Nogaro is a small town established in the 11th century. It takes its name from ‘nogarium’ meaning ‘ a place with walnuts plantations’.
After leaving the gite it was just over a kilometre to the town centre. I had a coffee at one of the town’s restaurants. There was a lot of traffic including some surprisingly large trucks from Austria, Romania and Poland. I was surprised as the area did not seem to have much industry and concluded they must be transporting the agricultural products from the area to all over Europe. As I had my coffee I saw a Swiss man that I had seen before but had never spoken to. He wore a hat with small bunches of fresh wild flowers round it. He disappeared into the distance along the Way.
Some kilometres later the Way crossed a main road before climbing gently to a small village with an unusual church. Other walkers I met were bemused as its steeple was built in the style of the churches of Franche-Comté near Switzerland. Perhaps the builder had hailed from that area of Eastern France.
What followed was one of the most magical parts of the Way so far. For several kilometres the route passed through deep lush native forest. Quite a change from the rolling farmland of the last few days. It was filled with bird song and life. The bird song was so intense and I could not decide if it was the volume or my heightened awareness that made it so present. The sounds of nature were occasionally interrupted by the distant drone of a light aircraft from Nogaro carrying out a navigation exercise.
Not long after emerging from the woods I came across the tiny village of Lelin Lapujolle where I found Francoise and Hubert again. They had just started lunch so I joined them. They were now on their last day of the walk as they lived in Aire sur l’Adour. They planned to continue on another part of the Way later in the Autumn and next year in Spain on the Camino Frances. We chatted a lot and they invited me to stay the night with them at their home near Aire sur l’Adour. I happily accepted their hospitality.
We set off and as usual we were walking at different speeds so I continued on. Francoise was happy to move at a slower pace smiling and singing as she did. This is normal on the Way as everyone has a different speed and often it is easier to walk at your own pace and meet later. Walking alone was often more revealing. The Way descended into the wide flat Adour valley. There were few trees for protection from the sun and it was 3pm and much hotter. After a long straight section by a railway line I arrived at the centre of Aire sur l’Adour exhausted and with very hot and uncomfortable feet. I sat in the shade of an umbrella at a cafe and had a long cold beer while waiting for Hubert and Francoise.
When they arrived we went to the Cathedral and got our stamps in the Credential. There, sitting at the Pilgrim’s welcome table, was Takumi, the Japanese man we had all last seen in Estaing. We thought he would have been further ahead as he was the first to leave that morning and we had not seen him since. Hubert’s Brother appeared to drive us the 25km to Hubert and Francoise’s home. Hubert had bought a lot of food and in the evening we sat at their home and dined well. This was very welcomed after our usual diet of sardines, paté, pasta and more basic fare along the Way. Followed by some very special armagnac, and a whisky in my honour, it was a wonderful evening of food and conversation.