Day 8, Stage 6 from Rudelle to Gramat, start at 9:03 for 5:32 hrs, total 18:40 km.

Probably the lowest point in our journey from all view points: emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The night spent in the super basic gite in Rudelle, turned out to be too rustic for our well being. Despite a relative good mood the evening before, when we managed to prepare a long desired vegetable soup, and we could share some light laughter moments, getting eventually to sleep was not easy. The idea of having a toilet that was basically a bucket in a shack in the middle of a field, was adding apprehension on top of the million noises we were hearing while laying down with our eyes wide open. Raffaella was convinced we were under attack by a legion of mice and other allied critters, while I was trying some unconvincing theories about mice having other more interesting jobs to do than biting our feet.

Fact is that when at about 2 am, I had to pay a visit to the outdoor shack, Raffaella joined wholeheartedly. Remarkably we were greeted by the brightest star canopy I could remember since a long time. However the humbling show of beauty, could not reconcile our sleep, and the sunrise caught us totally stoned and in a rather bad mood. We barely spoke during breakfast and during the usual morning packing. Likely the only things I said were wrong and not sufficiently emphatic to lessen the evident fatigue in the relationship. Off we went without saying anything else, hoping to find soon a bar for some restoring coffee and croissants.

Nothing more wrong. The road was snaking again in between wheat fields with no such thing as a place to rest, let alone to get some food or drinks.

Once reached what seemed to be a village, we had again to knock at the Mayor’s office to get access to a restroom. France is a beautiful country, but surely makes the life of a pilgrim or wanderer really tough.

We were not in the mood for pictures until we reached the point where we thought we could find an overnight accommodation after about 10km since the morning start. Emotionally we had a breakdown and in front of the so long desired coffee, we had our worst argument of the whole trip with definite resolutions to break apart and go separate ways.

Maybe were the stale cookies or the lukewarm horrible coffee, that made us realize that were worst things in life than just ourselves and our shortfalls. At once, smiles resurfaced on our faces and we decided to proceed further up to Gramat.

That was a smart decision, since we were directed by the Canadian owner of the hostel we called first and turned out to be fully booked, to contact Marc. Marc is the owner of a very nice home in the center of Gramat, and an unconvinced host for random walkers that eventually knock at his door after having been rejected by his Canadian friend.

Marc resulted to be one of the nicest encounters of this week.

A very educated gentleman that toured the world for business and pleasure, married to a German lady spending the summer in Germany with her previous marriage children and grandchildren. He is therefore living alone and likely also bored as an old time country gentleman, cultivating his passion for wines (he has a collection of over 2000 labels, rigorously reported in folders with degustation notes) and manning his nice home for the random visitors.

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