Le Puy-en-Velay


Yesterday morning I tore myself away from the bar where I originally popped in to grab a coffee and @, but where there was a friendly and attractive local French woman who bought me a beer and suggested that I could stay the night in her house if I was tired. The good pilgrim in me won; I thanked her for the beer and the offer and left the bar, pure. The walk from St-Julien-Chapteuil to Le Puy is mostly downhill and although the countryside wouldn’t win any natural beauty awards, there is a sense of increased expectation as you near the town of Le Puy.

The way to Le Puy winds itself through (among others) the village of St-Germain-Laprade and it was here that my body and soul decided that it was siesta time. I bought a wonderful piece of local cheese from the shop in the centre of the village:

Brique-de-Polignac

I was also able to fully enjoy the new electronic cigarette which I was forced to buy as a result of my previous one going kaput on me:

Electronic-cigarette

While I was having my siesta a pilgrim whom I had met a while back on the Geneva Way passed along the road and Nikolaus and I sat for a while and chatted. A lovely guy:

Nikolaus

I continued the walk, in the wind and rain, until I was within stone’s throw of the town which completes the Geneva Way and which marks the beginning of the Le Puy Way:

Le-Puy-en-Velay-0,8km

I arrived to Le Puy in the early afternoon, belly full of cheese, and at once went to the cathedral where I got a stamp in my Pilgrim Passport:

Cathedrale-Notre-Dame-du-Puy-France

The view from the cathedral entrance is spectacular:

View-from-Le-Puy-Cathedral

The rear view of the cathedral (post photo) isn’t too shabby either.

On the hill there is also an impressive and slightly overbearing statue of the Notre Dame:

Notre-Dame

Right, so I need to find a place for the night.
I made the decision to seek out a Gite, literally steps from the cathedral entrance, which was listed as a donativo (when the pilgrim decides how much to pay). I walked to the Gite and followed another pilgrim into the reception. Had I made a telephone reservation in advance? Regrettably not. This time it wasn’t an issue. My Pilgrim Passport was requested to be seen as proof that I was a pilgrim, I was given a second stamp in it from Le Puy, and I was also offered and given a glass of the local syrup speciality from the region, which was refreshing and delicious:

Verveine
I was then shown to my sleeping space in the building and explained the logistics of sleeping at the Gite:

Pilgrim's-charter

Sure, no problem. Well, at least I’ll follow most of them 🙂
I read the rules and they were an immediate reminder of my walk on the Camino Frances last summer.

If you are arriving to Le Puy to begin your Camino then I’d definitely recommend this Gite.

The address is:

28-rue-Cardinal-de-Polignac

Coming down the steps of the cathedral you make a turn to your left and follow the small road for roughly 100 metres or so until you reach the entrance on your right:

Entrance-to-Donativo-Le-Puy

In the reception you also see in plain view the donation box, which you can put money into (if you wish) when you leave in the morning. It isn’t obligatory to pay anything, but it is good karma to pay at least something as this maintains the system of running the donativo. Some people put in 20 Euro, others 10, some add just a couple of Euro:

Donativo-box

Gites are usually run on a dormitory-style basis and although this one is no different in this respect, it does however provide a personal space within 2 walls and a curtain where you have a little world to yourself for the night:

Camino-dormitory

Sleeping-in-Le-Puy

Incidentally, the building once belonged to La Roche-Negly family and this juicy-detail plaque is on display at the entrance:

The-Hotel-des-La-Roche-Negly

Yesterday evening I was hanging in my sleeping area when the lovely Anja, a pilgrim from Austria whom I met on the way just before Raffy, came by and asked if I’d eaten and if I’d like to pop out for something to eat. A lovely evening ensued with a new pilgrim friend and arriving back to the donativo just before the gates were locked at 10pm we also met outside Sam: an Algerian national living in Lyon who as a boy had a dream of walking the Camino and whom is now realising his dream.

I slept quite badly – what with the chorus of snores from other pilgrims sporadically making their nocturnal announcements in the dark, of which I’m sure I must have accompanied at some stage during the night but oblivious to my contribution – I psyched myself up to get up, shower, and began heading out on the route which will eventually bring me to St. Jean Pied du Port (the beginning of the Camino Frances in northern Spain).

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Categories: Walking into Spring and Summer [My 3,109km walk from Prague to Finisterre | 2014]Tags: , , , ,

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