Still hoping to meet my first fellow pilgrim as the summer heat is coming to western France and this part of The Camino includes mostly road walking which wears on you after 25-30k. My spirits were lifted though for today for the first time I was following a path led by shells easing the loneliness as I walked into Chantonnay around 3PM. Also growing increasingly comfortable winging it and relying on The Camino to provide so I walked into the local tourist office with my French line down pat, “Bonjour. Je suis un pèlerin qui se rend à Saint Jacques de Compostelle depuis chez moi en Irlande. Pouvez-vous m’aider s’il vous plaît? J’ai besoin d’un lit pour ce soir.” “Hello. I am a pilgrim walking to Saint Jacques de Compostelle from my home in Ireland. Can you please help me? I need a bed for tonight.” And I only had to repeat it twice this time.😀
Within 5 minutes the friendly girl gave me a thumbs up and an address just 1 kilometer away. 20 minutes later I was welcomed by Thierry and Sylvie Mace. Sylvie washed my clothes, provided cold water, and Thierry walked me to their movie room where he let me pick a film, Gladiator. Lots of meditation statues around house making me even more comfortable. Wonderful French meal of a peach and blanc wine for our aperitif (before dinner drink) with fish spread on bread for first course. Then a nice salad with figs and goat cheese followed by a delicious carbonera.4th course is 5 different cheeses; goat, blue, camembert and 2 others. Than a homemade mint and chocolate ice cream. The Bordeaux was provided by me. I normally don’t provide details of a meal but in France some dining experiences are notable. The French seem to have a special knack for dining and living.
The following morning after a nice bread and jam breakfast Sylvie and Thierry walked me to The Camino and we said goodbyes. Then a long road walk to L’Hermenault where there were no rooms available. So I headed to the local municipal office, The Mairie, where a kind woman made multiple calls to no avail. Finally after a half hour she gave me a thumbs up and 5 minutes later Patrice (Patrick) and Gabrielle were there and drove me to their home in Poille where Gabrielle provided aperitif of water and Grenadine syrup, a very cozy bedroom, and told me this is your house. I noticed she had her Compostela framed in the kitchen with map of the Camino Frances and a bottle of Santiago de Compostela on a shelf. I felt at home instantly as there is a connection and very strong communal spirit with fellow pilgrims. Gabrielle is 68 and her husband Patrick 69. As the day turns into night we are talking of future Caminos and Patrick tells me that he has made reservations for me with families in my next two destinations; Maillezais and Surgeres. Feeling in flow on The Camino. Ultreia! — in Poillé, Pays De La Loire, France.