We went to the 7am mass at the cathedral this morning which is often called the 'Pilgrims Mass'. Most attending were pilgrims, for after the mass the young priest gathered us around in front of a picture of Saint Jacque. There must have been 50+ pilgrims starting off today. The priest asked where everyone was from - most were from France and Germany but there was a small handful from Australia and New Zealand. He prayed a pilgrim's blessing in French, German and English. We were given a beautiful pilgrim's prayer on a small laminated card plus a small medal from the Cathedral.
Pilgrims poured out and headed for the road out of town. We tried to remember the pilgrim proverb that begins: "Start your walk like an old man..." Don't race off like a hairy goat and collect a hoof full of blisters and pull your muscles in the process.
We reckoned that the average age of the pilgrims at the mass and on the road today was 65. Most would be retirees. We have talked with two couples from France who are newly retired and are planning to take the next 3+ plus months to walk all the way to Santiago (1400 kilometres) and then on to Finisterre on the coast.
The road rose steeply out of Le Puy today. It took only 20 minutes to get out into the countryside. This is the transition today from urban life to country scenes and smells. While many were bunched to begin with and several were walking in groups, it didn't take long for there to be a thinning out and with this a quietening. Such beautiful sounds of birds today, a range of terrain and a huge variety of crops. Lots of hay being cut today.
We walked 23 kilometres which was a good distance to get back into the Camino rhythm of waking, packing, walking, lunching, walking, settling into accommodation, showering, washing and drying clothes, eating dinner and sleeping. The routine, though simple and predictable, is never boring with the fascinating people you meet along the way from all around the world, the wonderful scenery, the space for inner contemplation and for marriage enrichment.
Our accommodation here at St Privat d'Allier in a private room comes with dinner and breakfast included. Looking forward to meeting more walkers over dinner.
Photos from today's walk will be posted on Geoff's Facebook page.
Geoff & Lyn