Cycle Path Psychopath part 16 – A Pilgrim Party with the Templars

Bordeaux to Le Barp
Thursday 23 October

My host had to leave early, so I packed up and also had an early start. I considered checking into a hotel, so would have a bit more time to discover Bordeaux, but decided I was more in the mood for quiet country roads, rather than the delights of a cultural city, so started towards Le Barp.

It was a straightforward route out of the city to the next small town… Then I got a little off track and ended up in a forest, which was rather lovely. I continued down small roads and paths, getting smaller and smaller as I headed again into the countryside. Then my road turned to sand. Thick sand. Thick sand that was impossible to ride a bike through. Google said it was a further 4 km down this path. I got off and pushed, my fastest rate was 4km per hour… If would take an hour of pushing the bike through the sand… Then after about a kilometer the road became firm again. I happily road on to Le Barp. On the way I saw another pilgrim on foot, he was also heading to Le Barp, and asked my to buy him some supplies, as he would probably arrive after the shops closed.

Tonight I was staying in a municipal Gite, open to pilgrims. My host had called ahead for directions and instructions. I had directions from the church and the code to get in. I went to the church and there was a workman installing a plaque, and an man looking on nodding. I said bonjour, and they asked if I needed help. I indicate that I was just looking at the church. They then saw my shell, and said there was a place for pilgrims to stay here – I said I had the code, but was just looking for my instructions of how to get there… The man said to follow him, as he drove around the corner. He asked if I would like a stamp in my Credencial, I said I would so followed him to his house. I wasn’t sure if he was the priest, but then his wife came out, but he seemed associated with the church in some way. They offered me coffee and biscuits, and I sat down for a chat – he had some English. He knew quit a lot of the history of the local area, and asked if I would like to visit an ancient Templar church, and explained the history of the Templar knights in the area, indicating that were still alive and well. I said I would be very interested, and he said he would come by the hostel later, and whoever was there was also invited for a tour.

I road back to the hostel, entered the code, and there was another pilgrim already there, a French man with hardly any English, we had a difficult, but friendly conversation, and he told me there was a young girl, also on her way, so we would be four tonight – a full house! I went to the supermarket for some supplies, and when I returned everyone had arrived. I told them about the offer to see the Templar church, but only the girl was interested. The others said they would wait for us for dinner.

The gentleman arrived and first took us to the birthplace of a former queen of France, married to one of the Henry’s, but all that remained was a small hill, and a rather kitsch statue. He said that during WWII, the Germans were convinced that the hill concealed treasure, so ordered the locals to dig it away, so really, it was just half a hill, with a nearby pile of sand. There was no treasure.

I was asking the fellow pilgrim about the origins of her unusual name, Quitterie – She said it was French, but our friend had also never heard it. She said it was actually a Saints name, form this very area. As she said this – she exclaimed and pointed to the street sign – we were in Rue Saint Quitterie!

We then went to the 10th Century Templar church – it was dusk in the forest, and the light surrounding the simple rounded building was lovely. We entered the darkened church, it was cold the only light was from the stained glass windows. The gentleman handed us candles, and the three of us made a procession to the alter and placed candles all around the church in front of all the statues, it was rather spooky and mystical – fitting for this secretive order.

Returning to the hostel, I showered and the others were preparing for dinner. I had been under the impression we would all go into town for dinner together, but the group had pooled their snacks of bread and fruit. I said I need a proper meal, so would cook if anyone would partake – they were all happy to eat. We had melon and some duck pate to start (not together), I opened a bottle of wine to share… and cooked up lentils with vegetables I had leftover. It was fun and relaxing to be in the company of other pilgrims, and we all had stories to share.

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