15 Sep 10: Saint Come d’Olt to Estaing

Route: 16.4 km with 500 ft climb and 650 ft descent

Tour: This morning I followed some other pilgrims in the fog, inadvertently doing a road-shoulder march along the highway to Espalion, doubtless saving a hill climb and 3 km over following the marked GR65 route. This should have put me ahead of the game, but I wandered around town for an hour (making toilet, bakery, and bank stops in the process) trying to pick up the waymarks again. Alas I missed the UNESCO site church as a consequence. Leaving Espalion, the trail follows the bank of the Lot, then through suburbs up to the pretty Romanesque church at St Pierre of Bessejoules. There was a very steep climb (someone had cut stairsteps into the hillside) followed by a more sensible descent. Then another country church, also closed, but the water fountain worked. The afternoon was filled by a long road march along farm roads and country byways into Estaing, where – miracle of miracles! – the hotel was visible immediately upon crossing the bridge into town. It was very hot today – my little thermometer says 100 F in the sun but that seems to overstate the situation. My feet hurt from the descent pounding, but I’ve started taping them with Kinesioflex and that is really helping. More protein at lunches seems to help too, and I drank 2.3 liters of water today.

Lodging: HR Aux Armes d’Estaing

Cuisine: Madame Rous included some brioche and yogurt with the usual breakfast menu. My bakery stop in Espalion turned up a great cookie – white chocolate with dried crannies – it really hit the spot. Today’s two lunch stops were tinned tuna with tomato and then tinned tuna with lemon; protein is good! Dinner was truly exceptional, demi-pension at the hotel. Starter was a fish terrine on an elaborately composed plate. The main course was a thick slice of roast lamb, juicy and pink, served with a broiled tomato, broiled endive, roast asparagus bouquet, and over-roast potatoes. We had a choice of desserts; I took creme brulee but the gateau and tiramisu were popular with other diners and looked light as air.

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