Le Puy en Velay

I might have free data and roaming in Europe, but so far it kind of stinks. It’s nice that I have it at all, but spending 30 mins trying to load a few pages isn’t the best use of my time. Hopefully when I’m able to connect to wifi that will be better. Thankfully, I can write posts offline using Pages, and then add pictures in and upload when I have a connection.

I didn’t get out of the hotel until 11 this morning. It took over an hour and a half to get ready and repack my stuff. I’m sure that will get better with time as I figure things out, but I’m glad I have the first couple of nights to myself.

I was greeted by a light rain, so I got to try out my pack cover. I decided to wear one of my Macabi skirts for the first time, and I have to say, I love it. I’m actually thinking about shipping my pants home, because I brought two skirts with me. It might be all I need!

I had passed a store that had something to do with Camino when I came in from the train, so I went there first. Turns out they’re mostly a pack transportation service, but I got their info anyway. You never know when you might need something like that. I’m hoping I never do, though.

I didn’t get breakfast at the hotel, because I was not looking forward to more bread, which is pretty much the majority of French breakfasts. Luckily there was a little grocery store around the corner and I bought 3 bananas and 3 nectarines. I only ate one of the bananas because it was close to lunch time. I decided that I might as well eat some real food, because food is something to be enjoyed in charming old French villages. The nice thing about Europe is that restaurants post their menu outside, so you can look and see if you want anything before going in.

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I decided to get a salad, because I really wanted something besides bread. What I got was unexpected. It was mostly tomatoes with a few greens, but oh my goodness, it was incredible. Tomatoes with basalmic vinegar and olive oil, and a rough pesto, some crumbly cheese, red onions, greens, and it had paprika sprinkled around the sides. It was truly divine. It also came with some bread. I only ate one piece, to sop up the oil and vinegar, and I seemed to do ok with that.

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After lunch I went see the Jardin Henri Vinay. It’s basically a public park and green space, like a little Central Park. Kind of. They also had some sort of zoo, with goats, chickens, deer, and some peacocks and ducks. There is a museum on one end of the park, but it’s under renovation.

I walked up toward the high city, because that was mostly what I wanted to see. The high city of Le Puy is a marvelous place to explore. My fitbit says I took 21103 steps today and walked 9.5 miles. I’m only walking 10 miles tomorrow on my first day of the Chemin (the French word for Camino, which is a Spanish word).

Can one take too many pictures of streets and alleyways of charming old French villages? The answer is no, one cannot.

I ran into my first old church with a door open. When the doors are open, you can just go inside, so I did.

I wanted to go to Rocher St-Michel, which is the church built on the top of a puy, or volcanic rock mountain thing. It is as steep as it looks in the pictures. After climbing up all those stairs with my pack on, I decided I should check in to my next hotel and drop my bag off.

After wandering around trying to find it, I checked into Accueil st. Georges Grand Seminaire, which is located right next to the Cathedral. It took me a while to find, because the streets go all over and aren’t straight. It is a very short distance if you know which way to go. I took the scenic route. I have a room with 3 beds all to myself, so of course I’m spread out all over. It will be interesting to see how I do when I only have one bed and no tables to put my stuff on.

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Next I went and explored the Cathedral and got my credencial. The stained glass windows were gorgeous, and they were all unique.

After visiting the cathedral, I realized that I still needed to buy trekking poles, so I went to the office of tourism to find out where that would be, so I had to go down to the lower part of the city and back up. I probably did that 4 times today. My fitbit also says I climbed 140 flights of stairs.

I dropped my poles off at my hotel and went to see the cloister in the cathedral.

Then I climbed up the other puy, behind the cathedral, to see the statue of the Virgin. Turns out it’s kind of like the statue of liberty, but red. You can climb up inside it and everything, on the tiniest spiral staircase you can imagine. It has little peep hole doors that you can open up inside and look out.

At this point all of the tourist attractions were closing and I decided I should look for some food. I hadn’t known to reserve dinner at the place I was staying, so I had to find my own. I ended up back in the lower city at a place called Terre and Mer. Turf and Surf. I got the menu of the day, which came with 3 courses. It was all delicious. I’m not disappointed by French food at all.

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The first course was an amuse bouche. A egg and potato thing, and a fish salad with chives and red onions on a crouton. Delicious!

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For the main course I chose the steak, and it took a while figuring out how to communicate medium rare with someone who doesn’t speak much english. I finally pulled out my phone and typed it in a translator app. I have to say, all of the French people I have had dealings with today have been very patient and helpful and kind.

Ooh, I forgot to say, in the morning while I was wandering around I was stopped by an older gentleman who didn’t speak any English, but he asked if I was a pilgrim and if I was lost, looking for the chemin. I told him I would be starting tomorrow.

I also met some pilgrims from Germany on bikes. They wanted to know where to get a stamp from the cathedral. I got my first Buen Camino. They had biked all the way from Germany! They were going to Spain, but not all the way to Santiago de Compostela.

But anyway, back to the food. It came with French fries, which was unexpected, but I ate most of them. And the little radish flower was too adorable!

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The last course I got the chocolate thing, and WOW. It was so good. It was chocolate mousse, with some white chocolate shavings, then a chocolate cookie, and warm chocolate sauce on the top. It was both hot and cold with the cookie between. It was delicious.

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At this point it was getting rather cold and I’d left my jacket back in my room. I got back to the hotel (except it’s not really a hotel) and took a shower and did my laundry. My socks from yesterday are still wet. I’m thinking they weren’t such a good choice. I love the way they feel and fit, but they do not dry quickly. I’m either going to have to find new socks, or be creative.

It’s 11:30 pm and I have to get up probably 5:30 at the latest to eat and get my stuff together to be at the Cathedral for the Pilgrim’s mass at 7, then I start walking! So exciting. I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t go to bed earlier, because I think the mattress is actually quite comfortable. That goes to show the price of the hotel doesn’t necessarily reflect comfort.

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5 Comments

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  1. Ton of pictures! Awesome! I love the one looking down the rows of columns. Cool lighting. And the views overlooking all the red roofs are just gorgeous. It would be cool to sit up there and watch the light change. That salad does look fabulous. (And I feel that we have not done our tomatoes justice this year.) Glad the bread seems to be okay (fingers crossed!) I shall go back and absorb everything in more detail. Good luck with socks!

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  2. Betsey, I loved it. The photography is excellent. I actually teared up a bit looking at all the wonderful places you are able to see. I’m glad you’re including a few selfies too. 🙂 Food pictures are also great.

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  3. Sounds like a great day! I’m looking forward to seeing what else happens.

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  4. Lovely! You should be able to go in all the churches as long as they are not locked, so always try the door! Soak up the beauty, it feeds the soul!

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  5. The restaurant in Le Puy en Velay, Entre Terre et Mer, English translation is Between Land and Sea. It looked like a wonderful place to eat. If I visit there I’ll be sure and stop by. I lived in Toulouse for 6 months as a missionary and loved the area – the people were so friendly and open.

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