2017

Day 16 – onto the next desolate UNESCO listed plateau, the Causses

Last night’s Gite Gua in Figeac was one of the best so far. Madame Frederique put her heart and soul into providing a very special stay. 15 of us sat around her table for dinner and she served a delicious dark green soup which we later discovered was nettle soup. She had picked the nettles herself in the morning. Next was an omelette, chips and veg for the main course, served from a huge oven dish. And then, best of all, real home made goats cheese. Chocolate fondant and ice cream completed the meal. Among the pilgrims was a Swiss couple, the woman actually being English born. So with some help and much encouragement I managed a little more participation in the conversation than normal. We agreed to walk together in the morning.

After breakfast Madame Frederique gave us all a goodbye kiss and off we went. It was a bit of a late start and progress up the steep hill out from Figeac was very slow. However along came A&R walking at a decent pace and I joined them. A is Australian and R is Canadian (and not the French kind). What joy to finally encounter native English speakers. R is bound for Cahors. Incredibly A said he is going to Pamplona. We both thought the same thought but sadly he is following an itinerary devised by a manic travel agent and constrained by international flights, waiting relatives etc. How not to do a Camino. I have booked the next few nights accommodation to get me past the Ascension Day Holiday and didn’t feel like cancelling them at short notice and trying to make new bookings while traveling at maximum speed to Pamplona. So instead I have pulled into another very good gite in Grealou, the Gite Ecoasis while they pressed on for another 12 Km. But I will meet R in Cahors on Saturday.

I think the man from UNESCO has walked this way because I’m now on another world heritage listed section covering the Causses limestone plateau in Quercy. Watch out for stunted oak trees, stone walls and peculiar little conical stone huts built by shepherds. Walking with A&R today was a revelation. Instead of looking at the endless buttercups, poppies and honeysuckle, R gave us a lecture on all the orchids along the way, pointing out which ones smelled of goats and the ones which look like they have bees attached. Only certain species of bee pollinate each orchid. Of course, progress was interrupted as every unusual specimen was photographed.

Madame Frederique serves her enormous omelette de la maison

Lunch today in a farmer’s garden: the definitive Croques Monsieur¬†

A pigeonnier built to collect pigeon droppings for fertiliser

Orchids

Buttercups

The Croques Monsieur

A stone shepherds hut

Woodland walk

Strange bee orchids

About Tim

Pilgrim on the Via Francigena

6 comments on “Day 16 – onto the next desolate UNESCO listed plateau, the Causses

  1. Martin

    Hi Tim, I’m spellbound by your adventures and feel I’ve missed so much. Keep up the reporting and pictures. It’s very much a side of France I’ve not seen despite many family holidays there.There is so much to see in the world and you don’t have to travel that far.
    Having felt I’ve missed out I’m off on an Exodus trip next week – Sicilian Volcanoes – so I’ve been in training. I’ve re-done the Devil’s Punchbowl with Sue who, like us, was amazed to find the old A3 is now a grass track (still an excellent walk the second time). The Box Hill round trip is a good up and down exercise and I’m getting to be a regular at The Stepping Stones. We shall see if I’ve done enough for the 982m ascent for Stromboli! Last time I climbed that height in one go I thought my end was nigh.
    If you are going to learn French, a good start is une pression grande and seize cent soixante quatre!

    Bon Voyage

    • Hi Martin. Indeed I’m sure many more people would visit France if it was a long haul destination. Mandy and I walked around the Devil’s Punchbowl just before I left and she was also amazed by the former A3. Enjoy the Volcanoes and I look forward to seeing some spectacular photos

  2. Lucy Davies

    As always, fascinating events of the day and you are looking very well, good photo

  3. Peter Mastenko

    Really enjoying reading about your walking adventures, Tim. You should write a book, or at least an article for the Times about your Camino travels when you get back. I’m off for another big bike ride called ‘999 miles of Rome & the South’ starting in Rome in late June, with a 7 day time limit.

    • Well that would give me an excuse to keep walking. I like the sound of your bike trip in S Italy and I’m looking forward to hearing about it once the Proms start.

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