Monday, 6 May 2002

To Le Puy en Velay.

After last night's parties in the rain, just another Monday morning. Cold, windy with leaden skies, but TV weather forecast says tomorrow will be warmer.

I wander along the river to the Eiffel tower, then back to the station. Cold it might be, with fat, nigh full grown ducklings huddled all together, looking miserable, on the rim of the pond near Cleopatra's needle, but I was still drenched with sweat on arrival, after 2.5 hours walk with all my kit.

Travelled on the top deck of a double-decker TGV to St Etienne. Lunch a couple of pastries from the Upper Crust at Waterloo that would have been too greedy to eat on Saturday. The clouds started to break up into fair weather cumulus, and even gave some glimpses of sunshine! Changed to smelly local train (full of others who look like they'll be walking too) for last leg along the Loire, as clouds gathered again, no sun, some glimpses, getting less frequent, of blue.

Saw a heron on a rock in the Loire about half-way. A brief shower of rain greeted me at the station for the short walk to the hotel. A warm (eventually) shower at the hotel. Am instructed cryptically as I check in to turn up at 7:30 for dinner when manager will explain.

Dinner turned out to be done in mass production for guests, who all look to be doing the trail. Start with puy lentil potage (english sense) with a small sliced beefsteak tomato aux fine herbs and soft-boiled egg, followed by not so nice turkey leg and potato duphinoise. Then a blue and some Pont l'Eveque, finally proper vanilla ice-cream and fresh strawberries. Vin rosé with and coffee to follow. By now it was half eight, and there was some last weak sun, but as Canal+ had Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on, I decided to watch that rather than wander around a nondescript French town. The walk through the town will do for sight-seeing, and I passed a Casino on the way here, so shopping is sorted. Much repacking. Hope it all works.

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