France has a heatwave which is making life difficult for us. Temperatures are now in the 30s and thunderstorms are coming in the next few days. I wonder how this will affect our progress.
This morning we set the alarm for 5.00 and were away by 5.30. Paul and I left Chateauvillain behind us and were already approaching the forest when the sun rose. This part of France is the most difficult because there are no facilities at all. Our packs are heavy with water and food for the next couple of days.
It was a beautiful walk and I reflected on my early morning walk through the Causses last year. There is something rather special about walking through a forest at dawn. Sunlight streams through the trees and the birds sing to each other. We are alone.
We stopped for breakfast where a couple of large logs lay at the edge of the path. Our feast was a selection of the heaviest food items: orange, nectarine, banana, yoghurt.
A little later we stopped in the empty village of Richebourg which had a little square with a fountain and some benches. I sneezed and the church bells started ringing. As we set off, cars packed with families spanning the generations overtook each other to reach the church in time for Mass. And then a huge Massey Ferguson monster thundered along harvesting a trail of cars all with a date with the Lord. And then normality returned and we were again at peace.
We arrived in Mormant, today’s destination at 10.30. Just 21 km. Mormant is the ruins of an old abbey and a farm. Madame Annik welcomed us to her large modern house which turned out to be the gite. After showing us around she apologised and had to go out for the day but promised to return between 7 and 8pm to cook our dinner. We have a TV but the World Cup is only shown on pay TV in France, the price of success.
Our packs are now even lighter as we took lunch from them: rolls with cheese and tuna, biscuits, pears and a little chocolate. Plus a large bottle of blonde beer kindly provided by Madame Annik.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s lunch which will feature sardines in tomato sauce. There is a little ring pull device to remove the lid. What an innovation! As a backpacking teen I would live off tins of sardines with crusts of bread soaked in cheap red wine. But you needed the key and enough space on the floor of the French train to insert the key onto the tab and then to wind the lid off without spilling the oil. It was rarely successful.
We are limping through France. The Via Francigena is destroying my feet. I wonder what it is like to be doing this not because you are mad but because you are fleeing from something. On our horizon but still over a week away, is Switzerland, the promised land where we can rest for a few days and be fed full cream milk chocolate. And Emmental cheese.