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Day 27: The Family Business

Many of the places we stay at are small, family businesses. Sometimes run by a couple, sometimes just a single owner. Last night we stayed at a Hotel-Restaurant run by a couple with a young son. It was an opportunity to see French life in action.

When we arrived in the late afternoon the father was practicing on his drums in the empty bar. I noticed a table in the corner covered with toys. He settled us in our comfortable room and asked us to wait till his wife arrived later to explain things as, ”She speaks better English’” Once we cleaned up we saw the place was starting to fill up and grabbed a table outside. Soon some familiar pelerins (pilgrims) stopped by and joined us for a drink and a chat. The mother—who does speak excellent English—arrived with their son who is about eight and gave us the lowdown on meals. She even wrote out the menu in english for us.

While we were there, another patron drew caricatures of us. I guess it’s a local tradition. What do you think of the likenesses? Eventually our pelerin friends left to go to their gite for dinner and we retreated into the restaurant.

The son and one of his playmates wheeled their bicycles through the restaurant and played out front. More locals gathered and the couple sat out front ”holding court” in Laurie’s words. They kept an eye on us through the window to make sure that we were getting our successive courses.

This was a fun view of French culture and one small, family-run hotel and restaurant. If you ever pass through Arzacq-Arraziguet, we would recommend the Hotel-Restaurant Le Vielle Auberge. Great service, food, and a chance to see local life.

Updates from the trail. Today we saw the snow capped Pyrenees mountain range in the distance for the first time. Very exciting to see this important landmark. We’ll cross it—at a low point, in order to reach Spain. We are also getting closer to Basque France and seeing it more in the spelling of local city names and in the food.

We’re on a segment that is about 37 miles long that is typically covered in two days. We’re breaking that up into three days to take it a bit more easy, partly because of the heat and expected rain.

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