In the morning the town was totally deserted and very quiet. I waited until 9am for the post office to open. The previous night I had sorted out some more things to post home. 1.7kg lighter I descended from the town.
Outside the fortified walls there were a few shops and cafes. I continued on after a croissant and a coffee. Stocking up on blister patches, I finally found the fabled French foot cream called ‘Nok’ designed to stop blisters (and it works!). The Way descended to cross a wide valley before climbing into the hills again.
I heard a scuffle and some panting behind. A man and his dog were marching quickly up the hill behind me. It was Peter whose wife I had met the day before. He walked quickly and the dog struggled, panting, to keep up. Some days he left the dog with his wife when it became too tired. He had a map and GPS and was plotting the whole route from his home town of Loenen aan de Vecht in the Netherlands to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port. He disappeared into the distance.
At the top of the hill at La Ferme de Chartron there was a dovecot (‘pigeonnier du Quercy’) and a good view back to Lauzerte. I don’t think Peter saw this as he had his head in the map and GPS. Soon I was back on a sealed road again and it was a long stretch. The steady plod on the hard road surface is not so pleasant as a winding wooded track. I had already met many who succumbed to blisters or tendonitis due to walking too long on hard road surfaces.
Almost from nowhere a hotel appeared. It stood on its own and from the outside it seemed closed and run down. When I reached the hotel L’Aube Nouvelle, it was full of life with many eating lunch in the sun on the patio. Inside it was magnificent. A lovely relaxed place done up with style and grace. Pascal and his wife sat at a table eating foie gras and drinking crisp white wine. I rested for a while but declined the foie gras. A bit too rich in the eating.
Shortly after, with hunger aroused by the lunch I had witnessed, I sat at Le Relais Saint Jacques in Durfort-Lacapelette and ‘pique-niqued’ on bread, pate and cheese washed down with a glass of the local red wine. I was tired and fell asleep at the cafe table!
It was mid-afternoon when I left and soon the sun was less strong. As I moved through the woods in the late afternoon, I stopped to watch a large deer cross the track in front of me 50m away. Nothing else and no one else was around – it was a serenely peaceful moment.
The Way descended with fantastic views over the Garonne and Tarn valleys. Photographs would not do it justice, so I took none. Not far away these two large rivers would join, and I could see where they did far in the distance. Moissac was sign posted and I was relieved to have arrived after what had been a long hot day of walking. Unfortunately the sign welcoming you to Moissac is a bit premature as it was another three kilometres along busy roads and through the industrial outskirts before arriving in the old town. The feet were protesting. Needless to say Pascal and his wife were there and welcomed me with a cold glass of beer by the Abbey church of Saint Pierre (a 7th century Benedictine monastery and cloisters). The feet stopped protesting soon after.
We all headed up the hill to the old Carmel monastery and pilgrim accommodation. Luckily there was a bed left and after dinner I had an early night. Unfortunately I never saw the famed cloisters from the inside.