A quick word about navigating this Camino. The Le Puy route is also designated a French long distance footpath, the GR65. The route is way marked by enthusiastic volunteers with the same diligence used to maintain the TGV train lines. The GR65 red and white mark appears at regular intervals all along the way and can mean carry on, turn left or turn right. A 4th sign means wrong way so if you see that you have to back track. Alternatively, you can look ahead and follow other pilgrims (a bit risky). I also have a French guide book with excellent large scale contour maps of the whole route plus accommodation etc. And finally I have downloaded all the 1:25000 maps for the whole route onto my iPhone so I can use GPS to locate myself on the map. Most of the time you can just walk, enjoy the views and note the reassuring way marks along the way. Simple. Can you guess how many times I’m going to get lost?
Last night’s gite was excellent and I had a room of 6 beds to myself. Tonight’s gite (Gite d’Etape Saint Christophe in Estaing) is more typical, lots of beds and a “Complet” sign on the door. The Madame of the gite spewed out a 15 minute welcome and I managed to capture 10 minutes of it on my iPhone. She told me to leave my backpack in the cellar and when I asked why, she made a scary impersonation of a bed bug and tried to bite my arm.
We met the camping girl again. Unsurprisingly she abandoned the lawyer from Hampstead fairly quickly and is now marching along the Camino at a speed which few can match. Before she disappeared into the distance she told me she only has a few more days and was hoping to reach Figeac. She said I look just like a friend of hers who is a translator and much younger. I told her I have never been a translator but I have been much younger. She also asked me how my Camino was. I said the scenery is fantastic and she said “No, inside!” I should have realised.
Another nice village bar for lunch. We can eat our sandwiches and just part with a couple of Euros for a small bottle of 1664, which I can now say in French with good accent.
We have walked today along the fast flowing river Lot which has its source in the nearby Cevennes (where there is a Stevenson trail) and later joins the Gironde en route to Bordeaux (I think). It’s rich farmland. Ploughed fields, lots of machinery and very nice houses. But it has been quite a hard day because the GR65 misses no opportunity to take you up a nearby mountain to inspect a giant statue of the Virgin and Child or the many ancient churches and chapels to be found here.
Giant Virgin and Child
Lunch time bar today