Conques - Decazeville - Saint Roch - Livinhac-le-Haut
Another great day on Chemin du Puy. And my first day walking on my own. I am happy to report that I enjoyed the time to think back on the past week. I walked well and felt strong. My pack is starting to feel like a part of me - and that's a good sign. Feet fine. Knees fine. Splinter not worrying me. Blisters - none so far. I can't ask for better than that.
After a farewell breakfast with Sive in Conques I waved her off around 8.30 when her taxi arrived to take her to the airport (about 40 kms away) and back to Dublin. She was a great walking companion, and I felt lucky to have run into her some days ago when she needed to be in Conques by Friday and I was looking to make up some time. We walked at a similar pace and the conversation flowed. It was meant to be.
Leaving Conques a gruelling ascent for the first half hour made for a morning heart starter. Other than that, and another after the town of Decazevile, today the path was mostly through forest and on narrow rural paths. It was so green - just beautiful. And I passed so many farm animals, as you'll see from the photos.
I did not see many other pilgrims today and only talked to one. An 18 year old French / Australian boy from Byron Bay. He is 18, was born in Arles and his family moved to Byron Bay when he was 9. I was curious as to how a French family ended up there. A friend of his mother had established the Steiner School there and recommended the area. His name is Aurelian (spelling?) and he's just finished school. He is walking Chemin du Puy to St Jean Pied de Port, followed by Camino Frances across Spain to Santiago de Compostella then hopes to continue on the Camino Finisterre to Finisterre. He is loving Camino Le Puy and is super excited about walking in Spain. He had lots of questions and, of course, I am always happy to tak about the Spanish Camino. I saw him again tonight in the village and we continued our conversation.
Back to today's walk. There were no villages or towns for the first 20 kms. I had plenty of food in my pack but was looking forward to my second coffee for the day. I thought Decazeville would be the place. But as it turned out I walked straight through. This was the first ugly town I'd seen on The Way. Formerly a mining town, it really has nothing at all to commend it. Such an assault on the senses after the beauty of Conques and the tranquility of the previous hours. I decided to put my head down and walk on. Ultreya!
A steep climb out of Decazeville in the afternoon sun and I was feeling a little disappointed that I hadn't yet found a peaceful spot for lunch. I had bread, tuna and cheese in my pack. And was still thinking of that second coffee. Oh well, only a little over 4 kms - about an hour - to Livinhac-le-Haut, my destination for tonight.
You never know what's around the next corner. As it happened, it was Brigitte's Gite Sentinelle. On a table in the sunny porch of her gite, opposite a lovely stone church, there was hot coffee, hot tea, sugar, beer, red wine, home made lemonade and a donativo box. Heaven. No sign of anyone, but the sign welcomed pilgrims to make themselves at home. I sat at the table, with le pain, thon tomate and fromage, poured myself an expresso and - voila - was finally having lunch.
Within a few minutes, Brigitte appeared. All smiles, a big hug as if we were long lost friends. A few questions - my name, where am I from, where did I start, where am I going. She asked me if I needed anything else - no I had everything I could want - and she gave me a kiss on each cheek and wished me Bon Chemin. As usual, the Camino provides.
Tomorrow I expect I'll walk to Figeac, a similar distance to today. There is no opportunity to buy food or drinks between here and Figeac. I have a banana and a little cake. The boulangerie here will open at 8 and the sign says they make pique-nique baguette with jambon et fromage for 3 euros. That will be perfect.
I received a text message from Sheryl this afternoon. They are about a day behind me. We are keeping on touch along The Way. They will take their time getting to Figeac as Carlo is leaving from there on Tuesday. But we may get together again. Tout est possible en Camino.
That's it from me for tonight, other than a big thank for your comments, emails and text messages - Helen (Mum), Martin, Jill and Mandi. And to Pam - so glad you are safe and sound amidst the cyclone.