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Learning to Walk, Days 26-27, September 22-23, Moissac to Auvillar, Auvillar to Miradoux

September 23, 2022

The wifi seems pretty good here, and I’ve got more than an hour before dinner so I’m going to try and catch up a bit. Today was a nice day of walking, about 18 km. The last two or three days had been very flat, which can get tedious. Today we got back into rolling hill farmland rather than Kansas prairie flat type farmland. No offense to Kansas, but I prefer some hills! The only drawback is that there is a LOT of pavement walking these days. It’s just so hard on the feet. And the paths that run alongside the fields aren’t much better. The ground is so parched from the drought that the dirt is hard-packed, with crevices, and not much easier on the feet than pavement.

One of the things that made today’s walk so much more pleasant is that there were more villages along the way, with interesting histories and churches, and even a place to get a coffee mid-day.

Tonight I am in the tiny village of Miradoux, and I can’t tell you much about it because I walked straight to the gite, showered, and got every stitch of clothing and my towel (except what I’m wearing this evening, of course), into a washing machine!! This is only the second time I have been able to use a washing machine at a gite and it is wonderful to actually get my clothes clean! There is just no way to adequately wash socks by hand. Maybe if I had an old-fashioned scrub board. I have accepted that my socks are going to return to the U.S. with parts of France and Spain permanently embedded into them.

St. -Antoine—According to my guide book the village is linked to the Order of St. Anthony, which was founded in 1095 to care for those who suffered from a medieval form of leprosy called St. Anthony’s Fire, (ergotism). In the 17th century a doctor discovered it was caused by eating grain contaminated with the ergot fungus. That discovery brought the end to the Order, since I guess they weren’t needed any more, but there was a severe outbreak of ergotism in a French village as late as the 1950s. Where are the St. Anthony guys when you need them?

The murals in the church were beautiful and date from the 14th century. One of them is centered around the story of St. Blaise, a 4th century bishop and doctor in Armenia known for being able to help people with objects stuck in their throats. What a specialty huh? He later became known for healing souls and several miracles were attribute to him. The second mural at the bottom is St George killing the dragon.

After a nice cafe crème with two new friends from Colorado, it was back into the countryside until the next village of Flamarens. The church in this village is actually a ruin. They managed to keep what is left from collapsing—it looks like maybe they did that by putting a roof on it, and from what I could tell from the signs it looks like they have plans to restore/rebuild it. It has a long way to go. As you will see, almost one entire side is gone. Right next to it is a chateau that apparently was neglected for four decades in the 20th century and in very bad shape after a fire, but it has been restored. It may even be run as a gite now—I’m not sure.

Now to go back to yesterday and Auvillar. Auvillar is one of those special, beautiful villages. What makes it unique is the circular market, Halle aux Grains, and clock tower Tour de L’Horloge which date from the 16th century. The church is also wonderful and dates from the 12th century, but has had much work done on it over the centuries, including a gorgeous Baroque altar. I’m not a huge fan of Baroque, but I thought this was beautiful. Auvillar is one of those “most beautiful villages in France.” And I would agree. I stayed in a beautiful gite that is relatively new, in a centuries old building that the owners gutted to create their home and the gite. However, it was only a B&B, not demi-pension (serving dinner). Normally this would not be a problem, because there are several restaurants. But apparently Thursday is “rest day” in Auvillar. I don’t know how you are supposed to know that ahead of time. The only restaurant open was the pizza place and since it was the only place open, you had to have a reservation. There was only one guy working—cooking and serving, and when I stopped to see if I could make a reservation he said the earliest he could serve me was 8:30. Way too late for a pilgrim’s dinner! So thanks to some new French friends, and the kindness of strangers, I actually had a feast, that I can’t tell you about. But trust me, MUCH better than pizza! One of the sayings among pilgrims is “the Camino provides,” and yesterday evening was a prime example! The other example of that was that I once again had a room to myself last night. I was in a twin room, and even though the gite was fairly full, she did not need to put anyone in the other bed. Since I hadn’t slept well the night before (worst mattress of the trip!), it was wonderful to have my own room again, and I slept very well.

That’s it for now. It’s about dinner time, and I am tired. I have so much that I’ve skipped over. I’m going to need to find a place to stop for a couple of nights for a real rest day. Perhaps I can go back and catch up on what I’ve missed then. Thanks for traveling along with me!

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  1. Susan H Anderson permalink

    Thanks, Beverly, for your wonderful pictures and commentary of Auvillar – the grain market, the clock tower, the church, and the town itself. I’m so enjoying traveling vicariously with you. Blessings.

  2. it is absolutely thrilling to see these photos..a quiet thrill …let others go bungee jumping ! Thank you so much for sharing your pilgrimage.
    Somewhere Merton says something about the power of “praying where prayer has been valid” are walking thru centuries of it ..this is so amazing.. I send you my amazement and

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