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A 5 day walk in the Tarn and Aveyron area of France: day 3 – Bruniquel to Puycelci

October 29, 2017 · 9 comments

Date walked: 24th  September 2017

Distance: around 8 miles

Booking company: Sherpa Expeditions. Sherpa made all the hotel and bed and breakfast bookings, arranged transfer of our bags each day between destinations and provided detailed descriptions of each days walk and large-scale map sheets with the routes marked. It all worked perfectly; I highly recommend them. Here is a link to the specific walk we booked.

Maps used: I have also subscribed to the “Outdoors France” app. A years subscription of £19.99 allows you to download 1:25,000 scale  IGN maps (- equivalent to 2.5 inches to a mile). The app then allows chosen routes to be marked up and the phone GPS locates where you are at any time. I did have some problems with the maps when we were walking, though.

*****

Considering what a short walk we had today we really should have had an explore of Bruniquel before setting off, as our notes suggested,  but there it is, we didn’t. Our bad (do young people still say this?) I also failed to take note of what I thought of our breakfast at  L’abri -Niquel Chambre d’hote. Sorry. I’d have remembered if it was awful.

We were blessed with another lovely day and from the house we walked down the road passing the old wash house…

Wash house at Bruniquel, photographed by Charles Hawes

Well, not really a house – maybe it had a roof on once?

…. and another unusual building….,

House in Bruniquel, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Clearly a conversion, but from what?

… to the River Vere.


Bridge over the River Vere at Briniquel, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Immediately after the bridge, at a stone cross which our notes described as medieval…

Stone cross at the River Vere, Bruniquel, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Seems remarkably un-weathered for something that old

….we turned onto the riverside path. Shortly afterwards, and having “bonjoured” a grazing donkey…

Donkey by the River Vere, near Bruniquel, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nicely backlit

…..we were returned to a road and crossed the river twice more before a final crossing over a footbridge. Pause for pic.

Charles Hawes on footbridge over the River Vere near Briniquel, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Thanks for taking the pic, Bob

We crossed the D964 a few times before taking a small road through the hamlet of Brian de Vere. We paused here for Bob to peer longingly through the window of a bespoke bicycle.  Our notes suggest this  hamlet is “in desperate need of a cafe”; I reckon you could say that about hundreds of small villages in France but if the custom isn’t there….

Brian de Vere, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bob’s seriously into cycling and has joined a club recently

The bicycle maker provided us with the first big conversation of the day as we left the road and climbed up the side of a hill; Bob’s deliberations about upgrading his own bicycle.

View over the River Vere valley from edge of Forest Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Beautiful view

Actually, come to think of it we had already had quite a chat about the possibility of Bob moving to France to take over a bar belonging to a friend of his (he won’t be doing that).

Our notes describe our climb as the biggest ascent of the day – some 800 feet.  It certainly felt like a good pull.  At the top we turned right, entering woodland of mostly young oaks. Here we re-encountered the webs of the Box Tree Caterpillar, clothing the afflicted shrubs.

Box affected by Box Tree Caterpillar, Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

We were on the edge of the Forest of Gresigne; clearly a place used for hunting of various kinds. We passed several emplacements…

Shooting emplcement in Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

…, and then a sign announcing today that there was a Big Game hunt.

Big Game hunt sign in Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Deer and wild boar appear to be their favoured species

Not that my French quite understood the instruction to be vigilant, nor what we were supposed to do should we encounter a boar or a bullet.

GR46 in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Notice how I thought Bob should be in the lead at this point

However, as we descended towards the bottom of the valley we heard the tinkling of bells and barking dogs. And they were coming our way. This was somewhat alarming as we feared that we may have become prey.  A hound appeared (wearing a collar with an aerial attached to it), glanced at us, took a sniff and trotted on.  I manged a two second video clip. (it has a glimpse of a dog and its bells)

Feeling slightly twitchy, we reached the stream called Ruisseau de Beudes in the bottom of the valley…

Ruisseau de Beudes in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

crossed it and then came to a junction indicating that we were around an hour and half from our destination.

Footpath sign for Puycelsi in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Our path climbed gently and in the valley below we could hear again the bells of the hunting dogs. We saw signs of some animals having churned up the soft earth…..

Animal evidence in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

I wonder if they have badgers?

….but the only living creatures we encountered were a runner…

Jogger in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

… and some huge slugs.

Slug in the Forest of Gresignes, photographed by Charles Hawes

About 6 inches long!

After a mile or so of gently climbing up the valley side…

Walking in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bob looks a bit stony faced here but he is keeping to his resolve to keep his head up

…our path reached a hamlet called Mespel. Not a soul to be seen but I snapped an old bread oven….

Mespel in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

….and a border at the base of a wall of pretty flowers I didn’t know.

Mespel, Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Any suggestions welcome

Although almost entirely woodland, some land was being cultivated here, and we glimpsed the newly turned over soil through the hedgerow.

Land around Mespel in the Forest of Gresigne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Having climbed back up to around 1000 feet we could now see into the next valley and to Puycelci, sitting on top of the hill opposite.

View to Puycelci from the Forest of Gresigne, photographed by Charles Hawes

But to get there we had to descend to the stream of Ruisseau de l’Audoulou…

Ruisseau de l'Audoulou below Puycelci, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

it was almost dried up

.. and then climb up the other side of the valley.  Which was a bit of a slog on a warm day.

A steep grass track brought us to a stony track and then to a rough tarmac road.  We entered the village through its old walls at Port N’Avistour. We both struck by the charm of the place and could understand why it is included in the list of Les Plux Belles Villages de France. 

Puycelci, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Following our notes we found L’Ancienne Auberge where we were staying that night in the Place de l’Eglise. But no one was home (our notes had advised us not to arrive too early – though not what that meant). It was 2pm and we accepted that was early so we went in search of lunch.

At first it didn’t look hopeful; all the shops were closed.

Puycelci, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Then, joy of joys, we emerged into a square with fabulous views over the surrounding countryside, on the edge of which the Roc Cafe was, indeed, rocking.

Roc Cafe, Puycelsi, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

What was amazing was that there was one table empty under a parasol. Boots and socks off. Drinks, omelette and chips ordered. We thought this was heaven.

Cafe Roc, Puycelci, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

We had done the days walk, it was a beautiful day and we had nothing better to do than sit and enjoy the music. Here’s a taste of that. Ok, so it’s not great music but there was a great atmosphere!

Around 3pm I thought I would check out the Auberge to see if we could get in. The housekeeper was there and our bags and gave me the keys, so after a while longer at the cafe we took up residence.  I loved everything about this place. Downstairs was a large comfortable, cool sitting room with sofas and comfy chairs and magazines. My large, spacious ensuite (mine had a shower; I think Bob’s had a bath) room …..

Bedroom at L.Ancienne Auberge, Puycelci, photographed by Charles Hawes

…..was directly opposite L’Eglise St Corneille..

L'Eglise St Corneille, Puycelsi, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Swallows were swarming around the spire and sitting on it’s sides (see the main pic for the post)

Having checked in we had plenty of time to shower, snooze and change. And even have a bit of a wander around. I called in to the church.  It has a beautiful ceiling, but it is in a very sad state of repair, with whole patches of colour having disappeared.

Chruch of St Corneille, Puycelsi, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

This is really deserving of restoration

Dinner was included tonight but was taken at a restaurant opposite the Roc Cafe called Jardin Des Lys. But first we had a few more beers at the Roc Cafe where once again I wopped Bob at Crib. What a great day!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob October 29, 2017 at 8:12 am

Great day.more beautiful sunshine.arriving at a beautiful hilltop village in time for omelette and chips.a band was playing( Santana covers).

I’ve not upgraded my bike yet. Although have decided that I will enter the world of Carbon frames.

Reply

Charles October 29, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I didn’t know they were Santana covers! Great day, indeed.

Reply

JPaul Steer October 29, 2017 at 9:58 am

Sunshine ! Beautiful place and a stunning church. I love the main pic of the tower with its dancing swallows .

Reply

Charles October 29, 2017 at 3:15 pm

The swallows were captivating. I couldn’t make sense of what they were doing. Maybe it was warm?

Reply

Paul Steer October 29, 2017 at 10:09 am

Who is JPaul ???

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John October 29, 2017 at 10:37 am

I wondered that too – suggested to his nibs that you might be planning a conversion to Roman Catholicism and were hoping for an easy entry.

Reply

Charles October 29, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Well, when I get a notification of a comment from you that’s how it appears!

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John October 29, 2017 at 11:11 am

Lovely views, some nice architecture, good weather. What more could you ask for? That plant looks familiar but it’s the age-old problem of not enough detail visible to be sure. Would you mind popping back to take a close-up? Pity about that church but there’s clearly a lot of dampness in them there walls so the cost of restoration will be far more than a couple of tins of Dulux. Incidentally, a bicycle must indeed be bespoke if it has windows and I guess neither Bob nor (J)Paul clicked the link for the belled dog 😉

Reply

Charles October 29, 2017 at 3:19 pm

What more could we ask for….No, I can’t think of anything. Quite understand the challenge of the plant ID. I should have taken a close up. Yes, must sort out that link!

Reply

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