Each day I seem to lurch from desolation to ecstasy. It is wonderful to be walking across Europe, seeing the countryside and experiencing life in a different country and at a very slow pace. But I cannot just nip 30km to the nearest supermarket as the locals do. Local shops are few and anyway I cannot carry food. We are dependent on our hosts for a high energy meal and when this is lacking, frustration sets in.
Last night, Madame d’Odile looked after us very well. She understood the simple requirements of the pilgrim. As soon as we’d showered she collected our dirty clothing and washed the lot. Dinner was pizza followed by chicken and potatoes and then cherry tart (home made). We drank cherry liquor and white wine. She set everything up for breakfast because we leave so early and made us sandwiches for lunch. What more could you ask?
Soon after leaving Beaujeu-St-Vallier this morning it started to rain. Our first rain since day 3. We faced a short but challenging 19km walk to Gy. At first we walked along small paths across fields and then a minor unused road until we came to a river. Here we turned sharp left along the river bank until the path turned away and vanished under a field of ferns. The rain was falling quite heavily but since last year’s near disaster I have a waterproof case for my iPhone. And that is a life saver. I have all the 25000 series maps of France stored on the phone and with GPS I can see where we are to the nearest fern. But which side of the barbed wire fence should we be? Inevitably we find ourselves pinned into the corner of a field looking for a way through. Paul is used to this sort of thing and notices a stretch where our predecessors have broken through. In desperation, the land owner has repaired the fence but fitted a removable strand of barbed wire along the top. Off it comes, we hop over and replace it. Presumably if this had been a public footpath there would have been a style or gate.
We march on against the driving rain until my GPS brings us safely to the next track with the precision of an airplane landing.
We booked ahead to the hotel Pinocchio and arrived dripping all over the lobby. It’s quite a smart place but I think they were happy enough to fill one of the rooms. Gy is a sizeable town and has a chateau as well as a small tourist office. We made a quick visit to have our credentials stamped and learnt that in addition to the Via Francigena the town also has Camino routes signposted to Vezelay and Le Puy. You’d imagine it was quite a busy spot for pilgrims going this way and that.
Last night’s B&B, address below:
The church in Beaujeu-St-Vallier this morning
Another bath house
The Camino to Vezelay
Plenty of rooms still available in the hotel Pinocchio