We passed many ruins, but weren’t sure that we found the ruined village that Roland told us about. We crossed a beautiful bridge with a sign “Alga Fresca.” As we got higher the forest switched from chestnuts, oaks, and beeches to fir, spruce, and cedar, and there was a beautiful mossy beech forest at the top.
Seduced on the way down by a stele for two martyrs of the Resistance, we missed the turning to the Fournil de l’Espic and had to climb back up from l’Espinassiere. The track to the gîte was long, with Nicolas, his spectacles, and Beebop the dog at the end. We had tea on the terrace with exquisite teacups, cold showers and a free apèro in recompense. Bill found wild strawberries on the path to the creek. We saw and heard buzzards mewing. The accommodation was unfinished, but there were beds, and a dry composting toilet.
Nicolas had owned a restaurant in Toulouse, and presented us with the meal of the journey: aubergines topped with grilled cheese, tomato and herbs; small red peppers filled with salted eel (morue) in bechamel sauce; guinea fowl and peaches; and tiramisu. The wine was chateau de l’Homs, appelation Minervois.