19 Sep 10: Conques (Rest Day)

Tour: I chatted at breakfast with other guests at the auberge, a Vietnamese couple living in Paris. She was born in 1952 while her parents were studying at university in France. The family returned to Saigon in 1960, and she attended the French Lysee. In 1970 she left Saigon to attend univeristy in Paris, and her parents left Saigon in 1975. She has been back since, and is saddened by the modernization and materialism she sees there now. It was common to hear life stories like this from complete strangers on the pilgrimage.

I headed up the hill to the abbey church, hoping for a Sunday morning service. Two monks (a tenor and an organist) were rehearsing. I visited the Treasure (museum of the gold and silver reliqueries, including the famed figure of Saint Foy), then it was time for Sunday Mass… when in a pilgrim town, do as the pilgrims do. Afterwards, I found my bilingual Canadian friends, in exactly the same sidewalk cafe chairs they were occupying 24 hours ago, and with their help arranged all the remaining lodging for the trip. It was a beautiful fall afternoon for a promenade about town, with a quiet bench for reading. I managed to make Vespers in time to join the parishoners in the chancel to sing with the monks, who did a lovely 4-part a capella harmony for the canticle. My liturgical French is on par with my liturgical German: I get about half the nouns and none of the verbs.

Cuisine: A light supper afterwards included truffude, a main dish casserole that is essentially scalloped potatoes reinforced with Cantal (cheddar-like) cheese, ham, and chicken gizzards.

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