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cheminons vers le beau village de Saint-Côme d’Olt

DAY 7 à Saint-Côme d’Olt (16km) sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle.

Saint-Côme d’Olt, the small village ahead where I will spend the next night, is a “beau village,” an official designation by an independent association for those picturesque French villages that meet certain criteria.  Saint-Côme d’Olt is one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France.”  I will visit several before I reach my destination, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

In all approximately 152 villages have been labelled one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France.”

20130925_255_Chemin St JacquesBefore I leave Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac and walk above a cemetery, I must cross an old bridge built during the 16th century.  It traverses a small stream, the Boralde.  On the bridge, which you can see in the photo, is a cross with a tiny pilgrim at its base.

Before the bridge is a plaque that reads, “LE PONT dit ‘DES PÈLERINS’ sur LA BORALDE et les autres monuments notables inscrits à ce titre étaient des jalons sur les routes qu’empruntèrent au moyen-âge d’innombrables pèlerins. —MCMXCVIII—“

On the way, once again, I note that I have left behind the rolling hills and have descended into valleys and into woods with narrow tunnels of trees.  I begin seeing for the first time scaffolding that allows the local ranchers and farmers to climb over the fences to enter the fields.

Unsurfaced roads, surfaced roads, grassy lanes, tracks, walled lanes, minor roads, ridges, high level routes, all becoming familiar and expected each day I spend on the Chemin. Other pèlerins walk ahead, which is comforting.  I know I am going in the right direction.  I am not lost.  (Click on a photo to see more.)

20130925_289_Chemin St JacquesFinally, after a shorter day than usual because the distance is only 16km, one reaches the Route de Castelnau, and there at the bottom the tower of the famous spire of the church in Saint-Côme d’Olt appears in the distance.

The twisted steeple on the church of Saint Côme is one of the most exciting tourist attractions.  It rises 42 meters, and one can count eight sides.

Saint-Côme d’Olt is a medieval village with many many old homes lining several narrow stone streets winding, maze-like, through the village.  Many date from the 15th and 16th centuries.  The Hôtel de Ville was once a 14th century château.

A sign attached to one of the buildings says, “Cette vieille maison, autrefois avec un encorbellement sur la rue du travail, est surmontée d’un pigeonnier, coiffé d’un dôme pointu, à 4 pentes.  On l’appelait la Maison Dufau, où vivait une famille de notaire qui furent plus tard seigneurs de Beauregard, près d’Estaing.  La rue du Terral était la rue commerçante pour les voyageurs vennant (sic) du Midi et d’Espagne.  Il en reste de étals en pierre, les ’taoulos.’”

The village is circular in design and has three entrances, or portes d’entrée.  One pictured here is called La Porte Neuve and is next to the Greffe “maison” on one of the oldest streets in the village.  At one time the Greffe house served as a gîte for pèlerins walking the Chemin de Saint Jacques.

On the avenue d’Aubrac in the heart of Saint-Côme d’Olt, I arrive at the gîte where I will stay the night, Le Jardin d’Eliane.  (Click on a photo to see more.)

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