Wednesday, 25 June 2003
We did not stir till 8:30. The first thing we saw on emerging was the pale stony mass of the Pic d’Anie rearing up at the end of the valley.
Minutes later, streamers of mist began to infiltrate and soon the view was blotted out, never to return while we were there.
As we were wandering up to the village for coffee, we met some walkers coming down. They also were English speakers, confirming our suspicion that the GR10 is almost exclusively walked by the English.
After one day on the track they were already longing for a day off. They asked us whether we had slept well and were amazed when we said we had, as there had been a monumental storm during the night. We had heard nothing.
In town we made our simple purchases – bread, tinned fish and chocolate pastries to go with the coffee, which we took at the nearest bar. The centre of town was very quiet.
The last time there was real excitement here was in 1794, when a band of Spanish ruffians crossed the Col de Pau and invaded the valley. Although they were greatly outnumbered, the wily Lescun men made such a commotion from their hideouts that the Spanish thought reinforcements had arrived, and made an undignified retreat.
We visited the church, its sober walls enclosing a remarkably cheerful interior, with a blue-painted barrel ceiling adorned with stars and angels, stained glass windows, a gilded altar and several brightly coloured statues of saints. It must gladden the hearts of the villagers in winter.
A sign led us to a house selling local cheese. Here a silent old woman took us through a barn and into a cold room lined with shelves of bulging cheeses, where we tasted a sample from her knife and bought a wedge for lunch.
After a picnic at the camping ground and a post-prandial nap (Keith was still getting over the exertions of yesterday), we toiled back to the village for coffee at a terrace bar, hemmed in by pots of flowers.
Some English people had driven from the coast to admire the famous view of the Cirque of Lescun, but they had chosen the wrong day – the mist was not lifting.
The evening meal in the genteel, old-fashioned dining room completed our recuperation. We had a window table overlooking a jumble of misty grey rooves.
We began with a platter of mixed hors d’oeuvres, colourful and beautifully arranged, and continued with the French version of chicken curry, which was delicious if somewhat bland. To finish we had small icecreams.
Back at the tent, our sinking slumber was broken by the same adamant “Bon soir!” as last night. The gym-mistress was doing her rounds.