It is end of October 2016. With Ursula I load my car once more and we head off to Spain, with stop overs in France: First stop in Le Puy en Velay in the Haute-Loire and second stop in Collioure near the border with Spain.
Let me start with Le Puy en Velay. To stop here was Ursula’s idea. She promised a pilgrimage town perched on three basalt needles and a Unesco World Heritage. I am curious and agree.
Our hotel IBIS in Le Puy en Velay – very functional and easy to find
The weather is rainy and chilly. We do not feel like searching for a hotel and take the IBIS hotel that comes up on our side of the main street, just where the old city centre starts. IBIS is a sober and practical French invention. We park our car in a locked garage and then move into a small room with two excellent beds (recently renovated). In the morning, we find a self service breakfast “fridge” with a self service Zumex machine that produces fresh orange juice. The coffee machine makes excellent coffee. All very convenient.
Discovering Le Puy en Velay – evening walk to the old town with the cathedral overlooking it
In the dizzling rain we slender through the charming old town.
The houses are partially made from basalt stones. The cat is a perfect match.
Le Puy en Velay is famous for its green lentils, black sheep (agneau noir du Velay), Verveine liqueur and lace making (dentelles de Puy).
To reach the main gate of the Cathedral Notre Dame du Puy en Velay, pilgrims have to walk up this cobbled narrow street.
The gate receives the pilgrims like the womb of a mother. From here they look back to the town and the surrounding hills.
The cathedral is Romanesque from the 11/12th century. The main nave is topped with three octogonal cupolas, supported by additional arches.
The Black Madonna sits in the choir. She is venerated here. The black head in the middle of her coat is Jesus looking out.
When Annunciation falls on Good Friday, the Jubilee of Le Puy en Velay is celebrated. Last time in 2016, next time in 2157.
St. James welcomes the pilgrims. His hat is adorned with a conch.
We round off the evening with green lentils from Le Puy en Velay. I try a glass of the famous Verveine liqueur of Le Puy en Velay – it tastes a bit like medicine to me.
Morning excursion to the famous cloister of the Cathedral Notre Dame du Puy en Velay
The next morning we visit the famous cloister of the Cathedral.
The columns are decorated with beautiful capitals. I particularly like the pigeons.
In the chapel of the cloister we find this representation of the crucification from 1200.
Then we look back and say good-bye to Le Puy en Velay.
We now drive south to Collioure in the Languedoc-Roussillon near the border of France with Spain.