Day 34, 18:36 – Le Petit Bordeaux

le-petit-bordeauxJune 3: Brizambourg – Pons

I reached Pons, about 3 days from Bordeaux but I need to tell my story from yesterday (I apologize that it became a little longer). I left Brioux sur Boutonne at 09:15, heading for 17 k distant Aulnay where due to my damaged right leg I got only at 14:15. So, as the kitchen of the only restaurant in town closed at 14:00 and flexibility is not known here, I could get at least 2 sandwiches and some water.

I left Aulnay at about 15:30, walking for another 15 – 20 km, without any sales point, until getting at around 20:00 to Le Petit Bordeaux where I saw finally a restaurant sign. As French people rarely put milages on the signs, you never know how far you still have to walk. This made me ring the bell of the next house, where a young couple informed me that this restaurant was closed, not knowing where on my route would be the next opportunity to get any kind of food. So I asked them if they had any bread or food at home which they could sell to me. Instead, they asked me to come in, to join them for diner.

I asked for water but as Stellas husband owns a distillery (which motivated my friend from Germany to post: “God is with you!”), we ended up with cognac and wine. Half drunken I left their house at 21:30, still having to walk about 8 km. Stella told me that she doesn’t like Facebook, so I left her my account e-mail and password. If you can here me now Stella, just wanted to let you know, that I am alive and found breakfast this morning in St. Brix de Bois. Thank you again so much for your help, I enjoyed your lovely children and all the best to you and your family, from my heart.

Just to conclude, whenever you plan to walk through southern France, be prepared. Don’t bring any money cause you will hardly find any place where you could buy anything. And if, its most probably closed, hotels and restaurants seem to serve here more for decorational purposes. Instead bring a trolley with tons of food, which you can pull behind you, than you have a chance to make it. I thought I am in Europe but this is more like Texas, my goodness.

Day 35, 10:14 – Pons en Saintonge

ponsJune 4: Pons – Saint Aubin de Blaye

The historical center of Pons and Via Turonensis are an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pons is located about 500 km south of Paris. 1.300 km to go!

Day 36, 15:13 – Blaye Lamarque Estuary

blaye-lamarqueJune 5: Saint Aubin de Blaye – Arsac

Its amazing, behind the Estuary, south of Lamarque you have a different France. The environment changed completely, with white sandy soils, swamps, wetlands and lakes. It is warmer, almost tropical, more coniferous trees, ferns and nasty mosquitos, we call them pernilongos in Brazil, appear. The villages become more open, integrated into the forests and wineyards, small flat houses, many in pastel colours, all with beautiful gardens and fences if at all not higher than necessary.

For the first time there is visible life with people on the streets and in their gardens, you here music and children playing and it smells churrasco. Its beautiful, reminds me a lot of Spain. To me, the best I have seen so far from France.

Day 37, 15:39 – Bordeaux

shoesJune 6: Arsac – Bordeaux

Bye Bye my friends, you’re retired now and free to do whatever you want to do. It was an honor to walk with you. Maybe you find someone who likes you. All the best.

These shoes were hurting me, since Aachen! They were fantastic shoes, I neve had problems with them, but I guess they changed their shape by the solar insulation when I left them for week on the terrace of my house. I hoped they would return to fit after some km walking but this was not the case.

Latest, when the area around my right shinbone got swollen for some days, I decided to change them. Bordeaux was a sufficient large place to find some new boots because in the smaller towns, there were no sport shops at all. Very often, I didn´t even see a tennis or soccer place.

Day 39, 11:36 – Gradignan

gradignanJune 8: Bordeaux – Le Barp

Le Pelerin de Gradignan – pretty famous because it is one of the most beautiful private albergues which belongs to the French St. Jaques association.

Day 40, 08:30 – Le Barp

le-barpJune 9: Le Barp – Pissos

After 1.200 km the first walking pilgrims, I met. Alain from Paris and Eva from Quebec. Both started the day before in Bordeaux, he lost his wife last year and intended to do the Camino in steps, this year trying to reach Roncesvalles. Her…, I don´t know, she wanted to reach Santiago but I have my doubts. I met both in the municipal albergue in Le Barp. Walked some km with them in the morning but had to leave them, this was definitely not my speed.

Day 41, 07:54 – Pissos

pissosJune 10: Pissos – Onesse Laharie

Pissos is a beautiful little town, but when I arrived there the day before, everything was closed, even the only hotel. Fortunately an old lady let me sleep in her garage. She was even so kind to call me to have diner with her and her daughter. I accepted but was really ashamed.

Day 42, 17:59 – Gourbera

gourberaJune 11: Onesse Laharie – Dax

So, as the French part is coming to an end, I would like to comment on the French people; they are really nice! I mean they only speak French and they don’t know that there are other cars available on the market than French ones but they are funny, friendly and helpful.

I won’t forget a guy before Paris who gave me his water because there was no store nearby, a young lady in Tours who asked me to come into her shoe store because she saw me freezing outside, a hotel owner who helped me out with his batteries for my GPS and a lady in Pissos who stopped her car on the highway, running about 100 m back to my location because she thought, I suffered a breakdown and so many more. In most of the bars where I had breakfast, I either didn’t pay anything or less because they considered me a Pilgrim.

And I enjoyed the truck drivers who activated their horn to salute me, when they passed me walking along the road. I don’t know if or when I will return to France but I will always remember the kindness of their people.