Actually today’s 26.7km was from Amettes to Villers-Chatel, but you won’t believe the ending of today’s story.
Honestly today’s walk wasn’t hard, but it had its moments. We awoke to a checkered forecast of 80% chance of rain, and it was quite cool. So, we once again battened down the hatches on our bags.
- Electronics in waterproof bags – check
- Phone in plastic zip lock – check
- Waterproof pants and socks on – check
- Rain jacket covering it all – check
Before heading out, we joined our hosts and enjoyed our “simple” country breakfast of prosciutto, croissants, toast, 4 homemade jams, yoghurt, juice, apples, bananas cheese, butter, cream cheese, coffee and tea….and leftover apple tart from dinner. Regarding the tart, we were told we had to finish it before leaving. Yes madame!
Allison and I took turns rolling each other out of the breakfast room to collect our packs – and we were off. As we walked out of town, the many signs reminded us of the importance of Saint Beniot Joseph Labre to the village of Amettes. More about him is included the History Bits tab.
The morning was cool and grey, but we were happy to find that the French weather forecasters are no more accurate than our own. It misted a few times and threatened to downpour more than once. But other than a two minute torrent we stayed dry.
After taking several pictures, I noticed I only had about three minutes of recording time left on our SD Card #2. So I took the opportunity to interview both of us…(yes, I interviewed myself). I asked a series of questions that I would repeat on several other occasions along our journey.
Soon after that video was shot, the clouds broke and the day ended in sunshine. It actually got a little hot. We walked primarily on roads today because, shortly after heading out of the village of Amettes, we had broken away from the “official” route. We took a detour toward our intended destination.
All along this portion of France we’ve been seeing private chapels. These simple structures sometimes have a small worship space large enough for one or two people. Sometimes they are exterior altars only. They are quite interesting and varied; some are plain and some ornate.
Since I was wayfinding using my GPS app (Gaia), we walked mostly on tarmac. The “official” route likely included more fields. Tarmac is hard on the feet, but it does allow you to go quite fast. We were booking! We ended up averaging 4.8km/hr over the whole day. That’s just under 3mph over 16mi. That’s a fast average for us carrying loaded backpacks, But we were not intentionally trying to go fast. Those of you that don’t know us should understand that Allison and I are both a little competitive. As a result, we often find our pace quickening as one unconsciously tries to get ahead of the other. Normally Allison wins.
Speeding along didn’t stop us from meeting this exuberant man, Maurice Johnson. He was joking around with us about the approaching rain. He insisted we approach St Peter’s square on our knees and whisper to Pope Francis that “Maurice is a good man”. Haha
We reached the village of LaComte and stopped at a bench to eat our chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. A short way down the street from our bench was a sign that I could almost read. It looked like it said Hobbit Town. I was sure that I was not reading it correctly, but the font was quite Tolkien-esque. So I walked over to read it.
Sure enough, the village of La Comte claims Hobbits to be real and to be their ancestral home. I couldn’t understand all the words but there was an old map, c 1400’s with Hobbitebourg clearly marked just adjacent to La Comte. Hmmm.
Ok…now for the grand finale. Why did we divert off the formal Via today? Well, we’d heard about this special donativo run by Jean (John) and Maria, two fellow pilgrims. They’ve actually done the pilgrimage to Rome as well as a bucket-list item of mine, Rome to Jerusalem. Oh…and their donativo just so happens to be in a nice house…ok…it’s a chateau.
It is crazy, but this is where we are staying and being fed tonight…for a donation.
Our dinner was such fun and mostly came from their own garden. We had a cantaloupe as a starter followed by zucchini, roast potatoes, and omelets. Next was a course of 5 cheeses, and finally a lemon meringue tart. The conversation was almost exclusively in French for the second night in a row but I pretty much caught only words and a phrase or two. Allison did much better.
After dinner we browsed through their book of photos from their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Dominiq was with us again for another but final night.
Well, that’s it for today. Anything I can add now would be anti-climactic. So au revoir and good night.