Day 55 – Chateauvillain to Mormant

Yesterday evening’s walk to the supermarket was thankfully short, but the heat was still stifling at 6-7pm. Chateauvillain has evidently seen better days, with almost all the shops now closed down. There is a busy pharmacy and three not very busy tabacs, one doubling as a betting shop and another with a bar. The boulangeries and epiceries have long since gone, and yet there are two schools for younger children in town, and plenty of renovation work going on. It seems everyone these days uses supermarkets, even in France. A bit of a sad place.

Church in Chateauvillain

The night was hot. Plastic mattress covers (though essential) are a nightmare in such conditions, so we woke early to another hot day. Breakfast was a novel bowl of meusli as we’d had to buy a large bottle of milk to have tea. Washing up done, we left just after 8am, dodging children arriving for school next door.

Leaving our billet – a work in progress next door to one of the former boulangeries

The road out of town quickly changed from tarmac to gravel, wending through small allotment gardens and then alongside huge fields of arable crops broken up by areas of woodland.

Looking back towards Chateauvillain

After about 1.5 kilometres our route took a left turn into an extensive area of woodland which we walked through for several hours, at times within hearing of the A5 motorway we had crossed under yesterday, and mostly in shade. We later learned that it is the Foret Dominiale d’Arc – Chateauvillaine, one of France’s many national forests.

Today was good for butterflies and caterpillars. Unfortunately butterflies rarely settle long enough to be photographed but caterpillars, though moving in haste, aren’t too quick for a determined photographer. Tom reckons this one is a moth caterpillar – do any of our readers recognise it?

As it was so hot, we decided to have an early lunch and siesta in the shade of the forest, rather than taking our chances later. Just as well we did as Richebourg had nowhere for weary pilgrims to sit and there was standing room only in the shade of the locked church. However, we were able to top up our water bottles using the tap in the churchyard, and a very helpful woman in La Poste kindly stamped our pilgrim passports as the Mairie across the corridor was closed until July. The postmistress told us the church is very beautiful but closed because of thefts of statues. We suggested they lock away the statues and open the church as it proudly recognises that it is on the Via Francigena pilgrim route!

As Julie’s left hip was playing up today we took the more direct route down the road to Mormant rather than the longer path through fields and forest. Just as Tom was complaining it was uninteresting and without shade we found ourselves walking along the edge of the forest in shade with clouds of butterflies flitting around us! And another caterpillar intent on getting squashed crossing what turned out to be a busy road.

The shade ended and we were mostly walking in full sunshine with the occasional puff of wind to keep us going. The tarmac was so soft in the heat of the afternoon that Tom has left his boot prints in the road! Julie probably did too but as she was behind there was no-one to notice.

The final stretch was relieved by walking along the margin of a field where hay had been mown……..but we paid for that later with lots of seeds to be picked out of our socks! We’ve found that with road walking it’s best to use every opportunity to walk on mud or grass to relieve the hammering our feet get during a day of walking.

Melting tarmac!

As we came into Marmont our hostess was at the end of the track to greet and guide us to our billet for tonight, a large gite adjacent to the farmhouse which we seem to have to ourselves.

Approaching Mormant

Laundry done and hanging out in the sun to dry, showered and changed, and now well fed, we anticipate a good sleep tonight. We’re looking forward to a short walk tomorrow in what promises to be the hottest day so far, well up into the thirties.

Highlight of today was probably getting the walk done so we could cool down and relax with a cold drink!

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