Let’s move on and head to Navarrenx which has the first Italian-style ramparts in France, built in the 16th century, I believe. Once it had a sizeable population of Cagot, a persecuted minority in SW France. Since 2014, the town was called to join the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
But first we must leave Maslacq and walk there along minor roads and across some bridges and along some grassy tracks and over and down some hills.
DAY 33 Maslacq à Navarrenx (peut-être 22km) sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.
Early in the day’s walk one encounters the Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Muret. The building itself is rather new, but it does stand on the site of a 11th century sanctuary where pilgrims took refuge during their journeys. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
In La Sauvelade one can see the the church that is all that remains of a monastery founded in the 12th century. One will find the l’abbaye de Sauvelade, too. But wait, there’s more!
This day I pass through Arthez-de-Béarn, a little village that is not small but narrow, sitting on a ridge, and extends about 2km from one end to the other.
I will always remember the hospitality I received there and how happy I was to find roasted chicken in the little corner store on the plaza.
I remember the man who walked by, while I was sitting on a curb in a small street near the small plaza, eating my lunch, who smiled and shouted, “Bon appetit!”
I won’t forget the man who stopped his car on a one-way street, blocked the traffic behind him until I understood the danger, who rolled down his car window and shouted to me in French, “Don’t drink that water. The l’eau portable tap is on the other side!”
I was touched and charmed by the little elderly lady who walked slowly with a cane and who asked if she could help me. I was sitting in the little plaza; I had dropped a small centime piece in a grate; and she wanted to help me find it and get it out.
DAY 32 Pomps à Maslaq (peut-être 19km) sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.
After an excellent lunch of roasted chicken–the French know how to cook the best roasted chicken–and after some kind kind and helpful words from the French, I continued, maybe with a light step, on the Way to St-Jean.
Out in the middle of–where?–no where, one comes upon a shelter and frankly a welcome sight even though no one is there to greet you. How often have we taken chairs for granted?
On the chemin the chair can be a true friend. It has supported me. It has comforted me. It has kept me dry in a shelter. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!
At last I see the Pyrénées. They appear on the horizon, and I know that I will be in Saint-Jean in a couple of days.
For several days the Pyrénées are blue. As I walk closer to them they assume their greens and browns and grays and other earth tones, but for now I see them as the Blue Mountains.
I notice that I am lighter on my feet. A month has passed, but I feel strong and able to walk more. The first tinges of regret, a little blueness in spirit, if I may, creeps into my thoughts. I don’t want the journey to end.
(The map of France with Pomps in the SW corner comes from Wikipedia.)
DAY 31 de Arzacq-Arraziguet à Pomps (peut-être 20km) sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.
Pomps, France is ahead, however, and I must concentrate on getting there.
I wander; I am a flâneur. I look around as I walk, I observe, and I register what I see as I step. But I have learned what every dreaming child knows: no horizon (those mountains ahead) is so far that I cannot get beyond it. I daydream often, passing the time without knowing where I have passed. Thinking, wondering, imagining. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Once I became Don Quixote. I battled 100’s of wild crazy dangerous chickens who thought to attack but hesitated (mistake) and soon ran away as I approached. I was formidable.
Don Quixote was on a journey. So was Ulysses. Each was on a quest, going away to be tested, and coming back. But wait, there’s more!
The names of villages and towns are changing as I approach the Basque country. Miramont-Sensacq, the small village I left behind the day before, is a curious marriage of a ‘normal’ name and one new oddly spelled new name.
Now Arzacq-Arraziguet is ahead, an hyphened name ‘oddly’ spelled and difficult to pronounce. I might suggest that there is a trend as one nears the Pyrénées; however, after Arzacq-Arraziguet comes Pomps. (Even that name does not strike me as typically French.) Then afterward Maslacq. We see the ‘cq’ combination of letters in the names.
DAY 30 de Miramont-Sensacq à Arzacq-Arraziguet (peut-être 16km) sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.
Again, as has been mentioned in previous posts, the terrain in this part of France is pastoral and rolls lazily along. The pelèrin passes some farms, gradually descends into a valley, walks through the woods (on the way to grandmother’s house), and eventually the thoughts are interrupted by a very, very old église. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!