Our walking holiday is turning into more holiday and less walking. France Meteo issued a canicule warning for today… Canicule “précoce et exceptionnelle” dans le Sud-Ouest : il a fait jusqu’à 38 degrés lundi … and we’ve manage to locate ourselves almost in the hottest part of France. They said it was going to reach 38c… Mr S was not planning on walking today.
We decided to take a driving tour around some of the pretty towns and villages in Gascony. This really is a very pretty part of France; altough every year we visit a new area and find that to be wonderful too. Perhaps all of France is beautiful?
We drove first to the Beau Village of Fourcés… a perfect ensemble of medieval houses, some in colombage (half-timbered) and some in stone (built in the 17th and 18th centuries). Fourcés is very unusual, in that although it is a bastide town it follows a round design (almost all other bastide towns follow a grid pattern). This is not on a pilgrim route although I still managed to find a shell!
(p.s. the red flowers in the photos are really that red… no filters applied!)
After a cool drink we drove on to Eauze. This is another stop on Le Puy camino and as we drove we passed a few pilgrims… and I have to say today I didn’t envy them! It’s really hot in south west France, I can’t imagine how hot it is in Spain right now!
Eauze is just 130 kilometers from the Spanish border, and was once was the capital of the Roman province of Novempopulania. We wandered around the old church, taking refuge withing it’s cool walls, before finding a quiet restaurant for a menu du jour. After 3 courses and the obligatory coffee we wandered back to the car and set off again.
We drove south through several villages. One left us slightly bemused and curious… tonight there was to be a village fete with live music from the Kings Singers, BBQ, Ambiance & Sexy! We drove on without stopping; we’ll never know how that village fete panned out?!
We ended up in the small town of Mirande. We weren’t sure if this was a once prosperous town now in decline, or if perhaps it had seen poorer days and was now on the up? At the moment it was some where inbetween. We wandered through narrow roads, sticking always to the shady side of the street and pausing as we walked by open doors where the ancient buildings still retained cool air that wafted out into the street.
We stumbled across a church that could have been anywhere in Spain, it just looked and felt so like a camino church. Again inside it was cool and peaceful. Gerry sat and I wandered. There was no gold or fancy art but there was a beauty and elegance and charm to this little gem… it’s amazing what you find in little villages.
We dragged ourselves back outside to the heat, we found a shady terrace for another cold drink before returning to the car and heading home; the thermometer said 39c… the tarmac was melting and so was I!
On the way back we talked about how rural this area is and the types of agriculture. The soil is sandy and so unlike our chalky Dordogne clay. I said that perhaps once (millions of years ago) this was the coast… Gerry interupted before I’d explained my train of thought… at first he thought it was a mad idea but then he could see my reasoning.
I said… “with respect my dear, you did interrupt me before I finished my sentence” to which he replied “yes dear, but it’s usually best as it saves us both a great deal of trouble“… sadly he’s probably right!