25 Aug 2012

Cluny route- introduction

In 2008 I walked from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela, but found the Camino wasn't quite 'finished' with me yet. I 'discovered' the route from Cluny to Le Puy when I fell in love with a set of photos of the route posted on Picasa, and then found a booklet on the CSJ website that outlined practical points like accommodation and finding food. I was hooked...

A viewpoint after Col de Patoux, while descending from Mont St-Rigaud
During my Camino in 2008 I met Francis, a Frenchman who had walked the Camino from Dijon to Santiago, including the chemin from Cluny. When I told him of my plans, initially he had some concerns. He was keen to make sure I understood that the Cluny route was harder in various ways than what I had already walked. He told me it was hillier, with many ascents and descents, and that food and accommodation were both harder to find. He also told me that it was more solitary, with several days spent mostly in forest, and that I would probably not meet many other pilgrims on the route. But he also said that it was a spectacular route, with many beautiful views...

When I was still keen to walk from Cluny, Francis supported my decision. He also told  me that he would walk with me the first two days of the route if I wanted that, and I was very glad to have the chance of his company as I walked.

Prior to leaving for Cluny, I was invited to stay with Francis and his wife at their home in a small village in Burgundy. A warm fire was burning in the lounge, and Francis spent quite a bit of time there with me before we left, going over the Amis guide to the route. He highlighted places where I might find food and accommodation, and he worked out distances between towns and villages to give a possible itinerary. Some of the gîtes he chose were ones that he had previous knowledge of from his own walks. 

Francis also made sure I understood the crucial importance of how the shell balises were used on this chemin, so that I could find my way. On a tree in the village he showed me a balise for the Chemin, which passed right near his house. (The base part of the 'shell' motif -not the 'fingers'- indicates the direction to walk.)

Soon it was time to leave for Cluny. A valued friendship formed on my 2008 Camino had become the springboard for the start of this walk from Cluny in 2012.


  1. Margaret,

    I am looking forward to reading this blog and seeing the photos! I believe that friendships made on a pilgrimage last a long time and this is obvious with Francis and you.


  2. It's something about the shared experience of joy in the outdoors and exhaustion in the outdoors!

  3. Hi, thanks for blogging this. Like you, from a previous camino (del norte, 2010) I became friends with someone living in France, and am hoping to return next year, maybe to walk again with him. I also stayed in Taizé in 2010, and saw the chemin in Geneve, so either of these could be a good starting point. Thanks for blogging your walk. Buen camino.

    1. Thanks for your comment Cameron. I've also got my eye on the Geneva route as a possibility for another year. I did find the solitary-ness of the Cluny route quite a challenge, but I will be more ready for that if I walk from Geneva. It was a very special part of my walk that I was able to share some of the route with Francis.

  4. Dear Margaret,

    it was your first blog that led to me falling in love with the Camino. And now this spectacular walk. You have a gift of writing and using your pictures to tell your journey.

    Thank You so very much.

    Michael Kennedy

    1. Thanks Michael, I'm glad the blog has meant something to you. The Cluny walk is indeed spectacular, and the landscapes/towns were so varied- but quite 'solitary' for the most part also. It was a great walk.

  5. Hi Ashley looks great but I think I will wait until we are back from South America to decide how long I will walk with you I don't think that Valerie would join us so at this stage I am committed to come with you for one week and not the first one that you told me was going to be the hardest one anyway talk to you soon now that you are back guilherme