Via Podiensis Day 30: Arthez-de-Bearn to Sauvelade

A bit of blue sky can be seen through the mass of grey cloud. I’m on the road again after two days out injured. I chose to walk only about 17-18km today as a ‘tester’ for my sore shin. Slowly does it.

Today’s Costs

€2.40 – coffee and pain-au-chocolate
€32.00 – demi-pension gite Sauvelade

Practicalities

Today I picked a spot on the map well short of my usual distance. It worked out pretty well. I needed to tread softly, but also the weather turned out awful. Even the French who live in the towns we pass have said it – this year things have been colder, damper and much more unsettled than usual.

On the money front, things seem to be going OK. Some days I do struggle to keep things below €30, but then on other days I’m well under. In a few day’s time I’ll work out all the averages – one of the most common questions for prospective pilgrims is how much the Way in France costs. Don’t worry – I’m on it!

Having made my own food for over a week now, I thought it was time to treat myself. Tonight I’m some 2km off the main GR65 at a wonderful, quirky French gite on top of a hill. The lady who owns it has a guitar in the lounge, huge leather sofas, and a massive dog. The house is crumbling but decadent, with massively creaky floorboards. I can’t wait to see what she makes us for dinner.

Guidebooks have been a recent topic of conversation with many of my pilgrim friends. Like the money thing, I’m intending to publish my thoughts on which guide is best. Frustratingly, it seems the different options may be good on one aspect, but lack substance on another. For instance, the Miam Miam Dodo has excellent information on accommodation and practicalities, but terrible (IMHO) maps. The Michelin has great little maps but lacks comprehensive coverage of gites. I’ll cover this topic in depth after I finish the walk, hopefully within a few days from now.

Pilgrim’s Reflections

I met my pilgrim friend Sumit today. Just like last time, he appeared out of the blue, keeping me company as far as Sauvelade. It was real nice to hear about his adventures then compare them with mine. Even though pilgrims may be within a day – or less- of each other on the trail, you meet different people, get into different friendships and live different experiences. Your Way is never truly the same as anyone else’s.

Tomorrow I plan to increase the kilometres to try to reach Aroue – only 45km short of The End. It’ll be more of a ‘normal’ stage length at 25km plus, but I’ll leave as early as possible and cruise at a slow, steady pace. I’d rather things were slightly less stressful – I’m still not really sure whether I’ll make it. Ah well, there’s wine to be drunk tonight and tomorrow will take care of itself, I’m sure.

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