Day 33 – into the real heart of Armagnac country

Madame Anita was waiting with breakfast at 7.30 as planned. Cereal, fresh bread, homemade jams and tea. She has walked many Camino routes and knows the routine but she has no pilgrims staying tonight.

I set off after 8am which is rather late but I was only intending to walk 17Km to Eauze. Soon the wheat fields vanished to be replaced by vineyards all over the hills as far as you can see. Teams of men were tending the vines. The grapes will be made into white vine and then distilled into Armagnac. The last 7Km into Eauze was along a disused railway line and was great walking, nice and flat and shady with elaborate bridges along the way.

My intended gite in Eauze was in the middle of a demolition site; only the gite itself was still standing. There was nobody about, just a note on the door to call the Madame. I called and cancelled. Staying alone in such a place didn’t appeal at all. My attempts at getting lunch also led to disappointment. The boulangerie had just run out of sandwiches so I sat outside a cafe in the main square and ordered a beer and sandwich. The sandwich was inedible (see photo). The bread was stale and had been warned up. A little dried ham and cheese were spread out inside. No butter, salad etc. I refused to pay for it. At that point the chef came out saying he had personally made the sandwich using local cheese and had put all his love into it. I told him it was horrible; quite the worst sandwich I’d ever seen and truly terrible. After some minutes of this diatribe he said goodbye. I picked up my pole and walked straight out of town.

I hope this was the low point of my walk. This final stage down to the Pyrenees is said to be tedious. After the banquet that has been my walk so far, this section is looking like the dirty dishes next morning. There will be long daily walks, endless vineyards and cornfields and the pulse of the Camino feels rather weak.

However I cheered up when I was clear of Eauze. Unfortunately I’d forgotten to refill my water bottle and soon experienced the gurgling noise of an empty water bladder. A little bit of a problem during a heat wave when there is still 2 hours to walk to the next village and one has burnt one’s bridges in the previous town. However, the Camino provides… and soon I passed a farm with a table outside and a flask of tea and coffee. A message said Pilgrims help yourselves and there was a book for comments. It restored my faith in humanity. I left a comment expressing my gratitude and eternal appreciation of their kindness. And all was well when I arrived in Manciet and checked into Monique’s Hotel and Cafe Sport. Kronenbourg on tap and tennis on the TV.

C is now 10Km down the road with the German couple from the Chateau but I have an interesting reservation at La Presbytere tomorrow and dinner with la family.

The Japanese team are now days ahead of me (photo from “I”)

…and suddenly there were vineyards

The old railway walk

The loveless sandwich
This farmer has kept all his old cars and what a collection

The pilgrim offering was such a welcoming recharge

The disused level crossing in Manciet
Tonight’s empty hotel

4 comments on “Day 33 – into the real heart of Armagnac country

  1. Lynne asks when was the last time you ate a vegetable?

    • I think they export them all to the UK. All I can get is a salad. Same as Spain

  2. DJ King

    Tim, if the Camino is a metaphor for life, how differently might you perceive the next stage toward the Pyrenees. Just as in life, there are ups and downs, beauty and not-so-beautiful, difficult, easy, thrilling and boring. Learning to appreciate all of it was such a gift. OK, enough proselytizing. Bon chemin!

    • You’re so right DJ. I’m now on course for St Jean PdP. The Camino pulse is weak in these parts but will get stronger as the week progresses

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