25 Sep 11: Geus-d’Arzacq to Cambarrat

Route: Géus-d’Arzacq to Cambarrat 20.5 km

Flat, green lanes until a short climb to Castillon. The Swiss couple overtake me and we talk for a bit before they go on ahead. Due to the length of today’s stage and the predicted heat, I skipped some churches. Pomps was a lovely little town and would make a good alternative to Geus. I heard good reports on the gite there. Since it was not visible from the GR, I passed up the church in Pomps; I would have lost a half hour. In Castillon (where the church was locked) I ran into the first contingents in some very large regional walking event. I often see the French doing group recreational activity (walking, cycling) on the weekends, and this is a Sunday. Lunch stop was at the Romanesque Chapelle de Caubin, which still has a monastic air about it, eventhough the surrounding buildings are long gone. So the heat of the day was well underway as I climbed the ridge to Arthez de-Béarn, which is strung out along 2 km of the ridge. Fantastic views of the entire Pyrenees front. Finally descend ridge to valley bottom and the gite.

Lodging: Gite Cambarrat. Host very friendly and helpful. In view of the heat, hills, and distance tomorrow I arrange to send the small sack with rain gear etc (about 5 pounds) onward by transport tomorrow morning. Gite is a large rambling country house set into the woods about 500m off the GR. Has a quirky, artistic feel. Madame obviously has an expert eye in the textile arts; the curtains, duvets, and needlepoint were all intriguing and colorful. There were also some “gypsy” style wheeled caravans that are fitted out as sleeping rooms, but the stairs look tricky to navigate in the dark for that late night visit to the loo.

Cuisine: Dinner simarly idiosyncratic: starter was a pate terrine, main was a vegetable mélange of haricots vert and tiny peas, with a bit of ham. Cheese course in Basque style, accompanied by fig preserves. Afterwards our host, who trained as a classical guitarist, played the banjo: some bluegrass, some guitar transpositions, and some original compositions.

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