Montreal-du-Gers to La Hargue

Day Thirty Two. 16 Miles, 26 Kilometers.

Written on May 21, 2012.

Walking out of Montreal-du-Gers seemed easy enough. The familiar red/white markings were evident. The path was pleasant and then turned onto what is referred to as a minor road. We were keeping up a pretty good pace then….where are the markers?….where are the Pilgrims? There weren’t any identifiers like road numbers, names of villages or even a name of a house. It took us awhile in France to realize that what looks like the name of a village that you are approaching may be nothing more than the name of a house or a cluster of homes. We walked to an intersection and pulled out the road map. We were not on the Chemin…we were about 4 k away. We found the direction we needed to go and started walking. We finally got to the Chemin.

After a short time on the Chemin we found shelter at a chapel. It had been raining the entire time we left Montreal. As we were taking our break we were visiting with a woman and perhaps her daughter when all of a sudden we saw a pilgrim fall, and start sliding down a mud embankment on her back with the backpack acting as some sort of sled. She quickly found her footing and jumped up. Vern had started to run over to her. A few minutes later we met the woman and her companion. They are John and Jennifer from the U.S. Wow…two more Americans. That now makes the total of Americans we have met since April 20… 5. Jennifer and John both speak fluent French. It was good to meet them, we had heard of them from John Tucker from Canada.

Pictured: Jennifer and John from the U.S.

We all continued on in the direction of Eauze. When we arrived we found a market that was open. Vern went in to get a few things. We were planning on just walking through town and continue on to La Hargue to the farm Gite where we will stay tonight. A few blocks away we saw Luis, Carmen and their friends,…we haven’t see them since Lauzerte. They were staying in Eauze and we were moving on. Another couple of blocks and we saw what we refer to as the group of six, a group of six French friends who are walking and live in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France. We mainly communicate with smiles and good wishes. We told them the best we could that we had gotten lost. They indicated that they had, too, and at the same place. Later in the evening we heard that a woman had also gotten lost at the same place but instead of moving parallel with the Chemin she actually ended up walking back to Montreal where she started.

Pictured: Dominique, Jean, Vern, Roger, Alain, Monique, and Denise.

 

Condom to Montreal-du-Gers

Day Thirty One. 10.5 Miles, 17 Kilometers.

Written on May 20, 2012.

The last few days we have left the Gites wearing our shorts and windbreakers. This morning we added our ponchos. It was raining as we entered the courtyard to see what to wear. Everyone was pulling out their rain gear.

Pictured: Pilgrims on the way out of Condom.

Pictured: A wall with shells on the way to Montreal-du-Gers.

Today we walked for four hours without a break until we saw a shelter. John from Canada was taking a break under the roof of a lean-to. We joined him and had something to eat. We were determined to get to the Gite as soon as we could.

Soon we saw the name of the village we were looking for: Montreal du Gers. Wow, that was quick. In the rain we didn’t take more than one break so we moved along pretty good. When we arrived at the Gite people started coming in. All of us were soaking wet with huge ponchos that drain a lot of water. The Madame of the Gite quickly removed our ponchos and hung them in a loft drying area. She stuffed newspaper in our boots and showed us our rooms. Vern and I seem to have either a penthouse or a loft…it depends on how you want to interpret it. We have a room with 3 single beds and one double bed and we are the only ones in it.

We have been staying in Gites with the same group of six for the last 3 nights. We met them 5 days ago when they were at a picnic table and we offered them chocolate. They don’t speak English and they don’t understand our French but they understood a gift and have been giving gifts back every time we see them. It is always fun to be around them.

Marsolan to Condom

Day Thirty. 16.2 Miles, 26.0 Kilometers.

Written on May, 19, 2012.

Breakfast In most Gites consists of bread, sometimes toasted, bowls of coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and sometimes yogurt. The jams are usually homemade. Breakfast is usually served between 7: a.m. And 7:30 a.m. The best situation for us is when it is self-serve.

Pictured: An interesting rock structure on the way to Condom.

After breakfast we headed out. Yesterday the Madame told us about a variant route that was actually the original Chemin. It seemed that the Chemin was re-routed a year ago. We saved at least three miles by bypassing the new route. We were half way to Condom by our first break. I am having an easier time with hills now…they are not as difficult for me as they were two weeks ago.

Pictured: Jacques ready to walk the Chemin.

 

Miradoux to Marsolan

Day Twenty Nine. 15 Miles, 24 Kilometers.

Written on May 18, 2012.

We slept good last night. When I woke up briefly I could hear a thunder and hail storm.

When we checked outside in the morning to see what to wear it was not raining. Ponchos were placed on the outside of our backpacks…just in case.

We walked for 2-1/2 hrs without a break. We are walking a lot of miles today so we just kept going. As we were taking our first break we saw a man go by with a donkey filled to capacity, a dog following behind. A short time later a woman with a pony filled to capacity went by. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of the man and donkey. I asked the woman if I could take a photo.

Pictured: a Pilgrim with a pony.

Auvillar to Miradoux

Day Twenty Eight. 10.9 Miles, 17.5 Kilometers. Total Miles walked to date: 283.5. Total Kilometers: 455.2.

Written on May 17, 2012.

We walked under a clock tower as we left Auvillar. It was an appropriate way to begin our new day of adventure. Two miles later we were passing the village of Bardigues and recognized a pilgrim walking just behind us. We had seen her a few days ago. We walked and talked for awhile with her. Dominique walks one week a year. We enjoyed our time with her and know that we we will meet again before she leaves to return home.

After walking a few miles more we entered the village of Saint-Antoine. As we headed for a picnic table to take off our packs we began to see more and more people: Marie and her friends, Margo, her sister-in -law and brother, two ladies from Paris,etc etc.

Pictured: A picnic table and benches in Saint-Antoine.

Pictured: A Pilgrim stand just before Flamarens.

Today is an interesting walk with a lot to look at. Just before Flamarens there was a stand set up for Pilgrims. There was a donation box, water, eggs, and other snacks set out. I took an egg, took a picture, and left an euro. Further up the hill I thanked the Monsieur sitting in front of his home.

We arrived in Miradoux and found the Gite that we had reserved a few days ago. It is a new Gite that just opened last month. It has a large yard and many comfortable places to sit, including a hammock, and a large open pit for summer cooking, There are ten places to sleep. Coffee, tea, and other refreshments are available. We had a wonderful meal with the owners, Stephane and Nathalie. Nathalie and her sister walked the Chemin four years ago and have now devoted themselves to providing a much needed service to pilgrims. The Gite is Bonte Divine in Miradoux.

Gite d’etape Bonte Divine in Miradoux.

A comfortable yard and garden at the Gite Bonte Divine.

Moissac to Auvillar

Day Twenty Seven. 11.8 Miles, 19 Kilometers.

Written on May 16, 2012.

Today when we left Moissac we walked at least nine miles along a canal. It was wonderful to not be walking uphill right away.

As we were taking a break a group of Pilgrims started to walk by. We recognized Marie and spent time visiting with her and the group she had been walking with.

Pictured: The Moissac Canal.
Pictured: Annie, Brigitte, Vern, and Bernard.
It was good to see our friends again before they return home.
Pictured: A creative sign in front of a Gite in Espalais.
Pictured: Vern under the clock tower in Auvillar.
When we arrived in Auvillar I wanted to charge my iPad so I could download pictures and create a posting. Vern went to pull the charger and adapter out of the bag and it was not there. I could see panic on his face. It was not worth getting upset about so I told him that I would call Beatrice to find out if it was at the Gite in Moissac. It was there and she agreed to mail it to us when I could figure out what village we would be in several days from then.
Vern would not rest until he found a faster way to get the charger. We went to the nearest hotel to get information about transport service. At that moment a transporter was going to pick up luggage in Moissac and bring it to Auvillar. The arrangements were made and we were told to come back at 8:00 p.m. to pick up the charger. When we returned to the hotel the bill was for 80 Euros. The manager at the hotel could not believe the charge. She said that she would contest it with the driver’s boss and email us if there was a refund due to us. Of all the different possible situations in life and on a Pilgrimage we feel fortunate that we have our health, the ability to walk, and the ability to not label a situation good or bad.

Lauzerte to Moissac

Day Twenty Six. 15.2 Miles, 24.5 Kilometers.

Written on May 15, 2012.

As soon as we started walking we saw Carmen, Luis, and friends. They were headed to the bakery. We already had food that we were carrying. It was good to see them. We all headed to the Chemin together. After a few miles of walking we took a break at a chapel that has been in the process of renovation since 1991. Just a short way from the chapel was a pigeon house. As we walked by I couldn’t figure out what it was so I looked in one of my books.

Pictured: Pigeonnier du Quercy.

Pictured: Vern and Marie, from Belgium.

Throughout the day we saw more and more Pilgrims: some new faces and some that we have seen many times.

Pictured: A Pilgrim sculpture at the entrance to Moissac.

Today we followed way markers that actually took us out of our way. We arrived at the Gite in Moissac after everyone. Our roommates, Josiane and Veronique, saved the bottom bunks for us….we were grateful!! Thank you Beatrice of Gite d’etape les Etoiles in Moissac for the wonderful meal and company!

Pictured: Annie’s book full of drawings, thoughts, and stamps from the Chemin.
Pictured: Beatrice, Bernard, Annie, Me, Josiane, Gilbert, Veronique, and Vern.
Not pictured: Brigitte, taking the photo.

 

Les Vignals to Lauzerte

Day Twenty Five. 16.1 Miles, 26 Kilometers.

Written on May 14, 2012

The farm house was wonderful and we had a great sleep. We left at 6 a.m. and started to make our way to the Chemin. We tried to reserve beds in Lascabanes, but the Gites and Chambre d’Hotes were full. The farm was 2 kilometers off the Chemin. The Madame showed us how to get back to the Chemin on a map without having to go back all the way to where we left it. Good! We followed her instructions and walked through thigh high grass and a freshly plowed field. Just when we were wondering where we were we heard vehicles not far from us. She had told us that the path would lead to a road. We found a path through the trees and found the road. The names on the signs were not matching the names on our map and in our books. Leap of faith! We just kept walking, finally we saw the sign we were looking for.

Pictured: The sign we are grateful for!

When we found the other landmark we were looking for, a road number, we turned left and kept walking. After four hours of walking we found the route we were looking for. Now we had eight miles to go.

Pictured: a work of art on the way to Lauzerte.

Now we could settle in. Not only did we see the beautiful cross, there were also works of art using recyclables along the way.

 

Le Rosiere to Les Vignals

Day Twenty Four. 15.2 Miles, 24.5 Kilometers.

Written on May 13, 2012.

As we left the Gite we found ourselves walking along the road without the red and white Chemin markers that we rely on so much. What have we done? We thought we were listening. Where are the pilgrims? Finally we saw a sign for Lascabanes. We knew that we had to walk through the village before we could continue on. As soon as we entered the village we saw the red and white markings on a street sign. It was a great day for walking.

Pictured: A horse and rider pass by during a break.

Our bodies are very accustomed to the routine and even though our packs aren’t actually lighter they seem to be lighter. At one of our first breaks we saw Carmen and Luis. They are talking it easy today. Gites and Chambre d’Hotes seem to be filling up more and more now.

Pictured: the Farm Gite in Les Vignals.

We arrived at the Ferme Gite in Les Vignals. We have a private room in a wonderful home with a huge porch. We are able to take care of everything that we need to do.

A woman, Marie from Belgium, is at the Gite. She speaks English, she has been helpful and fun. I showed pictures of the Chemin so far and everyone could either relate to the pictures or have taken the same ones themselves.

Le Pech via (Cahors) to Le Rosiere

Day Twenty Three. 10.2 miles, 16.5 kilometers

Written on May 12, 2012

Vern and I left early this morning from the Gite and in a few minutes we were on the Chemin, (Camino). After walking for a few miles we saw a sign and then checked our books. It seemed that we would be able to take a variant route and not have to go to Cahors. When we arrived at the junction it was not clearly marked. We decided to stay on the marked route.

Pictured: The first view of the Pont Valentre with three towers in the background. (Cahors).

We are grateful that we did not pass by this city. It was a great walk and we enjoyed our time at the Pilgrim Welcome Center.

Thank you to our hostess at the Pilgrim Welcome Center

We continued through Cahors and continued the long walk toward Lascabanes. The Gite we are staying at is in Le Rosiere a few kilometers before Lascabanes.

Pictured: The “scene” in front of the Gite.

There are many Pilgrims here. We are with every Pilgrim from the Gite at Le Pech. Great meal and wonderful time this evening. We recognize many faces!