Monthly Archives: September 2011

22 Sep 11: Aire-sur-l’Adour to Miramont

Route: Aire-sur-l’Adour to Miramont  18.3 km

Low morning clouds burned off midday. Town was small but the suburbs go on for 2-3 kms. Passed through a regional park, a duck farm, and into the Indiana cornfields Now it’s not that I find cornfields so flat, featureless and boring that I felt compelled to inject some excitement. Honest! I thought I was following the waymarks and the map. But shortly after the big oak tree I found myself (definitely not the right verb!) bushwhacking among the harvested cornfields, a tree line, and an irrigation trench in what I fervently hoped was a generally southwesterly direction. Finally I came out on a gravel road and soon spotted a high tension pylon with a waymark (must admit salvation does not often take the form of HT pylons)! Prayers answered; much rejoicing. Continued on farm roads of this mass-agriculture district to reach my lodging.

Lodging: CH La Maison du Bos  which is very nice. (Nice enough to return to on a car trip!) It is situated on a rise just north of town, and is a big place. 5 CH rooms and a separate gite with 3 more rooms plus living room and kitchen. House was originally built in 1772 by a local physician with major additions in 1792. Nine tenant farmers on the estate then. M/M bought it 10 years ago and the top notch renovation took 4 years. Very highly recommended.

Cuisine: Dinner was a tomato platter (multiple varieties) from M’s garden, dressed vinagrette. Main was a large assortment of roast stuffed veggies: peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes – all with a bit of sausage, with rice on the side. Cheese of basque sheep with fig marmalade. Grape clafouti for dessert. Table includes 2 Norwegians, 2 Belgians, and 2 Germans.

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Duck Pizza

Menu offerings at Le Chat Botte, Aire sur l’Adour

Alsacienne: olives, onions, bacon, emmental, creme fraiche

Americaine: tomato, olives, ground beef, emmental, omelette

Angelica: tomato, olives, smoked salmon, emmental, creme fraiche

Antillaise: tomato, olives, peppers, shrimp, mussels, banana, emmental, curry

Axoa: tomato, ground beef, peppers, onions, emmental

Basquaise: tomato, olives, peppers, onions, ham, emmental, eggs

Bergere: tomato, olives, mushrooms, chorizo, roquefort, chevre, emmental

Bianca: olives, chevre, onions, apples, emmental, creme fraiche

Bolognaise: tomato, olives, ground beef, onions, emmental

Calabraise: tomato, olives, chorizo, chevre, onions, emmental

Chalossaise: tomato, duck breast, duck gizzards,olives, emmental

Charentaise: mussels, onions, white wine, creme fraiche, emmental

Chorizo: tomato, olives, chorizo, emmental

Claudio: tomato, olives, jambon blanc, emmental

Creole: tomatoes, olives, peppers,chicken breast, bananas, grapes, emmental, curry

Dijonnaise: chicken, onion, mustard, creme fraiche, emmental

Fromagere: tomato, olives, jambon blanc, mushrooms, chevre, emmental

Gersoise: armagnac, foie gras, creme fraiche, emmental

Kebab: tomato, sauce kebab, onions, veal, chicken, spice, olives, emmental

Landaise: foie gras, smoked duck breast, sweet grapes, creme fraiche, emmental

Luzienne: tomato, olives,shrimp, tuna, mussels, emmental

Marguerite: tomato, olives, emmental

Napolitaine: tomato, olives,anchovies, emmental

Nicoise: tomato, olives, chorizo, emmental, omelette

Nordique: smoked salmon, onions, lemon, basilic, creme fraiche, emmental

Paysanne: tomato, olives, duck confit, bacon, emmental

Parmentier: potatoes, ground beef, onions, creme fraiche, emmental

Parisienne: tomato, jambon blanc, mushrooms, olives, emmental

Petit Poucet: tomato, olives, jambon blanc, Strasbourg sausage, emmental

Pizzabeille: tomato, olives, jambon blanc, chevre, emmental, honey

Primavera: tomato, olives, jambon blanc, mushrooms, emmental, eggs,creme fraiche

Quatre Fromages: tomato, olives, roquefort, chevre, mimolette, mozzarella

Quatre Saisons: tomato, olives, mushrooms, peppers, onions, potatoes, emmental

Regina: tomatoes, olives, peppers, chorizo, emmental

Reine: tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, emmental

Rodeo: tomato, olives, chicken breast, onions, emmental, eggs, paprika

Roquefort: tomato, olives, jambon blanc, mushrooms, chorizo, roquefort, emmental

21 Sep 11: Dubarry to Aire-sur-l’Adour

Route: Dubarry to Aire-sur-l’adour (14 km)

A beautiful sunrise and a crisp morning, strolling through the vineyards. Slowly I begin to realize the rising sun is steadily in my face, but my route is westward. One would think that a good grade in Celestial Navigation all those years ago in officer training would equip one for such basic observations. Ah well.

Not much on this walk today: 6 km of sunny weedy straightaway, lumpy and painful to walk, and a nice town at the end. The cathedral here is quite spectacular and may be a UNESCO heritage site; if not, it should be.

Lodging: HR Chez L’Ahumat is an old style family run hotel but the restaurant is closed today. Seems I only plan to stay in a town on closing day! Madame gives me a key to the back door and (I think) a lecture in French about not losing it. I met a Norwegian couple who were on the train to Le Puy last year and remembered me.

Dinner: duck pizza (seriously!)

20 Sep 11: Nogoro to Dubarry

Route: Nogoro to Dubarry (14.5 km)

Maybe there is more going on in Nogoro than meets the eye: I saw a recruiting poster for the local women’s rugby team as I was leaving town. A fine crisp fall morning, crystal cloudless blue as I follow the little pillow of my condensed breath. Some rolling hills here, vineyards with the harvest in progress. Walking with a French army woman from Champagne this morning, heading for Santiago, stopping at every church en route. I am suddenly bereft of pilgrim companionship, which is hard now – all the groups have withered away and only the long distance walkers remain and these are few in number. Plus, because of the feet, my stops are in the less-frequented locales. Most will make Aire-sur-l’adour in 1 day from Nogaro where I will take 2. I just cannot manage 30 km a day!

Lodging: Gite Dubarry. This is a spacious airy gite in a renovated farmhouse, with a friendly and conversational host. A young Swiss couple from Lucerne and a French hiker from the Jura are the other guests tonight.

Cuisine: Dinner is a magnificent platter of red and yellow tomatoes from the garden dressed in balsamic vinagrette; duck hearts and handmade frites; homemade apple compote for dessert, Floc for aperitif. The Swiss teach me how to play Rummikub, which is sort of a Scrabble with numbers: lightweight, compact, requires no translation.

19 Sep 11: Rest Day in Nogoro

Rest Day in Nogoro
I discovered some toe blisters in addition to the persistent arch soreness, so a rest day is well timed. There are differing theories of rest: some hold to rest days in interesting places – I tried that last year in Conques and Moissac – and walked all day. Others hold to rest days in dull places – I’m trying that this time. Only walked 2 blocks to Tourism Office to sort some future reservations. Very threatening clouds but no rain here. A nap and more French language study in the afternoon.

Cuisine: Lunch at hotel was a pork chop with seethed potatoes (I’d been smelling the onions all morning), starter same as last night, strawberry ice cream and wine. All for EUR 12.80 complete! Sous chef on duty for dinner: same starter plate, a large thin tough pan fried steak, almost too salty to eat, green beans ditto, leftover potatoes from lunch, prefab creme brûlée. Yet these people have one of the better breakfasts: yogurt, cheese, ham, whole fruit. Hotels are still pricier than gite rooms or CH.

18 Sep 11: Eauze to Nogoro

Route: Eauze to Nogoro (20km)
Gently rolling countryside with many vineyards and a few cornfields. It rained overnight but stopped by morning leaving a chill overcast. It’s very pleasant walking in the cool! Various threats of rain – break out the poncho and take a break – then it passes over. Finally see some sun in the afternoon, alongside a huge thunderhead that drops ita load just after checking into the hotel. This is a small town, closed up tight for Sunday afternoon. But the self service laundry is open 7/7 and has procedural directions in English, so I have clean dry clothes – a real treat! For the past 6 days I have been walking with a Swiss-American woman from Seattle, who has been a cheerful listener.

Lodging: HR Le Commerce is a family-run hotel right on the GR. Madame grows orchids.

Cuisine: The hotel has demi-pensione so a simple salad plate with tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas dressed in vinagrette, and a tasty skirt steak with potatoes; praline glacee for dessert.

17 Sep 11: Montreal-du-Gers to Eauze

Route: Montreal-du-Gers to Eauze (16.5km)
We had thunder, lightning and some rain overnight; in fact it was still sprinkling at breakfast, which caused me some anxiety. But it did stop, leaving an overcast and cool day which was most welcome. Mid 60s and gray – yay! Seattle weather! Route gently rolling at first, then followed an old railroad right of way, well overgrown with shade trees and flat, most of the way. The exception was at a profusely but ambiguously marked crossroads, which stumped the 5 of us there at the time. We split 3 ways and I did see everyone later on the right path so it turned out ok. That was the only real excitement of the day. There are so many Normands walking (3 more from le Havre, a new group). There can’t be anyone left at home. Two Austrian women from near Linz. Eauze has good signage at town entry and responsive Tourism Office staff. Also has more church than town (along with La Romieu and Condom, all 3 having been bishoprics in the past). The French version of “all hat and no cattle” I suppose. This is Saturday so a grocery run is necessary to cover the Sunday-Monday drought.

Lodging: HR La Triana. This is a bare-bones but well-located hotel. Restaurant was closed for dinner but others in town were open.