Camino Day 1: Giddyap

Day 1:  Notre-Dame of Puy Cathedral, Le Puy-en-Velay, France
Day 1: Notre-Dame of Puy Cathedral, Le Puy-en-Velay, France

Woke up, dressed, packed and rushed to make the pilgrim mass.  After the mass, all the pilgrims gathered around the priest.  He asked each of us where we were from.  Most people from France and then Swiss.  And the majority of the Swiss were Swiss French as opposed to Swiss German or Swiss Italian.  I found it interesting that they thought this a necessary clarifiction.  There was one other American.  The priest also gave all of us a a tiny silver scallop shell.

All of us headed to the church gift shop.  I got my credential stamped and bought a copy of the Miam Miam Dodo – the French guidebook for Le Puy to St. Jean.

This is the shot from the front door of the church as I started my pilgrimage. Everyone appeared very eager to get started.  I was one of the last ones.  Once again surprising lack of signage.  I had expected there to be very clear signs on which way to go.  I started walking with a Dutch guy and we stopped to ask for directions a couple of times.

Finally on our way but man is it a steep climb out of Le Puy and I am very slow.  Run into a guy going in the opposite direction.  He is from the area and speaks fluent English.  Tells me and a couple of other people who stop to listen that the trail, which is known as GR65 in France, was recently diverted to pass thru a certain town.  He recommends the original trail, which is shorter and much nicer.  I decide to follow his advice and take the original route.

I don’t stop for lunch and eat a chocolate bar instead.  I haven’t eaten in a while but am surprisingly not hungry.  The lack of sleep over the last couple of days has taken its toll and I am very tired.  Somewhere along the way I blindly follow the white and red way mark, not realizing that I am going in the wrong direction.  It is an hour before I realize that I appear to be heading back to Le Puy.  I’m just not having fun and consider continuing on to Le Puy and throwing in the towel on this trip.  But I turn around and head back.  When I get back to where I had made the wrong turn, I sit down and once again contemplate giving up, going into a nearby business and asking if they will call me a cab.  But I persevere and continue.

Arrive in Montbonnet exhausted and decide this is where I am going to spend the night.  Come across the St Jacques Bar and Gite.  It looks brand new and they have beds available.  Sign me up for a bed and dinner.  I get a bed in a room with three other people, one of who is an American.  Outstanding. Shower, relax and then dinner.  Dinner is fantastic.


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