ORTHEZ – OSSERAIN-RIVAREYTE

Then

Erase all the bars one by one

Taking care not to touch a feather of the bird

Then paint a picture of the tree

Choosing the loveliest branches

For the bird……..

                                                           Jaques Prévert

                                

After a nice breakfast with the other four pilgrims, I left the town and was intrigued by the beauty of the countryside. In the distance, the Pyreneans were already visible.  The area was hilly with little villages and many vibrant blooming flowers.

 

 

 

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Mairie (city hall) of Lanneplaà

Mairie (city hall) of Lanneplaà

 

 

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Morning glory

Morning glory

 

In the village l’Hôtipal d’Orion, a statue of a pilgrim is walking toward the 13th century church Sainte-Marie-de Madeleine. Once, this was an important place for the medieval pilgrim. Remains of a pilgrim’s hospital founded in 1114 can still be seen. When I walked into the church, cool air was welcoming me. Little mushrooms growing in between the cracks of the stone floor obviously loved it too.

 

 

Statue of a pilgrim with staff, shell and the typical pilgrim’s hat

Statue of a pilgrim with staff, shell and the typical pilgrim’s hat

 

 

Church Sainte-Marie-Madeleine with cemetery

Church Sainte-Marie-Madeleine with cemetery

 

 

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In the shade of the forest beside a creek, I rested for a long time. Hundreds of fluorescent blue dragonflies were restlessly flying above the water. One even landed on my arm. This was a very special place to be.

 

 

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At 5 pm I arrived in the town Sauveterre–de-Béarn, a medieval town situated on a hill. The name Sauveterre means refuge.

 

 

Approaching the town of Sauveterre-de Béarn

Approaching the town of Sauveterre-de Béarn

 

In the clear and clean water of the river Gave d’Oloron, people were swimming. It was so refreshing to see clean water and I wished that I had had more time to stay there too.

 

 

 Public bathing beach along the river Rave d’Orlonge with a little restaurant close by

Public bathing beach along the river Rave d’Orlonge with a little restaurant close by

 

 

Stairs up to the city

Stairs up to the city

 

 

 

Église Saint-André

Église Saint-André

 

 

A city wall with many medieval buildings inside surrounds the town. The most fascinating structure is a stone bridge ending in the middle of the river. The 12th century bridge was once continued by a wooden structure. This bridge is connected with a legend. It is said that in 1170, Queen Sancie of Béarn was submitted to the judgment of God. She was thrown into the river with hands and feet tied because she was accused of having murdered her newly born deformed son. She survived and was declared innocent. Therefore, the bridge is called Ponte de Legende.

 

 

Pont de la Legende

Pont de la Legende

 

 

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The city is a tourist destination and did not provide accommodation for pilgrims. The tourist office recommended staying in the village 2 miles west from the city, in the village Osserain-Rivareyte. I happily agreed, because the owner of the refuge, Pascal, promised to pick me up from the tourist office after an hour. I could do sightseeing without a back bag.

 

 

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The refuge I stayed in was a house directly beside the cemetery and behind a place where the popular Basque ball game Pelota was played. Two teams of girls played against each other, each hitting the little ball with great force against the wall. Originally, the people played it with bare hands. Now they use wooden rackets. The village people enjoyed watching it.

 

 

The high wall called Fronton where the Basque ball game Pelota is played

The high wall called Fronton where the Basque ball game Pelota is played

 

 

Pascal is a retired stonemason. He and his father and grandfather made nearly all of the tombstones at the cemetery. For the past eight years, he told me, he invites pilgrims to stay in his house, where he lives alone. He is a great cook and we had a full menu – vegetable soup, chicken with sauce and noodles, chocolate cake with fruit salad, cheese and red wine from Rioja. As an aperitif, he served white Muskateller. It was such a treat!

 

 

Pascal’s house beside the cemetery

Pascal’s house beside the cemetery

 

 

 

Dinner with Pascal

Dinner with Pascal