Thursday, 14 July 2005
Distance 22 km
Duration 4 hours 10 minutes
Ascent 7 m, descent 310 m
Map 57 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
When we crawled out, the Dutch bicycle pilgrims were up with their tent dismantled, but we still left before they did.
Soon afterwards they waved as the sailed past us on the gently descending road to Vers. They would not have turned a pedal until then. The causse had become much smoother on this side and the walking was not strenuous.
We went through a couple of hamlets, at one of which people were setting up a Bastille Day fair, although they looked as if they had celebrated too much last night to be fully able to enjoy the morning.
As we came to the place where the little road from Labastide met the D653, we failed to find the GR as it crossed the river, and were forced onto the highway for the last few kilometres, with the GR unreachable across the stream. But it was shady and there was hardly any traffic on this day of rest.
We had another bonus, an isolated inn, the Rustica, about 5 km out of Vers. It looked derelict as we approached but then we saw parked cars outside and a delectable smell wafted up the road. A smiling woman took us to some tables at the back for our first coffee of the day.
The second was not long in coming, at the Truite Dorée, the famous old establishment at Vers. Climbing up the steps from the road to the garden was all the uphill walking we had done that day.
Huge trees spread their shade over us but it was still hot. Having been to Vers before, we knew where the camping ground was, down on the river.
The tributary that we had been following makes a final dash to the Lot, dividing the village with a little torrent.
The office of the camping ground was closed for lunch but we set ourselves up close to the riverbank, with only the towpath between us and the brown waters of the Lot.
A pleasure boat was tied up to a tree and the occupants were lunching on deck in the shifting green shade.
The afternoon was too hot to encourage activity. The only thing we did, apart from the usual routine of showers, lunch and a sleep, was go up to the village for icecreams. I tried Armagnac icecream, which sounded more exciting than it tasted, although it was good.
We had already booked a table at the Truite Dorée for the evening, on the advice of the Office of Tourism in Labastide-Murat, as it has a considerable culinary reputation. This turned out to be good advice, as both terraces were packed and there were even people eating indoors on this hot evening.
We had the €13 ‘village’ menu, the cheapest but very fine. Keith began with a salad with a warm cabécou resting on top – a small round goat’s cheese. I had a complicated assortment of crudities.
Before we had finished these, a pot of terrine and a bowl of gherkins arrived and we served ourselves generously. This pot passed from table to table as required. We cleaned out a basket of bread and started on the next.
For mains Keith had a steak with Roquefort sauce and I had a chicken casserole, both elegantly adorned with vegetables. Every scrap of that course having disappeared, we pressed on to dessert.
Keith had a nut tart swimming in crème anglaise and I had three wedges of cheese, two of which ended up in the plastic pouch in my bag, along with a good slab of terrine and some bread. Lunch for tomorrow was catered for.
Although we could have had house wine, as we normally do, we decided on a bottle of Cahors red to accompany this excellent meal, and returned to our tiny abode in darkness with a very good feeling.