Wednesday, 29 June 2011
During the night it rained heavily, but we had already brought in all our dry washing before we went to bed. It was much colder in the morning and we decided to have a rest after the last two gruelling days.
For breakfast we crossed the Loire again and had croissants and coffee in a bar.
Between rain showers we wandered around the village, which was pleasanter than it had seemed when we first arrived, as we had missed the older part hanging above the river.
There were narrow, crooked streets and stairs, a fine church and a walled château.
On our way back we visited the jutting stump of the old bridge, washed away in the floods of 1907.
It had only been built fifteen years before and was the first one ever at Aurec, which previously had relied on ferries to get across the water. Both the old and the new bridges were impressively high, a testament to the monumental height of the floods on the Loire.
We did very little for the rest of the day, apart from sleeping, reading and talking. The main thing we talked about was my continuing feebleness and the possibility of changing our plans to compensate for it.
Originally we intended to keep going south beyond le Puy, along the ancient trading route called the Régordane as far as Saint-Gilles, or further. This meant that we would be in the mountains of the Cévennes, notoriously remote and rugged, and I had shown over and over again that I was in no state to tackle such terrain.
Our new plan, arrived at after countless other ideas had been bandied about and rejected, was to finish this part of our walk at le Puy (a meeting place with two of our earlier walks) and then take the train back to Saint-Amand-Montrond. From there we would walk down the Cher river and the Canal de Berry to rejoin the Loire at Tours.
Both Saint-Amand-Montrond and Tours were also points of connection with other walks, so it would make a neat pattern on the map, as well as being as flat as the proverbial crèpe.
In the evening we used the France Telecom card that we had bought in Saint-Symphorien to ring our friends who were staying in a cottage in the Auvergne. We arranged to meet them for lunch at Bas-en-Basset, our destination for the next day.
Feeling too lazy to walk down the road to one of the proper restaurants, we ate in the camping ground again, but this time I brought my sleeping bag to wrap around me as a shawl – not much of a fashion statement, but it was really too cold for outdoor eating and the place was not nearly as well-patronised as before.
The food was lovely (chicken for me, unvarying steak for Keith), but we retired to our cosy tent as soon as we had finished eating.