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Learning to Walk, Days 23, 24 and 25; September 19-21: Cahors to Lascabanes, to Lauzerte, to Moissac

September 21, 2022

The days are really running together, and again I am way behind. Those who are FB friends already know about my amazing “it’s a small world” experience. For those who aren’t: Bisette, who along with her husband Jacques own the gite I stayed at in Cahors, sat across from me at dinner, strategically, I believe, since she speaks English. She started by telling me she had been to university for a year in the US. I asked, “where?” She said, “Missouri”. I asked, “oh, where in Missouri?” She said, “a very small town called Nevada, Missouri.” As soon as she started to say, “Nevada” my jaw dropped and I exclaimed, “I went to Cottey!!” And her jaw dropped and she said something like, “What??? I can’t believe it!!” She was there four years after I was as a French exchange student. Most people have never heard of Cottey. It is a gem of a tiny women’s college—just a junior college when we were there—only 350 or so students. Meeting someone in a small town in France who has been to Cottey is like winning the lottery. And you gain an instant sister. It was the most wonderful bit of synchronicity. Neither of us could stop smiling and shaking our heads over dinner and so many memories came rushing back. We didn’t have the same classmates, but we had the same professors and it was such a wonderful gift.

I’m going to start with today and work back if I have enough energy. I knew I could not walk 30 km from Lauzerte to Moissac. In fact, I have realized I do not have it in me to walk 30 km on ANY day. My feet just can’t do it. But I had already booked and prepaid for tonight’s gite in Moissac. The gite owner from last night, in Lauzerte helped me. Gite owners are the most generous helpful people on the planet, I think. She advised me to walk 13 km to the town of Durfort Lacapelette and then take a taxi the rest of the way to Moissac. She said the walk into Moissac is not much fun anyway. And she was right. Walking into bigger towns on sidewalks past all the residential areas and businesses that lead into town is the worst part of the walk. She helped me arrange the taxi (it’s not like NYC where you can just flag one down!), and it worked like a charm. I got to Durfort early enough to have lunch in the cafe, then waited on the terrace as I was instructed and my taxi arrived just when it was supposed to. The driver was also one of the most helpful people on the planet and took me right to the gite here in Moissac. It’s on a busy, narrow road which you can’t stop and park on, so he parked a block away, got out and walked me to the gite so I didn’t have to find it on my own.

I am SO glad I did that. It gave me time to see Moissac. And Moissac is not to be missed. It is yet another beautiful medieval town—well, the historic center of it is—it is actually a fairly large town so the medieval center is surrounded by a modern town—like so many towns and cities in Europe. The heart of Moissac is Abbey St. Pierre. The Benedictine Abbey was founded in the 7th century, but really took off in the 10-11th century when it was linked to the Cluny order, and the Abbot here became second in command of that order. The current church and cloisters date to the 11th century. Yes, 11th. They are magnificent. The Romanesque south portal of the church and the cloisters are among the most impressive of their day. Every single capital in the cloisters is carved, and the vast majority of them depict Biblical stories, many with captions. The south portal door of the church is so awe-inspiring I actually burst into tears. Something about this artwork that was done more than 1000 years ago, and is still here, surviving the elements and wars and Protestant destruction of everything Catholic in so many places just hit me. When you walk inside the church, it looks like it is wall-papered, but it’s painted. I’ll share as many photos as I can.

Church interior. It’s big.
Close up of the painted walls. The whole interior is like this. Can you imagine how long it took to do this?
I imagine the console is on that balcony. I don’t think my fear of heights would allow me to play the organ here!
This is 15th century.
This pieta was in a small chapel. There was no sign explaining it, but it was one of the few things protected by a glass case. Wish I knew something about it. It’s beautiful.
Another place I could not go.

The cloisters and everything else I need to catch up on are going to have to wait. It’s late, and even though there is wifi, it isn’t very fast. Once again there are only three people staying at this gite tonight—another couple, from California, and me. So again, I have my own room! I need to take advantage of it and sleep. I’m going to have to take a day off just to catch up and write! If only I could be sure there would be good wifi, that would be a nice break.

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  1. Patricia Decker permalink

    That Pieta is so simple and heartbreaking. I had to keep going back to look at it. The expressions on M & Js face just did me in. So tragic and reserved. So glad you’re getting a chance to rest up again and getting some private time. Take care, friend.

  2. I am SO enjoying these photos..your journals !..they are wonderful. I would never have known all of this ancient beauty exists !…and you are walking through it !…like some amazing Epcot Center …or Time Machine. thank you’s wonderful. xxx

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