25 Aug 2012

Day 15: St-Paulien

Wednesday 2 May

I hadn't eaten or drunk enough over the holiday period, but I was off to a better start this morning. This friendly cafe provided me with a delicious hot chocolate and also the first wifi access I'd had since leaving Paris. Finally I could send a few of the messages backed up on my iPod Touch...

There were blue skies to start off this day, which turned out to be a very rural one.

I was daydreaming away when these dairy cows came around the corner- I am not sure who got the biggest surprise, me or them.

This old stone church was tumbling down. I wondered about its past and the people it had been important to...

I walked through sections of forest today, and saw quite a lot of evidence that trees were being cut down on a large scale without signs of replacement. I imagine there used to be a lot more forest in this region, but now there is more farming.

I love the way that you notice little things beside the path when you walk everyday.

Despite the fact there were not many walkers, in most places there was still very good provision for us, in terms of signs and bridges.

Although there was one place where I had no option but to walk through the pond on the track, I don't think my feet really minded the dousing.

beautiful rural land to walk through

Crosses, woodpiles, blossom trees- all part of the rural landscape.

During the afternoon there were some big descents as I came nearer to Le Puy. Several kilometres before St-Paulien I came across a farm gîte and wished I was staying there. It looked so welcoming and inviting. But I carried on the next four kilometres as planned, since that was going to give me a shorter day to reach Le Puy the following day.
It looked like there was rain ahead on the route, and indeed there was: I got quite a drenching! But I loved the view of the storm clouds ahead in the sky, with the little volcanic domes all over the landscape.

This was another place with many dandelions in the fields where the cows were eating.

After quite a long walk through St-Paulien I reached the place where I was staying for the night. I must say my heart sank when I saw how institutional it all looked from the outside, and I really did wish I had stayed the night at the Le Clos farm gîte.  But once inside I saw that the whole gîte was very clean and modern. I didn't much like being the only person here on a floor that must have more usually housed large school groups, but I know it was for only one night. And the benefit of staying in a larger town was that I was able to buy more tissues, food and the Nok cream that Jacques had told me about. I ate at a nearby restaurant, and was early to bed, with only one day ahead of me to reach Le Puy.

And now for the post I wrote on my iPod that day:
"Nearly at Le Puy
I can hardly believe it but this part of the walk is nearly over and tomorrow I will arrive in Le Puy. Tonight I am staying in St Paulien and have just a "short" day ahead of about 16km.

St Paulien has come as a shock with all its shops etc after many very rural days. This morning I was in a small village with just a small grocery shop and a bar- where I got a hot chocolate and finally got to use some free wifi as the sudden appearance of a few blog posts would have alerted you. Then l spent the rest of the day wandering past fields and on forest paths - eager not to miss seeing any of the little shell signs that showed me the way. After nearly 22km of walking like that today, and 27km of similar walking yesterday it is quite a transition to a town with things like a pharmacy.

Tonight I am in a building that I thought resembled a prison when I first saw it- but inside it is very nice- probably used for visiting school groups etc in the main. It strikes me that this Is probably the last night I get to spread myself out across a whole bunkroom by myself. From Le Puy southwards there will be more pelerins to share the gites with!

One thing that has happened fortuitously is that some friends finish part of the Cluny Chemin the day after me and I will get to see them in Le Puy. Oh happy day! "


  1. The "paysage" looks very much like the first days out of Le Puy on the GR 65! Great photos


    1. It did indeed- and I guess it is basically the same 'paysage' except that Le Puy managed to get itself placed in what must be an old volcanic crater.