Monastere des Filles de Jesus (44€, dp)
It is overcast and drizzling again. We have our own little breakfast in the gite’s kitchen and head out at 9:00 AM. The rain stops, although it is overcast all day. Detouring off the trail, we investigate a boulder-constructed dolmen, likely marking a burial many thousands of years ago. Today is Monday and the bakeries are closed. We have two pieces of bread and a one inch piece of sausage between us but – great luck! – we walk through a little town, Varaine, and stop in a bar at 12:30 PM and voila!, lunch. We sit down and are presented with bread soup (delicious), a wonderful salad, then perfect lamb chops with white beans, then cheese, then dessert and finally coffee. We finish up and keep walking – easy, on dirt roads until finally at 4:00 we reach a convent in Vayalat. It is pretty primitive. No one speaks English. The place is old and dingy. We have wet smelly feet… YUK.
We attend mass with the nuns in a pretty little chapel decorated with red roses and flowering white branches. The mass is in French. And in a convent built to house hundreds, the nuns are few (no more than ten) and all at least eighty years old. This is a dying order, I’m afraid. The amazing thing is that their singing voices are so beautiful with no sign of aging. We dine with a French couple and Pat, our new best, Irish friend. He is a character and my first real glimpse of Irish in Action. He is walking on behalf of a crippled friend and is devoutly Catholic, and at the same time is not afraid of drinking. We drink a lot and laugh it up. Dinner is good: consommé, a green salad with mustard dressing, meat patties, macaroni and cheese, braised endive, cheese plate and cherries. Wine. Back to our creepy room thankful for the peace that comes with lots of wine.