September 1: The first day of this Camino was idyllic in every way – the people we met from USA, Germany, and France, the weather, the scenery, tonight’s decadent dessert …and it goes on from there. It started at 7 a.m. with the pilgrim mass in the cathedral. We’re not sure how Dave and I were selected, but we were given the special honour of presenting the priest with the wafers and wine for communion. After mass everyone received a little silver medallion with a scallop shell – the symbol of St. Jacque. Then to everyone’s amazement (imagine a collective intake of breath!) the grating on the floor opened revealing the long stairway that was the start of the Camino.
The landscape between Le Puy-En-Velay and Montbonnet, a distance of 15 kilometres, was pastoral and peaceful. The volcanic origin of this area has produced very fertile soil so agriculture is important. Green and gold rolling hills were dotted with grazing cows and sheep, bales of hay (imagine the sweet smell), and the occasional field of corn. Low dry stone walls mark the boundaries between field plots and the winding paths we followed. Farm houses are the centre of rural farming life and are grouped together in pretty little hamlets.
The elevation gain we had been warned about was hardly noticeable because we were so absorbed in admiring the scenery. What a surprise it was to learn we had climbed almost 500 metres! Tomorrow we will walk another 15 kilometres and it’s all downhill. Hopefully it will be as easy as it was today. 🤔