May 10th 2011
Yet another good night’s sleep and an earlier start so we could get away and walk further before the heat set in. Everything worked well until the signs caused confusion and we had to retrace our steps on two occasions. The first was when we were trying to find the bridge so we could see this magnificent structure on our way out of town. We did finally get there and in the photo you can see Teresa making her way towards it.
After that it all happened again and after a while of back tracking, we trusted to intuition and found ourselves on the canal….at last.
This sign at one of the bridges was a lovely touch.
As we walked along you couldn’t help but notice that along this valley floor the river, rail, canal and railway line all ran in parallel, all vital to live and to movement and of course the path provided the opportunity for cycling and walking.
We walked the first 3.4 km in about 30 minutes
enjoying the temperature of the day and also being able to set a good pace and put the distances behind us.
After lock gate two, we stopped on the far side of it taking a seat on the bank and enjoying fruit, nuts and water as we people watched especially those who negociated the lock process and elegantly appeared through the other end.
We saw the two ladies again who we’d met yesterday so had a chat and put the ‘world to rights’ ourselves on this easy path. It was so nice to be away from the steep ups and downs and the environment was so pretty.
It was hard to stop taking photos so you will see a few included here so you can share the views I was lucky enough to see. Lovely bridges, interesting signs giving information and beautiful boats all part of a relaxed and calm environment.
As we walked we were just about to be overtaken by an older man on a bike but instead he stopped and chatted. He was a local and had lived in the area all his life, he had lots to tell us about his life, family, his work etc. For his health he was now cycling 10-12 km per day which he enjoyed and he also shared how much he loved to chat and he told us that he had to really discipline himself otherwise he’d never complete his journey.
At the 3rd lock, we stopped for lunch. It was a great spot and here is Teresa looking very thoughtful, not sure whether she’s pondering lunch or the onward journey.
Lunch today was freshly baked pizza bought that morning and very delicious. A German women from Munich joined us. She is on her second section but from Germany.
While at lunch, we also watched this beautiful yacht come through. An English family were on it, they were spending a year or so away from home with their young children, what an adventure.
As we walked on after lunch, we could see Auvillar in the distance on top of a hill and not much further along we crossed over this lovely bridge to the other side of the canal and then sadly had to leave it and cross both it and the Garonne and head to our destination.
Road walking is what greeted us, not our favourite but we figured that it wouldn’t be for long. At one point we walked past a field of strwawberries and I’ve never ever experienced the wonderful aroma. I could taste those strawberries….I wish there’d been some for sale.
We’d been heading for Espalais and not knowing what to expect, that’s the great thing about walking through areas you don’t know and where there are not places you would have heard of.
Espalais, well marked, as you can see from the photo was lovely and clean and quite modern. We popped into church which was, as always, very cool and calming.
We found a great place that catered for everyone….
The one thing that was quite clear was that Auvillar was another of those great towns on the top of a hill….. so no option but to climb, but first to cross the bridge from where there were more great views and it was a long bridge as the Garonne is rather wide at this point.
Just after the bridge we were into the lower part of Auvillar at the bottom of the hill. This area had been subject to a great deal of renovation with more houses still been worked on, I assume there is more funding to continue this. In fact in so many of the small towns we’ve visited there has clearly been renovation, great to see and is giving all these places a new lease of life.
|Teresa outside the Information Centre|
What a lovely way to enter Auvillar, we passed some wonderful houses and one sticks in mind very strongly as it was situated on an end plot and the garden was on different levels beautifully landscaped with shade and sun and a small pool built in too – gorgeous.
Once in the village, one of France’s most beautiful, we quickly came upon the beautiful market place with all it’s signage inside dictating where different products were situated.
|Auvillar’s unusual circular market place
But before we got too distracted, we wanted to find the hotel and yes, have that beer.
Our hotel, called L’horloge was going to be near the clock tower and this, seen in the photo, forms one of the gates into the village.
The views from the church were wonderful and also from the spot near the tourist office so we took some photos and then relaxed in the shade with some very tasty ice-cream.
|Teresa looking down onto the Garonne far below.|
Hot shower after sightseeing and then a pre dinner drink and dinner. No choice but actually prefer that as you always great really great local food and don’t have to make decisions. We started with a fabulous place of chacuterie accompanied bu warm bread, then duck with fresh vegetables and finally strawberry soup with ice-cream. I really must have a go at making this dessert at home including the mint.