2017 E5 walk, day 23: Le Vieux Bourg to la Ville ès Mélais
This was the first day of significant rain on my long walk.
The first part of the day, until about noon, was walking along the western shore of Étang au Duc. It was peaceful — I remember it being relatively well-lined with trees, along with plenty of waterfowl.
At the north end of the lake, the trail hopped back and forth to either side of the Yvel river. I took a brief detour up into the village of Loyat for sandwiches. (The Boulangerie de l’Église didn’t have any, so I settled for a sackful of croissants instead.)
After Loyat, the GR 37 briefly rejoined the voie verte cycle trail1, and then struck off to the northwest into farmland. I believe the day’s steady drizzle picked up at this point.
At this point, I finally called the gîte I was planning to stay at for the night, ahead on the trail at la Ville ès Mélais. (I had sent an email or two, but hadn’t heard back.) I reached the owners … and discovered that while I might have been able to express my wishes clearly enough, I couldn’t be sure, because I couldn’t understand what they were saying back to me. (Not being able to speak face-to-face was a serious impediment!) They were clearly saying “no”, but I wasn’t able to understand why.
I didn’t have any other feasible place to stay, though, other than camping in the wild (which I still wanted to avoid). So I decided — in hindsight it seems ridiculous — to simply show up at the gîte and plead my case, in the hopes I’d be able to pitch my tent on a patch of lawn or something.2
I arrived at the gîte, Les Néfliers (“The Medlars"), and knocked, and eventually one of the guests opened the door. It turned out that the entire place had been rented by two families for the weekend, and they very generously invited me to stay in a spare bed for the night. It started pouring outside, but I dried my shoes by the old wood stove, made myself dinner from my own supplies, and sat off to one side to stay out of the way of their gathering.
Even more than the fellow hikers back in Kervézennec, the families made me feel welcome and a part of their family. The two older men — young grandfathers — continued what was clearly a years-if-not-decades-old argument about politics and the upcoming national elections. One of the younger men ran the kitchen, making buckwheat crêpes for the entire house. After dinner, the children put on a Lego Nexo Knights show.
The whole evening was delightful. I went to bed well before even most of the children were asleep.