Looking at the map the road looked like the shorter option. The Via Podiensis as marked required a backtrack for a short distance then a bit of a detour. It was always more pleasant to follow the path but the roads were quiet so I headed off along the tarmac. It was two kilometres less after all.
I had a coffee in the village of Bach, and was given another free cup to help me on the way. The French are generally very generous people. The Way continued through fields and tall scrub-like small oak trees. It reminded me a little of Australia and the heat was building already. It was only eleven o’clock.
In the small village of Mas de Vers I saw a notice to Relais Saint Jacques. A small path lead down to a simple house with a large shady tree. It was quiet and there was nobody around. I sat down to have lunch and after a few minutes a man appeared. His name was Maurice and he provided a basic food and drink service for pilgrims. We talked and I discovered that the authors of the guide book I was using (the Miam Miam Dodo) was written by a couple who lived only a few kilometres away.
Maurice was a great postcard collector and asked all his customers to send him a post card for his collection. I promised to send one on my return to Edinburgh. He was excited – he had no postcards from Scotland in his collection. Others walkers arrived a few minutes later. We all had a couple of beers with our pique-nique lunch.
I left to continue the walk as the afternoon became cooler. Following a small quiet valley the Way slowly descended again and I arrived below Le Pech. It had been recommended by someone to stay at the gite there. The only problem was the steep two kilometre climb to the village. I found the Gite d’Etape and was told it was full. Gerard appeared and his friend said that he would not mind sleeping on the couch (a self conscious snorer!)
I opted for the pilgrim meal that night and it was wonderful. Cassoulet typical of the area served with lots of fresh bread and organic wine produced by a local English couple. The gite had a large garden and after dinner everyone relaxed contentedly in the warm sun.
There were two dogs, one of which was very old. The old dog followed me around but could hardly walk. In an upturned dustbin lid I gave it some water which it drank with vigour. Later on a short stroll round the small village the dog staggered after me. I felt very upset about the dog and its condition and reflected on how the owner did not seem to supply water for either dog. Everyone agreed that the old dog probably did not have long to live. It left a slight tinge of sadness after a such a good day.