La Grange de Grizou had only one guest tonight – us. Alain asked us to leave our case where pilgrims have to leave their dirty shoes to help keep these Gites clean. The owner here was very particular about packs and cases because bugs were rife in the area. We walked into a beautifully renovated stone house, oak beams and stairways, a very big room leading to our bedroom on the left, the large dining room and kitchen with a server to the right, all behind sets of glass doors leading to a large balcony, the oak forest trees just feet away through which we could see the clear sky.

Alain, a psychologist, and Claire have recently married and left the bright lights to charter a new course in life. Their delightful ‘chambers d’hotes’ is their new project. Their adept cooking skills, their wonderful company, and their love of people, combine to make this a place that must be on every pilgrims list. Speaking in English (Claire did not speak it, but said she would be perfect if she could) allowed us to exchange thoughts and ideas on psychology, learn that the deer has been culled over the years and now they can eat the shoots of the new oak trees because there are plenty, and talk French pharmacy with Alain’s friend Michelle. We had a very entertaining night over a regional veal dish – Blauquette de Veau, a walnut flour desert and wine.

We kissed and hugged like old friends as the sun speckled through the oak leaves on one side and rain once again testing our waterproofs. Soon into our stride and flashes of lightning accompanied drums of thunder as daunting grey clouds spilled their offerings. A cool breeze challenged the French humidity, our most unwelcome friend just about every day. The light and sound show (like the extremes of Aida, played over dinner) ended just as we were getting used to our new weather phenomenon.

Some tricky ascents and descents were balanced out by long narrow paths going in and out of cosy woods and unusually through the middle of private pastures. Maybe the farm girl had set up her cafe bench near the tractor to have pilgrims pay for their right of way.

Lauzerte soon came into view sitting on top of a hill (villages are mostly in the valleys) but we haven’t introduced ourselves yet as our little room is 600 metres off the chemin. We’re in a room in one of the few 4 room cottages around this small hotel. Wifi has just begun to work after 2 unsuccessful endeavours to get it elsewhere. Tomorrow we will visit the hill top town of Lauzerte and see what we can find and maybe well meet up again with the 2 women from Canada who we chatted with today