So we left Annecy and headed back across France towards the Atlantic coast. I was driving sometime in the evening and told Maurice I was exhausted and saw that the next place was a city called le Puy de Velay and asked Maurice to use Google (what did we do before Google and our portable phones?) and see if they had hotels there. Indeed, they did so we took the exit and saw a cathedral on top of a hill as well as a chapel on another little hill and a giant figure of Mary on yet another-it turned out to be an old volcanic area. The name le Puy sounded familiar to me and I soon found that this area was home of the famous green lentils with their own AOC label and very famous in France for their taste-it’s that volcanic soil. It turned out that le Puy had a very long religious history and that it is the starting place for the Camino de Santiago de Compestela, an ancient route across France going into Spain to the tomb of Saint James. In fact, Maurice wants to try it next year, at least the part in France. Maybe someday we will make it all the way. We saw a lot of people with back packs around the city and beyond in this area.
Seen on a building near the cathedral.
The steps , and there were many, going up to the cathedral where there even more steps. That is quite a hill.
This is the starting place of the Camino. The night before I read that there was a mass for the people starting the walk but it started at 7am so I thought I wouldn’t see it, however, I woke up really early, so early that I had to wait for the sun to rise to set off and I made it to hear the mass with about 200 walkers. I liked seeing their bags in the aisle.
A sign marking the start.
All of the streets and alleys in the old section of the city were paved with either plain rocks or with these nice black and white stones.
The cathedral has two black Madonnas which are said to cause miracles and have roots in the deep relious past of Goddess worship.
Statue of Saint James. His symbol is the half shell and you see it in many places welcoming the pilgrims to hostels and the like.
This huge statue of Mary was outside the cathedral up even more steps. It was made of melted down Russian cannons captured during the Prussian war.
Next door was a chapel with this fantastic ceiling. The whole place was very baroque in decorations.
So, who knows what you can find by making an unscheduled stop? This turned out to be a most fascinating city.