Gite Eyharts (80€, dp)*
A fabulous day with beautiful scenery… everything green here… the hiking steeply up and steeply down with stunning, ever-closer vistas of the Pyrenees. We walk by tiny little farms with pristine houses. There are lots of cows and sheep and it looks as if we are finally out of corn country. Many kinds of fowl are raised here… geese, ducks and pigeons. Pigeon hunting is also a big deal featuring huge tree houses from which hunters take their shots. We take a short cut and follow the sign of the snail (a new Camino symbol?) This leads us to a charming little town with an outdoor cafe. We stop for lunch and visit with another couple we have seen on the trail for several days now. They are from Lyon and very nice. Lunch is great! We share soup – Basque-style with potatoes, white beans and carrots, then pevold, sausage and ham in a thick tomato and red and green pepper sauce (much like at our dinner last night). For dessert excellent cheese with “marmalade” (cherry jam), vin rose and coffee. We hike on. It is hot and we finally arrive at our gite at 4:45 PM. It is atop a hill with decks and lawns all about. I do some laundry and cheer out loud (prompting some curious glances) when we see that our wayward duffel awaits us! Dinner is seriously, heartily, and delightfully Basque (the gite is famous for its dinners)… vermicelli soup, ham, pate and gherkins, pork with potatoes, and sheep cheese with fig marmalade. Muscat wine to start, then red wine with dinner. This is a very merry place with a host who is a real character. He plays the accordion, sings, dances and gets us all going. Lots of community singing. I sit next to an older woman (in her eighties) who has been hiking with her son. I have seen them often and now enjoy the opportunity to connect. The group here is French and Dutch, with no one parlez-ing English, but still fun.