Tuesday, 24 June 2003

GR65 in France

Map of the Way from Le Puy en Valey to Roncesvalles

Starting out - Le Puy en Velay Cathedral

Resting in the wildflowers

Romanesque Church

Church bells

Village on the Way

Another church

Twisted spire on a church

Medieval bridge

Conques - beautiful French village

Best guarded bridge in Europe

Dove cote - spot Pam?

Lunch beside vineyards

One of many way side crosses

Another way side cross

We met an ex Papua New Guinea didiman here

Country house with climbing roses

And ..... another church

Walled town

St Jean-Pied-du-Port

Crossing the Pyrenees

Roncesvalles (Spain) Finished - 760 klms!

Sunday May 18 2003 - Figeac

We arrived in Figeac after 9 days and a day ahead of schedule, having walked about 260 kilometres so far. The Way was quite hilly and bitterly cold at first but is more undulating and warmer now.   

We are staying in gites at night, more expensive than refugios in Spain, but sometimes we get a room to ourselves. Most have kitchens so we can cook. The butchers here have great local produce meals prepared ready to be heated up. All the other walkers are French.  

The scenery is absolutely beautiful, very green and the little hamlets and villages very quaint. It is hard to find food at times as the shops are shut Sunday and Monday so we have to plan ahead.   

Saturday 24 May 2003 - Moisssac: Over 400 kmls gone. 

The days seem to be going so quickly. We had a few tedious days walking in scrub - boring. Sometimes rain - cold. Sometimes sun - hot. We are now back into the small farms, hamlets and villages. Very pretty. Had a perfect sunny day yesterday.  

We are not going to loose any weight on this trip! We have picnics for lunch; and sometimes a 5 course cooked meal where we stay. All tres bon as we say in France. Everyone else at the table speaks French so we just drink the vin and look stupid. Last night duck legs as big as emu's.  

Accommodation is getting tight. We can book ahead unlike in Spain; but some places are full a week in advance. We slept one night in a tent and once in a caravan. Booking is challenging my French a bit but I'm finding that their French is improving as we go.   

Saturday, 31 May 2003 - Aire sur de Adour   

583 klms. The bottom of our feet hurt so much by the end of 30 klms that we just walk through the cow poo instead of stepping over it. We are on a flat section which is nice but it has gotten very hot so we leave early each morning and have out breakfast after about an hour. We are now enjoying the white wines and rose, also tried the cider.   The places we go through are so small and if it is a holiday, a Sunday or Monday or lunchtime or maybe another day everything is shut.  

Most of the other walkers are retired, older than us and are doing the whole walk to Santiago (1500 klms).    

One day we were resting beside a small remote Chapel and started talking to a French man who was waiting for his wife. Turns out he was the Didiman (agricultural officer) in Mendi (PNG) in the early 70s. Em e got save long dis pela tok pisin!  

One night we got a double bed in a dorm; very strange feeling.   

Saturday, 7 June 2003 - Bayonne 

Finished in Roncesvalles in the Spanish Pyrenees yesterday.  

We were first in at 12:30 and got bed numbers 1&2; very regimented. Afternoon of vino, night of trout and vino. We went back to St Jean by taxi. Pams Spanish was brilliant! No problems at all ordering the taxi, the meals and the wine.  

The last week was 4 hard hilly 30 klm days, followed by 3 fairly easy days. Pretty countryside, like walking into a postcard. Then the crossing of the Pyrenees, which turned out to be pretty easy for us after a month's walking, though those who just started in St Jean struggled.  

Even after walking 760 kilometres, there is not the same elation as approaching the Cathedral in Santiago. We felt so good though we could have kept going for another 760!

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