A walk in the woods
I got up fashionably late … Dany said not to hurry and we had breakfast together at 9. We managed to talk in English/ French, a little about our families and our travels. She’s a very nice, calm, refined lady, and gave me some great hints on Cotignac. I said I had walked yesterday and was intending to have another walk today. So she said “you are fit?” And not wanting to admit that possibly I’m at my most unfit, I agreed that, yes, I was fit. So she got out a map of the area of Cotignac and prepared a route for me.
Off I went with a piece of fruit and a water bottle. No sign of the Brannocks as yet!
I walked up the side of the town past the cemetery and continued on what I thought – hoped – was the right way.
Come along with me:
I walked down a leaf littered trail and over a fast moving stream or small river. It had that lovely gushing whooshing sound. I climbed up the other side for a while and then spotted the waterfall feeding the stream. Other than the water it was so quiet.
I passed the only person I’d seen so far – a man working on his property.
I came across some flat ground with vines growing in yellow and red –
and then along to Chappelle St Martin.
It is covered in red leaves and and sat proudly on the corner overlooking the vines. I turned right (although instinct told me to turn left) and crossed another stream, rounded a corner and had to jump out of the way of the big tractor with a friendly wave from the driver. And probably an “Allors”
I came out onto Route 22 and walked along till it met Route 13 and, wanting to head towards St Joseph’s, took that route. I sat on the fence for a minute and watched the horses in the nearby field. No cars came along and it was quiet except for the water as I was crossing the river once again. I continued on up the hill and met the road coming up from St Martins where my instinct had been right before and I should have turned left! But never mind the road was lovely … I came to another left turn where I consulted St Joseph before turning towards the monastery. It was now a shaded road, very quiet, with several little altars along the way. I felt watched over! I caught sight of St Josephs monastery and then took the turn which said Notre Dame which is where Dany had said to go.
It was a walkers’ path and before long I came across some pools of muddy water almost blocking my way (shades of San Gim- remember? Steve, Peter and Carmel).
I was hoping no more flooded roads and then of course there was one. I had to scramble up onto the rock wall to pass it and hoped I wouldn’t fall in! I took a big stick with me to help balance and hoped I didn’t look like a crazy German trekker! Mind you I had been walking now for an hour and half and had seen one person.
I came across a barn of sorts used for farm machinery for the vineyards nearby and then another intersection. Decision time. Paved road or walkers’ track? The adventurer in me said walkers’ track so off I set.
Allors more mud! More scrambling, climbing fences, balancing and hoping my shoes would hold up. I was wearing my new boots from Paris which are a cross between a pair of slippers and walking shoes. So far so good!
Fortunately “our lady of the way ” was there to guide me along.
By now I had eaten the fruit and drunk the water so I was seriously hoping I did fall off one of the walls.
I saw gates for a vineyard and even through I didn’t see anyone it gave me hope.
The views were magnificent out across the valley and in the distance I caught sight of a building.
Then I came upon another altar. This one had a little glass door which I opened to have a better look. Inside were flowers and mementoes and two cards with pictures of loved ones.
I must say I was hoping they had not come to grief on this path as by now it was very rocky walking. The little card for Jeanne said (and I think this is what it said, as it was in French) pray for her, she disappeared! I sincerely hoped that I didn’t disappear along this track. I saw a rocky shed – possibly for the lost and weary to shelter! Thank goodness it was blue and sunny weather. The path was now up and down and very rocky.
Then another intersection with an enormous cross and a little chapel for St Bernard. I think he was the patron saint of lost walkers? It had a little altar inside so I sat a moment and hoped I was almost at Notre Dame.
And I was. The stations of the cross appeared as if by magic and I followed them and there in front of me was Notre Dame.
I didn’t know what to expect but it was gorgeous. A real sanctuary with a special outdoor area for silent prayer. As it was now 4 hours of walking I said a prayer of thanks.
I can’t tell you how lovely it was walking – so silent – so rocky up and down hill. I was greeted by one of the priests just before he jumped on his scooter and went off – probably for lunch.
I decided after visiting the church to complete the pilgrims walk into town.
So downhill I went over a rocky path with St Therese to guide me through the woods.
I passed several altars and caught sight of Cotignac getting closer.
I crossed the river yet again and walked in through the main street and low and behold a market!
It was now nearly 2pm and I was hoping the restaurants were still serving lunch. They were!
I treated myself to a delicious lunch – a gourmet salad of the area’s produce, including a fresh artichoke, aubergine, pumpkin, leaves etc YUM; a glass of wine YUM, and then headed home to get the iPad to let you know about my adventures.
As I passed through the little square I saw the local council men talking down the remembrance flags from yesterday. Lest we forget.
Tonight I am off to a movie. Dany asked if I would like to go with her and Martine, her friend who runs the restaurant I had lunch in yesterday. Such a treat. And the movie is in English. There is a movie festival here at the moment and one or two of the movies are in English to cater for all the local English people who own houses here. Dany said it will have French subtitle for her and Martine! it’s called Paperboy with Matthew McConaghy and our own Nicole Kidman.
I’m sitting in the sun writing this at the local bocce club . The men are in full competition mode. The autumn trees are amazing.