In 2008 I walked from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela, but found the Camino wasn't quite 'finished' with me yet. I 'discovered' the route from Cluny to Le Puy when I fell in love with a set of photos of the route posted on Picasa, and then found a booklet on the CSJ website that outlined practical points like accommodation and finding food. I was hooked...
|A viewpoint after Col de Patoux, while descending from Mont St-Rigaud|
During my Camino in 2008 I met Francis, a Frenchman who had walked the Camino from Dijon to Santiago, including the chemin from Cluny. When I told him of my plans, initially he had some concerns. He was keen to make sure I understood that the Cluny route was harder in various ways than what I had already walked. He told me it was hillier, with many ascents and descents, and that food and accommodation were both harder to find. He also told me that it was more solitary, with several days spent mostly in forest, and that I would probably not meet many other pilgrims on the route. But he also said that it was a spectacular route, with many beautiful views...
When I was still keen to walk from Cluny, Francis supported my decision. He also told me that he would walk with me the first two days of the route if I wanted that, and I was very glad to have the chance of his company as I walked.
Prior to leaving for Cluny, I was invited to stay with Francis and his wife at their home in a small village in Burgundy. A warm fire was burning in the lounge, and Francis spent quite a bit of time there with me before we left, going over the Amis guide to the route. He highlighted places where I might find food and accommodation, and he worked out distances between towns and villages to give a possible itinerary. Some of the gîtes he chose were ones that he had previous knowledge of from his own walks.
Francis also made sure I understood the crucial importance of how the shell balises were used on this chemin, so that I could find my way. On a tree in the village he showed me a balise for the Chemin, which passed right near his house. (The base part of the 'shell' motif -not the 'fingers'- indicates the direction to walk.)
Soon it was time to leave for Cluny. A valued friendship formed on my 2008 Camino had become the springboard for the start of this walk from Cluny in 2012.