Through Lioux to St. Saturnin

Saint-Saturnin Travel Blog

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Wednesday, June 9
Through Lioux to St. Saturnin

We never learn to make people understand that we are walkers. What they think is that we are walkers who have a car. They think we were going to drive a car over to their place and then later we would walk around. They only give us directions to their town and figure we can drive around 'til we find them.


We are going to Lioux for lunch, having altered the route after the glowing report from the pharmacist. We have found out that the Auberge is open, we have even made a reservation, (When? Lunch time obviously). We work our way across the flat valley of the Calavon, having at one moment to walk across the side of someone's lawn. We make the foothills of the Vaucluse and begin our climb to Lioux a town of 33 inhabitants nestled against the cliffs of Madeleine, half mile long by 300 feet high. We play leapfrog with another hiker as we pass him resting and then later he passes us doing the same thing. The last part of the morning is a slow stretch up a road into the village. As we get there a small truck whizzes by us, then stops by a building and beeps its horn. Moments later a nun comes out of the building and the driver delivers her two large baguettes and then gets back in the truck and whizzes back down the hill. I guess this scene is just French, not really to be compared with anything else. It is just what it is.

We find no restaurant once we are in town. We walk around with our packs and in ten minutes we have gone through the whole village, no restaurant, no nothing except one phone booth, so we call again. Not exactly in Lioux he says, but next to it, down on the main road. In fact, as we leave the town, we see it right below us, but there is no direct route, so we are going to have to circle back down the road the way we had come then get out to the by-pass by another road. I was kind of quiet as we retraced our steps. I knew this downhill on pavement was the worst for Dawn's shins, I figured that after lunch we were going to have to climb again through town to get to our next destination. We were now hiking in the hottest part of the day, I couldn't figure out who to blame. Like I said I was kind of quiet.

As I came up the entrance to the Auberge de Lioux, I saw that it was empty except for two places that were set for us on the terrace. Placemats, glasses with napkins standing up in them, and a basket of bread. My heart melted. This small symbol of hospitality reached out to me and made everything all right.

And all right it was, as for the next hour and a half we ate a wonderful meal in a kind of touristic bliss as we discovered the meal only as it was served, having no idea of what was coming or when the meal would be over or even how much it would cost. It had to be the best meal I ever had that was cooked and served by someone in bare feet.

We fanaticized about just staying here for the rest of the day, grabbing a room and starting out fresh in the morning, but I had figured how to get to Saint Saturnin without going up through the village again, so we decided to go for it.

The walk from Roussillon to the Auberge de Lioux to St. Saturnin was about 15 kilometers (10 miles). The gathering heat made it longer and sharing the last mile or two with cars on the road made it longer still. The Ste. Madeleine chapel allowed us a midway shady break. It had been recently renovated and the garden that surrounded it rejuvenated. For us it was a cool oasis. It also signaled the end of our woodland journey and the beginning of our afternoon crossing the flats to get to St. Saturnin.

The first question people ask us is how far did we hike everyday. A reasonable question. I think the ten to twelve miles we did today was the longest and maybe six the shortest. Other questions might be how many hours did it take or how long did it actually feel. But I found out that the quality of the hiking day had much more to do with whether we found a good place for lunch, did we make the town before everyone closed for the afternoon, did we have the right snack and enough water, did we hike in the shade, did we have good views, did we hike on too many roads, did we know how long we had to hike until our destination, could I figure out the best route?

The answer to these questions was many times no, especially in these early days. We even spent a couple of hot days traveling east or west during the beginning and ending of a day and north or south in the middle of a day, so we were afforded little shade from the trail side trees as the sun would always be in front or behind us. But slowly we figured it out and it gave us great pleasure to make the simple act of walking from village to village as much fun as possible. It wasn't always easy, but we surmounted the difficulties with increasing ease and nonchalance and we grew confident that our lodging at the end of the day would be a reward. We never failed to get a good shower and a cold drink and the end of the day and with one exception, a good meal.

St. Saturnin

Which brings us back to our arrival at St. Saturnin. We did find the old road into the town and had a chance to inspect the back yard gardens of the houses that faced the new road. We followed the signs to the Hotel St. Hubert and collapsed on the bed before even taking a shower. Once we had showered and changed to go out,  after a short walk around town we ended up at a table in front of the hotel and we drank two pitchers of the local wine while being totally entertained by the local goings on in the square. Then we paid our bill, and saying heck with dinner, we went to bed.
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