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It is always warm at Esbintz, even if it is snowing outside. This may have something to do with the wood fire, but what really counts is the welcome. Gila and Francis Chevillon don’t run the hostel as if it were a business. They like to meet walkers. They like to eat with their guests. They like to listen as much as they like to talk.
I was there again last weekend, with my walking club, from Lézignan-Corbières. On Saturday we walked round a hill with snowshoes, starting and finishing at Seix (in the Couserans, Ariège).
That evening we munched our way through a delectable beetroot and carrot salad, pizza with goat’s cheese, lasagne, more cheese, and a bilberry desert. Apart from the cheese everything was home made, of course. Afterwards we sat around the table talking walking and walkers, sheep and shepherds.
It was a delightful evening, but the best part of the stay for me was the following morning when I went with Gila to feed the animals. “There’s a baby,” said Gila pointing out a new-born lamb was running round the barn trying to identify its (aparently reluctant) mother. Also running around amongst the sheep were two puppies, offspring of Bohème, the sheep’s guard dog. The cats and the hens arrived, demanding to be fed.
Later we started to climb the Bouirex, but didn’t get very far up because of the snow on the road. We had had to leave the cars a long way from our intended starting point. It didn’t matter. Even low down the views were magnificent. A good weekend.
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