Day 11: J’adore Cauterets

Lac d’Estaing – Cauterets 

Distance: 18km

Elevation: 1574m

Fuel: too much to list!

We knew we’d love Cauterets from the second we ran in, furiously scratching bites from the determined cow flies and nursing a dodgy shin. 

Maybe it was the bar on the corner serving up pizzas piled dangerously high with fresh mushrooms, ham, peppers, onion and artichokes. 

Maybe it was the little patisserie selling perfect tartlets filled with deep crimson myrtle berries and custard.

It could have been the samples of cured meats and local cheeses being handed out at the market. 

But mostly it was because the whole village had been taken over by the finish line of a trail running event. Not just any trail running event, this 43km race ascended the 3298m peak of Vignemale, plus a few more on the way for good measure. Competitors had mandatory gear that included carabiners, for Pete’s sake.

On a big screen in the town square, we watched the runners carefully navigating the ice and snow high high above us. And, with our half-eaten tartlets in hand, we cheered them as they limped across the line.

It was obviously a day made for cheering because we then found a little bar showing the England – Sweden quarter final. More cheering!

After 10km of road yesterday, Mat’s shin is playing up a bit so we hit the pharmacy for some Voltarin and took the afternoon off. We nabbed a room in the charming Le Pas de L’Ours gite and, over a couple of well-earned wines, started planning our return to this incredible place. Who knows, maybe for the 2019 edition of Trails du Vignemale….

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