Friday, July 26th

Walking out, with the other three. Leaving early, passing the closed cathedral.

Lunch. Been an interesting walk so far, getting off the GR65, and basically taking the long side of an equilateral triangle, taking 4kms off. Along vinyards, then through vinyards; sunflowers, beanfields, the road constantly changing, and trusting in Saint Francis and Assisi, with the maps, not to get it wrong. There's no balises marking the way.

Leaving a note for Joe at the D254 intersection, to continue onto Sauboires, where we've reserved beds at the gite for tonight. 7kms past Eauze. I don't think he'll make it, as he was hobbling around this morning with a swollen ankle, even worse than he was hobbling around last night.

On the way, being told the story of the sunflowers, by Clementine:










Apparently there was once a princess who was very beautiful (naturally), and her father, the King, decided it was time for her to marry. Suitors came from everywhere to ask for her hand, but "No," she always said, "they're not beautiful enough for me."
Time went on.
"Well, who is beautiful enough for you ?" asked the King.
"The Sun," replied the princess.
"But you cannot marry the Sun," said the King.
But the Princess had other ideas.

One day, she was walking through the fôret, and came upon a house she had never seen before. She knocked on the door, and an old woman answered.
She told her the story about the Sun.
"I am the Sun's mother," said the old woman, "and you cannot marry the Sun."
"Can I just see him then? He is the one that is beautiful enough for me."
"No," said the woman, "you cannot look directly at the sun, but there is a way. You can look at him through a glass of water."
"D'accord," said the Princess.

At night, when the Sun came home, he sat on one side of the table, the Princess on the other, with a glass of water between them. The Princess looked at the Sun through it, and yes, the Sun was very beautiful.
But, she just had to see him though, directly, not through the water. She peeked around the side, but the Sun saw her.
"Do you want to look at me then ?"
"Yes," replied the Princess.
So the Sun turned the Princess into a sunflower.

Which is why sunflowers always look at the Sun.

Still here.
My nice, clean trousers are now as muddy as they've ever been. Felt so swish this morning, but the path was wet, some tracks just mud. The clumps of clay sticking to my boots, picking it off with a stick.

Passing through beautiful villages. Lauraet in particular, just right, just there, the eglise, the houses, the geese by the pond. Just perfect.

Think I must've fallen asleep, dreamt that the sun was shining, and it was shining right on me.

a little later
Fairly solid walk, the final 7kms into Eauze just beautiful. Walking along what had been a railway track, without the rails, just trees overhanging the path. Me, usually following well behind the others. There seems to be an understanding that you walk at your own pace.

Seems a nice enough town, would've liked a little more time there, but that was impossible. Tudor style buildings, although I don't know how it's possible to have Tudor-style in France, maybe it's a historical thing, maybe architectural styles went cross-Channel, maybe the French have there own name for that style.
Enjoying a warm chocolat d'pain, just sensational.

Okay, we cheated the last 8kms, managing to hitch a ride to the gite in Sauboires. By the time we'd finished in Eauze (the gite turned out to be cômplet with car pilgrims), and getting the credential stamp from the Presbitiere, and getting the stuff for tonight's crêpe extravaganza (Assisi is from Saint Malo, so it's his regional specialty).

But the gite is kind of cute.



There's a house across the road that's almost totally ivy-covered, just the windows and doors that aren't. In Oz, it would be a tourist attraction, here here, it just is.

Just the four of us, having an 'English only' night, Assisi and Clementine quite well, Saint Francis hesitantly. Learning French phrases, how to ask for things, writing them down.
Tomorrow, though is a 'slow French' day, a 'plus lentement' day, so I can understand what they're talking about. But tonight, lots of talk. Telling them that my first shock, in France, was when I realized that shop assistants really ask how you are, and what would you like, and farewell you at the end, and how that compares with their Australian equivalents; and Assisi's shock at discovering that this French courtesy isn't practiced anywhere else - at least, not the places I've been.

Absolutely stuffed with crepes. Some with ham and eggs (jambon et oefs), some with Nutella -which they all eat with a passion (although the French are passionate about food anyway). It was wonderful.