Refreshed with a good night’s sleep we joined Chantal, our hostess, for breakfast. This was what seems to be typical with a bowl of coffee, fruit, yogurt, bread and jam. We soon gathered up our gear, made our goodbyes and felt the first crunch of gravel under our boots at close to 9:00 am. Today was to be a short day, but as it turned out it was slow going. A little navigation error put us on a main road instead of the Chemin, but we got ourselves back on the path at the next town, Le Chier. We were kind of dawdling along. Thinking we need to kill MMM some time to avoid an early arrival in Monistrol and perhaps finding our accommodation closed until later in the day (usually around 4:00pm). The weather was cooperating. Temperatures started out close to 40 F, maybe a bit lower, but it was dry. I had on the same clothes as yesterday (now washed), but had added my vest against the morning chill. By the time we reached Le Chier, a cold wind arose and my rain jacket went on along with a wool hat. Clouds were coming and going trying to decide whether to soak us or not, but mercifully the rain held off all day.
We were making our way to a small town called St. Privat d’Allier where we hoped to find something open to get a coffee. The scenery along this part of the Chemin is pretty spectacular with a deep gorge visible off to our left. We rolled into St. Privat about 11:15, and found a cafe open. Two coffees for me and one for Robin and we started to thaw out. I am so glad I packed a down jacket for this walk. It has been used daily, if not when walking then always at night. Accommodations here in France are similar to Spanish homes in that they are made of stone, and they hold the cold very well.
|St. Privat coffee stop|
Leaving St. Privat is where the path got sort of interesting. It is at most a couple of feet wide, but that gets restricted to “0” as rocks and tree roots clog the path. At these points you really are scrambling to find a place to put your foot. Sizeable loose rocks add to the risk of injury. So, back to my comment regarding slow going, regardless of how fit you are the very nature of the path restricts your movement so that if you are a gazelle at heart you are a snail on this path. Rock hopping, and root jumping along we continued on towards Monistrol. As the day progressed we began to wonder where Monistrol was. We doubled checked our navigation, and pressed on. We were going down and down searching for Monistrol. Finally, at the bottom of a river valley, at long last, there it was. All I could think of after giving away all that height was tomorrow’s departure (regaining all the height we gave away today…plus some) was going to be a work out. For now we are part of a growing crowd of happy pilgrims (all French) at the Gîte La Tsabone. Patrick, the owner, will be doing the cooking tonight and we are ready. It should prove to be a lively meal. Tomorrow, we plan to walk to Le Villeret d’Apcher about 23 kms (close to 15 miles). Keeping our fingers crossed as it is still early days for these two pilgrims.
|Clouds chasing us|
|St. Privat d’Allier|
|Finally at the bottom. The Eiffel bridge at Monistrol|