To Confolens

by Administrator 23. June 2008 15:40
23.06.08. Monday

Avrailles-Limousine to Confolens.

A short day planned to allow us to get to Confolens in time for lunch, as recommended by an elderly English couple who have been touring this area for 20 years, in the Café du Gard. This is one of those French places frequented by locals, from the pompiers to the painters (of houses), 11.5€, 4 courses and ½ litre of wine red or rose, no choices apart from the 1st course buffet. Excellent value for two hungry walkers who had nearly run out of food.
We rejoined the GR48 after a short walk uphill, some thunder in the night but much drier than the previous morning. The ups and downs of the previous day started again with some green lanes badly in need of fauchage, followed by more along the bank of the Vienne, flatter but with wet bracken and bramble already overhead in places.
We startled a young dear on one of the tracks, who stood and looked at us for some time before deciding that he had better be on his way.
However it was cloudy with a slight breeze and nowhere near as humid as yesterday so we cracked on at a good pace emerging via the local quarry (in operation) at St Germain where we had a coffee on the bar (again just out of a thermos but not as bad as previous day’s brews) and then took the road , with only light traffic, and signs asking motorists to share the road with cyclists (but walkers fair game), to Confolens and into the next campsite by 1100 from a start at 0715.
We spent a few minutes talking to a Dutch guy who was walking sections of the GR48 who agreed that the walking was excellent in the area.
Up with tents to dry in the hot sun and we soon found the Café du Gard opposite the old station on the left bank after crossing the bridge over the Vienne that, although not in its present form, dates from Roman times. The railway here is now unused but the lines still exist and a local group of volunteers run a rail pedal car hire service (Velos Chemin de Fer). We could not ask what you do if you meet someone coming the other way so thought better of hiring one.
After lunch on the way back we visited the two local churches both very old, two because the two halves (Chabannas and St Germain) of Confolens, like many of the little towns up the rivers in this part of France were separate parishes and the bridge only used by commerce and military not by the common people. Both were obviously in regular use and were cool and one beautifully lit from several fine stained glass windows designed by the Carmelite nuns of Tours in 1866, (not as good as the Dennys in Tewksbury and Gloucester). The second had an accessible bell tower that, of course, had to be climbed, via two tight long ladders. The bells with their strikers and electronic controllers for the chimes (an essential function of every church in France) make an interesting contrast in times.
Finally the famous son of the town Emile Roux, son of the headmaster and eventually deputy to and head after Louis Pasteur of the Pasteur Institute in Paris who discovered bacterial toxins such as diphtheria and Tetanus and started the work on vaccinations for these diseases
Link to where we are on Google Maps


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