Well I have taken the first step on the Voie de Vézelay with around 920 km to go to Saint Jean Pied de Port and Spain.
Only a short day today to give me more time to explore Vezelay before heading off. This route is also known as the Via Lemovicensis, Camino Vézelay, Chemin de Vézelay, Vezelay route and the Vezelay Way. It is one of the recognized Camino routes to what is believed to be the remains of Saint James in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Vezelay Route is one of the longest Way of Saint James pilgrimages.
Lots of mixed emotions and excitement with ‘what have I done’ but today was a wonderful way to start a Camino and had every reason why I do these walks.
Talking with kindred spirits who have walked Camino’s before, staying in accommodation hundreds of years old, church bells ringing. A completely different atmosphere in this part of rural France.
Voie Vézelay Day One Summary
Wandered around Vézelay, a small hilltop pilgrimage town with an amazing Basilica, Got lost on farming tracks and loved it. Came across an ancient spring to top up my water. The walk today crossed ancient bridges and followed a roman road through a forest, stopped at small village with an open cafe for lunch, watched the wheat being harvested and the grape vines being trimmed. Arrived at my accommodation and have the place to myself with a welcome basket of fresh cherries from the garden. Hosts invited me to have breakfast with them in the morning. 24 deg and sunny with a cool breeze.
Day one of the Voie Vézelay
The day started at 6:50 am with the smaller bells at the basilica ringing for a couple of minutes. Then the big bells start at 7am. No need for an alarm clock here!
Sharing a very simple breakfast of bread butter and jam with the hospialarios and 3 other French pilgrims, Gerard who has done this 3 times before and a grandmother and 12 year old granddaughter.
A large group of scouts came marching up into Vézelay to the Basilica singing yesterday and on the way out of town I passed more scouts heading to the Basilica. I am told there are 200 of them. That said, I did not see anyone else at all walking today.
So only 2 km from Vézelay and I was already 1.5 km off track! I don’t like back tracking so decided just to head across county following farm tracks going in the right direction.
Sometimes I just love getting lost. If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t have come across the ancient spring, watching the wheat being harvested and the grapes being trimmed. I was also fascinated watching a huge drone spraying the grapes. This detour also boosted my fitness levels as it was across the grain of the country, so I was up and down hills for 3 or 4 km. Googles definition of mostly flat is obviously much different to mine! Oh, and the actual route I missed just follows a road.
Back on track at the small village of Pierre Perthuis shortcut over and back on the traditional route now. There is a cafe open!!! So a nice lunch of porc and champignons as only the French can make it with a cafe o’lait.
The Pont de Pierre-Perthuis is here. This is first bridge over the Cure River probably dates from the Roman period. The small bridge was built or restored prior to 1770 and has now been restored again.
I crossed a smaller 3rd bridge. The Vearnais bridge built in 1851 over the Bazoche stream on the site of an old Roman bridge. From here I followed the old Roman road “Via Agrippa” to my destination Domecy-sur-Cure.
Staying with a couple who have set up accommodation only for pilgrims. I am the only one here so have the whole place to myself.
In my excitement this morning I forgot to buy food! Fortunately here they have food, wine and a small kitchen. Whew. My host invited me to have breakfast with them in the morning. Two mirage jets just flew past the window. Boy do they fly low past the houses here. Never in Australia. The sound of freedom I guess.
I am having some trouble with finding accommodation for a few days time. May need to plan a little further ahead for accommodation.
Vézelay is recognized as a Camino starting point. The “Codex Calixtinus”, published around 1150, is a collection of five books, the last of which (book V) is the famous “pilgrim’s guide”.
Placed at the beginning of this collection devoted to the glory of Saint James, this letter gave its name to the entire collection: the Codex Calixtinus. There are described four different routes from France to reach the tomb of the Apostle Saint James in Santiago de Compostella Spain, with great detail on the countries crossed and the peoples encountered. Since the majority of pilgrims at the time could neither read nor write, this work, written in Latin, was certainly reserved for a religious elite. “The third (way), via Sainte-Madeleine de Vézelay, Saint-Léonard in Limousin and Périgueux…”.
Vézelay’s basilica dominates the country for miles around. It was a daring project a thousand years ago when pilgrim money raised its red-and-white arches, its seasonal path of light down the nave, its airy gothic apse. First, they came to honor Mary Magdalene; when her relics were thrown into question, they rallied here on the way to Santiago. When sculptors on all the Ways to Santiago were carving Last Judgments on their tympana, the masters at Vézelay carved Pentecost on theirs, with blessed rays falling from the hands of Christ to all the peoples of the known world. It was a kinder, gentler vision, except that this church was also the launching site for the Second and Third Crusades. It’s still a glorious portal, despite having been marred in the French Revolution, and a fine inspiration to the departing pilgrim. Initially, we took a detour, walking south for a week across the Morvan, the mountainous granite heart of Burgundy. We rejoined the Chemin de Compostelle at Nevers, thus missing the splendid Renaissance architecture of Jacques Coeur at Bourges. But Nevers has a nice double-lapsed cathedral, and the local pilgrim shelter turns out to be the shrine of St. Bernadette of Lourdes; she sleeps disconcertingly under glass near the chapel altar.
The basilica in Vezelay has just undergone a rejuvenation treatment in recent years thanks to major renovation work, both interior and exterior.
#camino #caminovezelay #caminodesantiago #hiking