Espalion on that Saturday was buzzing. Shops were many and open till late. Here was the dawdler’s chance for some serious idling and over-eating!
My luck with shared accommodation continued. The municipal gîte was spotless, well appointed, and very well managed by a lady from the mairie. I had a room to myself, for both nights, and the pilgrims and French randonneurs I met had the spirit of the trail. One French gentleman had been a rugby player, a contemporary of the great Serge Blanco. Rugby is huge across the south of France, and is a good conversational hook for Aussies and (eyeroll!) New Zealanders.
Here was the view of a famous landmark outside my window:
And here’s what I looked at inside:
As well as the fondant sheep cheese above, I was able to get some fine Roquefort of the Caves Baragnaudes. This was the Aveyron, after all!
Gorging aside – just briefly – the town was home to the inventors of the diving suit, so this unusual memorial has been placed in the river:
And the game of quilles, French skittles, has its own monument:
But the knockout landmark is the lusciously aged Romanesque church of St. Hilarion-de-Perse. The adjacent priory, daughter of the great abbey at Conques, was wrecked by Calvinists, instead of revolutionaries…not that it helps.
So many admiring pilgrims must have stood right here, in the course of the last millennium. And they would have muttered: “How far to Conques?”
Ah, Conques! The Jewel of the track. Chill, pilgrims! You’ve got lots more walking to do.