By chance I’m discovering the different types of accommodation in rural France. There is the Gite Communal which is a basic dormitory with kitchen which I enjoyed in Estaing. Next up is the Gites d’etape where the host is present, cooks a communal dinner and generally looks after everyone. Last night I discovered the chambre d’hotes where you have your own room and enjoy the living areas of the house and you dine with the host. In this arrangement you only meet a few fellow pilgrims but you have a real taste of French rural life.
Madame Mirande has a village house on the outskirts of Limogne-en-Quercy and it’s straight out of a French film set. She knows no English but welcomed me as someone hitherto deprived of the good life. I sat in her rustic living room with a cup of tea and then selected a shower gel from a range of exotic mixtures.
A couple of athletic looking men arrived, one nursing tendinitis, and I had a reunion with a couple whom I’d previously met at lunch in a restaurant in Figeac.
We dined outside on the veranda where, among the rural relics and modern art, was something which appeared to be a key component of the village guillotine. The classic tomato salad was transformed by the addition of chicory. The wine flowed and the baked fish was lightweight to prepare for the cheeseboard magnifique. Local cow and goat cheese with crusty baguette demanded a photo (see below). When Madame Mirande then produced a huge almond tart everyone pleaded for a tres petite slice but to no avail. I declined the chocolates but settled for a healthy cup of green tea.
Madame was happy to serve us breakfast at 6am. I was sorry to leave. She is an artist and when I paid and asked her to stamp my pilgrim credentials she drew a little scallop shell instead.
I faced a demanding 29Km walk today with the temperature up in the 30s. The sun was just rising at 6.30 when I set off. It was cool and peaceful in the forest. I disturbed a couple of young deer who leapt through the trees. Progress was good and after 7Km I arrived at a small village to see the Swiss group emerging from a gite. We ambled along for the rest of the day along an old Roman road. I imagined the Roman warriors on their chariots riding that road in those glorious days. The UNESCO person has listed it as well. I wonder how you can become a UNESCO inspector.
Tonight’s gite is on the hillside just 12 Km from that great Roman city, Cahors. Monsieur showed me straight to the shower and I ordered a cold beer to be delivered in 20 minutes. My room has 3 beds and he promised me 2 women later. I had a quick nap.