Tuesday, 3 June 2003
Distance 20 km
Duration 4 hours 45 minutes
Ascent 488 m, descent 451 m
Map 57 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
Topoguide (Ref 652) Sentier de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, Figeac/Cahors/Agen/Moissac
We woke to the steady drumming of rain on the tent. I had a painful chesty cough and felt inclined to stay in bed, but the thought of spending the day in this backwater without food or even coffee spurred us to get up. The rain eased off briefly and we managed to stuff everything, including the damp washing, into our packs, shove some muesli down our throats and march away. Once on the road, things seemed better.
Instead of taking the GR through the sodden woods, we chose the road, which at 7 am was deserted. Passing the beloved Source Bleue, we again met the woman crossing the road, and renewed our thanks for last night’s hospitality. She was obviously mystified at our mad behaviour.
The rain had started again by the time we rejoined the GR, high above the river, but we were sweating so much that it did not seem worth the trouble of putting on our rain jackets.
The way was surprisingly hilly given the gentle appearance of the countryside and twice we lost the track.
By the time we reached Thézac, with its church buried in vines, the drizzle had been replaced by blue sky and soon the bastide town of Tournon-d’Agenais rose in front of us, floating on its hilltop.
We pulled into the lower streets at midday, just in time to get a baguette before the boulangerie closed. Our next stop was the leafy terrace of the hotel, where we had a prolonged and delightful coffee. Trucks thundered past on the road a few feet away, but it was very restful.
Some locals had told us we could camp at the leisure centre nearby, but when we went there the place was deserted and the sanitaires locked – it was too early in the season.
However we were not deterred. We felt we had been well enough washed by the morning rain to do without a shower.
We strung our wet washing between two ancient apple trees, lay on our mats for a delicious lunch, then fell asleep. It was a lovely spot, with the top of the town just peeping over the hedge.
Towards evening we went back to explore the town. The main square at the top has lost most of its arcades but is charming all the same, with a clock tower showing the phases of the moon and masses of rambling roses.
From the ramparts the view extends over a rich patchwork of fields.
For dinner we went back to the Hotel des Voyageurs where we had enjoyed coffee when we first arrived.
The facade was old and unassuming, but the open dining area at the back was much more stylish, with paving, flower beds and umbrellas.
We started with a selection of hors d’oeuvres, then had steak, baked potato and and vegetables and rounded off our lovely meal with ice cream and coffee.