We started out from Le Puy on Le Chemin St. Jacques. Today we had about 14 miles, which might sound tough in the mountains of Western North Carolina. But not here! We’re in the rolling hills of the Haute Loire. In order from left to right-Beth, Janet, me and Lenny pointing to the map.
We were hardly the only group on the trail. We must have passed and been passed by a hundred hikers, plus all the ones we didn’t see. The trail was marked perfectly by white and red bars. A third bar showed turns. If you weren’t sure, the wrong way was marked by a white and red X. Will the trail be as well marked from now on?
We’re walking mostly on dirt paths between farms. Cows and a few horses are in fields. There’s lots of corn and maybe some wheat. France is still a agricultural country.
Plenty of stone crosses pave the way. All these are symbols that are supposed to help you on your pilgrimage. But what if you’re a hiker?
We’re following instructions from various sources that, in part, let you know about the various cafes, tea shops and patisseries along the way. But for the most part, we’re eating out of our food bag.
Our lunch stop is in front of St. Roch, a beautiful little church. Locals have offered water as their trail magic. Note the plastic Evian bottles on the right and the white drinking cups.
St. Roch was the patron saint of pilgrims, along with St. Jacques. As the story goes, he contracted the plague in the 1300s while he was healing the sick on a pilgrimage.
It’s impossible to understand and explain the meaning of each church and cross. Every hamlet has both, some in abundance. But it is possible to enjoy them as a modern-day hiker and pilgrim.
We got into our lodging at 3 pm, not bad for 14 miles. A beer for Lenny and a pot of tea for me to finish out the afternoon.