the day. On the way down we ran into “Mignonne,” the donkey.  Guillaume with his family had rented the donkey for 5 days. Amyn and Sakkar were interested in the idea of employing a donkey, so I got all the scoop!

Cost for five days €250 + transport cost of €250 (to transport the donkey back home) if you rent one way. No food cost for the donkey,  as he (in this particular case, she) will eat along the way. Make sure to let the donkey have water every 3 days (they are like camel). It can carry up to 50 KG on its back (so a few people can share one). 

This is the family who used the donkey.  Apparently Mognonne is very stubborn and and decided she wasn’t going any further down the steep trail.  The father, Guillaume, was about to lead her out across a horizontal road, and down.  The 3-year old boy sometimes rode the donkey.  The 5-year old walked, as did the others, including the baby on mom’s or dad’s back.

We are settled now for the day after 16 km of walking, and of climbing about 68 floors. We find the climb up to be always easier than coming downhill!

Short Day

We wanted today to be a day to acclimate ourselves to the GR 65 route and get used to carrying our backpacks.  We left our comfortable Airbnb studio at 7:30 am. 

We picked up the route at the Cathedral and proceeded out of town. 

I just loaded my first picture, and it took forever!!! We are at our rest stop for the day. There is no wifi here and not much of a cellular reception.  I will try and load few more pictures to give you a sense of the countryside. 

The closest town is 1/2 km back, and it has no wifi either! The town’s population is 927 people. There are neither stores nor restaurants there, just a picnic area for all the hikers to mingle and eat their lunches.  Our lodgings provide a dinner meal, and the proprietor has said she will make us a picnic lunch for tomorrow.  

We walked about 12 km today and climbed 104 floors.  A good hike to get in shape for longer days ahead.
Here are some highlights from today’s walk. 

Looking back toward Le Puy. 

Turns out, if you don’t want to carry your backpack, you may be in luck!

Thank you for all your comments and best wishes. The best reward for Pat and Me is to go over those comments. 

Another Adventure 

For the first time in our lives, Pat and I are empty nesters. Sitara has moved to Washington, DC, and Chand is in Boston. We all left Denver around the same time heading for new adventures. For us, that adventure brings us to Le Puy-en-Velay to begin our Camino walk. The Le Puy route, or Chemin du Puy in French, is the most popular pilgrimage route in France. The route is 736 km (450 miles long, starting in Le Puy-en-Velay passing through Conques, Figeac, Cahors, Moissac, Aire-sir-l’Adour and Navarrenx before it reaches the border town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (where we began our first Camino two years ago). 

We were introduced to this path during our walk last year by Richard and Margie as we traveled alongside them during our Camino del Norte journey. Le Puy route was one of their favorite and scenic Camino walks. 

We are settled here in Le Puy at the base of the rock of St. Michel.  The chapel was built on this rock in 961 after the bishop returned from his pilgrimage to Santiago. 

Tomorrow morning we will begin our journey starting from the cathedral of Notre Dame. 

We will head out of town down the hill to begin our first of many climbs as we treverse the famous GR 65 route theough the villages of France.