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Learning to Walk, Days 16-17, September 12-13, Figeac to somewhere outside Beduer, then to Espagnac.

September 13, 2022

Wifi is getting harder and harder to come by. There is free, unsecure wifi where I am today, but I don’t know if it will be enough to post anything.

Yesterday was hard. Super hot. According to my phone it got up to 96 and felt like 110. I was done walking by a little past one, and was able to sit under a tree with two other women staying at the same gite until they opened at 3. Even under a tree it was hot, hot, hot. But when you stay in a room that is on the ground level of a 17th or 18th century home with 2-3 foot thick stone walls, it’s like being in a cool cave. After showering and laundry (which dried in about an hour in that heat!), I spent the rest of the afternoon in that wonderfully cool cave.

Yesterday’s walk was through pleasant countryside but largely on pavement which is not my favorite, as I’ve said before. That made the hot day more difficult. Frankly, if relief from this heat was not in sight over the next few days, I would abandon ship and go find somewhere by the ocean to stay for while. But the temps are gradually going down over the next few days. There were supposed to be thunderstorms starting about now, but the sun is out. The rain that is forecasted almost never materializes, and this part of France is so, so dry. You will hear people refer to it as “exceptional” and “unprecedented”, but then they express the fear that this may be the new normal with the climate crisis.

Today started with several kilometers on a dirt road with corn fields on either side. Corn is a huge crop in this area—one of the villages I walked through today is even named “Corn”. I don’t know if the corn grown here is for human consumption or livestock. We certainly are not served corn. But then, the corn is completely dried and withered and brown, so we couldn’t be served corn anyway. I wonder if the cows can eat dry corn? It is so sad to be walking past this useless looking crop. The only green corn I’ve seen is the rare field that has giant sprinklers running. But there are not many of those, and they probably can’t afford to use water that way in this drought.

What the corn fields look like.

Another thing that made yesterday challenging was that I didn’t have anything in my bag for lunch except an apple. The guide book I am using said there were a couple of cafes along the way, but nothing was open. One of the lovely French women I met under the tree at the gite, and shared a room with, gave me one of her boiled eggs, and that was it until dinner. The hosts were running behind schedule and dinner was not ready until after 8. I was starving! It was, as usual, delicious. Starting with cantaloupe and whatever the equivalent of prosciutto is here, homemade liquors—I chose the red one—either cherry or raspberry—that they mixed with white wine. Very sweet! Then they served us roast turkey for dinner. No wonder it was late. They were waiting for the turkey to cook. And yummy veggies—though they threw cucumber slices in with the roasted potatoes, eggplant and zucchini, and I can’t say I’m a fan of roasted cucumber. Then of course, local cheeses, and the most delicious fresh fruit salad—mostly from their garden and fruit trees—for dessert. They were concerned about me eating the cheese because it is not pasteurized here the way it is in the U.S. I assured them I had been eating local French cheeses for more than two weeks with no problem!

Back to today. This is my first day on the Cele Valley variant. One of several variants you can take on this path—Rocamadour is another, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to walk both, so chose the bus to Rocamadour. The Cele Valley is a stunningly beautiful place with cliffs you walk on top of or beside for much of this variant. If you happen to be looking at a map of the Via Podiensis/Chemin Le Puy, I have been following the GR65 route, and for this variant I am following the GR651. The gite where I am staying is a priory that originally dates back to the early 12th century. It was destroyed by the English later that century, rebuilt as a convent this time, survived until the revolution, and now is run as a gite. I love staying in these ancient places. Especially when they have those wonderful thick stone walls that keep the room cool!

I can’t tell just how old the church is. If I read correctly, part of it dates back to the 13th cent. It was largely destroyed during one war or another, then rebuilt in the 15th century. It looked like we weren’t going to be able to get in, but a man showed up with the key and let us take a quick look around. Bishop Aymeric from the 13th century is buried there. Here he is:

I am sitting in the cafe area of the priory, now gite, enjoying my afternoon beer, after first enjoying local limonade and their own sorbet. I tried lemon and dark chocolate. They were both delicious, but the chocolate was heavenly.

I’ll see how many photos I can show you from the last two days. They are uploading very slowly, so I’m afraid there may not be many.

This morning. Plowed under corn fields.
It was nice to get to some green.
The church in Boussac. Not that remarkable until you get to this chapel in the crossing:
Just tucked in among the extra chairs stored in the crossing.
And all of a sudden you find yourself at the foot of the Cele Valley cliffs.
Crossing over the Cele River. Cliffs on both sides.
And then you come around the corner and this looms above you.
Moss covering every branch on this section. Kind of creepy!

Below is the first climb of the day tomorrow—thankfully I do not have to scale the cliff. It will be a challenging day—only 15 km, but three significant ascents and descents.

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  1. Barbara Mossman permalink

    What an incredible adventure! I admire your endurance and am so much enjoying following along. Wondering if your find your college French is coming back

    • A little bit. I can speak a little, but when the dinner conversation is all in French, it is so fast that I only catch a word here and there.

  2. Carolyn Clark permalink

    Beverley, these updates have been so wonderful to read! Please stay safe and well! Carolyn

  3. You always take such great photos!

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