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  • Writer's pictureWill

what's french for pizza?

Not my photo: credit The Michelin Guide.

Following on from my bridge epiphany, I fairly bounced away from the Devils Bridge.

It’s about 40 minutes from the bridge to the abbey, and I had about two hours before the doors closed, and then my day got even better.

My experience of signposting on this stretch of the Arles Route was mostly negative. On rural paths, clues were subtle and far between, in built-up areas, it was at best confusing, more often absent. Imagine my joy when I spotted a Tourist Information Office *before* I entered the town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert? Woohoo!

Joy upon joy, the lady behind the counter spoke English. I was like a Hollywood machine gun, rapid-fire words spat out my mouth and I didn’t stop to reload. I could tell she was fascinated by my story because she was wide eyed, with a huge grin, and was constantly nodding her head in agreement. I have to admit though, she was a bit odd.

I was bouncing. I just had a whole five-minute conversation with a human being, my first in five days, and I had a map.

I haven’t kept the map but I have redrawn it from memory >>>>>>>

That’s right, my first, and without doubt, the most unnecessary map in the world.

Basically, the town is in a rock crevice, a gorge. There is one road, with houses either side, and it goes up. You can’t go left or right, without noticing you are in someone's house. If you are going down, you are going the wrong way.

After going up for a while you come to a little square in front of the abbey. It is a typical French square, a few cafes, some shops with a tourist toot stand selling “I Got Lost in S.G.le D” T-shirts, that sort of thing.

Photo: a cat, sitting by the only road in the town.

I still had an hour before the hostel opened, so it was "treat myself time". I scouted out the food options and it was a choice between pizza or pizza, typical French cuisine. I chose pizza … and a large ice-cold, condensation running down the chilled glass, thirst-quenching beer.

I was going to order another beer but the owner was making it clear I should leave. He did this by stacking chairs on the vacant tables around me and his wife sweeping up, literally under my raised feet. Typical French hospitality.

I nearly had a heart attack at the price, I am a pilgrim, not a tourist. We bargained for a bit and I managed to get the cost down from €2 million to €20. Still more expensive than I was used to but hey ho the merry oh, I was bouncing.

Outside, the square was deserted. It was a tourist trap. When the last busload leaves, there is no reason to stay open, in come the toot and up go the shutters.

I entertained myself for a few minutes watching a man smoke out a wasps nest.

And then I heard the singing.


To Be Continued

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