Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 19: Cahors to Lascabanes (27 kms)

Leaving Cahors

Today, after seeing not a soul on the Chemin yesterday, Robin and I headed out of town this morning in the company of at least 2 dozen fellow pilgrims. We have been walking, from time to time, with some fellow pilgrims from San Francisco, and this morning they were there again. We all set off together across this spectacular bridge and began a serious climb up some stone stairs that were made for people with legs much longer than ours. We groaned and moaned and found our way to the top without any serious problems. We then set sail for the village of Labastide-Marnhac where we would break for lunch. The climb continued and up we went stepping stone over stone until we shifted onto a wider more clement path. Still we went up and up, finally hearing the local church toll 12:00 as we walked into the village. There was one restaurant/bar open and In we went like Flynn never did. Surrounded with steaming cups of strong black coffee and munching anything we had scrounged from breakfast, our little pilgrim community came back to life. Today's lead story is Robin's strong recovery. This morning she was so happy to sling her back pack and join me on the Chemin that she was almost in tears. She has struggled valiantly with her leg, but today was her day. We headed out onto the Chemin side by side each carrying our backpack, and she felt great. I am convinced we are going to make it to Santiago together.

Today was going to be a bit of a long day, but after reaching Lasbastide-Marnhac the terrain really flattened out, and we were able to put some kilometers behind us without killing ourselves. The weather was picture perfect with a few scattered cumulus clouds lazing about and temperatures in the low 70's. We walked through lots of open farm land. The effort of our many steps was lightened by the grace of the swaying fields of wheat to either side. It really was simply perfect. So on we went, not hurrying, just enjoying the moment until we descended into an almost perfectly bucolic Norman Rockwell setting (if he was painting in France). Off in the distance I could see a few pilgrims, colorful backpacks, moving through the still green wheat towards the village of Lascabanes where we hoped to find a bed. A short while later we at the front door of a local gîte asking for a bed. The owner, another very helpful French person, said she was full but knew a person who had some beds free. She had already placed a call on behalf of a Swiss guy standing in front of us and simply said two more would not be a problem. The Swiss guy, Pierre, Robin and I enjoyed a cold beer as we awaited transport to wherever it was we were going to sleep. Some minutes later, looking through the bottom of my beer bottle I saw a car approaching. The car looped around and Jean-Pierre, a sprightly septuagenarian, came out and introduced himself. He was our ride and, as utterly turned out, our host. We had no idea where we were going, only that we had a bed. So off we went Robin and I, Pierre (the Swiss guy), and Jean-Pierre our chauffeur, and owner of wherever it was we were going to stay. I don't know why we thought this was going to be a short ride, but it wasn't. We went up and down, right and left, God only knew where this guy was taking us. Occasionally, his phone would ring and he would halt the car and have a lengthy conversation in the middle of the road. The next thing we knew we were pulling into a small parking area in front of a beautiful small chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It is a local treasure and he wanted us to see it before heading home to where we'd would spend the night. We all went in, offered our prayers of thanksgiving for another memorable day, and then headed off to our lodging for the night. A few kilometers later, we finally swung into the drive of Jean-Pierre's home. It was a larger older place with a distinctive tower attached. It looked great. We piled out or the car and with backpacks and batons in hand presented ourselves in front of Gisèle, his wife. She was as charming and warm as he was. We retreated into the kitchen to get acquainted, and Giséle produced some cold beers, and we suddenly realised just how lucky we were. We went from having no beds to being invited into a beautiful old home owned by truly kind people who seemed to have only our comfort in mind. What a blessing.

They run their home as a Chambre d'Hôte (bed and breakfast) and occasionally pick up overflow from Lascabanes. While their home is about 4.5 kms from Lascabanes it is also in the direction of Montcuq, the next stop on the Chemin. So, we found a great place to stay and we have been moved 4-5 kms further towards our destination, thanks to Jean-Pierre and his car. There were two other people already at the house that Jean-Pierre had picked up earlier (Ludwig and Paulina from Austria), and so it was a total of seven for dinner that evening. I should mention the name of the house, it is Chambre d'Hôtes à la ferme de Labouysse. I highly recommend it. After the usual clean up the dinner began. We all sat down in an enclosed glass addition that was blessedly warm. The table was set and Jean-Pierre produced an aperitif to start us off. A great vegetable soup with croutons then appeared. That was followed by salad and rabbit pâté. The main course was chicken and mushrooms, which was followed by cheese and salad, and fruit and coffee. There was always plenty of good Cahors red wine on the table. Nothing was spared, and Jean- Pierre and Gisèle ate with us. We managed to pull together a fun conversation, using French, German, and English, then gathered the dishes and called it a night. What a memorable experience this was. I keep asking myself why do we ever stay at a hotel. Once day I will learn.

Leaving Cahors
Robin liking her backpack
Looking down at Cahors
Into the countryside
What lies beyond?
Today's pilgrim road
Wheat in the wind
Robin doing well
A lone pilgrim
Approaching Lascabanes




  1. I am finding it difficult to find the words to express how enchanting, peaceful, and delightful your photos are. So glad to see Robin out there with you again.

  2. Ahhhhh yes, that memorable climb out of Cahors, with packs on.... So glad Robin's leg is feeling so much better for the rest. A French friend I met on the Chemin had to take a break once, and the Dr told him he had to be sure to drink plenty of water, and take breaks during the day when he resumed. He had no further problems.
    What lovely people you stayed with this evening. So very hospitable- glad you had that special experience.

  3. Hello John & Robin, I have been following your wonderful journey. What beautiful photogagraphs, thanks for sharing them. Your daily journal is amazing and I am using the information to plan my own Camino staring from Le Puy. Travel well and I look forward to reading you blog every day.

  4. I have a photo almost exactly the same as that photo of the unseeded field near Montcuq! Your blog, both the text and photos are taking me back to 2008. Wow, thank you and so happy to see Robin walking with her backpack again!

  5. John and Robin,

    I am following your journey with hopes that next year I will be able to walk the same route to Santiago. The beauty of the countryside and the accounting of your day is so enticing to me.
    Keep writing fore with each word I read and every picture I view, Le Chemin Le Puy is burrowing it way into my soul!
    Bon Chemin!

  6. We are happy to hear Robin is back up to packing up. The comments here made by others we certainly agree with. I can even hear your voice. Stu