Le Chemin de St. Jacques – Conques

Le Chemin9-Estaing

We’re in Conques, in southwest France, on Le Chemin de St. Jacques–125 miles done, 315 to go. We passed through Estaing and admired the castle (see above).

LeChemin9-Estaing War MemorialEvery village has a church on the square and a war memorial. I’ve searched out war memorials every place. They’re very poignant.

So many men died in WWI. For them, WWII was an afterthought, with only a couple of names and a couple for the Algerian war–a war that the U.S. managed to stay out of.

Conques is a milestone for many reasons. It’s a very historic village and a site for miracle.  Many people leave the trail here, including Lenny and Beth. Janet and I are going to continue with larger packs.

So how can you do Le Chemin de St. Jacques? Several ways.

1.  You can camp but few people do. You can’t be guaranteed a place to camp every night. There are campsites in villages and you could negotiate a spot in a field with a farm. I wouldn’t recommend camping illegally.

2.  Most people walk the independent way. They carry everything they need for the trek. They sleep in gites (hostels), Chambre d’Hotes (B&B) and hotels, depending on their budgets and what’s available. So maybe they carry 20 to 25 pounds, depending on how much food they carry. You eat at a restaurant or cook in the gites.LeChemin10-Scenery

3.  You can contract with a company or local taxi to take your stuff to the next town. Then you’re day hiking.

4.  There are a few group  tours.

So far, we’ve been supported–option 3 above–by Sherpa Travel, a British company. They have booked all the hotels and organized our large bags from village to village. It’s a luxurious way to travel but doesn’t allow any flexibility. Since they decide on where we stay, that dictates how far we walk. Some days have been very short.

Now, Janet and I are going to strap on our trekking packs and walk independently. We still need to book a bed every night but we can do it a couple of days in advance. More to carry, more decisions but that’s how most hikers (or pilgrims) do it.

Because we’ve been supported, Lenny took his laptop on this trip. That’s what I’m blogging on. Now I don’t know if I’ll have the patience and time to blog on my iPad, even if I have Wifi. I might just send out a picture and a sentence or two on Facebook, like most pilgrims do. So if you want to follow me down the trail, sign up for my Facebook page.

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