Sunday, September 26, 2010
Home after hell's start - all of us swatting the mosquitoes massed round us like a dark cloud, and then finally, entry into Arles, and no more mossies. 4 months on the road, so many experiences that we have forgotten half of them, a horse transformed from a selfish bully into a vital and indispensable member of the team. If I could have found the words and she could have understood them, I would have spent the rest of the journey telling her how wonderful she is. Likewise Flea, the accidental foundling, now a firm fixture in our family. He started out as a puppy of only 3 months and is now 8, perhaps teetering on the edge of canine adolesence. So what next? Well, Paul, I've been thinking ....
All good until the late afternoon, when on our penultimate day a brief shower of rain and the dampness of the night before coalesce to wake every single mosquito in the region and focus on Nellie, and by extension us. Unimaginable hell, increased by the Fontvielle campsite's refusal to take Nellie. Everything is against us - no hotels, the only gite equestre full and our only alternative being to throw up the tent in a wood just outside the town and scratch our way through to the morning. Nellie is going through hell.
This doesn't get much better, great walking and then an evening with friends. Evelyne, who has been our constant companion, both virtually and in person, came out to share our pending conclusion to a journey that has taken almost 4 months.
Accommodation: Mas de l'Etoile - ideal pilgrim accommodation, basic, but reasonably priced, located at the edge of the village.
Yes, more good walking, helped by Jean-Claude who accompanied us for the first part and gave us a preferable route. We have the definite feel of entering the Apilles and getting close to home.
Accommodation - Campanile Hotel - not really suited to the pilgrim budget, but the only place that would accept Nellie, for which we are very grateful.
At the risk of repeating myself .... great walking, good signing and an evening hosted by Mme Clotet, who took us and our animals into her home, fed us and then called a friend to help us the next day - this is pilgrim-progress at its best.
Once again excellent and varied walking, past two reservoirs and through endless woodlands offering breaks for spectacular views. Our only problem being our second discovery that whereas some Parish priests may enthusiastically embrace the concept of providing hospitality to pilgrims, their support staff sometimes less so. Our attempts to find accommodation in the maison paroisse in Eguilles are not welcome and we finally decide to camp out.
Not much more to say that the walking in this region is on broad tracks and consistently well-signed, so good that we will recommend it to cyclists and horse riders. On this section our route is dominated by the vast escarpment of Sainte Victoire.
Accommodation: Le Cézanne camping - good value, good location.