We left our little slice of blissful vacancy on the Mediterranean to head north to de L’Averyon region in south central France. The drawcard had been Conques, another on France’s list of Plus Beaux Villages. I can’t remember exactly why but probably because of the budget, we ended up in a little village just east of there and it was totally perfect.
Our little place in Senergues seemed right out of a fairy tale. It was very quaint. VERY. But perfect for us for our week there. There was a big garden, full of fruit trees and bikes for us to ride around the village. The house was spread over three levels and there was no wifi at all! I don’t remember the last time we’ve gone completely dark for this long but we kind of enjoyed it! I downloaded Shantaram on my kindle before we left Frontignan and finished that epic within our stay. Yew!
The village and neighbouring Conques are on the Compostelle route and this piqued my interest as I’ve always had a bit of a non-religious pipe dream to do a stretch of this with the girls one day. Achieving a great distance on a very well travelled (and signposted!) road has an allure for me that I think lies in the reflection afforded when physical endurance and nature are combined.
Days earlier we had also talked about picking up a hitchhiker after we’d spied a pretty nefarious looking young fella along the route from Spain and joked about how he would go sitting in the back between the two girls. Staring out at the Pyrenees Orientales, I had thought about it some more and said then that I would definitely pick up a hitchhiker, if the right one popped up… of course Jordan’s response was to question how we would know this…
So, as these things play out, of course on our way to the village, along a very lonesome (and hilly!) stretch of road, we passed by a young woman on the side of the road with her thumb out. We sped past her but Jordan and I looked at each other and as if we’d made the decision, turned around to see where she was heading. We considered the distinct lack of other vehicles and thought about if our own girls were in that situation; that we were probably a pretty solid offer (if not her only offer!). So around we turned and up we picked Annalise, and bringing her back to our place in Senergues (more on that!) and then drove her on to her last stop, Conques so she could meet with friends in time for dinner. On the way, we talked a lot of the track, how easy it was, how comfortable she’d felt doing it alone, etc and when we left our place in Senergues to drop her off at Conques, she bequeathed me her walking stick so that I could do the last leg with it… so the decision was made here I suppose! How could I refuse?!
I am notorious for getting lost on walks (remember that one time we accidentally hiked through the forest from Tourtour to Villecroze without so much as a 300mls of water and a couple of mentos!?). I just turn down an interesting street/ fork in the road and forget which way I’ve gone or was going! I have a real talent for it actually. But, Annalise had assured me that it was very well sign posted (spoiler alert: it was!).
I loved the walk. I was alone for the entirety of it and had picked a gorgeous day to do it. It was not too rigorous (the last part heading into Conques was very rocky and the most intrepid of the entire route) and when I arrived into Conques I felt really proud of myself for doing it. Not in the doing of it, I suppose. 10kms is not a huge feat but doing it alone, I think, that was the big thing for me. Alone alone. Without the comfort of understanding the language, a knowledge of such foreign direction and of course, without the security of a mobile phone or gps. Jordan decided he would do it the following morning and felt the same sense of accomplishment when he arrived into Conques to meet his now experienced cheer squad/welcoming committee.
Conques was absolutely gorgeous! One of our favourites on the list of Plus Beaux Villages. It is set high up on the Aubrac plateau as you descend towards the Lot valley. When you enter from the Compostelle route, you arrive at the very top and work your way down, down into the stunning village through the array of half timbered houses cut into the terraces of the rock face, descending toward the beautiful Abbey of Sainte-Foy.