Day 35: Maubourguet to Anoye

Monday, 28 June 2004
Distance 20 km
Duration 4 hours 20 minutes
Ascent 431 m, descent 361 m
Map 63 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
Topoguide Le Chemin d’Arles (blue cover)

The night had been over-warm and we were uncomfortable in our sleeping bags, which, although thin, could not be completely unzipped. It was not till late in the night that we fell asleep and then we slept in. However the heat wave had passed so we did not care.

Walking in France: On the short cut from Vidouze to Momy with a fellow pilgrim
On the short cut from Vidouze to Momy with a fellow pilgrim

Our first stop was at the bar-boulangerie after five minutes of walking. Keith read the paper while we enjoyed our coffee, which was to be our only coffee of the day. Luckily we did not know that.

At this stage of our expedition we had seen all the fields, forests and quaint villages that we felt we needed, and our interest was increasingly centred on town comforts such as bars, épiceries and restaurants. We were getting mentally tired.

Passing tiny Lahitte-Toupière, formerly famous for pottery, we came to the even tinier Vidouze, whose only remaining facility was a post office. Here we said goodbye to the aimlessly wandering GR and took the road to Momy, which was no more than a ribbon of tar along the crest of the ridge.

Someone had put a large carved wooden pilgrim beside this road, showing that we are not the only walkers who can read a map and like short-cuts.

A little way past Momy we entered Anoye and almost walked out the other side of it without seeing the gîte. It was only when we were accosted by a couple of women sitting smoking on a bench, that we realised they were the gîte-wardens, whom we had spoken to on the telephone last night. We were marched back to a large community hall and shown the kitchen, the showers and the bunks.

We said we wanted to camp and they indicated the little lawn in front of the church. We were the only people there and seemingly the only living things in the area, apart from the now-vanished women.

Time passed slowly during the afternoon. The showers were cold initially but Keith fiddled with the gas burner and it sprang to life. After lunch at the table, attended by flies, we heated up some milk and pretended it was coffee, then put our heads down on our folded arms and tried to sleep.

Walking in France: Camping beside the graveyard, Anoye
Camping beside the graveyard, Anoye

Later we went out to put the tent up, and discovered that the meticulously neat lawn in front of the church was growing on something as hard as a gravestone. Perhaps it was a gravestone.

It seemed disrespectful to lay into it with the brutality that was required, but nobody was looking and eventually the pegs went in.

Beside the church was a cemetery full of large family tombs, set like dining tables with arrangements of memorial tokens. A favourite was a pottery scroll reading “May your rest be as sweet as your heart was good”, which seemed a fair enough bargain for anybody.

On the church door was a notice requesting families to check the stability of their tombs, as someone had recently been killed in the department by a falling cross.

For dinner we heated a tin of lentils and sausages that we had bought from the women and ate them in solitude from ugly plates, with plastic tumblers of wine. It was ungrateful of us, but were starting to think the little place merited its name.

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