We’ve twice now seen messages from Manu in pilgrim books along the way – it seems that he and Steven were about one day ahead at this point.

Speaking of messages, our gîte in Moissac was another fantastic place to stay, with an owner who tended Ori’s aching feet and who owned a piano that I played last evening. The owner wrote us personal messages in our pilgrim passports and also let us each choose a tiny scroll from a basket that had been given to her by a traveling monk. Each scroll contained a single word that we could interpret as we liked. Ori’s was Franchir (“overcome”), and mine was Écouter (“listen”). We both found meaning in our words.

Below: Ori receives a good-luck pat from the Virgin Mary outside our gîte La Petite Lumière above Moissac.

Below: This a view overlooking Moissac from near our gîte (the house at left). For some reason I felt like I was in the film My Neighbor Totoro – something about the location, lighting, and distant storm clouds, as well as a sense of the mysterious and profound.

Below: We spent a lot of time walking beside a canal today. The official route went up and down over some nearby hills, but we happily chose the towpath that ran nearly parallel. It was shady and pleasant and, above all, flat!

Below: The lovely round medieval market hall in Auvillar, complete with heraldic banners. This town was adorable, with virtually no modern buildings and a remarkable degree of preservation. The local government seemed to be very engaged.

Below: Our gîte in Auvillar was in the former presbytery (the building built into the hillside at left). We were one of only a couple guests that night, and while it was operated by the town (i.e., it was a gîte communal), the facilities and amenities were first-class. I had also figured out, by this point, that phoning ahead to book accommodations and identifying ourselves as “un couple” often resulted in us getting our own room.

Below: Here’s our private room – better than some hotels we’ve stayed in, but for only €5 a night. Ori’s sitting in one of the windows in the previous photograph.

Even the cashier at the local grocery store happily broke open a package of laundry detergent pucks to sell us one individual unit, rather than making us buy (and carry) the whole package. Auvillar was great!

Below: Relaxing in the gîte’s garden at the end of the day. I wrote in my journal: “This is definitely the life. Sitting in a garden overlooking the countryside in the south of France, listening to the birds singing and basking in the late afternoon sunlight. Beers chilling in the fridge, dinner soon…and all for 25€ a day.”

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