An experience to get back on the Camino

September 28th 2009

It was challenging and confusing trying to organise train travel to and from France for this stage of the Camino so after much deliberation, we flew from Stansted to Rodez from where we’d been told we’d be able to get a taxi. It was by far the most direct, the most time efficient and train compared to flight, the cheapest. The taxi factor was a cause for financial concern though but what’s the option?

So far so good and happily 3 taxi drivers all at the airport when we arrived. Not quite so good when they started questioning where we were going and looking at maps to work out how to get there. It made me realise just how localised a lot of these communities are. Our journey was to take an hour/hour and a half and was only just into the next department  but that was like a world away and clearly unfamiliar territory for these drivers.

Still we got the deal sorted and set off Teresa chatting away to our driver in her fluent French, me just enjoying looking out the window.

We by passed some interesting looking places en route and soon I was aware we were on a bit of a detour. Our driver stopped the car and took us to the fenced off edge of the Canyon de Bozouls which is a stunning whole in the ground stretching down – WOW! We just wouldn’t have seen this without him, what a bonus.

About 20 minutes later still buzzing, the bonus was wiped away when the car started to slow and juddered to a halt, he’d only run out of petrol. Good job we were on our way from the plane and not to it.

He managed to pull the car onto some waste ground and we wandered around in the sunshine as he called for help. Half an hour later we were on our way again, looking forward to arriving in the familiar town of Aumont-Aubrac.

This driver was less chatty but on our way through one particular village he commented on a restaurant doing the most fantastic Myrtile tartes which we should try out. Not sure how we were going to manage that but food info is always logged so we thanked him for this insight.

The hotel in Aumont-Aubrac is not the most stunning and our room, although having a large terrace outside was dull and gloomy but dinner was surprisingly good and breakfast the next morning very satisfying. Both meals were a great opportunity to people watch.

September 29th 2009

Such excitement and anticipation as we set off, we felt like experienced Camino trekkers this time and no longer the novices of a year ago.

Our first destination was La Chaze du Peyre about 4.5 kms away and of course we had to get under the motorway ( a route I realised that I’d driven a number of times heading to the south from our French house) and  climb up, some things never change.

At the tiny Chapelle de Bastide we stopped to visit, what a pretty place and the sunshine coming through the round stained glass window, bathed the place in wonderful life. It always amazes me how calm and quiet it in inside these churches when outside there is often a main road.

We met a group of people here and I think some of them were our breakfast companions, we were also to overtake them and be over taken on many occasions as the day continued. The next time being at Les Quatre Chemins (the four paths) where we stopped at this rather eccentric place to have a drink and relax in the sun.
Forest tracks and fenced tracks through a grassy plateau followed and then a walled lane and everywhere the most exquisite berries and little streams that meandered through the moorland, brownish in colour but also clear if that makes any sense. 

We also saw the most beautiful cattle I’ve ever seen.  The Aubrac cattle with their gentle faces, the huge brown eyes and tan coats. We both fell in love with them. They are a very old French breed  used for beef and are a tough breed with high resistance to disease, high longevity and easy calving. Though primarily a beef breed, the milk from Aubrac cattle is also used to make traditional Laguiole cheese which takes its name from the little village of Laguoile It is said to have been invented at a monastery in the mountains of Aubrac in the 19th century. 

On this section of the walk, we also came across so many beautiful crosses with many so different from those found before. Here’s a selection of them and you can see that some are fairly new.

Having done 15.5 kms of the 27 for today we settled down for a picnic lunch, again the food is so good when eaten in the open and also when you are feasting on the food of the country and of the time of year. We were feasting on freshly made bread bought that morning and local fruit and cheese although not the Laguoile mentioned above. After a good break it was the customary stretches to ease those muscles and also protect from the aches and pains of the following day.

In this photo you can see the ‘Stretch  Queen’ Teresa, putting me though my paces.

At Finieyrols we came across this wonderful memorial to Louis Dalle who was born here on April 27th 1922. He came from a family of 15 children of which 7 were to become priests or play a role in religious life.

In 1947 he went to Peru as a missionary a position he held until his death in 1982.

Boulders are what the next section of the day sums up for me as our way took us through more grassy plateau this time strewn with large, and sometimes huge, boulders. This was the path across the Aubrac plateau and here I am at the top at the Roc des Loups 1273 m up.

From here we followed the Grande Draille which is a historic drove road. Here, at least we were going down and it was good to find some shade after the openess of the plateau.

At Rieutort d’Aubrac we had been hoping for somewhere to stop but no facilities here and the road from here was long and fairly boring bringing no mystery or interest. We were delighted then to see the Pont de Marchastel over the River Bes getting closer and what a lovely river.

We stopped to rest here, take on some water and have a snack of nuts and dried fruit and also to check the guidebook and see what we should notice and how far there was still to go. It seemed a long afternoon by this time but I think that’s quite characteristic of the first day back on the trail.

Often the last bit is the longest and this was the sight we’d been longing to see as the hours passed.

Here was Nasbinals in the hollow and first stop was, of course, the tabac across the road from the hotel and a beer in the sun to celebrate our achievement and recognise the joy of being back on the Camino again. 


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