Hi all : )
Well, our adventure continues….here we are now in Brienne-le-Chateau..very, very tired but really have had another two days full of unexpected delights. When you least expect it…. there’s always some little event which lifts your spirits and feels your heart with joy!
Last night, we stayed in a very small village called Le Meix-Tiercelin, absolutely no facilities, one chance of accommodation from what we could ascertain and no internet access…resulting in no blog yesterday.
We met for breakfast, yesteday,at around 8, with the promise to each other that we would be on the road at around 9am. While enjoying croissants, crusty bread, fresh fruit and coffee, we scouted through the guidebook and accommodation guides, in order to work out our destination for the day and where are beds would be for that night. We searched and searched, with the help of the hotel receptionist, who very kindly phoned just about everything within a 20-25 km radius from Chalons ..but alas, search results came up with NIL : ( It seems that we will be walking for the next little bit in France through an area way off the tourist beat….it’s more an area devoted to very intensive farming, so the need for hotels, B&Bs, Chambre d’ Hotes, or any form of accommodation at all, is basically…non existent : (
Our next port of call was the local tourist information centre, where a lovely young guy, in a round a bout way, gave us the same grim news. At that point, we decided that we would have to think as a modern day pilgrim would think…..laterally…especially in France! We looked further ahead and managed to secure the only accommodation on our route, with Mme Collabar in Le Miex-Tiercelin…so without delay the rooms were booked and secured : ) Only problem now , this tiny little village was a good 40 plus kms away…much further than we were prepared to walk …especially as the time was now 10.30am. With a little extra stretch of that lateral thread we decided to catch a train to Vidry, way off our beaten track but then walk the 20 ish kms into Le Meix- from a different angle: ). In doing so, we would have to create our own route and ditch the guide books…which we did so with remarkable pioneering skills…thanks to google maps on our iPhones : ) The iPhone 4 has been an absolute godsend for us. We have been able to down load the next days maps when we arrive at our accommodation the night before… where invariably …except for the odd night here and there, we have had wifi and then the next day, if there has been a discrepancy with our guidebook, we’ve been able to bring up the map and we’ve been able to pinpoint our exact location.
Before I continue, some photos : )
Our next little glitch yesterday was that the next train to Vidry, left at 2pm, so there was a wait of 3 hours to contend with. We were really keen to visit the magnificent cathedral, which we did…but unfortunately it was closed : ( This, time and time again, has been one of the most disappointing occurrences on this pilgrimage. Unlike the Camino, where every church, however tiny, that you may come across along your way..is open, the churches and cathedrals in France are ALWAYS closed!! So frustrating, as so much history can be gleaned from these monuments! Not only that…entering these wonderful places, provides modern day pilgrims with a connection with those from another era.
The walk today from Vidry, provided us with some beautiful terrain and the walking conditions were perfect.
We arrived at Mme Collumbars residence quite late 6.40pm to be exact, very tired..ready for a hot shower and nice comfy bed….not much to ask for..but we got a whole lot more than we bargained for….
Mme was sitting up at her kitchen table playing cards with a friend when we walked into her kitchen..she waved cheerily in recognition and continued to deal the hand.. Eventually she heaaaaved herself up from her chair and grabbed some keys, shouting VERY loud french at us, beckoning us to follow. Meekly with a good amount of curiosity..we did. Outside she led us and around the back..up a very steep flight of stairs ( where I thought to myself, if Madame slips, we’ll all have to say goodbye..), then into a very dingy space and equally spartan bedrooms.
I decided not to shower last night ….even though I had walked a long distance. Laying aside the necessity to negotiate the very STEEP stairs again to reach the bathroom, and finding there was no lighting .. to be honest, when I inspected the room in dusk, I really didn’t feel like I needed washing at all : )
Dinner was absolutely wonderful…and the true Mme Collumbars personality flowed forth, untethered. She turned out to be one of life’s many gems : )
This little grandma at the grand age,of 86, treated us to a wonderful feast, no fanfare what’s so ever…..literally frisbeeing dishes, bread, plates…whatever at us, with gay abandon, simultaneously BARKING unintelligible French at us. She was positively beautiful : ) the meal she prepared for us was delicious and expansive..with the odd wrinkled, plump finger being dipped into each dish, to test for warmth and flavour : ( She produced a bottle of 1992 Bordeaux…..slightly brown in hue, possibly as it cork had been removed….who knows when……although Jo,didn’t seem to mind : )
We had just finished our truely enjoyable meal, so much laughter, accompanied by a lot of good food and bad wine when there was a knock at the door. Mme. looked puzzled, so I answered it for her only to meet Yong from Korea, one of the few pilgrims on this walk. He was hungry, tired and desperately hoping for somewhere to rest of the night…and Mme welcomed him into her ample bosom : ) He also is a lovely person…travelling to Rome as well. This morning, when we left he was still sleeping, so we didn’t say farewell however I’m sure we’ll meet him again.
This morning was another big walk…all the way to Brienne-de-Chateax…..I think about 38 kms. We were so lucky, as a friend of Mmes arrived as we were having breakfast and she was heading in our direction, so we grabbed a lift for a few kms. The walk however today, was long and arduous as we are both tired but we are lucky to be staying in a very basic but comfortable hotel…and also have had the afternoon to rest here. Tonight we were treated to the most amazing 3 course meal in the restaurant here….the total cost each, for the room, breakfast and dinner…60 euros!!
You know, this area of France is not touristy, as I have already mentioned….very beautiful I think, in so many ways but the total stand out for me are the people we have met….genuine, helpful and many larger than life characters… I like that : )
Love and hugs,