Tuesday 20 October 2020

The Le Puy Route - Part 8

Time to Relax - Condom to Les Tournesols du Gers


Day 5 Condom to Montreal du Gers – 15.00 miles


For the first time this trip our daily distance was to be less than the day before. In fact, the next couple of days were a more modest in terms of distance, and while we like the challenge of longer days, we also appreciate the occasional freedom to explore more widely and enjoy a more leisurely pace.

We began what turned out to be a 15-mile day with a quick tour of Condom. Many of the towns we pass through are worthy of more in-depth investigation, but time doesn’t always permit anything greater than a cursory inspection. However, we needed a couple things – insect repellent to keep the little blighters at bay and a new belt to preserve my modesty – so toured the town centre while we waited for the shops to open. And where better than Condom to acquire preventative measures.


It turns out D’Artagnan was from these parts. Although best known for the heavily fictionalised adventures written by Alexandre Dumas, most famously with The Three Musketeers, D’Artagnan the character was based on a real 17th Century figure.


Another product of the region is Armagnac, the special variation on Cognac so beloved in these parts. Time allowed us to take a side trip to the very old walled village of Larressingle, where we treated ourselves to a leisurely lunch including ice cream drenched with a goodly slug of the aforementioned falling over water.

Wobbling slightly as we set off, we trundled down the hill to the Pont d’Artigue and made our way through quiet countryside towards Montreal du Gers. On the way, we passed a small chapel with a side door specifically for allowing in the “unclean”. We may have been a bit “unwashed” by that time of the afternoon, but we thought it best to enter via the front door to take advantage of the ensuing cool.


On arrival at Montreal du Gers, we skirted the town as our accommodation, a farm with B&B, was a short distance away. We were made to feel very welcome, and enjoyed a lovely evening of good food, company and conversation – the kind that these trips have a habit of delivering. The whole meal, including the wine, was made from their own produce, and we shared this with our host and a lovely French couple, enjoying a convivial evening we will long remember.


The French chap had written hundreds of Haikus and even had a book published, so to honour the occasion here is one of my own:


Camino meetings

So fleet, few words, brief friendships

Fond memories last


Day 6 – Montreal Du Gers to Les Tournesols du Gers 12.50 miles


For the second time in as many days we had a shorter section to traverse. After a lovely, relaxed breakfast, we said goodbye to our new-found friends and set off through the farm’s vineyards towards the 4th Century Galloroman villa at Seviac.


If you are even remotely interested in Roman history, this site is well worth a visit. The mosaics are amazing, with many in an excellent condition, and it is easy to while away an hour or two admiring the skill and artistry of the craftsmen.


From the villa, we headed back into Montreal du Gers for a proper look round. Having largely missed the town on arrival, we found a charming centre complete with local market. Needing no invitation, we stocked up on picnic food which we tucked into a few kilometres later beside a lake near the Chateau de Montaut.


The temperature flared considerably after lunch, as was the pattern of recent days. In Lamothe, we stopped for drinks at the Casa d’Elena. Whilst serving a number of customers simultaneously, I was sure I heard a not-very-French exclamation of “Right, beer” when it came to my order. Turns out the bar was run by an expat British couple, and we had a good chat about their new life in France whilst playing fetch with their seemingly tireless dog.


Our evening stop was a few kilometres further on at Les Tournesols du Gers. Use of the outdoor swimming pool required no second invitation, and after a refreshing dip we had a fun communal dinner with around a dozen other guests.