Friday – St. Côme d’Olt to Estaing

From the exceedingly pleasant environs of the Abbey, we set out on a bright, sunny morning in the next leg our our trek. We walked along trails at first (still wet in a few places) and then in back roads, generally staying near the banks of the Lot, which was swollen, Brown from mud, and running very fast.

The next town long the river was Espalion. Friday, we had learned the night before, is market day. We stopped for coffee and tarte aux fruits, sharing some fresh local cherries with a friend whom we had met along the sway. Before leaving, we bought two servings of paella from a vendor at the market, taking it along as our planned lunch.

Before setting off, we visited the famous church at Espalion, with its clocher flamme. If you look carefully in the photo below, you can see that the spire is twisted – quite beautiful.

Here, the twisting is more evident, as are the characteristic narrow streets of the old part of the city.

Here the brown water of the Lot is particularly apparent.

A few more kilometers along the way, and out of such close proximity to the river, we came to Bessuéjouls, basically a crossroads. Before having lunch, we visited a small church dedicated to St. Peter. The small sanctuary was unremarkable, but up a dark, narrow, and steep stone staircase was a stunning Romanesque chapel. Here are a few photos:

Next stop: Lunch, at a café where they not only allowed us to eat our pre-bought meal (for the price of a soda), but allowed us the use of spoons so we would not have to eat our paella with our fingers!

Leaving Bessuéjouls, we encountered a steep and challenging uphill slog on our way to Estaing. Once again the track was muddy and the climb unrelieved.

In time, we made our way to Estaing, after one more break and serious moaning about the length of the stage and the challenges. In part, we learned, the challenges are related to Estaing’s location at the far tip of a meander in the Lot, meaning one walks both around the curve and over the hill that separates the two sides of the U. My phone indicates that we walked 13.6 miles and climbed the equivalent of 42 floors today.

Here’s the view across the muddy Lot as we approached Estaing: