Busy to Osse en Aspe 16.08.04

Was a thunderstorm last night and just as I'm writing this, theres another one brewing. Lots of noise and a few spots of rain.
Last night was enjoyable, 6 out of 10 for the lightning, 7 out of 10 for the thunder, and 10/10 for the nutter with the fireworks.
Rockets, bangers, airbombs, multicolour flares, all in the middle of an excellent storm. Not sure who was letting them off but combined with the storm it was the best display I've seen for years.
This campsite is right on the curve of the top of a hill, full marks for bravery, running out and lighting the blue touchpaper in all that weather, half an hours worth, superb !!
Tent didnt leak, no problems from the teenagers.
I woke up to a low cloud fog, misty and warm, packed everything away damp, smelling now.
Straight to Oleron St Marie this morning. I join the Via Tolosana here, the main pilgrim trail from Rome, and finally get my card, my credentials, I cant get the certificate without it!
Visited 3 churches in Oleron to find the right one. Notre Dame is new, nice but not the one, then to Le Croix,

Eglise de la Criox, Oleron st Marie
The statue is of St Marie.

What a place, tiny, tucked away on top of the hill, amongst ancient buildings that have the second floor jutting out over the first, all leaning and timbered, still lived in, normal daily life!!
Big statue outside the church, masses of carvings and gilt work inside, scallop shells worked into the roof, absolutely beautiful. The floor is so polished with use its slippery when dry.
(The storm's picking up now, I hope theres no serious hail.)
Took some photos and was leaving town when I noticed a sign for another church, St Marie, 12C, took a look and its the pilgrim route church?? All the literature on the walls, staff to tell you you're at the right place, maps full of pins to show where people have come from, but not a scallop shell to be found... Nowhere!
I'm not convinced this is the right church. Fair enough its bigger than Le Croix, has more impressive external architecture, and has smart surroundings, but it doesnt have the feel of age, the look of centuries of use like Le Croix. That felt OLD and loved, this place is dry and dusty. No doubt its an old church, but for me its not THE old church, go to Le Croix.
Down to the tourist office to collect my credentials card and its the same woman that was in St Marie,
"You need to see my colleague", she says and leaves.
Fair enough, see the other lady,
"No its not me, she will be here in 2 hours"
Marvellous. I'm getting the runaround.
Took a tour of the town to find a supermarket and stood in the carpark looking over the rail at the river eating patisserie. Not a good place, litter blowing around, hostile glances from other shoppers.
Back to the tourist office and another hours wait, outside in a sterile courtyard, no shade available here.
Have picked up a bad feeling from this town, it's left me bad tempered and edgy.
Left town at 1530 due south towards Somport, into the mountains, a lot better there.
Stopped at Sarrance,

Eglise de Notre Dame, Sarrance

Another little beauty, more photos.
Busy road to get here, lots of traffic, lorries, I think its a main road to Spain.
A very jovial french priest giving a guided tour of the church at Sarrance, I didnt understand all he was saying, but laughed along with the rest at his tone, timing and body language, an excellent guide.
Found the campsite, 8 pitches, half empty, E5.40 for 2 nights, up in the mountains, tiny village with big eagles circling above.
Had to stay 2 nights, this is like the lake district but a little higher. Has the french characters here. The guy next to me, on his own in a tiny tent is talking to himself and singing, maybe he doesnt like thunderstorms... yet another one now! Caravan and tent the other side. A nice older couple, talking earlier. Looks a semi permanent set up, they have turned up their tv to combat the thunder, rapid fire blurb, just the same as the english junk but in french.
Someone has just tripped over a tin pan in the dark and rain on their way to the toilet, AHGHH MERDE!!
Giggles from the gorgeous young girl in the flash car, massive thunder, my tent is stretched tight and the rain is drumming. I really like it here. Osse en Aspe. municipal site.

Osse En Aspe, Southern France.



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