2017 E5 walk, day 50: Saint-Maurice-lès-Charencey to Verneuil-sur-Avre

Section 11, Day 50
low 59 °F
high 81 °F
39,617 steps
14.5 miles

In the morning, as I was packing up my tent, a man came up to me who I hadn’t seen on my rounds of the campsite the previous evening. He was a car camper; he said that he’d arrived late that night, started to back into my space, and stopped right before backing over my tent when he finally realized I was there. He had come over to scold me for not having reflective tape on my tent.

That conversation behind me, I walked up the village’s road to get croissants at le Relais Saint-Michel. I then returned to the trail, which headed roughly north­west through farmland, until it turned and headed north­east, along the route that I had originally expected it to follow.

On a one-lane paved road heading north-northwest, two small dogs are looking back at me.  To either side of the road are green fields.  Perhaps fifty yards ahead, A tall, trim hedge encloses the yard of a well-maintained house, with a tall tree leaning over from the other side of the road.  Trees grow near the house; in the far distance to the right is a tall stack of things that resemble wrapped bales of hay.  The sky is clear to the left, cloudy to the right.
As I approached the turn to the north­east, these dogs came out of the farm yard (ahead on the left) to bark at me escort me along my way.

This was another hot day, much of it without much shade. I ate lunch by a stream at the village of Chennebrun, then continued on across more fields. There was finally some peaceful shade in the Bois de Saint-Christophe; soon, the trail crossed into the nearby Bois Francs. This one was weird; looking on the map, it appeared to have scores of vacation homes tastefully arranged around artificial lakes. The trail became wide and paved, suitable for bicycles, and there were quite a few apparent vacationers on beachcombers. The sky threatened rain at this point, though never managed more than a drop or two.

Eventually, the trail left the vacation woods, and I slogged across more fields, hammered by the sun, until I finally arrived in the town of Verneuil-sur-Avre.

To the north stand the remains of a stone building.  The only intact stones are at the bottom right; the rest of the structure is missing stones and might only be mortar, making it look as if it had melted.  It is only one or two stories tall.  There is a doorway, but it is partly blocked.  Tire tracks run through the grass past it; to the right and behind are trees.
One of the first things to greet me, as the trail entered the town, was this remnant of the town’s medieval defenses.

My plan had been to stay in a hotel in town, it being a day of personal significance; plus, the weather was hot and I was tired. I stopped at the cheap hotel nearest the trail … and they were full (!). So I called another hotel … full. Another: full. By this point, I had reached the town center; it was packed full of people, and the entire plaza in front of the church was full of parked cars.

A tall church tower stands to the east, plain at the bottom but becoming more and more elaborately carved towards the top.  A clock near the top reads ten minutes until six.  Attached to the tower’s left is a church that doesn’t match; it is relatively low, and might be made of a different stone.  Potted trees grow by the church and tower, and two people are at a bench by the open church doors.  The sky has only wispy clouds.
The Église de la Madeleine in the center of town.

Confounded and slightly worried, I finally went to the town’s tourism office. There, I was informed that this weekend was their annual medieval festival. The young woman in the tourism office very kindly made a few calls, and then let me know that the church had a room for pilgrims that I could stay in for the night. For those keeping track, this would be two of the last three nights that I would stay in church facilities.

The person in charge of the room (I believe he was a lay member of the church) was incredibly kind, waved me off when I made clear that I was not on a pilgrimage, or religious for that matter, and showed me the room. It was incredibly spartan, with no running water (he showed me to the public bathroom down the block), but it was four walls and a roof, and I was grateful.

That settled, I decided that since I didn’t have my planned night in a decent hotel, I would take another zero-day (my third, for those keeping track), and stay in Verneuil for one more night. I went back to the Hôtel du Saumon (on the central plaza, where I had previously checked for a room) and made a reservation for the following night. (I would be one of few people staying in the hotel — everybody was clearing out of town the next day — and they wanted to be sure I understood there wouldn’t be anybody at the front desk, which was fine with me.)

I ate an Indian (or perhaps Pakistani) dinner at Mian Punjab and then wandered the town, killing time until I was ready for bed.

Map of the day’s route.