Week 2 on the Camino – Take Substitutes

Day 8

I leave Figeac and continue hiking on the GR 65 for now.

I think I had one too many beers last night and I feel lazy all day.
And of course, I happen to run out of coffee and forgot to buy some when restocking.
Good thing it’s such an easy trail.
I can just activate the cruise control.

I’m not very talkative with people I meet and I listen to music pretty much all day.
I arrive in Cajarc in the afternoon.
Apparently it was the home of Pompidou (a former French president) and the birthplace of Françoise Sagan, a famous French writer.

I crave a coffee all day, but it’s late and I’m afraid it’s keeping me awake.
So I have a beer.
It does the job just fine until the end of the day.

Day 9

I wake up this morning with the sun on my face, which is unusual, as I start to walk in the dark.
I turned off my alarm yesterday morning while charging my phone at the gite and forgot to turn it back on…
I’m definitely not a morning guy, and without an alarm, I could sleep just fine all day.
But it was actually a well deserved sleep.

Not much is happening today.
Since hikers are spread over three different trails (with the alternatives) on this section, I don’t see many people.

I pitch the tent 10km from Cahors which seems to be a big city.
And where I will turn around to hike the alternative of Célé.

Day 10

I arrive quite early in Cahors and take a walk around town.
Then I turn around and start the alternative Cele.

To be honest, the GR 65 between Figeac and Cahors was quite boring and I quickly see that it’s a much nicer path.
There are lovely views over Cahors, the walk along the Lot is beautiful and the trail goes through a very beautiful forest.
I have not done a quarter of this way and it is already much better.

The strange thing is that I don’t see many hikers, only three, since I’m going against the flow.
A gite owner says that about 45% of hikers take the GR 65, 45% the alternative Célé and only 10% that of Rocamadour (because it is a little longer).
But it’s very quiet right now.

Over the past two days I’ve noticed the trees are really starting to change color.
I can’t wait to get my fill of Technicolor Forests.

Day 11

Yes, the Célé alternative is definitely better.
It’s a beautiful and varied day.
Walk along cliffs, lush forests and visit a prehistoric cave.

You cannot take photos in the caves. But you can take pictures of pictures…

The Pech Merle cave itself is stunning, but it’s definitely being able to see this 29,000 year old art on the walls that makes it memorable.
And unlike other caves like Lascaux, the most famous, you are actually visiting the real cave and not a replica.

I still don’t see many hikers today.
The rest of the day is really nice, but I feel a bit tired.
But that’s fine, I was planning to do a short day tomorrow and stop again in Figeac to do the laundry before taking the third substitution.

Day 12

Another very nice day of hiking, with beautiful cliffs, cool hamlets and stunning mossy forests.
And I like a good mossy forest.

Yesterday I said to myself “Oh, that’s cool, I’m arriving in Figeac at the start of the afternoon, I’m relaxing in a gîte and I’m doing my laundry”.
Well, I call the lodge where I stayed five days ago and it’s closed. And all the others are complete.
Never mind…

And I kind of miscalculated the times and I won’t be in town early today.
In fact, I have to walk really fast if I want to arrive before 7 p.m. to pick up a package I ordered.

After walking seriously faster, I make it to Beduer, where the trail and the alternative connect at 6:40 p.m.
Now I have to hitchhike to Figeac.
I haven’t had any rain at all since I started and it’s raining a bit this afternoon.
For a while I thought I would get my first rain at the exact time of what will probably be my only hitch on the Camino.
Miraculously, it’s not raining and I get a ride right away.

I arrive at the store to pick up my package at 6:55 p.m.… but it’s already closed.
I have to wait until 10 a.m. tomorrow.
I then do what I never do, I get a hotel room, because I found a really cheap one.
I really need to rest tonight.
I don’t even go to town to do my laundry, I’ll do it in the morning.

The packet I get is a cream that I use on scars, irritated skin and so on.
I haven’t found this exact cream anywhere anymore and all the others I’ve tried are crap.
This one is amazing and I can’t imagine hiking without it.

Day 13

It was great to have a shower and a night in a bed.
I do my laundry before leaving then I start the Rocamadour ramp, following the GR 6 for a while.

It rains most of the day, but it’s a drizzle.
It’s actually very pleasant to walk through the chestnut forests having the smells and colors of the woods bursting with the rain.

I have lunch in the beautiful village of
Cardaillac, where you can climb the clock tower.

I end up pitching my tent a little late in a village near the church, before realizing that the church bells are ringing every hour…

Day 14

No more rain today, it’s sunny and actually quite warm.

I spend most of the day in very beautiful forests and it’s a good time to walk here.
The colors have started to change and the leaves are falling from the branches, giving the woods an eerie vibe.

I arrive in the afternoon in Rocamadour, an old village on the side of a cliff and it is breathtaking.
It is a place of pilgrimage since the body of Saint-Amadour was found there.
It’s also the fifth most visited place in France and I’m here on a Saturday, when every hipster and their dog are in town.

So it’s busy, but still worth exploring, and I end up spending a lot of time walking around.

The town makes this alternative (the longer one) really worth it, and I’m not sure why the GR 65 between Figeac and Cahors even exists.
It’s so uninteresting and boring compared to the two alternatives…
But I guess if you’re feeling lazy it’s slightly shorter and absolutely flat.

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