14 th May Monistrol to Villeret d’Apchier 24 kms

After a very convivial and substantial dinner of lentil soup, beef ragout and polenta, cheese and dessert, with our hosts Miriam and Patrick and 6 French and 2 American walkers at the Gite Tsabone, we all slept very well. I woke feeling ready and able to face the day. We started the climb out of the valley in rain then as we got higher, sleet and finally at the top it was snowing again! It was a steep climb up to about 1300 metres. The whole countryside was still blanketed with snow but the path was good. It was constant but not as heavy as yesterday. We were all getting wetter and wetter but I felt pretty strong. We happened on a chap who has turned his barn into a comfort stop with toilet, heaters and simple refreshments. He couldn’t understand why we were all walking in this weather but it gave him business! There is a lot more focus on supporting Pilgrims now. When we left his place the track turned feral and it was walk in puddles or fall over! It was a goat track. My feet were soon saturated. We were trying to walk fast to keep warm.

Heading into Saugues you could barely see the town for the snow billowing around. But as you walk down the track there are these amazing wooden sculptures. A tree like a candelabra was quite outstanding. This is an Artisan town full of art, wooden carvings and iron sculptures. The weather was so foul we had no taste for exploring. We just wanted food and shelter.

The first place we came to we entered, creating massive puddles all over the floor. I don’t think the waitress was impressed but when we ordered the set menu de Jour she was happy. I had a salmon terrine and salad, beef bourginone and ratatouille mash, followed by a delicious chocolate mousse. It was so warming and nourishing and gave us energy for the next 10kms.

We put our cold wet gear back on and started walking fast to try and dry our clothes from the inside out now the snow and rain has stopped. Alas just as I started to dry from the thigh down it began raining again. The last four kms seemed for ever today! We walked through forest and fields all deep in snow. While we were at the restaurant the news flashed that France has had a record fall of snow in May. 30 cms or more. You don’t say!

Finally with throbbing wet feet, and flagging energy we arrived at our Gite, the Two Pilgrims. It is very nice but they are very rule bound. We all had to go to our room together, we needed to put our packs in lockers and take a box with our possessions. We must wear our shoes because we are going out side to get to our room. Our packs are wet through despite our pack covers and I felt a bit cranky about it but complied. I don’t think the young man has ever been a pilgrim! Anyway they did offer us a hot drink on arrival and they do washing and drying! All our smelly wet clothes were returned clean and dry. Wonderful.

Dinner promptly at 7.00 was preceded by a sing along. The host is a choir master in Grenoble in winter and runs the Gîte in Summer. He played a beautiful guitar accompaniment while his wife has a sweet, strong voice. We were all given the song sheet so after a couple of run through we could sing along. The song is Ultreya Santiago.

The group did a pretty good job of singing it. Then dinner of a tasty soup, sausage casserole and veggies followed by cheese and tart Tatin with ice cream.

Karen offered to correct the English Translation that our host gave us to explain why we did the singing. She is a professional editor so she was quick and accurate. It was another of her good deeds. She is a very generous, gentle person but no pushover.

We had a great room, no bunks! Our own bathroom and toilet so despite the rules it was a comfortable place to stay

We all crashed and slept soundly.

Author: fleetfootkath

I am a keen walker and traveller. I love to explore and learn about new people, places and cultures with a sense of joy and gratitude for this fortunate life. I believe walking is a wonderful way to really connect with the present and the beauty of the world that surrounds us. It makes me happy.

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