Le Puy to Condom - Day  6
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Aubrac to Espalion - 32k

I get up at 6:30 ate my bread and fruit from last night, and step out into a blizzard to start a big descent down to Saint Chely which is a quick 1000 feet further down the hill, boy was I glad to get in the lea of the hill. At the beginning you are aware it is still very cold with frozen waterfalls, and then all of a sudden I look around, no snow… unreal.

Arriving in the village I look for the two most important places.... a bakery and a bar. I buy my baguette and head down to the bar for my coffee and dipped croissant. No croissant in the bar, so taking my rucksack off I bounce along the street like ‘Tigger’ on speed (taking off the rucksack gives you the astronaut weightless feeling for the first two minutes. In the bakery they had run out of croissants. (I bet Neil Armstrong didn’t have this problem) I compromised on a prune tart and headed back for my coffee.

After refreshment I joined the Sunday church service and enjoyed a magic hour. The priest was well over retiring age, but the thing seemed to be organised by the congregation. The music was supplied by a teenage duo with back up on Guitar and bongo’s.

I reluctantly left and climbed up and out into the next valley. Looking back I could see the Aubrac. Strange to think that 5 hours ago I was in the teeth of a snow storm up there.

The next hour or two was spent following a hill ridge down to the river Lot at Saint Come. On the way I passed my first small vineyard and I was suddenly aware of a bit of ‘spring’ in the surroundings. It was a lovely little town, but at 4pm on a Sunday night it was ‘closed’

I then took another variant…yep via the road, to Espalion. But it was very pleasant following the River Lot. Rivers don’t have hills!

At Espalion I booked into the Community Gîte, recently rebuilt, it had two bunk beds to a room with a shower and toilet to each room. In the bathroom was a ladder radiator… fantastic for drying your washing (daily problem at this time of year.)

After a holistic washing session I found a bar that did a quick supper. I came to the conclusion that if you can get demi-pension in a Gîte it was not only cheaper than eating out it was also much better value for money.

At Espalion I shared a room with Otto, an Austrian married to an American who had just retired two weeks before. He had been walking for a week and was deciding to take a day off.