Le Puy-en-Velay to Montbonnet

Day 1. 10 miles, 16 kilometers.

As we walked uphill farther and farther from Le Puy the view became more and more beautiful. We walked through farmland and up and down many hills. Each hill offering a beautiful scene. At one point it hailed but not long enough to put on our ponchos. This was a good first day out. We found a wonderful Gite, (hostel) in Montbonnet and will post about it tomorrow.

The photo shown is one of my first views of Montbonnet.

 

History, Beauty, and Climbing in Le Puy

This is the beautiful Romanesque Cathedral of Norte-Dame in Le Puy-en-Velay. This morning Vern and I made our way through the streets, up (I mean UP), the many cobblestone streets to the immense staircase in front of the Cathedral and up the staircase inside the Cathedral. We attended a Pilgrim Mass. The Monsignor spoke in French and English. Anyone choosing to receive a blessing, regardless of religious affiliation was able to do so. It was great to meet other Pilgrims. Some were leaving today, and some were leaving tomorrow like we are.

This a cluster of buildings at the base/entrance to the Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe Chapel perched on top of a volcanic chimney. To the right is a small chapel. The walk to Saint Michel is up 267 steps. Every climb in this town is more than worth the effort! We have spent some time today preparing a package to mail to a pension in Santiago, Spain to pick up in July. We received a lot of help from a postal worker who actually seemed to enjoy helping us 2 days in a row:) The second photo did not transfer….I’m learning as I go.

 

Le Puy: Beauty and Laughter!

For months I have been looking at pictures of Le Puy-en-Velay, France. I have read about the beautiful structures built on top of volcanic chimneys and the statues that rise up far above the “skyline” of Le Puy. The ancient Pilgrimages and the Saints revered here are just a small part of the history of this unique and beautiful place. As we drove toward Le Puy there was a turnout on the road to enjoy the magnificence of the view. This is the moment that I have planned, visualized, and contemplated for at least a year…wow, cool:)!When we arrived into town the first thing I needed to do was go to the restroom. In France it is questioned why anyone would want to go to the toilet to rest or why you would want to go to the toilet to take a bath as in “bathroom”. I can fully understand these questions. We had found a public toilet. Vern went in first. As soon as he came out I immediately went in. As soon as I started to get near the toilet the lid raised straight up and massive amounts of cleaner and water sprayed onto the toilet and the surrounding areas. I tried to get out while Vern was yelling at me to open the door. The door would not open as it was locked down while the cleaning was taking place. As I was getting sprayed with water and an assortment of unknowns I tried desperately to get the seat down. More, now than ever I needed to get the seat down because I was laughing and could not stop. It was one of the funniest situations I have ever been in. After the cleaning cycle had ended the door could be opened. That would have been wonderful to have a video of, but I will always have the memory of how much fun I had in that “bathroom”. As I left the area I noticed that there was a message in French on front of the toilet. It is quite possible that it said “do not enter before the cleaning cycle has taken place.” While in Germany last year I also had an experience while going to the “restroom”.

 

Support Group

Last month Vern and I spent a few days visiting family and friends. We spent time together to celebrate Jason’s birthday and to visit before Vern and I set off on our walking tour from Le Puy, France to Muxia, Spain. When I thought about being gone for 3 months I realized that we will be gone for a season. As we are experiencing color and weather changes so will our friends and family. While we planned, researched, and prepared one truth appeared time and time again: support is priceless!! Many months ago I had chosen the date that I was “drawn” to for the day that we would begin our journey from Le Puy. One of the factors in choosing a date was when would it be optimal to start our ascent into the Pyrenees. As I hovered over a calendar as large as my desk April 20, 2012 kept grabbing my attention….soon the date almost became neon in color on a black and white calendar. First step accomplished! Now that I have the date in which we will start walking I can now go back from that date to choose the date to leave home. Ok, so the process began to decide where we would want to stop along the way and for how long. Support early on came from Chris McMullin. Chris was recommended to me several years ago and described as a good travel agent. After working with her in preparation for our 2009 Camino walk it was a no brainier to call her again. Travel arrangements: just one foundational component in a long series of steps. When the decision to walk was made the Camino for me began.