Day 2 | Sarrance to Borce
There was no chocolate today. Indeed we never even considered chocolate until an hour ago, during President Macron’s speech. We even calculated how long it would take us to get to the supermarket before they closed; alas too long. Instead Gerry had a yoghurt and I had an apple. We only really eat chocolate when we’re walking. Maybe tomorrow?
Yesterday we ended our day by driving to Sarrance and decided to go and explore the village. We planned to return today and walk to Jouers. But the plan never really worked out. For starters we woke late, or more to the point we want to bed late. England played Italy in the final of the European Football Championships last night; the match ended in a draw and then went to extra time and it still ended in a draw… so then it went to penalties. I’m not a football fan but my walking buddy is. So it was a late night. Italy won but Gerry said the young English team did us proud. So we slept in.
Unlike yesterday our bags weren’t ready and our toes weren’t taped. And unlike yesterday the sunshine didn’t stream through the bedroom. We woke to the sound of rain. No matter. We dressed and prepared and hit the road.
We arrived in Sarrance at around 09:30 am and the sky was very grey. We parked near the church. It rained. The camino wanders down through the town and out across the river bridge. And it rained. It was time for a plan B. We decided to return to the car and drive onwards a little, maybe the rain would ease? The sky lightened as we approached Bedous so we parked and went a wandering around the town. If we had been following the camino we might have simply followed the arrows through the town but instead we explored. We learned that Pierre Laclede, a native from Bedous founded St. Louis, in the United States in 1764 and the village still retains close ties with the city today! And we also learned that they make cheese here. So we stopped to buy some… and it’s really good!
The rain stayed away and we started to walk. Up we went through the the narrow streets of Bedous and off into the hills. We had decided to leave our bags in the car and instead walk for a while before turning round and heading back. That way if the rain started again in earnest we’d not be 3 hours from the car. Onward and onward we wandered and if we didn’t know better we would have honestly thought it was Autumn, the heat of yesterdays summer was so far away. But the cool air meant we made good time. As we were leaving another tiny village Gerry spotted a Boulangerie and as he peered in the window the baker came out and welcomed him in. We all know that Gerry only needs to be asked once. He bought a small, still warm, seeded loaf, baked in a old stone oven with flour milled onsite. The baker asked what I wanted so I explained that I have celiac disease so it wasn’t for me… but lucky me he told me to come back on Wednesday and he’d make you a gluten free loaf made with buckwheat… which is naturally gluten free! So 11:00 am on Wednesday you’ll know where I’ll be!
With a warm loaf tucked in his day pack we set off again. We walked along a soft trail beside green lush meadows. We passed sheep and horses happily munching on this sweet grass. We stopped for a drink of water in Jouers and meandered on until time ran away from us and we needed to turn and head back. Gosh the view always looks different on the return journey and this valley is truly glorious! We wondered what it would look like in yesterdays sunshine and we wondered what the views would be like without the cloud cover but we wouldn’t find out today (perhaps we’ll have to return one day!) Yesterday we saw two pilgrims walking along the main road into Sarrance and we passed them again today in the meadow. We exchanged pilgrim pleasantries and we both continued in different directions. They were carrying big packs and they were covered in rain ponchos. Their packs looked huge… too big for a camino. And it hadn’t rained for more than an hour so they didn’t need their ponchos. They were marching, head down, looking tired and hot and out of breath. I wanted to tell them to slow down… but I guess they just wanted to get to their stage end. But… they really were missing out on the views! We took our time walking back through the little streets of Bedous. By changing our plan we ended up with more time to explore and I’ve fallen in love with these beautiful little streets and houses. We heard the church bell strike one o’clock and I knew that Gerry would be getting hungry. So we dragged ourselves away and walked back to the car.
The car wasn’t parked in the prettiest of places but behind us was a sign for fishing… fishing meant the river so we followed the sign and found the perfect picnic spot beside the river Aspe. The water is so clear, it’s honestly like a swimming pool! Gerry read the notice board and it explained that this is the place to catch trout… and he informs me that trout only swim in the cleanest of rivers. If it hadn’t have been so cold I might have been tempted to jump in and join them! Instead we tucked into our picnic… Gerry looks a bit grumpy in the picnic photo but only because he was eating an extra lump of cheese whilst I’d left the table to take his photo!
Satisfied with our picnic we decided to move on. We drove to the next village of Accous. We parked by the church and picked up the camino markers that would lead us back to Jouers, back to the path that we left before lunch, and then returning the same way back to the church… but it felt like too soon to stop. We headed instead off in the other direction. Down through Accous and out again to another wonderful valley. The rocks and cliffs above us reminded us of the Picos from last year and the Lebaniego route from the coast to Potes. This was another glorious walk. We spotted the two pilgrims again but instead of walking along this beautiful quiet trail they were hiking along the main road? Such a shame as they were missing out on all this nature.
The rain stayed away. But time was pressing and the breeze was picking up and the clouds were darkening. It was time to turn around and head back to the car. But it’s hard to pull ourselves away when the scenery is so pretty. As we approached the village a dog approached us. We’d seen him earlier but from a distance. This time he spotted us and headed right towards us. I’d left my walking poles in the car but honestly they wouldn’t be needed today! This lovely old doggie just wanted some loving. He followed us back to the car park where he decided he needed to go find new friends so he wandered off and found someone else to pat him.
We drove onwards to Borce. In a normal camino, Borce would be the stage end. It was raining again but as we turned off the road to Borce it cleared. We didn’t stop in the village but instead headed higher and higher up to the Parc d’ Ours; the park of the bears! We weren’t really planning on seeing the bears but we wanted to see the views. However, the low cloud meant there was very little to see so we drove back down to the Borce. This is yet another pretty little Béarn village, with neat little houses and pretty gardens. And there was a bar! Gerry treated himself to large coffee with lots of hot milk… I decided to stick with a Perrier water. We sat outside on the terrace and watched groups of hikers wander by but no more pilgrims. I guess this must be a really popular spot for walking! President Marcon is addressing the nation again this evening. We wondered if he was going to say that the border with Spain would close or perhaps suggest that quarantine would be needed for our return to France. If this did happened then we decided there as we drank that we would stay in the area and explore and hike here.
We finished our drinks and headed back to the car. Today wasn’t the day that we planned but nonetheless we managed to walk most of the trail we’d intended… and it may not have been sunny but it was nonetheless glorious. What a beautiful corner of France this is.
There was no chocolate but there was warm fresh bread and fabulous local cheeses… and views! And no feet problems either. I’d padded the blister with some sheeps wool, swapped into my old Lone Peaks for todays walking and my feet were happy to keep on walking. And… Mr President isn’t closing the border… so Spain beckons us in just a few more days. More rain is planned tomorrow so we’ll consider our options in the morning… but there will be plenty more walking and we’re getting closer and closer to the border and the start of the Camino Aragones!