No signs again of modernity as we left this old town with its circular market place, a gorgeous array of plantains, their branches reaching out to their brothers and sisters as if to say – “come on lets show them what we can do as one”, as they decorate the pretty stone facade behind.

The night before, Corrie found our breakfast place for today – we can’t wait for the regular 7.00am slots because we’ll be caught in the blimp of a heat wave now rising into the 30s. We arrived 15 minutes early and it was open – 6.15am. Usually Boulangeries just sell the pastries but this business woman was ready with jars of cocoa and coffee, so we had a complete breakfast.

Down, and out of town mostly through the farms and along its poppy edges, the often slashed grass cooled us from below as it also acted as a shock absorber for some stiff muscles. The undulating landform was fascinating as it rose gently, dipped sharply, sometimes double dipping or rolling down in rounded waves, the poppies appearing to be a bloody barrier waving like a hand held stop sign.

We soon arrived at the magic ‘one short street town’ of St Antoine, the home of artist Roland Bierge. He and Mark Chargall painted the ceiling of Paris’s famous opera house, the Palais Garnier. It is painted in sections and features scenes from operas by 14 of the world’s greatest composers, while also depicting famous dancers and actors. He lived here in a scene to equal any opera.

An enticing, ‘stay here for a week’ chambres, a bar-restaurant decorated with an eclectic mix of colourful trompe l’oeuils and a clear view across those feng shui landscapes were enough for us to place lingering here above the potential heat wave. We had coffee with our pre bought ‘pain raisin’ on this 3 metre wide street from heaven and watched the young children walking to school being greeted by the bar’s owner who kissed them, tidied their clothes and hair, while exchanging a few words. It reminded me of nail inspections at boarding school.

We continued on, glancing back to see a lone figure closing in quickly. Even from a kilometre away we knew it must be ‘Felix the Swiss glove finder’ who seemed to be the only person who caught up to anyone. This said though, he is in no hurry, because when he likes a place he stays awhile, so we’ll probably get to see him again, for a second.

Our next home is looking down on us once more, so another strong even breath double stick climb makes it easier than it might otherwise have been. Along a similar street to St Antoine with a small dog and a woman, alone claiming street rights, we stroked one and asked directions from another. We thought we got it right (the directions that is) but could not leave until we had some French lessons to get the village name right.

We ate lunch lunch in the triangular tree shaded square, the angles being filled by a church, a shop and our lodgings (bag’s there, 2 dogs, but no owner). Two other large black dogs patrolled our lunch borders greeting walkers as they spasmodically arrived. Our owner arrived – we suspect he’s the mayor because it’s after his name, a strong indication. At the same time an elderly woman fainted and fell badly damaging her nose in the church graveyard, luckily the ambulance won the race and she lives for another day.

While the ambulance and the graveyard were fighting over ownership rights, a French girl stayed with this woman comforting, and talking to her the whole time. We have noticed on this walk whether it be a person with a disability, someone like us wanting directions or a water bottle filled, an injured citizen or a frightened elderly woman, the French are there for the long haul. As we continue our long haul we will take this lasting impression with us.