We have visited Le-Puy-en-Velay once before, way back in 2009, so much of this is not new. What is new is the campsite. Try as we might, we cannot remember where we stayed on that first visit but we’re pretty sure this campsite wasn’t it.

When we arrived this time, our initial reaction was, “I wanna be somewhere else; almost anywhere else.” There was an Italian camping van next door that was overflowing our pitch by a foot or two so we felt cramped – cramped onto bare dirt but that’s a feature of being late in the season when pitches frequently get worn out. Some pitches opposite us were miniscule and with us being crammed by an inconsiderate Italian, we decided that this was the worst campsite we’d ever been on in 40 years of camping in France.

The icing on the cake came when, later in the evening, a German opposite us started “playing” a guitar accompanied by his partner’s warbling. What’s German for “shut the fuck up”? [OK, I can do it politely in German but I wasn’t too keen on being polite.] Do it inside, for Chrissakes. This is mobile-friggin’-phone disease – why do people think it’s acceptable to carry on a video phone call outside the caravan/camper instead of keeping private conversations inside their private space? No, they actually come outside to make a call so that everyone can share in it.

Mercifully Herr Guitarist stopped at about 21:15 so sanity could return. The rest of the site was absolutely silent but we’d pretty much decided to leave A.S.A.P. the next morning. I was beginning to look forward to going home, which is very unlike me.

We didn’t leave. We’d come here to see Le-Puy-en-Velay and see Le-Puy-en-Velay we would. Our change of heart was helped by Mussolini next door packing up and leaving. I don’t know the Italian for lebensraum but I think he wanted it. We walked in to Le-Puy-en-Velay to see some sights.

There are three or four main sites. Le-Puy-en-Velay is characterized by monuments atop stark pinnacles of volcanic rock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPossibly the most stark is a huge statue of La Virge [the Virgin], the Madonna and child. The statue, it says here, was cast from 213 Russian canons captured from Sevastopol. Don’t ask why. I can just see the look on her face:

Holy crap, now I’ve got this bloody baby to look after and I didn’t even get laid.

It’s a shame she didn’t get laid ‘cos having been cast from 213 canons she’d have made a terrific bang. You missed out, Joseph. [Now, where’s that thunderbolt?]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother main tourist site is the Chapelle Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe atop a seemingly inaccessible pointy rock, except they’ve built steps up so you can get, “nearer my God to thee”. You’d certainly be “nearer my God to thee” if you took a tumble over the edge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen there’s the cathedral. Le-Puy-en-Velay is one of the main points on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Several routes seem to converge at Le-Puy-en-Velay and just one seems to leave. A few of the paths here are marked with the Coquille St Jaques motifs that mark the pilgrim route. I have to say that the exterior of the cathedral here is just plain ugly – dark and foreboding. I did find a scene inside that sort of appealed, though, as unreligious as I am.

We found a delightful local bar, complete with animated French conversation going on, for a refreshing beer or two. My only slight disappointment was that the beer seemed to be BrewDog, which is a bit of a travesty in France. Still, I’ll concentrate on the French conversation.

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Posted in 2023-09 France