Sunday, 10 July 2005
Distance 29 km
Duration 7 hours 0 minutes
Ascent 840 m, descent 826 m
Map 48 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
For a cold, cloudy Sunday morning, the town was very lively.
We did not see the need to hurry, so we spent an hour in the brasserie reading the local paper with our second breakfast, and set off at 10 o’clock, clad in long trousers and jackets.
Failing to find the GR in town, we took a small road that joined it higher up. By then we were in shorts and T-shirts.
There followed a long, tortuous, hilly walk through the forest, where we would have been lost without the GR marks, and we came out three hours later onto the river meadows below Curemonte.
The golden towers and spires of the village hung over the valley and we hastened up the path to the main square.
Our destination was the café, which had the Complet sign on the door, but we sat outside for our coffee and ate our bread and sausage with it.
Much revived, we took up our packs and were starting off up the street when we heard the strains of an accordion floating down from a balcony, and a man leaned over to beckon us up.
There were a dozen people there, drinking and singing, raising money for the Bastille Day celebrations on Wednesday. A jam jar wrapped in the national colours was being passed around with the savouries and we contributed too, although they protested.
They were singing drinking songs that they all knew, with refrains like “Donnez-moi un p’tit verre de vin blanc…”. After a drink we shook hands all round and left in high spirits.
The sun had come out and it was a long, hot haul to Saillac, although the countryside was benign and beautiful.
Saillac was extremely prosperous-looking but the best thing about it was the painted tympanum of the church.
From there to Collonges was not far, but we were too tired to enjoy it and arrived with great relief in the village, where weekend visitors swarmed in every lane and café.
We remembered the back way to the camping ground, through the underpass. It also was awash with people, but the office was closed until 10 o’clock tomorrow, so we had another free night.
As soon as we had put up our tent, washed off the sweat and put on clean clothes, it was time to go back to town. The characteristic red stone of the village gives it a particular beauty and all the power lines have been put underground to enhance its medieval appearance.
The tourists had mysteriously disappeared, most of them, but we had plenty of company at the brasserie on the highway where we dined.
I had an omelette, not wanting to overstrain my newly recovered appetite, and Keith had pasta. It was a most enjoyable end to the day.
Previous day: Bretenoux to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne