Sunday, 6 May 2012

Into the Aubrac

After saying goodbye to M. Pic - he has a friend in Preston - I was the last to leave, at 8.40 on what was rather a grey morning. In fact, there was only one brief shower all day: better than yesterday in that respect! It was decision day for the French, but in none of the three towns/villages I passed was there much sign of presidential election fever. Seven of us listened to the countdown to the result at supper (cooked - for us three - by Dominique): from what I could understand, none of the six French seemed overly enthusiastic about either candidate, or indeed the result. Dominique had voted blanc. I forgave him, as, upon a sandy patch of track near Chabanes-Planes, he'd written "Go Martin" with the point of his walking pole. Talking of which, on the steep bit, going down to Les Estrets, I saw someone's telescoped blue metal stick lying on the path. At home, I may not even have considered picking it up, but here things are different: anyway, it didn't add greatly to my load, to tuck it in my rucksack. I asked a fellow walker at Les Granges de Bigose whether she knew someone who might have lost theirs. No. But then, just as I was setting off again, she came running back along the track having located the distraught owner. "Vous avez fait une heureuse," I was told. And soon, I caught up with the stick owner, Mireille, her donkey, Quitcho and dog Filou.

The bible here is our Miam-miam-dodo: in the introduction, it says if you are thinking of taking your dog on the pilgrimage: don't! Mireille was clearly impervious to this advice.

So here we are at Lasbros, 24.5kms. further down the way, having passed under the A75 - through a depressing, graffiti-bedecked tunnel a while back. Mme. Hernandez owns two gîtes in this peaceful village on the edge of the Aubrac. She's been in the business only three years, so everything seems fairly new. Gardens about the village remain unplanted, because of the cold weather at this altitude (1100m). There are fine views, and some venerable buildings of a simple mould. A small and rather charming Chapelle de Bastide stands in the middle of a minor road junction just to the East. It's such a pleasure to find all the churches open, and well-cared for, in contrast to most of those we passed on the Via de la Plata two years ago. Some decent modern stained glass in the Eglise Saint-Etienne in Aumont-Aubrac too.

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