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Day 28: from CAHORS to FOISSAC, 80 km

Once again, up before dawn at 4:45 am because it's going to get even hotter. I get up, take a quick shower, and go downstairs from the mezzanine to prepare breakfast. Bruno is not a morning person and turns over 40 times (a biblical number that actually means a lot) in his bed before he actually gets up, and even then, he's still a complete zombie after half an hour. Nevertheless, we have breakfast together, with pain au chocolat and croissants. He also eats a piece of French bread with terrine de campagne and a banana, plus a strong coffee with a splash of milk, of course. I've learned from him that eating bananas is great when cycling. He also has a couple of those bars with nuts, dried raisins, and honey, and then he doesn't need more food for the next two hours.


The bike is ready to set off before sunrise, a shepherd and his sheep


We set off from Cahors towards Pech on the Via Podiensis. The pilgrims are already on the move, walking through forests and country paths towards Limogne-en-Quercy. We follow the D road, but the first 15 km are quite steep uphill until past the village of Pech. After that, it eases a bit, but it's still up and down. Soon, we enter the Eco National Park of Causses du Quercy, a beautiful natural park with rolling landscapes and a lot of oak trees. Along the way, we see a shepherd with his sheep, and some of them are lambing as we watch. Jean Baptiste (Delong) has been tending to his flock of 200 sheep all his life. He prefers them to give birth outdoors because the lambs get fewer diseases. He walks over to the newborn lambs and, with his walking stick, helps them get up and nudges them into the shade. A kind man, a true good shepherd.

A borie, Bruno and grandad in front of the church of Vaylats


We also see some beautiful “bories” on the way. These are small houses entirely built with local stones, in which you can even sleep or store tools. You find a lot of them in Provence as well. We make a brief stop in Vaylats because Bruno (yes, Bruno!) saw a beautiful church, but it's closed. It's a 19th-century church dedicated to St. Peter. A passing lady, Annemarie Estivals, tells us that there's an old convent 500 meters away, Les Filles de Jezus, a mission sisters' order. The convent has been converted to accommodate pilgrims, vacationers, and other interested individuals. We go inside briefly to get a stamp on our credentials. In the courtyard, there's a modernistic St. James made from parts of various technical devices and/or vehicles or tools.


Annemarie, the convent of Vaylats with a modern Saint Jacob


Continuing on, we reach Varaire, with many beautiful old houses and a unique, large, and beautiful old washhouse. In the past, the public washhouse was a vital meeting place where all the village news was spread. We cycle through the village of Bach without stopping and later reach the town of Limogne-en-Quercy, where we pause at the church. We want to have a coffee, but most bistros are closed on Mondays.


The beautiful views on the Lot and the lavoir of Varaire


An older lady is sitting on a terrace of a closed café with two young girls. She tells me I can sit there since they are closed. She asks where we're from and where we're heading, and so we start talking. She is on a trip to Conques with her husband and four children, but two of them have fallen ill. They are here with her. The grandfather is currently walking the Via Podiensis with the other two. Bruno says her story reminds him of the fact that Grandma and our Ann got sick last year on the Camino Francés, both with COVID-19. The lady is named Christine, and the two sick granddaughters with her are Mayliss and Marie. Christine tells us she's very interested in symbols in Christian iconography, and I, Opi, naturally agree. We also tell them why we cycle on the roads to Santiago and how we're raising money for the Rinus Pini-fund. They think it's a great initiative. The two granddaughters want to know where they can find the blog, and Bruno shows it to them. We say our goodbyes and promise to mention our meeting in the blog. So, there are other grandparents introducing their grandchildren to one of the Camino routes to Santiago: another way to travel and meet wonderful people. It was a super pleasant encounter.


Cajarc: St Etienne church with statues of St. Rochus and St Steven


Leaving Limogne-en-Quercy, the road goes uphill for a bit and then it's almost 12 kilometers of downhill to the town of Cajarc, where we visit the beautiful St. Etienne church and the old part of town with many half-timbered houses. In the St. Etienne church, there's a beautiful statue of St. Stephen holding the stones of his stoning in his hands. St. Rochus also catches our attention, as does the unique organ. After a visit to the Tourist Office for a stamp, we quickly shop for the evening since there aren't many shops in Foissac, where we'll stay. While I do the shopping, Bruno converts his bike's phone holder to make it easier to eat his French bread while cycling... We picnic by the St. Etienne church and then take the road along the river Lot, a beautiful tourist route that will lead us very close to Foissac.


Cajarc: the organ and a painting in the St. Etienne church; Bruno with his French bread holder


It's almost 1 o'clock now, and there's no one else on the road anymore because it's already 34 to 36 degrees Celsius. Along the river Lot with lovely rapids, it's slightly cooler but still quite warm. We can't resist briefly checking out some beautiful spots, particularly the castle of Larroque-Toirac built (12th-15th century) against the rocks at the side of the Lot: impressively beautiful.


Castle of Larroque-Toirac


Nearby, just a few kilometers away, is the fortified medieval church (église fortifiée) of St. Pierre-Toirac, naturally dedicated to St. Peter. It's situated in a small hamlet where they are currently restoring all the old houses around it. The sturdy structure is magnificent, and inside, there's a beautiful vault to admire, along with lovely side windows in the choir. There's even a gilded capital of Adam and Eve: a rare piece.


Fortified church of St. Pierre-Toirac with gilded capital of Adam and Eve


Now, we have to cross the Lot and bike another 5 kilometers to Foissac, and we think it will be a piece of cake. Nothing could be further from the truth; the road to Foissac slowly but steeply ascends, and we both arrive sweaty and completely exhausted. It's now 38 degrees, and sweat is dripping from us. Luckily, there's a bistro open in this small village (on a Monday), and an old lady warmly welcomes us: an Orangina for Bruno and a coffee, and for me, two draft beers. Everything tastes amazing. There's a kind of umbrella tree providing plenty of shade in front of the bistro, and we're comfortable there because we can only enter our room at 4 PM. Now we're in our room with two beds (Bruno is happy!) and even air conditioning. We rest a bit and then have some food. Tomorrow, it's an early start again to one of the highlights of our Via Podiensis: the abbey church of Conques and the adjacent museum with the gilded statue of the Sacred Relic of Conques. I also want to show Bruno the modern stained glass windows that the artist Soulages installed in this abbey. After 10 PM, we can also watch the sound and light show that brings the colors of the west facade tympanum to life. But that's for tomorrow.

The rapids of the Lot


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