On Marche! - Le Chemin de Stevenson and Provence travel blog




Descent to Pradelles





Aug. 21/18

Breakfast of fresh baguettes and yogurt, and huge bowls of cafe latte, which we for-go because ...well , hiking for miles....enjoyed with our friends from Brittany who continue to patiently correct my French. We do 21 km today under warm sunny skies again, and make it in time to Pradelles before the quick crashing thunderstorm and torrential rain sweeps through. This is a lovely walk through expansive wheat and corn fields and countless mellow cows. There are many walkers on the trail, almost all French, but really has that feel of a communal exodus so familiar from the Camino de Santiago. It's very peaceful and interesting to walk through farmland. We load up with smelly cheese and other picnic supplies at a small town market,and a large group meets up for a chatty lunch on a stone bridge beside a large defunct railway viaduct. One of the couples is from the Burgundy area and has been to visit western Canada, as their daughter did a student exchange to St.Michael's school in Victoria- small small world again...

Pradelles is a fascinating walled medieval village, many buildings dating back to the 16th century. It is noted to be one of les Plus Beaux Villages de France. It is home to some great stories: the madonna statue in the Notre Dame church was thought to have given rise to many miracles although, as Stevenson wrote " she was only made of wood", and there was a Saint Jeanne de Verte, who was a woman upset by marauding bandits and put a stop to them by throwing a large rock from the top of a staircase onto the head of their captain, mortally wounding him. The stone staircase to the arch is still present, stuck to the ancient stone wall.

We are in a little hotel in a centuries-old building perched over the valley, but it has weirdly transported us back to the 1960's, complete with pink bathroom fixtures, a classic European bathing adventure again with a curtainless bath and shower nozzle affixed at knee level, and a restaurant jauntily playing the music from the Pink Panther, The Spy who Loved Me, and To Sir With Love. The dinner of course is amazing, we now expect nothing less from France- hoping that more of these 20+ km days of walking will allow us to break even calorie-wise at least!

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