Sunday, 27 June 2004
Distance 17 km
Duration 3 hours 45 minutes
Ascent 250 m, descent 227 m
Map 63 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
Topoguide Le Chemin d’Arles (blue cover)
There was to be no lazing about in cafés this morning after our late start yesterday gave us such a roasting. We left at 7 am and only stopped in the square for fresh bread.
A man on a bike pointed the way to us, only to be contradicted by another, who wobbled along beside us to make sure we got to the GR, while the first man rode off shaking his head. They take their duties as hosts very seriously here.
The day’s walk was short, up and over three low ridges. Apart from these, the land was as flat as a teatray, with crops of corn being irrigated by powerful sprinklers, apparently for bio-fuel. The only people we met were some locals out walking their dogs on the scrubby ridge.
We arrived at Maubourguet about 10:30 and made for the nearest bar, which had a convenient boulangerie-patisserie next door. It was as good as a day off to us, as we had no intention of going further.
A long time passed in this enjoyable spot with our bare toes wiggling, before we took ourselves across the bridge, where the river Adour surged over big jutting rocks, and into the main square.
The camping ground was only a few steps from here, on a tributary stream (the Echez), and was run by a young couple who fussed around us with great solicitude.
We set up our camp in a shady corner beside a fast-flowing cascade, although our hosts feared we would be disturbed by “les jeunes” in the adjoining park in the evening. We did not think so.
Refreshed by showers, lunch and a sleep, we emerged into the square again. It had a slightly desolate air, but further up, under a canopy of plane trees, two cafés were doing good business. The trees have been lopped for decades, if not centuries, so that their branches make a perfectly flat leafy roof.
Another round of coffees at the Bar Le Moderne in this genial shade, followed by a visit to the fine old church, completed the afternoon. The church has an octagonal tower and was part of a twelfth-century Benedictine priory.
Dinner was in the same place, a substantial lasagne with salad and a jug of wine. On the way back to the camping ground we spied a little bar-boulangerie just over the bridge of the Echez, and found out that it would be open for fresh bread and coffee at 6 am – good news.