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dans le silence et la solitude on n’entend plus que l’éternité

DAY 6 à Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac (20 km) sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.

“Through the woods and off to grandmother’s house we go” and across undulating plateaus and over the Pont de Pascalet and uphill and uphill and uphill, greeting cows along the way, opening and closing gates, the Grande Draille, the rock wall that lines the way, the big big big sky overhead, and the vast plains that touch it and beyond.

We are reaching the highest point of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.  In a moment, and you may not know it, a hill called the Trois Evêques looms up and to the right.  It served as the border of three bishoprics, but is now the boundaries for the départements of the Cantal, the Lozère, and the Aveyron.

The photographs in order take you up and up and through the gates and sometimes you look back and then to the top where you can look back and see everything.  (Click on a photo to see more.)

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At the top is a small shelter, an abri, and the lane to the top widens and you descend.  Inside the abri is a short maze.  You step into a narrow entry and turn left and right to find a short bench and shelter from the storm.

20130924_234_Chemin St JacquesAfter descending from the domed, rolling hills and before arriving in the village of Domerie d’Aubrac, the pèlerin will pause for a moment at a sculpture erected in 2006.  The text on it reads, “dans le silence et la solitude, on n’entend plus que l’éternité.”  In English it says, “in the silence and solitude, one hears only eternity.”

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Still walking the Grande Draille, up the road one comes to the église de Notre-Dame des Pauvres on the edge of Domerie d’Aubrac, which was founded in 1120 by a Flemish knight, Adelard de Flandres, according to The Way of Saint James.  It has a large panel depicting the history of the village.

The knight was attacked by bandits “on his way to Santiago and who almost died there in the storm on his journey home.  In gratitude for his deliverance he founded Aubrac as a place for refuge for pilgrims.”

The paths where the pèlerin walks varies as much as the day changes: roads with cars or farm vehicles, graveled ways suitable for carts and live stock and the feet, paths for the pilgrim and hikers, and rocky, rough ways that are not suitable for walking but one must.  The views from the paths can be breathtaking with grand vistas, or they can be enclosed, tree-lined tunnels that someone has burrowed though the forest.  (Click on a photo to see more.)

Descending into Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, the pilgrim leaves the wide open spaces, the big sky, and walks through the forest.  People live there, of course.  But their homes seem to grow in the forest as do the trees and flowers.  The roofs bend and sink like the soil.  Walls grow old and lean.  Eventually, some homes become small uninhabited remnants of another time.

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At the end of the day, when you reach Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, another pèlerin statue, a staff in hand, a hooded cape, walking in sandals, greets you and shows you the way for your journey the next day.

I check into the Gite d’étape Saint-André and sleep in the same room with two Germans (an husband and wife) and a Swiss woman.

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