A New Journey Begins!

A New Journey Begins!

When Dave and I walked our first Camino in 2015 to celebrate my 70th birthday, St. Jean-Pied-de-Port was our starting point. This time it will be our ending point and the birthday we’ll be celebrating when we arrive on October 7th is Dave’s 85th! 🎂 🎉 🥳 

It took us two days to get to Le Puy-En-Velay in the south-central part of France. Our direct, non-stop Air France flight from Vancouver to Paris was great and so was the high speed train that got us to Lyon in two hours. Lyon is a beautiful city and worth exploring, but we slept for 12 of the 24 hours we were there so didn’t see much. Next time! The following day we were off to Le Puy by train and bus where we easily found our accommodation beside the cathedral, the Grand Séminaire – Accueil Saint Georges. 

We’ve never been to Le Puy before, but arriving here and especially wandering around the cathedral yesterday afternoon made me feel like I’d come home. My shoulders relaxed and I felt such peace! 🥰  I knew this would be the best beginning of any of our Caminos. What I appreciated most was a box below the statue of St. James where pilgrims are invited to deposit their personal intention (goal) for their journey into the box. After the pilgrim mass at 7 a.m. on the day of departure, pilgrims may receive someone else’s intention for their journey and make prayers for that person along the way. Someone would have carried my intention with them this morning. Tomorrow I will carry someone else’s intention and pray for them. This is the “caring and sharing” that I love about the Camino.

The route we are going to follow has several names: the GR 65 Chemin de Saint-Jacque du-Puy, the Way of Saint James, Via Podiensis, Chemin de Saint-Jacques, and Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. By the time we reach St. Jean-Pied-de-Port we’ll have gone 766 km. It would have been 736 km if we hadn’t added an extra 30 km for taking the Cele Valley variant, but we couldn’t resist seeing for ourselves the “impossibly beautiful” scenery in the Cele Valley.

Walking 766 km in 37 days and keeping to our preferred daily average distance of 18 km is impossible, so we have to skip a section. After studying various alternatives, we decided to take the bus from Aire-Sur-l’Adour to Saint Palais for a distance of 134 km. By that time we’ll have walked for 34 days so sitting on a bus will be a welcome rest! Two walking days later, we’ll arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port, our final destination, before taking the train to Paris for a three night stay before flying home.

This Camino has taken months of planning. Unlike our other Caminos, we made reservations the whole way, mostly in gîtes (B&Bs) with the exception of a few accommodations provided by religious organizations. We booked Le Malle Postale to transport a small duffle bag filled with things we won’t need during the day for the first 27 days. It will take about 14 lbs. off our shoulders – a relief because we each have a rotary cuff tear. Our duffel bag needs to be packed and ready for pick up by 8 a.m. and will arrive before 5 p.m. at our next destination. Le Malle Postale will take us, too, if we have physical issues that prevent us from walking. All we have to do is contact them the night before.

One thing we’ve learned from walking various Caminos is that we shouldn’t expect everything to go according to plan. With all the planning we’ve done for this Camino, it seems that if one thing goes wrong, everything will fall apart like Dominoes. Who knows? What will be, will be!

Here’s some of what we’ve seen so far. Our journey begins tomorrow, September 1st.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy
Our Lady of Le Puy III – In 1844, this 17th century approximate copy of Our Lady of Le Puy was taken from another church to assume the empty throne and title of her burnt sister. She was crowned by the bishop of Le Puy in the name of Pope Pius IX in 1856.
Saint-Jacques in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy
Judy & Dave with a view of Chapelle Saint-Michel in Le Puy
Chapelle Saint-Michel
Statue of Notre-Dame de France
A capital at the cathedral’s Romanesque cloister

28 thoughts on “A New Journey Begins!

  1. Oh my gosh Judy – how inspiring you both are – really💕. I so appreciate you sending me this chance to share your journey. Travel safe – stay well and know that you are in the hearts and on the minds of many. I will keep checking. Kathryn Classon

    1. So good to hear from you, Kathryn, and to know you’ll be following our latest journey. I hope all is going well in your world, too.

  2. Hi Judy and Dave,
    I’ve been thinking about you – knowing your departure was imminent. I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to follow along!!
    I hope all goes well, and that when it doesn’t go according to plan – it goes even better than planned!!
    Take care,
    Toni and Larry

  3. Just wanted to wish you and Dave a safe trip with hopes the next 37 days or so will live up to all your dreams and expectations. Thanks for letting me know about your new adventure Judy. Looking forwad to following along virtually. All good wishes. Sue.

  4. Oh my, you made it! All of the planning is off to a good start. The pictures are stunning and you both look up for the adventure.

  5. I’m so thrilled for both of you! Le Puy was my very first Camino in 2009, and still is one of my most treasured ones. The first two weeks out of Le Puy is such a wonderful route through varied terrain and wonderful villages, but it doesn’t end there at all, and there are so many treasures ahead of you. I can’t wait to follow your stories. Buen Camino!

    1. Hi Ruth. I’m so glad we made the decision to walk this route and that we are finally here. It’s so beautiful already and the best is yet to come! Yay! 😃 👣 👣

  6. Judy & Dave,
    Glad to hear that you had smooth travel to your starting point of this exciting Camino adventure. Looking forward to ‘travelling’ along with you in spirit! May your next 37 days be full of adventure and memory making moments!
    Buen Camino!

  7. How exciting! It looks like a wonderful beginning. We also thought we had everything planned and checked at least twice, but have still had glitches. Nothing unmanageable though so far. We begin the Camino portion of our journey on the 5th. Buen Camino.

  8. So excited for you Judy! Really looking forward to following your journey. Wishing you and Dave a safe trip and Buen Camino.

  9. Following you and Dave on this inspiring journey. I’ve been off social media all summer so it’s great to hear from you. I love this route, and will enjoy learning about it through your eyes. My injuries that plagued me have disappeared, and I’m slowly increasing my miles and enjoying the walks. Buen Camino, dear peregrines! Sending well wishes, Carolyn Coughlin

  10. My goodness, Judy and Dave. I had no idea that you two were off on another Camino. You are truly an incredible couple. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more about your journey as you go along.
    Marnie Dennis

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