Wednesday, May 28, 2008

St Jean Pied de Port

It has been lovely the last few days getting closer to the Pyrenees, getting occasional glimpses of them. I really enjoyed an evening at Aroue in the gite communal with about ten others. It was raining most of the afternoon and we all stayed inside. I got some laundry done and dried in ther dryer so that was good! But in the evening it cleared, and some of us walked to the church, which had some interesting modern stained glass as well as a twelfth century portal over a door. Then in the porch I sat and watched as the mountains emerged from the clouds, and the last sun of the day moved along them. I found that quite magical, and hauled all the others outside into the cold to look!

Next day there was quite a bit of rain again, but amazingly it cleared very quickly to give an afternoon of brilliant blue skies with white wispy clouds. At the gite there was a big terrace and lots of outdoor seating, so everyone was outside sitting in the sunshine enjoying the views. It was also the first day to meet some of those who have walked two other paths through France. In my room were three other ladies, one of whom had started in Bretagne, and the other two had taken the Vezelay route. They met in Bordeaux and became a threesome. The woman from Bretagne was an inspiration as she has very sore feet now but shows untold determination. One of the other women has very limited sight and is being unobtrusively supported by her friend.

Yesterday I walked from Ostabat to St Jean Pied de Port. There has been quite a bit of rain lately so the beginning of the track was quite muddy. I was tempted to change onto the road which was more direct and shorter, but am pleased I resisted that thought. The Chemin took a tranqil path through the countryside, passing through a few villages. It was a time to be thankful for all the places I have had the opportunity to walk over the last six weeks on the Chemin.

When I arrived at the Porte de St Jacques, it was a proud moment for me. I am not sure exactly how far I have walked, as figures vary, but somewhere around 750km. I got someone to take a photo of me at the gate. They were glad to oblige, then wished me "Happy Holidays". If they only knew how hard it was some days!!!!!!!

I am staying in Esprit du Chemin for two nights and it is lovely there. Last night there was a mixture of people who have been walking for a while, and others who are just beginning or re-starting. A lovely German woman was in my room and she is climbing for Orisson, part way up the mountain, now. She asked me to ring and reconfirm her reservation as my French was so good. It has been funny lately as a few people have used me for translation! After six weeks talking to many French people in the gites, my French has improved.

Anyhow, the sun is shining and I am going to go walkabout in SJPP. Next time you hear from me I will hopefully be in Spain!


  1. Hi there - just wanted to say good luck for the Pyrenes! What a feat it will be! What feet you will need! I hope the gite is welcoming and the views stupendous. We're cheering for you from here! It's turned cold and the heat pump's on full bore. Q-Bday weekend soon and Matariki. Dont forget to come home. love Trish H

  2. Well done Margaret.. you must be half way now...Buen Camino!

  3. Greetings from Lapland Kiwi! I'm on my way to Austria now!