Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 6: Aumont-Aubrac to Nasbinals (26.5 kms)

We had a fun dinner at our Chambre d'Hôte, Le Sentiers Fleuris. The owner is a bit of a showman and made a big production of preparing the aligot (a local dish of cheese and potatoes). Robin shot a short video to explain exactly what this looks like. I'll try to upload it. In short it is very elastic. He further explained that the cheese used is very young and to work in this dish it must only be between 3 and 6 days old (if my memory serves me). In any event we all cheered on our host as he paddled and stretched the aligot to his satisfaction. We have been meeting and enjoying the company of many French people along the Chemin. Last night was no exception. A couple who sat next to us at dinner turned out to be great conversationalists. They used a used a mix of English and French, and we responded in kind. Somehow it all works out. Walking the Chemin without a working knowledge of French is not a deal breaker. Many people do it.

Fast forward to this morning. Robin and I awoke to Robin's phone buzzing at 6:30. We stayed in an overflow apartment last night and had a short walk to breakfast. We brought along Robin's backpack which we had transported to Nasbinals (8 euros). After a breakfast of bowls of coffee, bread and jam we gathered up my pack and set out for Nasbinals. Robin's leg was going to get a test today, but we wanted to see how it would do without the weight of her backpack. She did just fine. Surprisingly the weather was once again in our favor. We set out under partly cloudy skies, calm conditions and temperatures in the low 40's F. There were quite a few pilgrims departing with us, and there was a festive atmosphere in the air.


As we headed out of town everyone was bundled up against the cold (us included). A short hill later people were peeling off down to t shirts. We made our way through a tangle of backpacks, and ambled off into a gloriously sunny morning. Today was when we first encountered what I had expected the Aubrac Plateau to look like. A few images come to mind. The Meseta (with a lot ,more rocks), Scotland, or perhaps Montana just east of the mountains. In any event it was a remarkable world we found ourselves walking through. As we moved along the plateau a cold wind picked up and around lunchtime we found groups, of two or three sheltering behind low stone walls enjoying a sandwich. We continued our rock hopping and bog jumping until we reached a little town called Finieyrols (10.5 kms from Nasbinals). We had prayed for something to be open so we could at least get a coffee to warm up. We were not to be disappointed for as we chugged up the hill into town we came across a little shack, attended by a very energetic owner, that provided shelter from the wind, food and hot drinks. Robin and I enjoyed coffee and soup as we tucked ourselves further into the shack and away from the wind. The owner explained that he and his family had resurrected an old barn and were creating a very nice Chambre d'Hôte in its place. Oddly enough, we saw the baggage transport van we had hired to move Robin's backpack to Nasbinals pull up in front of the shack. The driver had stopped for a sandwich. I asked him if he had picked up a bag in Aumont-Aubrac. He opened the back of the van and there was our backpack, nice and toasty soon to be back en route to our destination for the night. What a system, and it works!

After lunch we set out again simply enjoying being alive and being gifted with this beautiful day. As we walked along, looking at the countryside, and the nature of the trail we found ourselves being ever thankful for dry weather. There are certainly parts of this trail where heavy rains would make it quite challenging. There is no where for the water to go other than where you hope to walk. In many areas the fall of the trail is quite steep so not only does the water pursue you, but it seems it would do so at a high rate of speed. In short...not fun. But, miraculously to date, we have experienced, what for this area would have to be considered, perfect weather. Side note. At dinner tonight I heard a guy saying that at the end of May last year in Nasbinals they still had 50 cms of snow on the ground. That explains why pilgrims along this route routinely carry winter kit even in late spring. So to wrap up, Robin and I (with still a bit of spring in our step) hoved into Nasbinals around 3:30. We had somehow gathered our pilgrim trail family together, at the entrance to town, and so off we went (ensemble) to our hotel bar for a well earned cold beer. Some of our friends are returning to jobs tomorrow and will be missed, while others will be staying on, and will join us once again on the Chemin in the morning. The journey continues. À demain.

The Shack
Approaching Nasbinals
A quick look at aligot



  1. I love the Aubrac Plateau, and have been fortunate to walk it twice. The first time I nearly got hypothermia in the cold rain on Day1, and on Day2 got no view at all in the mist. Then in 2012 I struck temperatures around 30c- which made it a hot slog without shelter into Nasbinals. Great memories both times. You seem to have indeed struck 'perfect' weather.

  2. Walked the Aubrac Plateau in 2008 about 2 days after Kiwi Nomad, loved it. Hope you saw the Fresques by the modern artist Hervé Vernhès in the small church in the village of Aubrac. I am going to love following your pilgrimage! Thank you.