Sunday, April 27, 2014

Au revoir Le Puy

Leaving Logis Meymard

Our wonderful host, Madeleine Déchaux, passed along another great dinner recommendation, L'Écu d'Or, for our last night in Le Puy. We enjoyed more terrific food, and with a little wine warming our insides we strolled home thankful for the warm clothes we were wearing. The temperature had reached up into the mid 60's, but with the sun now below the horizon the narrow stone streets all too quickly gave up what little residual warmth they had. The flat evening shadows were somber, cold, and uninviting, So we picked up our pace for home and hearth.

The crazy jet lag sleep pattern returned so we found ourselves checking clocks and watches frequently from 1:30 am onwards until we well and truly fell asleep about 5:00 am. The next thing I heard was Robin saying it was 6:40. I mentioned that it was going to be close getting to the pilgrim mass. Her eyes, now wide with understanding, signaled it was time to go. No time to plead my case, not that I had one. We did the firehouse slide down the pole departure, pulling zippers and belts tight as we bound out the door into a bracing 38F morning, dry mouthed, hair askew, looking somewhat ...pilgrim like I guess. The sprint up the cobblestoned streets was taxing (only a 1,000 miles to go I thought). We escaped cardiac arrest and actually swung through the church door with a few minutes to spare. It was a beautiful mass. The priest was a funny guy and worked his charm on the departing pilgrims bringing smiles to faces that were only moments ago looking a bit stunned as to what they would have to do as soon as the priest headed for the sacristy. With our fresh pilgrim blessing intact we now headed, at a more measured pace, downhill to our lodging. It was then time for breakfast, lots of coffee, and a chance to discuss our itinerary with Madeleine. Our plan was to only walk about 10 miles today to a town called Montbonnet. When Madeleine heard that she said we should go stay with a friend of hers in Fay, an agricultural hamlet on the first variant (towards Bains) encountered after Leaving Le Puy. So, after much texting and calling we were set. Fay it was to be. Breakfast was soon done, packs were reassembled, and after offering our heartfelt thanks to Madeleine for being so kind we finally reached the door, stepped out into the street to officially become pilgrims on the road to Santiago.

First sign on the pilgrim road

Today, being Saturday and market day, the city was brimming with people. We didn't draw a wink, in this city use to seeing departing pilgrims, as we tried to avoid our backpacks pitching unwary market goers into the snarl of impatient motorists. Having heard no sirens I believe we were mostly successful. As we turned right onto Rue Saint Jacques it was just about 11:00 am. The day's earlier cold had given way to pleasant (60F), and rising temperatures. The skies were mostly clear. I was wearing a lightweight merino wool t shirt and a long sleeve lightweight quarter zip merino wool outer shirt. I had on hiking pants (not my rain pants), but no jacket or vest. Robin was wearing a tank top and a long sleeve runners shirt (lululemon), and hiking pants, but no jacket or vest. We enjoyed our colorful departure, but quickly transitioned to leaving city life behind as we headed out into the quiet of the countryside, and the awaiting Chemin.

Leaving Le Puy is an uphill event. One starts climbing pretty quickly, but nothing dramatic, just moderate hills followed by flat spots or gentler climbs, but the trend is definitely upwards. We purposefully chose a late start so as to have a reasonable easy first day. I think that the distance we walked today (around 16kms) was just fine. We arrived in Fay (with rain showers washing away our grime) close to 4:00 pm., and quickly located the home (Le Refuge) of Chantal Roue, one of the 30 people living in Fay. She was watching at the kitchen window, and came out to greet us. Our first day was now done. Feet were okay, legs a bit sore, but all in all a wonderful first day. Chantal lives alone in an old farmhouse, and occasionally takes in a passing pilgrim. Her visitors are few as the main route of the Chemin St. Jacques bypasses Fay (but only by 2 kms) on its way to Montbonnet. This is fine with her as she has a flock of sheep to attend to. She has treated us like royalty. Her rooms are clean and warm, and the showers offered plentiful hot water. She has done our laundry and set it out in front of the kitchen fire to dry, and prepared a simple but satisfying meal of barley soup, sausages and lentils, and a sort of thicker crepe for desert. A nice jug of Merlot was set on the table as well. What's not to like? At present, Robin and I are catching up on some correspondence, and getting ready for bed. Off to Monistrol in the morning (13 kms). No hurry, just taking it easy. We still have a long way to go. But for now all is well, and we are thankful for a good start.

Market day
Leaving town
Trail marker for GR 65
Turn left


1 comment:

  1. "Leaving Le Puy is an uphill event." I love that description. Very true. It's interesting to see your photos on the variant for Bains- love that stone wall. The wildflowers look magnificent- I guess you will see lots of them along your way.