Voie de Vézelay, Day 40


Paint the green leaves too and the wind’s coolness

The dust in the sunlight

The sound of insects, in the grass, in the summer heat

Then wait for the bird to choose to sing

If the bird won’t sing

That’s an adverse sign

A sign that the painting is bad…….

                                                                                          Jaques Prévert



Dense fog covered the village when I left that morning. Shortly after leaving Osserain, I came to an ancient stone marking the border between Béarn and the once independent kingdom of Navarre. With that, I entered the Land of the Basque. The Basque language is very unusual because it does not have any similarities with an Aryan language. Of the seven Basque regions, three are located in France.




Border stone between Béarn and Navarre
Border stone between Béarn and Navarre



The fog had cast a great stillness over the country. Every spider web was covered with tiny pearls of water.












The Basque houses have a very distinctive appearance. The color maroon can be seen on many wooden elements outside of the house. Men like to wear the Basque hat.







Basque man mowing the grass with a scythe
Basque man mowing the grass with a scythe



A few days before I arrived at the town of Saint-Palais, in Basque called Donapaleu, severe thunderstorms caused a lot of destruction. Some parts of a road were completely washed away. It had not rained so much for 150 years.



Town Saint - Palais (Donapaleu)
Town Saint – Palais (Donapaleu)






Shortly after the town Saint-Palais, a stele is marking the meeting of three pilgrimage ways to Sandiago de Compostela. The stele is called Stele of Gibraltar and refers to the Basque name “Chibaltarem”, which means “to meet.”   The Via Lemovicensis meets with the way from Puy-en-Velay (Via Podiensis) and the way from Tour (Via Tourensis). The stele is made in the form of a Basque tombstone.










Chapelle de Soyarce surrounded by trees
Chapelle de Soyarce surrounded by trees



From there, a steep road is leading up to a chapel on the top of the hill – Chapelle de Soyarce. Some pilgrims rested under the shade of the trees. Also Luni and Mathilda were there. They hitchhiked some of the way. It was very nice to see them again. Up high in the sky, uncountable large vultures were circling the area.  The view to the Pyreneans was breathtaking.












From farther away, the villages look like villages in the Austrian Alps. Since Saint-Sever, I did not have to make reservations anymore. Like on the Camino in Spain, it was on a first come first served basis. There were a lot of pilgrims in Ostabat-Asme, a town with 230 inhabitants. In former times, it was a big pilgrim’s center with sometimes 5,000 pilgrims staying overnight. In the restaurant beside the church, I met Berit, a woman from Germany. We decided to walk together to a farm one mile outside of the village and stay overnight there.








The farm Gaineko Extea has 50 beds, but this day, only a Belgium and a Dutch couple and Berit and I were staying there. The farm provided very comfortable rooms, each with a balcony. Besides a delicious meal, we also got a music performance. Bernard (I have forgotten his Basque name) was singing Basque songs for us.




Bernard, the Basque hospitaliér, singing Basque songs


Bernard, the Basque hospitaliér, singing Basque songsIn the evening, I got a text message from Emeline. She had heard that I arrived in Ostabat and suggested we meet in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I was overjoyed to be able to see her again.



Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

Related Stories



Camino Primitivo, Day 20

 LIRES – MUXIA   Until the evening, heavy mist covered the coastline to Muxia. I was...

Camino Primitivo, Day 19

FISTERRE –LIRES   It was hard to leave the albergue this morning. I was very tempted...

Camino Primitivo, Day 18

 SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – FISTERRE   In Celtic times and even before, Cape Finisterre was considered...

Camino Primitivo, Day 16 /17

 MONTE DO GOZO – SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA   The history of Santiago de Compostela is closely...

Camino Primitivo, Day 15

 RAS – MONTE DEL GOZO   Although my knee wanted a rest, I did not want...

Camino Primitivo, Day 14

 MELIDE – RAS   Already in early morning, masses of pilgrims where pushing forward toward Santiago....

Popular Categories



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Discover more from Simply.Just.Walking

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading