Archive for September, 2008

Bénévant L’Abbaye

September 28, 2008

24 Sept. Baugy to Bourges. 21 miles

Bourges gets the prize for the cathedral with the mostest…. and haven’t been inside yet.  Staying in a foyer for the homeless (pilgrim annexe) with one other, Canadian, pilgrim.

Time up – using library (sorry, Bourges, Mediatecque) internet access for free.  Must go and see if the inside of the cathedral will win us over. Five naves, five portals, six tympanums and more flying buttresses than any amount of flying butlers could ever want.

Will try to post again soon.

We woke in the Baugy refuge well after 7. B finding it very hard to wake after a 2nd cosy night.  Breakfast: porridge cooked in the same large bowl as the couscous/chick peas and the stewed apple last night as it was the only microwaveable container available, and the microwave and the kettle are the only cooking appliances available.

Gateway and front door for the albergue in Baugy

Inside the Baugy albergue

Baugy church no longer uses this door with its simple zig-zag

Another example of the coiffure's aspostrophe

We were off by 9.15 and tried the church again – still locked.  As we put the key in the letter box of the Mairie a red faced panting pelerin a pied with two walking poles strode rapidly towards and past us.  We tried a brief conversation but he seemed in too much of a hurry to do more than ask us to point the direction!  He had a cockle shell hanging off his pack – but then we have one each on our baskets.

Pleasant and easy ride – sunny again (aren’t we lucky!) through Brecy,

It's always pleasing to see signs that we are on the right road! Whether they be big . . .

. . . or little!

St Solange ( with a sweet little pilgrim stopping place at the corner of some vines, with a little picnic table sheltered by a walnut tree and a chestnut tree.  We gathered a few chestnuts (very prickly) and ate a couple of grapes each.  We didn’t need walnuts as we still have some that Alfonso gave us in Varzy.

Shade, grapes and chestmuts for weary pilgrims near St Solange

Shade, grapes and nuts for weary pilgrims near St Solange

Something for the passing pilgrim to read

Shortly after St Solange we took a roughish track that was the route of the old Roman road into Bourges.  B asked P if he could hear the echo of the tramping legionnaires and the plodding pilgrims – he said he couldn’t.

Following the romans to Bourges

Bourges cathedral is just visible on the horizon

We passed pilgrim no 3 resting at the side of the track – we greeted each other with a cheery wave!  The Roman road.track gave us glimpses of what we assumed was Bourges Cathedral St Etienne, it was rathy hazy so we saw little more than a bulk.  It took us a while to get in to the city – passed schools, colleges, stade, over the railway line, but we eventually found ourselves pushing the bikes along pedestrianized narrow shopping streets.  It was somewhere between 1 and 2, so we bought sandwiches (in baguettes of course) and ate one on a seat near the shop, and the second on a seat looking at the cathedral’s 5 portals and typanums.  They left us feeling rather cold – or was that the wind?

There are FIVE portals on the west front of St Etienne in Bourges

Tourist office next, where our pilgrim passports were stamped, and options for pilgrim accomodation discussed.  Also the whereabouts of internet access and how to buy a phone card.  After this we went to explore the Foyer St Francis option

Note the scallop shell sign for pilgrims

Note the scallop shell sign for pilgrims

– through a grille in the forbidding facade of a tall building on a rather forbidding street – even tho’ it was called Rue Joyeuse.  There were several young men hanging around, but it was difficult to work out where to go to ask about accommodation.  While we were floundering we were joined by pilgrim no 3 who turned out to be a French Canadian from Quebec – so pretty fluent in English and absolutely at home in French – very useful.  Eventually we were shown in to an office, explained to that this was a place for the homeless, and shown to the “pilgrim suite” – a room with 5 beds, a shower, a sitting room with chairs & TV, and a loo down the stairs.  We were told we must sign in with the manager at 4 o’clock, and shown where to put our bikes – in the laundry room.

So we settled in and chose beds.  Serge stretched out on his and dozed, and we read until Bruno appeared, chattily, and showed us back up to the office to fill out forms, and pay €44 for the two of us – bed, evening meal and breakfast.  There was some confusion over the change, but P & B weren’t following enough to protest – the trouble with having a French speaker in the group was that nobody said anything at a speed that we could understand.

After this we went off to the Mediatecque, which turned out to be a brand new library, where we got free internet access, and posted a brief update of each day on the blog.  All seems to be fine at home.  Then we made our way to the cathedral, and went inside under the sixth portal and typanum at the south door.  Both of us found it difficult to warm to – it’s just so big.

On looking at the photos I am overwhelmed by the carving!

In one little corner there's someone having his ear cut off, a delicate and fragile looking Adam and Eve and is that a bear eating on it's hind legs eating from a tree?

Look at this gent with his legs so intricately caught up in the scroll work!

Who first thought of turning spewing creatures into decoration? Irresistible!

Beautiful bird holding it's tail - how could we have found Bourges cathedral boring?

Bourges is famous for it's depiction of the resurrection of the dead and their judgement - here those who have been found worthy are being directed to heaven and gathered in a cloth held by St Peter?

But more gripping is the 'gruel-ling' fate of the damned on the angel's left - into the pot they go. The angel, inappropriately, looks rather like the Reims smiling angel, doesn't he?

Does my pleasure in finding this tucked away behind say something about my baser nature?

B found bits of carving she liked, but not much else to inspire.  We did try, and wandered round pensively until it was time to return to the Foyer for supper of terrine, boudin  noire and potato puree, and fruit.  Simple but pleasant fare.  As we were leaving the dining room, and wondering what to do next,  we were invited in to the ‘chapel’ for coffee.  This was very unchapel-like, more like a youthclub with residents hanging around smoking but nobody stayed very long. The coffee was very strong, in a small cup, and everyone was adding sugar to make it palatable.

After this we went out to find a phone to arrange our accommodation for the next day, having picked one of the ‘welcoming homes’ from the guidebook.  The first phone box was not working properly (although it took our credits) – B could hear Mme Gerbier answering, but she could could not hear B.  Eventually we found a phone that worked and arranged accommodation in a mobile home on a farm.  We were reminded to bring bread!  Also tried to ring home but the phone box would not allow us.  Back to the Foyer.  Had to ask to be let in as it was after 10, and to bed.

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