We stood in the chill beautiful morning yesterday at the bus stop on the highway at the entrance to En-Calcat Abbey in Dourgne. Five-minutes after the appointed time, we were relieved to see the big beautiful bus round the bend and pull up beside us. We settled back into plush seats, our packs beside us, and gazed out the window as beautiful hills, fields and charming villages flashed by. Time had speeded up. Twenty minutes later we were again on our feet in Revel, trying to figure out where we were.
We purchased a sandwich and two chocolate croissants at one shop, then picked up the red and white marks, heading to the path along La Rigole, a curvy small canal built to feed water into the Canal du Midi.
A young student helped us find the right direction to the town center, where we delighted in the old covered market, and were overwhelmed by finding a boulangerie, café or shop at every turn, all open!
We followed the Rigole all day, until we turned off to Les Casses, where for over a km we climbed upward on a country road to reach our night’s destination Isabelle Bosc’s La Passeur-Elle.
The ruins of a Cathar Fort loomed above one side of the road.
The walk along the Rigole was pleasant and uneventful. It was difficult to get photos with the stark contrast between sunlight, shadow, and reflecting light on water.
At one point the canal bordered a field divided by a double row of plane trees. As we sat on adjoining rocks for a break, a beautiful fox ran across the row of trees. The first we’d seen—probably the first in the wild I’d ever seen.
We stopped briefly at a restaurant just before a small lake, where we were in time to get salad and a beer before
Closing, and were informed it was just three km to Isabelle’s place.
Isabelle was warm and welcoming. A pilgrim herself, she knew just what pilgrims needed. There was a sort of « mud room » downstairs, with benches, where we left our packs. There was an adjacent toilet and shower, and next door an « atelier » or workshop, with a small kitchen, a fridge with some beer and other drinks, and a comfy couch.
Upstairs in an airy room were 4 single beds with bright yellow sheets. There was a toilet with small sink down the hall, and a little room with a chair, desk, and Compostelle posters and information, along with the « Livre d’Or » or guest book. We had dinner that night with Isabelle and her mother-in-law « Bonne Mama » and Bonne Mama’s husband. Two German sisters,very young, shared our room, but cooked separately in the kitchen.
We were able to wash a few clothes, which dried quickly in fierce wind and sun.
We had intermittent strong gusts of wind that came from the southeast as we walked, sometimes almost blowing us over.
All and all it was a pleasant day in which everything went as planned, with no unhappy surprises. We are definitely out of the mountains now, in farming country, but the little villages nevertheless lack shops of any kind.