After two days of laziness, we are getting a little tired of our own company (what’s the point of being on honeymoon if the only new thing to talk about happened on facebook?), so we decide to take another epic walk. Or at least a new walk.
We don’t feel like doing a whole lot of internet research on trails and routes, so we decide on something easy – we walk to Lamalou les Bains. The name literally means “Lamalou Baths.” It’s about as far as Bedarieux, but in the other direction, and easily reachable by major roadway. Both B and I are still wincing just a little from our bike ride the other day, so we decide to walk it. We pack salami, bread, figs, peaches, croissants, and chocolate, and head on our way.
We found a cactus.
A giant cactus, that is.
Traveler’s Note: To get to Lamalou from Villemagne, walk along the D922 to Herepian, but when you get to D908, turn right instead of left. As with the road to Bedarieux, the D908 is much busier than the D922, so be alert. Take the D908 to the D22 and turn right again (it’s a traffic circle – clearly marked “Lamalou les Bains.”). D22 goes right up through the middle of Lamalou. There are a couple of back roads that should get you there as well, but we missed the turn-off for those, and so followed the D908 all the way to D22.
The road was very level, but we were still tired by the time we arrived, so we stopped pretty immediately and had some of our lunch.
This was in our neck of the park where we stopped for lunch. Check out the mosaic work.
It is at this point that I invent the Salami-Fig Sandwich. Utterly delicious. The sweet and the salty perfectly complement each other. I make B a believer too.
While we are eating, random kinda-sleazy guy walks up to us and offers to sell us opened vodka and whiskey from his pouch. His breath indicates that he’s already partaken himself. We decline. He walks back up to us a few minutes later and offers to sell us some snacks instead. We decline again, and it’s at this point that he figures out that we don’t really speak fluent French, we’re just smiling and nodding and shaking our heads no-thanks. (One thing I’ve learned this trip – communication really is mostly non-verbal).
Finally, sated on smoked pig and ripe figs, we start walking through Lamalou. I’ve done zero reading or research on Lamalou, but clearly, it has a history of being a medical/health resort kind of town. It’s teeny-tiny, but boasts 3 hotels, multiple clinics, multiple restaurants, 3 souvenir shops, a thermal spa, and lots and lots of elderly and limited-mobility people. There is a large tourism office, with a very friendly and helpful desk lady.
After walking the length of the town, we’ve seen everything we want to see – but lo! In exploring our last side street, we come across a familiar sight!
Ok, this is the same pic from the Boussagues walk, but it was the same blaze, just on a wall instead of a tree.
We follow it out of town and realize that we could take the GR7 back to Pont du Diable from here instead of taking the main roads. We are not entirely sure of our direction, so we return to Tourism Office Lady, who hands us a new map of all the local trails (hurrah!) and confirms that if we follow the GR7 out of town in that direction, it will indeed return us to Pont du Diable, which is really only about a 15-minute walk from home base. She also very helpfully explains the different blaze meanings, which we had sort of intuited from walking the trail, but she made them much clearer:
“Not this way.”
“Not this way, turn left instead.”
We decide to be adventurous and take the scenic route home. We stop in the bodega for some more water and an extra snack or two, just in case this takes longer than we anticipate. And we’re off!
The scenery is really much better than if we’d gone back by the main route.
Of course, with the GR7 comes more angry dogs. Many more angry dogs. Most of them tied or behind fences, but not all of them. One fella followed us right up a whole hillside and into the next town. Fortunately, he was both little and not very angry, so we didn’t feel extremely threatened. We considered feeding him our last little bit of salami, but then we might never have gotten rid of him……
B hadn’t yet figured out that he was being followed when he stopped to take this pic. I kept turning around to tell him – “You’ve got a dog on your tail.” “What?” “You’ve got a dog following you.” “What?” “There is a dog following you up the stairs.” “What about the stairs?” He was at the top of the hill before he saw him.
This was the most interesting dog tale of the evening:
See the big dog in the picture above? He doesn’t look that big in the picture, but he easily came up to my rib cage. B saw him first (I’d been turned around talking to him when the dog came around the house), and we both considered our options. There really wasn’t another way around – this was THE path out of town and in the right direction, so we approached as slowly as possible. Then a second dog showed up - a tiny, fluffy white yapper, who got so excited when he saw us that he set the big dog off and they both came bounding our way. We stood our ground (mostly – I think we each took an involuntary step back), and………they sniffed our hands and then started wrestling:
We heaved a great sigh of relief and went on our way.
With the light fading fast, we stopped at this bus stop to see how close we were to home.
We *just* made it This was taken right outside Villemagne.
After all that walking, we were both in the mood to have dinner and cleanup taken care of for us, so we went to Villemagnaise again – and again, we were not disappointed! B got the salmon from the 12 Euro menu, but I decided to try something a la carte that I couldn’t identify. It was listed under the “Poissons” (Fish) section, but I had no idea what it was. It turned out to be some kind of brilliant fish loaf fried up in what we suspect was an intestine, and it was groan-worthy delicious.
The fish loaf is the big sausage-y looking thing at 2 o’clock. The thing that looks like a piece of steak at 7 o’clock is actually eggplant.
We also tried a Kir Royale on the advice of a friend. It’s made with champagne and fruit syrup:
In fact, we tried two – one with Cassis syrup (black currant?), and one with Frambroise (raspberry). Both delicious.
So was the raspberry tart!