Tour: Underway at 0830 and I am the last to leave (most are out by 0800). There is a gentle roadside descent downhill by many switchbacks. Several times I pass the group of French coffee-drinkers from yesterday, to many mutual smiles. At Espeyrac I make a midday halt. The church here has a beautifully carved bas-relief Stations of the Cross, in 3/4-round, of a style we have seen previously (must date to the mid-19th century). In the parking lot I see the first non-French license plates of the trip, one NL and one L. The morning fog is finally breaking up, leaving traces of blue sky and filtered sun. I will be glad if the afternoon climb is not too hot. My feet feel much better today, don’t know whether I’ve finally recovered from the 30-km beating, or there have been very few stoney descents, or I’m getting more protein, or what. Maybe it’s just taking me ten days to walk into shape. Shorter days and going at my own pace, with frequent rest pauses, can’t hurt. Ah! To be sitting at the church when the Friday noon bells toll (for 5 minutes straight). The walk this afternoon was along a grassy track, gently but invariably upward to Senergue, which is a hill town. Arrived 1:30 after a half-hour lunch break. Conques would be a theoretical possibility this afternoon, but it is a steep descent and I have just got my feet healthy again, so will be satisfied with this for today. Joy! English speakers at my gite tonight! Two Belgians (from Flanders) and four Canadians (from Thunder Bay).
Lodging: Domaine de Senos. This is a terrific gite, worth spending a week here. It is modern, well designed, and Monsieur parlays anglais. Highly recommended.
Cuisine: After tiring of ham and cheese sandwiches, I have acquired a taste for tinned “salad Parisienne au thon” for lunch: tuna and mixed vegetables including diced potatoes in a mustard/lemon vinagrette. This is a really tasty way to get my protein. Demi-pension at the gite (there is a restaurant and a grocery in town). The gite has a bar, for aperitifs, wine or beer on the terrace before dinner. How very civilized! The starter was a patty of pork, chard and other vegetables, ground finely and bound with bread crumbs and a bechamel sauce, then pan-browned. This was served family style on a platter with salad greens and sliced hard-boiled eggs vinagrette. The main course was broiled sausage (one large single link per person, coarse ground and well seasoned), served with white rice and stewed tomatoes on the side. Dessert is Isle Flotant (Floating Island), chilled and light. The gite walls have many framed pictures of donkeys; Madame used to own 17 of them! I can tell she misses them.
Grace: I have missed English conversation these past four days. So I was thrilled to hear the Canadians on the terrace this afternoon. Just being able to discuss my experiences of the week is lovely.