11 Sep 10: Saint Alban to Aumont-Aubrac

Route: 14.5 km with 300 ft climb

Tour: We started at 9:00 after a sandwich stop at the boulangerie, and a fruit stop at the epicerie. The weather is much warmer today, with clear blue skies and contrails. We make gentle climbs and descents across several hills covered with dry pine forest, passing a few small herds of mostly white beef cattle. At midday there is an old church at Estraits. The long dry climb afterwards prompts a picnic stop at the hillcrest, with views all around. Every passing French walker wishes us bon appetit. Not long after, we make a refreshment stop for coffee before continuing to town. We see over two dozen walkers today, mostly retirees – this is many more than we anticipated. September is a popular month for walking in France, as the children have returned to school and no longer need minding by the grandparents. Today many walkers are German-speaking; there are two Swiss women at the breakfast table, and one fellow passes us late in the afternoon making a 30 km/day heading for Santiago in 7 weeks, having left Lake Constance two and a half weeks ago. At our post-walk refreshment stop, we were joined by our roommate from the gite at Monistrol, who was glad to see us again.

Lodging: La Ferme du Barry

Cuisine: Madame our host prepared a breakfast dish, a Lozere Pudding, which was a bread pudding affair, and homemade yogurt and homemade (bread machine) whole grain bread, which was greatly appreciated as we are having difficulty finding protein and fiber. The standard French breakfast offerings are baguette (often sliced and toasted), jams of several sorts, butter, and coffee or tea with hot milk to taste. I’m afraid the French just don’t properly understand breakfast. The boulangerie had a chicken sandwich for a change. A lovely coffee stop at midday offered a bottled artisinal lemonade, not too sweet. Demipension dinner at our lodging, Ferme du Barry, was tasty regional home cooking: a plain vegetable soup, aligot from a huge pot (this is a souped-up mashed potato dish in which cheese is beaten into the potatoes with a wooden paddle) with grilled sausage. Dessert was a bread-pudding with homemade applesauce.

Grace: There is a big Romanesque church, St Ettien, in town, with marvelous modern (a la Mondrian) stained glass windows (of a style we have seen before) with intense colors, chunky squarish shapes, and strong leading that worked very well with the feel of the Romanesque building. Our table mates at dinner included a French AA member walking to Santiago with his wife, and two Dutch women in their early 30’s who were just starting their walk to Figeac (there is a rail connection here so many people use it as a starting point).

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