After the long haul flights from Aotearoa/New Zealand, yesterday we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport which is always fascinating to me. The circular brutalist architecture and the multiple escalators in the donut hole to get to various levels to collect our baggage. It feels surreal and reminds me so much of the Kubrick aesthetic of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Arriving at the hotel and I force myself to sleep to 7:00am to adjust to the new time zone (I was also fortunate enough to sleep on the first leg of the flight which made the adjustment much easier). So our first day in Paris was the hop-on-hop-off bus. I chose to get off at Musée d’Orsay for a look.
Amazing! What captured me was how at home I’d only seen these works of art in books or on a screen. In real life there’s so much more depth and the colours are so much more vivid. It was really special to see first hand works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Van Gogh (to name a few). I had a beautiful lunch in one of the restaurants.
Paris – Sat 20 May, 2023
On Day 2, we went for our first walk around the Marais (Jewish quarter) and had a look at Notre Dame’s rebuild progress (looks like a long way to go). Grabbed some lunch at St Jacques bistro (of course) and continued the walk around the Latin quarter in the afternoon. All up 11km.
Later that night I took some time out and went walking to Bastille and came across this jazz band, you know, just playing… so Paris!
Tomorrow to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur for Vespers. An excellent start to our tour!
Thurs 23 May, 2023: Moissac/Espalion/Estaing and Cahors
It’s been a very busy few days! But let me start with the panorama that does absolutely no justice to the actual view from Auvillar
A few days ago we went for what I consider our first serious walk along the GR65 from St Côme to Espalion and it was a bit wet underfoot. Some of us opted not to go up the ridge and stayed down by the river:
A quick stop off in Estaing, one of the most beautiful villages in France:
And then to our hotel in Cahors with this view from our rooms:
Fri 24 May, 2023: Mossiac
On day 10, we headed to Moissac. This is our view from dinner looking out over the river Tarn.
A few walks here: Dufort Lacapelette to St Martin and then for those who wished, into Moissac. 15kms on a balmy spring afternoon was a challenge, but we made it in good spirits!
Today we walked around the canals of Moissac and then in the reverse direction of the camino—from Boudou to our Hotel.
As you can see the wet patch is well behind us and we’re enjoying stunning weather. It’s currently 26°C at 7:30pm as I write this.
Off to Lourdes tomorrow and then St-Jean-de-Pied-Porte for our last day in France.
Sat 27 May, 2023: Lourdes and St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
As is often the case with Lourdes it’s a spectacular display of Roman Catholic pilgrim destination.
And then to finish the day with a two hour walk finishing St Jame’s gate in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Sun 28 May, 2023: We head across the Pyrenées, through Roncesvalles and into Pamplona
This is always a stunning drive through the Basque Country of France and Spain. Winding to the top of the Pyrenées we find at the top the first glimpse of the Spanish version of the way—a yellow arrow.
Then to Pamplona where fiesta culture is in full display!
Tuesday 29 May, 2023: Burgos
We shop at Logroño to find produce for our picnic later. Passing through Santo Domingo de la Calzada and into Puerto de la Pedraja.
We wake up to go on a city walk with David, and then head to the Burgos Cathedral. The afternoon is free for everyone to do their own thing.
Then back to go for dinner — in the wet unfortunately, but it’s all part of it really!
Wed 31 May, 2023: Burgos to León
A superb walk along the canals and farmland into Fromista.
Then into León when the weather closed in again sadly. But some of our troupes went for it and we managed to get our obligatory Beatles shot!
Wed 31 May, 2023: Leon to Ponferrada via Cruz de Ferro
A walk around León cathedral and town in the morning. Then a walk along this massive bridge before having lunch at Astroga and then a short walk to Cruz de Ferro before heading off to Ponferrada for the night.
Fri 2nd June, 2023: Portomarin to Santiago de Compostella
Some nice walks on the way through some forrest. Then lunch at Portomarin before heading to Santiago.
Heading through Santiago is always special, but we always need to get our pictures at Monte de Gozo!
Of course we came in to some festivity:
Sat 3rd June, 2023:
A quieter day today as we head into the town center for the pilgrims mass.
Sun 4th June, 2023: A trip out to Finisterra, ‘the end of the earth’
Hop on the bus, pick up some supplies for our picnic and then head to the cape which historically was seen as the end of the world.
Mon 5th May, 2023: Barcelona!
Spent a couple of days here. A bit of sight seeing, a bit of art gallerying and of course finishing wth Sangria and Flamenco!
It was such a great trip. Great people, great scenery and great walks. Hope to see some new faces in 2024!