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Day 33: Visiting Le Puy-en-Vélay, 15 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Yesterday we stayed in an apartment in the rue Dolaizon, a spotless and spacious apartment (28 m2) owned by a certain Yann Lennhof. Complete. In addition, he is the kind of host “who goes the extra mile”. Willing to do anything for his customers to make sure they have a good time. Bruno cooked there last night after our visit to the episcopal cité, which consists of the cathedral, hundreds of stairs steeply up, a beautiful cloister, a baptistery (which was unfortunately closed) and a rich treasury. Enough to fill an afternoon. A cozy Haute Ville because the oldest part lies against the hill and the new town towards the valley. This means that you are best fit and fresh to get up and back down safely.

Le Puy-en-Vélay: the cathedral and the steep streets

As mentioned earlier, Bruno and I visited Le Puy together in the afternoon. First the cité épiscopale with the cathedral of Our Lady. The cathedral Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation du Puy-en-Velay, a highlight of Romanesque art built from the 12th century. One notices a clear Byzantine influence. On the high altar a Black Madonna that became the reason so many pilgrims came (and come?). Impressive is the staircase that leads to it and also the choir with beautiful columns, capitals and frescoes. every morning pilgrims can receive the pilgrim's blessing here: there are always people. Typical of Auvergne Romanesque art, the abstract multicolored decorations are mainly in red, brown, black and sometimes lighter shades.

Le Puy-en-Vélay, cathedral: the Black Madonna and interior

We find these stones in many churches in the Auvergne, the region of the Massif Central with all its extinct volcanoes. Some argue that the volcanoes could still erupt. The black in the stones comes from the fact that a lot of rock is volcanic rock. Next to the cathedral is the beautiful Romanesque cloister used by the college of canons. There were no monks here, but there were canons who, unlike the monks, worked socially and pastorally with the community around them. As in many cloisters, a beautiful chapter house is the center of the college's decisions. In the cloister with its beautiful columns and capitals, people prayed and reflected.

Le Puy-en Velay, The Cloister of the cathedral

We also visited the little trésor or treasure and you can see some of the beautiful religious objects in the photos.

Le Puy-en-Vélay, treasure of the cathedral

Next to the cathedral, on a sturdy rocky hill, the grand statue of Our Lady is painted in red. We also quickly went to get a stamp for our credential in the cathedral and at the office du tourisme.

Le Puy-en-Vélay: the grand statue of our Lady on the rock, Bruno in the streets of Le Puy

After a nice and pleasant pasta supper with a lot of humanitarian, agnostic, religious and spiritual reflections on Life, I quickly went to bed because I was exhausted. Bruno didn't last much longer, he told me early this morning. Early indeed as we were both awake around 5am, a habit we had adopted for the last 10 days. We have breakfast and don't know where to stay with our adrenaline because we are used to getting on the bike and having to pedal hard every day.

Today however is a rest day and the departure day of Bruno. I looked up the trains for him and he told me how to take his bike with Easyjet. For this he must have a bicycle bag to put the bicycle in without pedals and the handlebars slanted. He will look for the packaging in Lyon. Now he has to pack, then we go to the Saturday market and look at tasty things and then go to the station together at 12 o'clock. The train to St Etienne at 12.34 pm is punctual and with the train Bruno leaves for Lyon St Exupéry taking his bike with him.

Le Puy: Bruno with his bike , waiting for the train to Lyon and grandad lonely and lost on the platform

I can't say goodbye and all morning I've been feeling the emptiness that I now feel so strongly all alone in another room. Much simpler than yesterday's. No tears but an oppressive heart and a feeling of emptiness. Bruno is a nice young man and we get along very well. Eight years older than Floky and that makes a difference. I also miss Floky very much.

Le Puy: Rocher et Aiguilhe (Needle) St. Michel with the steep angel stairs and the contemplative St Michel church

After Bruno's departure, I go to the Rocher et Aiguilhe (Needle) St Michel in order to think of something else, with the église St. Michel, a Romanesque church on top of an extinct volcano, impressive, especially if you climb it on foot. Originally the shrine was dedicated only to the Archangel Michael, known for assisting God at the Last Judgment. Now the shrine is also dedicated to the two other archangels Raphael (common in the Old Testament) and Gabriel whom we know as the messenger as in the Annunciation to the Virgin. It is a small Romanesque church, sober and cute, also decorated with a beautiful statue of Michael and with frescoes depicting a heavenly Jerusalem. Also small columns with capitals and above the entrance several important symbols referring to Christ and God. There are also two mermaids on the lintel under which you step, which refer to the dangers and sins of the Luxuria or the unchastity.

Le Puy: Rocher et Aiguilhe St. Michel, St Michel's church: statue of Saint Michel, mermaids and the Mystic Lamb

Rientje also had a hard time today after the departure of Bruno who had always been his favourite cousin. Floky was no longer there either: that was not only his favourite brother, but as a baby Rientje really looked like a clone of Floky. I felt and heard very little Rientje until we started the ascent of St Michael's needle. Suddenly he was exuberant and fluttered about. After all, on the lowest floor there is a maison des anges with many images of angels, heavenly music and, above all, information about what the task of the angel is, including as a guardian angel to help people. I didn't hear or feel him after that, I think he stuck there. I do hope he is back with me tomorrow because I really need him.

Rocher et Aiguilhe (Needle) St Michel: the angels in the Maison des Anges

I have to carefully descend along those ancient stairs of the church. At the foot of the hill there is a chapel dedicated to St Clair. A pretty little Romanesque chapel embellished with modern gilded furniture that blends in well. Then, past the église en couvent de St Laurent of the Dominicans, the preachers, and the église du Collège of the Jesuits, I walk back to my flat. I stroll around in the ville haute to soak up the atmosphere and especially to admire beautiful old houses and staircases.

Le Puy: Chapelle St. Clair with modern altar and a beautiful cross nearby

I''m going to get my bike because I left it in the flat where I slept with Bruno yesterday and now it's with me in my small room. So I can leave early tomorrow morning. I hope to leave the Massif Central (past Brioude and Clermont Ferrand) behind me in two days so that everything becomes a bit flatter because I have already had to deal with many mountains and steep hills. But I do everything for Rientje. I especially hope that Rientje flies back with me and doesn't get stuck in the Maison des anges.

Le Puy with a view on the Massif Central

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