Day 8: Monistrol to Chanaleilles

Saturday, 15 June 2002
Distance 25 km
Map 50 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
Topoguide (Ref 651) Sentier de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle Le Puy/Aubrac/Conques/Figeac

Walking in France: Walking past a field of cornflowers
Walking past a field of cornflowers

A night’s rest had wrought the usual miracle and we were ready to spring away at 7:30.

We were gradually getting the idea that an early start is the secret to success, especially in hot weather. The rule going around is: every hour of walking before noon is worth double; every hour after is worth half.

Crossing the river into the lower town, we scrambled up steeply out of the gorge, in a forest of pines.

At the top we emerged into bare open country strewn with boulders.

Walking in France: The Beast of Gevaudan, near Sauges
The Beast of Gevaudan, near Sauges

There followed several miles of easy walking, our only difficulty being the heat. We drank from a hand-operated pump in one of the hamlets on the way.

As we crossed a road and began to descend into the town of Sauges, a wooden carving of the Beast of Gevaudan dominated the view.

This commemorates the great wolf, the size of a donkey, that terrorised these treeless wastes for three years in the mid-eighteenth century.

It had a taste for human rather than sheep flesh and killed close to a hundred people, mostly women and children, before being done away with.

Walking in France: Hot work
Hot work

Lunch in the busy street of Sauges was followed by a nap in a wood just outside the town, nursing blisters, sunburn and heat exhaustion.

When we woke from our brief nap a breeze had come up and we proceeded more comfortably.

Walking in France: Relic of the Hundred Years' War and some fellow pilgrims resting in the shade
Relic of the Hundred Years’ War and some fellow pilgrims resting in the shade

In a lane we had to press into the hedge to avoid being threshed by a huge harvester going past.

Our goal was les Vernets where there was a gîte, but it was derelict so we limped on to les Chanaleilles a few hard kilometres further on, where we found our prayers were answered with a fine gîte and a café.

Walking in France: Amazing self-supporting shorts
Amazing self-supporting shorts

The enjoyment was the greater for the agony of getting there.

When Keith took off his shorts to have a shower, they were so caked with dried sweat that they stood up by themselves.

Walking in France: A very jolly dinner in the gîte at Chanaleilles
A very jolly dinner in the gîte at Chanaleilles

Later on we had a communal meal, consisting of soup, then salad, followed by a mountain of mashed potato with sausages made from the family pig. We finished with cheeses and a crème caramel.

Wine flowed freely and the conversation amongst the travellers was lively and multilingual.

Previous day: Le Puy-en-Velay to Monistrol

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