Aux Armes d’Estaing (136€, dp)
So off after breakfast with Bonnie Allard in tow. Easy walking out of town, across a bridge and along the River Lot to Espallion. We stop at a church before entering town and Bonnie A. goes on ahead. We agree to meet at a bakery but somehow miss connecting up. We pick up a sandwich and a goodie for lunch and are on our way. So far the day is very easy. Have our lunch in the hamlet of Bessuejouls. We visit its old church with, in its tower, a chapel from Roman times. We name this “The Happy Church.” A sour devil excepted, all its saints, even God himself, are wreathed in smiles. But then, so much for easy… immediately after lunch there’s a STEEP UPHILL CLIMB out of town on a treacherous washed-out trail. Thank God it is not raining today. Up, Up, Huff, Huff… then along a ridge and through the countryside dotted with farms… then Down… with hay harvested everywhere… across streams, through tiny villages, along the river again and then another steep up!
There are many narrow forest paths today and great light. After another muddy descent we finally come in sight of Estaing on the river… with beautiful steepled houses and a fairy-tale Castle. Our hotel room is tiny and cute with a bathroom the same size as the armoire… We reconnect with Bonnie A., who is still having a hard time. We talk her into staying at our hotel and treat her to dinner. Lovely food… pate with salad, beef with spinach, potato quiche (all beautifully presented), caramel cake with citron, and excellent wine. We encourage Bonnie A. to treat herself better.