I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Wild Domain

During the next few days I crossed the plateau of the Margeride and part of the ancient province of Gévaudan: a remote, hilly area of pine trees, green valleys, rough grazing land and sandy, stony tracks. The weather turned wet and windy for a while as I approached the Domaine du Sauvage, a former hôpital (pilgrim lodging) run by the Templars in the 13th century. It's still a gîte d'étape today, catering for weary walkers and pilgrims. I asked for a bed, but they were all booked; however I did order a coffee, and they had no objection to me eating my packed lunch at one of the restaurant tables. They're good like that, in the bars and restaurants of the Chemin...  

The Domaine du Sauvage.

Countryside near the Domaine du Sauvage (plus wild daffodils).

Soon after the Domaine I passed from the department of Haute-Loire into the department of Lozère and came across another Chapelle Saint-Roch. This present chapel was rebuilt in 1901 after being destroyed by a storm in 1897. I stepped inside and found a statue of St Roch above the altar. You can clearly see his trademark staff, thigh wound (a plague sore) and dog (who licked his wound and saved his life). You can read more about St Roch here — it's a fascinating story. (There are some similarities between St Roch and my favourite saint, St Francis of Assisi.) On these pilgrim routes the distinction between St Roch and St James can become intentionally blurred: note the scallop shells on hat and clothing...  

St Roch.

Fountain with scallop shell near the Chapelle Saint-Roch.

The green fields of Gévaudan.

Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole.

Around that time I spent the nights mostly in isolated gîtes and chambres d'hôtes. The ones at Les Faux, Bigose and Fineyrols come immediately to mind. All were very good, and all offered cheap, nutritious evening meals. At Les Gentianes in Fineyrols forty of us sat down at two long tables. We ate aligot, the local speciality: a dish made from mashed potatoes, butter, cream, garlic and melted cheese, accompanied by Toulouse sausage, and washed down with gorgeous, red Auvergne wine. The texture of aligot is extraordinary — it's smooth and elastic — and the serving of it a well-practised piece of culinary theatre...

Aligot and accordion. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

6 comments:

Ruth said...

Delicious! All of it!

Goat said...

Yes, dinner here tonight was a fast-food shrimp burger and a "strawberry Tornado" (don't ask). Satisfyingly recognisable as "western" food though it was, that dish you describe sounds positively divine. And so does the wine, now that I think about it...

Gail said...

Oh my, amazing journey and the pictures are wonderful. Thank you for taking me where I will never be able to go. :-)
Love Gail
peace.....

Susan Scheid said...

The aligot sounds wonderful, and I love that in the picture you found, the making of it is accompanied by an accordion.

Heidrun Khokhar said...

I can imagine the paths you walk and the solitude but I gather the beauty surounds you and carries you along. The meals along the way have me wishing for a bite.
When you are amongst the others do you share travel tales?

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

The wine, the sausage and the aligot were indeed divine for one evening. Unfortunately the novelty palled a little after the third identical meal in a row..!

Yes, lots of tales are shared, Heidrun. I always find it quite liberating talking to strangers with common interests.