Day 8 – Saturday, 3 August – Saint Ange to Saint Antoine l’Abbaye – 19 km
I woke up at 3:30 with a headache. I think I got too much sun yesterday. I took some tylenol, but I didn’t start falling asleep until it was time to get up anyway. It’s a good thing I’m used to functioning on not very much sleep.
Breakfast was good as usual. While we were eating, a grey hen came by with her chicks. I didn’t have my phone, but they were the cutest things ever. One of the chicks found a worm and ran away with it so no one else would take it. I could have watched them for hours.
My host dropped me back at Saint Ange and I started walking about 8:30. It was cool and nice at first, but it didn’t take long for the sun to make things hot. Not a cloud in the sky all day.
It was supposed to be an 18k walk, but some of the signage was difficult again.
I came to one place at a junction and every place said it was the wrong way to go. It didn’t make any sense at all. I knew the route was supposed to go through a town, so I picked the shortest road to that town hoping I’d pick the path up again. It worked. But it still didn’t make much sense.
All of the churches in this area are run by the same office, so they are only open twice a week, all at the same time. I haven’t gotten to see inside any of them, which is sad.
I got to walk through some nice woods again. I heard something huge crashing through the underbrush and saw something, but I couldn’t make out what it was. You don’t see much large wildlife in France. On the first Camino I saw one deer, once, from far away.
I ended up walking through someone’s yard, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to, but it also looked like a lot of other people had done the same.
I finally got into Saint Antoine L’Abbaye about 1:30. This is the whole reason the book goes this way. It’s a variant on the main path just so it can go through this town. I went to the office of tourism, but they were closed until 2:30. I went to the Abbey and got to hear some organ practice.
I had been planning on trying to stay in the Arch Commune. My book says they offer a special pilgrim price. I went to the office and asked if they had accommodation, and he said they don’t give single accommodation, only for groups. It didn’t make much sense to me. There were two other hotels listed in my book for the town, but it turns out they were the only two in town. I was running out of options. All I had left was an accueil jacquaire, but you’re supposed to give them 24 hours notice.
These phone calls are hard, even when they speak English. In French, I said, “I am a pilgrim, I speak French a little bit, do you speak English?” And she said, “who are you?” “I’m a pilgrim? I have a book that says you host pilgrims?” She sounded like she truly didn’t know what I was talking about, but. She said, “ok.” So I asked if she had an opening for tonight, and thankfully she said yes. Her husband picked me up with an hour notice. I am incredibly grateful to them.
While I was at the tourism office, I saw a couple of pilgrims. They were just starting and walking to Le Puy. They did look very clean and fresh. I recommended that they try the host I started with last night.
After I took a shower and washed my clothes, I decided I’d better get to work on my accommodation for the next few days. I spent a while trying to figure things out, and then I went to ask Monique if she would make a phone call for me. She ended up making at least 10. She spent and hour trying to find me something. We finally found a place for me, but it’s only 14k away. I sent an email to a place for the next night, so hopefully I hear back from them soon. There are several Accueil Jacquaire options, but no one was answering. I was very lucky that she answered today. 3 of them finally did answer. One of them just had knee surgery, one was on vacation in Estonia, and one was on vacation somewhere else.
I’m going to be staying in a campground. I’m not sure what kind of thing I’ll be in. If it’s a cabin or a mobile home or something. But, she said it was 24 E, or for 30 E I could have electricity, so she made sure I had electricity. Apparently I can also get food there. I’m a little worried about my accommodation from now on. August is when all the French take their vacations, so a lot of places are filled up. Things could get tricky.
They have a cocker spaniel named Jenny.
I got a text from my host from last night saying my toothbrush and toothpaste were waiting for me the next time I come through. This morning when I was packing up I had a feeling I’d forget them, and I totally did.
Dinner was good. It was a potato/egg/meat salad thing that was delicious, and then a chard gratin. Dessert was yogurt with marmalade.
These are very sweet people as well. I can see how important the Accueil Jacquaires are to the route. It must be difficult for pilgrims without them. But they also don’t get many pilgrims in a year. She said I’m the third one so far.
I’m so incredibly grateful to have a place to sleep tonight. I’m basically a vagabond for the next three months.