Maggie and Le Puy

Maggie was in France!¬† That could only mean one thing… we had to go and find a camino adventure together ūüôā¬†¬†She flew in from Spain last week and we collected her from Bordeaux airport.¬† After a few days showing her the sights in my corner of the Dordogne (and my corner of the Vezeley camino) we set off in search of the Le Puy route.

We drove to Conques, spent the night and meandered our way around this fabulous old village.¬† We found the GR65 and followed the markers for a wee while before heading off to Figeac.¬† Again we meandered around the town and picked up the GR markers… and spent an hour or two pilgrim spotting over a plat du jour.

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And then we walked…

So many times since I started this journey I’ve been told I should do more with my walking.¬† “You should write a book” is a common refrain (watch this space on that one!) “You should offer escorted camino trips” is another.¬† My usual response is to laugh and brush it off but I guess if something is said often enough then it plants a seed… the shadow of an idea… a whisper that sits with you and slowly takes form.

Over the last few months I’ve been thinking.¬† I live in a beautiful corner of South West France.¬† I’ve lived here for over a decade, I speak French,¬† I’ve raised a family here and gone from being a stranger on foreign shores to thinking that this is my home.¬† So I thought, why not use my love of France, my knowledge of this region and my passion for walking and merge them all together…¬† And Then We Walked was born.

logoMy plan is to find a beautiful French holiday home to rent for a week.¬† I’ll plan daily walks and visits to some of the many iconic sites in this region, maybe we’ll spend a few hours at the local market, maybe we’ll visit a boutique vineyard for a private wine tasting?¬† Or maybe we’ll visit one of the 1001 chateaux that adorn the Perigord?¬† And of course there will be food and wine and fresh croissants and french coffee… well… you get the idea!

For a week I’ll show you my France.¬† Beautiful. Surprising. Enchanting… and after all of this we’ll also walk!

Watch this space… I’m only going to offer a maximum of 6 places each trip.

38 and Counting

1Our walking holiday is turning into more holiday and less walking.¬† France Meteo issued a canicule warning for today… Canicule “pr√©coce et exceptionnelle” dans le Sud-Ouest¬†: il a fait jusqu‚Äô√† 38 degr√©s lundi … and we’ve manage to locate ourselves almost in the hottest part of France.¬† They said it was going to reach 38c…¬† Mr S was not planning on walking today.

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A Hard Task Master

I’m going walking… yes you all know!

But before next years walking, I have this years to get fit for.¬† In just over four weeks we’re walking the Camino Baztan from Bayonne to Pamplona and then in October we’re walking the Rota Vicentina in Portugal.¬† My son decided I needed to start training and he nominated himself as my personal trainer!

There is a circuit around our house, just over 4km long.¬† It has ups and downs and the terrain is very camino-esque.¬† My personal best around this circuit is just over 47 minutes… but that was in March,¬† when I was much fitter and it was a lot cooler.¬† However, my trainer told me I had to beat this today… and he came with me to set the pace!

As he sauntered up the hill, I huffed and puffed my way up, but in the end he did get me home in record time 46.40 minutes… and then made me swim!

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A Walk in the Park

Ok so not so much a walk in the park… more ‘A walk in the countryside‘ but that doesn’t sound quite so catchy for my title.

A few weeks ago I went awandering with my camino buddies on the Camino Vezeley.¬† We’d planned to meet and go walking once a month… the plan was to also keep walking inbetween these monthly trips… the other two have done this, but sady I have to hold my hand up and say that I didn’t!

It’s high summer in south west France and I have so many wedding and party gigs that I find I’m either too exhausted, too hot, too busy or on my way out to the next gig… all of which is just an excuse of course!¬† I’ve not done any walking and that’s the bottom line… and the Baztan camino is fast approaching so I will have to change this pretty soon.

We met in the car park by the church in Douzillac and headed off up the road where our map told us we would join the camino.¬† 30 minutes later we were indeed following arrows and chatting and talking about our time on the Frances and where we would go next.¬†¬† The arrows seem to point in the wrong direction but we followed them nonetheless and eventually entered a village.¬† As we tried to find our bearings mentally, Jaqui called out “ladies… we’re back where we started” and sure enough at the top of the hill was the church car park.

 

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Canicule

We’ve lived in south west France for just over 9 years, so we’re used to long, dry, hot summers. ¬†This year has been exceptional though. We had a long, cold, wet, spring and now summer shows no sign of slowing or cooling. Normally at the end of August you can smell autumn in the air and the evenings are cool enough for a cardigan… not this year!

We had thought that heading to the high slopes of Cantal would bring us some fresher cooler air but we were wrong. ¬†France Meteo has issued a Canicule warning… it’s going to be un-seasonably hot… so take precautions!

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Pilgrim Goodie Bag

I have a friend house-sitting at the moment… and also ensuring that our cats don’t feel neglected and unloved ūüôā ¬†She and her husband are a rather glitzy pair… lots of travel for work, lots of posh nights out and they are simply¬†rather fabulous and glamorous. So before they came to visit I gave them¬†a little task, to please find me a few toiletries that a weary pilgrim could sneak into her¬†rucksack¬†and not notice the extra weight.

Well… what can I say! ¬†They didn’t disappoint! I think I have enough to last me for ten caminos!

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Les Monts du Cantal

We’ve got a few days off from work and singing and weddings and accounts… so we’ve headed east into the Cantal region of France.¬† A department in Auverne, this area is perfect for walking, cycling, swimming, rafting and a whole host of outdoor activities.¬† We thought it might be a tad cooler too but we were wrong there!

So we arrived on Sunday afternoon and took a stroll into the historic village of Salers.¬† This is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France… and it is indeed very beau but we’ve not found out yet why there was a need for a fortified village here 1000 years ago… but there are traces of Templars?

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