July 17, 2008

Day 21: 4 May- Vaylats to Cahors

Today I was heading back to where it all started two years ago - Cahors. It was at the hostel in Cahors where I had met so many people doing the pilgrimage, including one woman whose absolute joy at walking shone on her face. Plus just over the medieval bridge in Cahors, I had stumbled onto the Chemin at the point where it began climbing the cliff, and had been enchanted with the countryside. So the germ of an idea was born.... And it was a hot day in early May then too so I should have known what might have been in store....

The day began with a good breakfast at the convent, and I made steady progress for the next two hours while it remained coolish. But then the forest gave way to a motorway underpass, and I was reminded of a world of speed.... and was exposed to the heat emanating from the tarmac.

Next there was a surprisingly long plateau section above Cahors where there was not much in the way of shelter. Nor was there anywhere to get more water... and it became very warm.

This was a day when I had a lot of contact with Francoise and Roger, and they turned out to be guardian angels. After lunch, I ran out of water in the unexpected heat. Somehow or other it seems that we met a local who discovered we were low on water... he returned and gave my angels some water. They ran in the heat to catch up to me to share the water...cold fresh water.... Their kindness in giving me the water was every bit as restorative as the water itself.

It was a very steep descent on the final road section down to Cahors, possibly the steepest descent of the whole trip. On the descent we were surprised to meet a woman slaving her way upwards, on what must have been an exhausting climb in any weather, but especially in the heat. She was actually climbing uphill in the wrong direction: she had taken the wrong bridge out of Cahors, and needed to be on the other side of the city!! But it was hard for us to convince her of her error.... (In fact, I am trying to remember if we did manage to get her to turn around, and I don't think that we did....)Once we were across the bridge, there was a warm welcome from two women in the little pilgrim's reception office, who gave help with finding/ booking accommodation, and provided very welcome cool drinks on this hot day.

At the Cathedral also there was a table to welcome pilgrims and give information and support. I got to speak in English with an Englishman recently settled in Cahors.... My first visit to Cahors I had been here as a tourist- and I had returned as a pilgrim....


  1. What a beautiful site with all of your lovely photos bringing your journey to life. I have just finished the Camino Frances (see my blog at caminomaggee.blogspot.com)and am considering the route from Le Puy next year and your accounting is very inspirational. thanks... Maggee

  2. I loved the Le Puy route, especially the first section from Le Puy to Conques. Much more up-and-down than most of the Camino Frances, but very beautiful. Walking in France is quite a different experience from walking in Spain as well for various reasons.