Wednesday, October 7 – Day 29
I’m really torn about recommending this place. The hosts are wonderful and getting to see the farm was so cool, but, after the sun goes down and before the sun comes up, it’s still a farm. Dogs barking and the rooster crowing at all hours. I suppose if you have really good ear plugs, it would be great. I did not sleep terribly, but I did not sleep well.
I checked the weather app when I got up and it said cloudy, but no rain, until 5 pm! Perfect! I went downstairs, and it was raining!
Thankfully by the time I got out the door, right before 9, it only rained for a few minutes. I’ve been very lucky so far with the days that it has rained, it hasn’t rained much while actually walking.
The whole day I was completely Tout Seul. This was the first day I never saw another pilgrim at all. Just me. It was actually funny, last night Patricia tried calling Orisson to book for me, but they don’t take reservations over the phone this far in advance, but they said it shouldn’t be too much of a problem because there weren’t very many pilgrims. Patricia said I was the only pilgrim walking right now. Just me! Today it felt like it.
It was a nice day, though more corn fields. I guess I’m not in the foothills yet.
This church had a sensor in it that started playing classical music when you walked up the aisle. It was startling.
It did start raining again at 11 and rained for almost an hour. A steady rain, but I didn’t get soaked.
The route took a detour past a chapelle. I got there and the door was locked. I fiddled with the door a bit more and finally opened it. It makes me wonder how many “locked” doors I’ve tried, but in reality they were just smarter than I was.
I got into Arthez-de-Béarn at 1:30. I couldn’t check into my room until 3. I thought it was perfect, though, because it was still lunch time, so I’d be able to get something to eat! I went to the obvious cafe in the main square, but when I went inside the guy said they stopped serving lunch at 12. What?? I don’t believe it for a second. The menu was posted outside and the sign on the door said they closed at 1400. I honestly think he just didn’t want to serve me. I’ve never heard of a restaurant that closed at 12. So I wandered around a bit, but all of the shops were closed for lunch. Apparently, though, there’s nowhere for them to actually eat during lunch.
I went to the public toilette, and they didn’t even have seats! I took the last of the toilet paper without feeling guilty. I am unimpressed at this town’s level of pilgrim friendliness! I tried to go kill some time in the church, but it was locked. It really was locked. This one had modern glass doors.
I waited until 3 for the grocery to open, then I bought some yogurt and a banana for tomorrow, and two baguettes from the boulangerie. I walked to my room, eating one of the baguettes with the last of my laughing cow cheese. At least I will have a fairly proper lunch tomorrow.
I’m staying at La Maison en Paille, which means House of Straw, and the house really has straw in the walls for insulation. It’s an eco house. The man who runs it, Clause, is a chef and also has his own restaurant! Célia. He said the name was the previous owner’s and he just kept it.
He was working as a regional director for Pizza Hut in Europe making big money, but he was very unhappy. So at 50 he quit his job and went to culinary school, and that was only 3 years ago. Now he has his own restaurant and he also runs the Chambre d’Hôte out of his house. The restaurant is open for lunch, then he comes home and cooks dinner for pilgrims. He doesn’t make as much money, now, but he absolutely loves his life.
Dinner was amazing. It was a delicious soup, then a carrot salad with tomatoes and a thing that I should have asked but I really don’t know. A paté terrine? It was the best paté I’ve had here yet, so good. Then the main course was steak, cooked perfectly, and some potatoes gratin. Dessert was vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, lemon juice, and basil. I am totally trying vanilla ice cream with lemon juice when I get home. It was amazing!!
He said he was married to his cat. I asked how he could be married to his cat when he cooks like this! He said the cat is always waiting for him at home. He’s from Belgium, so I told him Marinette is also from Belgium and I think she’s single, and she’s amazing!
It was really nice to see how he made a change in his life and now he’s really happy. I’ve wanted to go to culinary school in the past.
His menu at his restaurant is different every day. He doesn’t always know what he’s going to make until he gets there and looks to see what he has. He said it’s just him in the kitchen and he cooks for ~45 people a day.