Today was a 19k (supposedly hard walk) from St- Privat- d’Allier through till Saugues. This walk ironically felt a lot easier because of a few different points though. I’d managed to off load some weight. This has meant posting back my walking boots and only using my trail running shoes moving forward, but my pack will be down to 25 pounds. I also walked with a lovely German man I met in the Gite the night before, which significantly decreased my chances for getting lost. And we set off about 9am.
The walk started out on tarmac roads up to the chapel at Rocheguade which was a left over turret of a 13th Century castle. The chapel has a stain glass window within it of St James (and the Camino shell). It had a natural serenity that all religious buildings possess and the view out onto the gorge at Rocheguade was beautiful. After dropping down from this we headed to Monistol d’Allier, then up the other side of the gorge. The rocks looked as though they’d been chiseled into by hand creating these odd peaks and troughs in the rock. Walking up further through Vernet, Rognac and then to end at Saugues was beautiful grass fields with hundred of grass hoppers. This reminded me of my childhood trips to France trying to catch the noisy creatures in bewildered excitement with my brother.
In the Gevaudan region (where Saugues is) from 1764- 1770 there was a Beast which takes the form of a wolf which hunted and killed around a hundred peoples. Before it was shot and killed by Jean Chastel in 1770. The town itself has some decorations in recognition of the Beast, but it was also one of the first places where the Camino started to come more alive for me. The well known shell symbols could be found on the roads, a number of Gites and hotels calling out, welcoming the pilgrims in.