The trail to Estaing snakes through typically lush Aveyron country with the odd ancient church or hamlet.
The level walking is over. But the village of Estaing, like Saint-Côme and Saint-Chély, is consistently voted as one of France’s most beautiful. It’s worth the trudge.
The castle and town were the seat of a famous family, the d’Estaing, whose heads were either military or ecclesiastical figures. The former French President was probably only a very distant relative, one of his recent forebears having managed to a adopt or buy the great name. The French will make themselves absurd to avoid being common. Even Balzac would rather face ridicule for sticking a “de” before his surname than be without the potent preposition. It’s a présentation thing. A Frenchman can’t sell you a pencil without fancy wrapping.
In any case, one august family member, a powerful bishop, knew how to span a river:
A special harmony in the architecture: these roofs could be a Braque composition.
I was to spend the night in an acceuil run by a lay order and assisted by voluntary hospitaliers. There is no charge for food and accommodation; those with means drop euros in a box before leaving. The common meal with grace before and after; the chats in the kitchen while a hospitalier clips the dandelions that fill the first jampots in spring; the evening prayers with a unique music for the salve regina…this is not Best Western!
The accommodation is understandably rough-to-basic, but I’m someone who can sleep on the ground when required. However, here I finally faced one of the real scourges of the Camino: snoring.
A perfectly agreeable Englishman and his charming wife shared a dormitory with me. The noises he emitted in sleep could have come from the soundtrack of The Exorcist. I was able to find another room and get a little sleep, but the trouble with that strategy is the general embarrassment in the morning when one’s absence is noted. I was quick to inform my companion that he was in no way to blame for such a natural and common occurrence.
But the Camino had posed one of its great difficulties. After the weather on the Aubrac, came the Exorcist soundtrack on the Lot.
Happily, there are ways around the problem.