Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 23: Auvillar to Miradoux (17.5 kms)

Victor the donkey

Last night another guest arrived where we were staying. His name is Wilhelm, and he has been traveling from his home in NW Switzerland to Santiago. After traveling some 700 kms he decided to hire a donkey to help him finish the journey. He said he paid 1400 euros to rent a fine young donkey, named Victor. He explained that the price he paid included the costs for the owner coming to Santaigo to pick Victor up. Wilhelm and Victor are making about 24 kms a day. Victor eats the grass he finds along the way, and requires no water. Apparently the water content in the grass (according to the owner's manual) is sufficient for Victor's needs. Who would have guessed? We all left together this morning, heading off into the countryside, lulled by the rhythmic sound of Victor's hooves on the side of the road. The owner of our Chambre d'Hôte gave us a tip to avoid going back down into the village to regain the GR65, and we all followed it. Robin and I stopped while I adjusted my pack, and Wilhelm and Victor clop, clopped a round a bend and out of sight. We were approaching the point where our short cut met the GR65, when a woman suddenly appeared from the forest on our left. She was from South Africa, and walked with us for the next hour or so. The path today was mostly out in the open either alongside cultivated fields, or following along the road. The cherries in this area are ripe for picking now and are seen everywhere. We passed a roadside table stocked with individual bags of cherries, one euro in the jug thank you very much. A euro coin rattled into the jug and the cherries were quickly consumed. We met two ladies from Perth, Australia, at the cherry table. They were also making a purchase and noting how expensive these cherries would be in Perth. So, with cherry juice dribbling down our chins, we pushed off once again. We had a great coffee stop at St. Antoine where a little cafe called La Coquille was open and serving several other pilgrims looking for coffee and a snack. We all sat outside and enjoyed our near midday break. It was tempting to linger, but knowing the uncertainty of lodging at this time of year we packed up and moved along. We were trailing our two Australian friends most of the afternoon. We passed through a small village called Flamarens, where an elderly French gentleman heard us speaking English and came out to say hello. He spoke excellent English and gave us some information on the village. We have noticed that many of these pretty rural villages have been very quiet. Our local friend explained that there used to be many English people living in the village looking for the "good life in France." The devaluation of the pound, and cuts in pensions drove many of the English back across the Channel and into the rain. The upshot of all this is that sadly now many of these villages are dying slow deaths. We thanked our friend for spending sometime with us, and we continued on for the final 4 kms to Miradoux. We met the two Australians in Miradoux searching up and down for a bed for the night. This is not fun in 80F weather after a day's walk. We walked on to the Gîte Bonte Divine, where we had a reservation. We received a warm welcome and have settled in with our fellow travelers to clean up, do laundry, and just relax. We are off to Lectoure tomorrow. Robin is making more reservations after witnessing the plight of our Australian friends. I hope they find something.

Out for a Sunday ride
Local terrain
Entering St. Antoine
Coffee break
Cherries for sale
Day's end




  1. Thank you for sharing your journey! I am so enjoying every step you write of and every picture your share.
    Bon Chemin

  2. It is for me very nice to see photos and read about this part of the Chemin. When I broke my toe in Lauzerte, I took the train to Condom and waited there for my friend. I did cycle this part in 2010 but it is not quite the same. Thank you for the virtual experience.