It feels like, over the weekend, our Dordogne summer abruptly ended and autumn has already started; although I’m reliably informed that the sun will be back in a few days. I was also told today that, due to the odd weather this year, the French grapes are being harvested earlier than they have been since the 16th century. All is not lost though; the warm wet spring and a very hot summer means this could be a very good year for wine! And for us today, the cooler temperature and cloudy skies made for perfect walking.
Our meeting point was in the car park at Saint-Vincent-Jalmoutiers, a pretty little village on the Dordogne/Charente border. I’ve driven through here many times but this was the first time I’d stopped to take a look. I love the rolling hills around here, they remind me of Devon and I love the far reaching views. Today we arrived early (we’d been late last week thanks to google!) but after a few minutes more walking buddies arrived to joined us… including some very happy 4-legged varieties. I was also really happy to see Jill, who’d walked with me last year on my Camino Taster from Pamplona to Logrono (just talking about that trip makes me fees sad because the world was a much safer place back then).
Under a grey sky we all set off, through the village, along a road and then turning off on a forest track. The dogs came off their leads and happily raced and chased each other along the trail whilst we all wandered, naturally drifting into groups, chatting and sharing news and stories and little by little the kilometres fell away.
The halfway point was another pretty village; Saint Privat des Pres. In its centre is a glorious fortified 11th century Romanesque church with a magnificent facade and arched portal. I sang here a few years ago for a wedding but sadly today it was locked for visitors. We stopped and took a few photos before meandering on through the village and back on to the trail.
There’s been very little road walking today and as we left the village we were quickly directed back into the forest, along one of the many white chemins (trails) so typical of this area. The Perigord Blanc is so named because of its white chalky soil. All around are signs of autumn, rose-hips and berries and ploughed fields, trees dripping with apples and pears and figs and grapes ready for picking, walnut trees heavy with nuts and even the odd Kiwi bush full of ripe fruit. I am sad that summer is ending but I do love autumn!
Onwards and onwards we travelled, walking and talking and just enjoying the walk. Just as we neared the end the clouds seemed to disperse and patches of blue sky and sun returned. What a lovely walk, made better by the company of good friends and the cool air!
Thank you for joining me – See you next time!