For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Gastronomic Gascony

For the next 2 days - 5 and 6 November - I traversed the département of the Gers, part of the old province of Gascony. Gascony is one of the least populated areas of France, famous for the gastronomic delights of wild mushrooms, Armagnac brandy and controversial foie gras. It's also home to the Gascon language (little spoken nowadays), which is really a dialect of Occitan, the old language of south-west France.

I meandered through a gentle landscape of vine slopes and maize fields, and after 35 km reached Condom where I passed the night - once more in a very spacious gîte municipal and again alone. The next morning I had a sudden desire to leave early and walk in the dark to witness the dawn. At 6.30 I hit the trail. With only the occasional use of my headtorch I was soon out of town and stumbling along country lanes. The dawn was magnificent: purple, blue, orange and pale yellow streaks to a soundtrack of calling crows.

It was another long day. 33 km. My boots were pinching, causing severe foot pain. I'd had this before, but each morning the pain had miraculously eased. The final 7 km along a dead straight disused railway track to Eauze seemed very long indeed...

My photo is a view from the 12th - 13th century Chapelle Sainte-Germaine de Soldanum 10 km before Condom.

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