August 16

St Chély d’Aubrac to Espalion    27km

Warning – lots of pictures!
I had only left my Gite 10 minutes when I came across this unhappy chap. He does look miserable. He shouldn’t really be miserable  with a bottle of local wine in his bag!
The route crossed the river by The Bridge of Pilgrims:

Then it was up the side of the valley and a good view back to the village of St Chély d’Aubrac where I had stayed. The names of these villages are just wonderful. 

Then it was over the ridge and a view down to the next valley:

In the next valley lay the ancient town of St Côme d’Olt. It was full of wonderful old streets and old buildings. 

The town lies on the River Lot. We shall be seeing a lot of that. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

I wandered over the bridge on the river with another great view back over the town. 

I sauntered along the river till I found a great lunchtime spot. A few canoeists drifted down the river as I ate my feast of blue cheese, fresh bread and ripe tomatoes. Mmmmmm

View from lunch spot:

The route after lunch was forest. It was just as well because the gloomy clouds of the morning were breaking and the sun appeared. Along the path I came across this cairn of stones with a few pieces of paper squeezed in amongst them. 

Back in Le Puy at the morning Mass we had been invited to take a few pieces of paper each. There is a box in the Cathedral with a notice saying that if you have something or someone that you want Pilgrims to pray for then write that on a piece of paper and pop it in the box. So after the mass we were all encouraged to take several of these. 

Along the way I have been seeing these pieces of paper, sometimes under stones on a wayside cross. It is rather like the white rosary beads we were all given. I keep seeing these. Did you notice the chap in the first picture had one?

By this cairn someone had decorated one of the larger stones:

Up on the hill here is a property ripe for development:

The route lay through a quarry with this wonderful rock formation

Then on the top of the point there was this view of another ancient town and my destination – Espalion. 
But first there was a very old church to visit. Only one bell remained out of an original four

Inside was as gorgeous as you would expect. 

This was the original parish church of Espalion and there are Roman influences here. (So the guide said). There were some wonderful ceiling decorations:

A saunter along the Lot lead me to my Gite. This is another remarkable old town with wonderful buildings. 

I visited the church in town. There was an organist practising. Wonderful. I sat there a while and appreciated the moment. The sound of an organ in a big church is moving. 

The other day I was talking to a German carrying his classical guitar. He said he sometimes played it in the churches he visited. 

I wish I had been there to hear it. The acoustics in some of these churches are just magic. If there is no one about I sometimes stand in the middle and sing a little. It’s not very musical but it still sounds great!

I hope that was not too many pictures. There is so much to see.