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The personality of the year 2013 Way of St James

16 Janvier 2014, 21:42pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com













Mr Rémi Rivière





2013 was a major year for the pilgrims in Paris : for the first time in history, the St James tower was open to the public. So many people had waited long for such a cultural event ! Many thanks to  the Director of the Association of the tower of Jean sans Peur.


Monsieur Rémi Rivière is an archeologist. He is a fan of the Paris monuments. He likes to share them with the public. Sharing : that rings a bell to the pilgrims of St James and other pilgrims.


Last Summer after so many meetings, files and conversations with the City administration, he was allowed to program visits of the tower which in fact was originally the St James church bell tower.


A very symbolic spot. The pilgrims in Paris start from that point on their way to Chartres or Orléans , then Tours, Poitiers, Bordeaux and Spain. In the old times, that is where traditionally the pilgrims used to gather, have their belongings and themselves blessed  and from which they departed together, ready to face all the dangers of the route...                              


Below under the trees : the Way of St James


Mr Rivière has been proclaimed Personnality of the year 2013, that is the least we could do for him.


Most probably that experience will be repeated next Summer.


Together with the French and Foreign visitors, pilgrims or not, young and older ones we send him our congratulations like the ones we read in the Gold book.



Three examples : 









Le trésor du Livre d'Or




"What an amazing way to begin our Camino de Santiago (St Jean P de P - Compostela)

Many thanks ! Merci "

Leslie H. Cole + Erik B. Johnson

Seattle 1/19/13


"Pour les Pèlerins de Compostelle après 1750 km ! 300 marches ! C’est fabuleux pour arriver à ce paysage magnifique.


Translation : 300 steps for the Pilgrims of Santiago (1750 km) ! It's fabulous to reach such a view ! Thank you !

Françoise et Yves Chatelais Les Sables d’Olonne


And guess who ?


"Stupendous !

Be sure Tour St Jacques will be the venue of my next book…" 


Dan Brown


Links : 

A post about the opening of the tower


The personality of the Year 2012 was Mrs Kyndt for the bronze shell at the doorstep of the Massy tourist Office and the accomodation provided to the pilgrims.

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A labyrinth on the way to Santiago

17 Décembre 2013, 13:45pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

I’ve just had a pilgrimage experience








It is not an easy job to be a tourist guide. It demands a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience and obviously a real love for the people.



Jinglehorse (we won’t tell you his real name) is one of them. American by birth, he lives in Paris and knows Massachusetts, Europe, Brazil and Texas, and other parts of the world. 


He  writes :


"I’ve just had a pilgrimage experience. Of course, I’ve been talking about pilgrimages for years in my comments on gothic churches : how the design of the building enables the worshiper to approach Jerusalem every time he walks from the door to the altar, and to extend the journey, there is the labyrinth…


Last week I took a group to Chartres and I made such commentary. By chance it was Friday and on that day the labyrinth was uncovered and better yet I knew it in advance, so I told my group about it. I thought they would simply look at it. I didn’t expect many of them would join local worshipers and use it !


I observed them for a bit : a quiet line of diverse people were following the pattern designed on the floor. Normally a guide doesn’t take part in the activities of the tourists, but wasn’t this moment exceptional ? I’ve been talking about pilgrimages for so many years without actually undertaking a single one… and when will I have such an opportunity again ? Chartres, on a Friday… ?



The labyrinth at Chartres : a pilgrimage in the pilgrimage

So I joined them and did the Labyrinth too. Perhaps it wasn’t a true pilgrimage, a long journey across a whole country ? But perhaps not so different  ?


-         Some walkers had taken off their shoes. I’m not a believer, but I thought it would be great to touch the stones of the cathedral with my bare feet, and I couldn’t do it elsewhere. A strange behavior in other circumstances it looked normal here ! A pilgrimage affords opportunities to act in unusual ways.


-         I had to adapt to other people’s pace. Some of them were people I didn’t know, my state of mind and whatever may have been different from theirs but I had to mix with their collective activity . I had to be careful with their steps, their intentions, their faith or their hopes ; we were all sharing the same path.


-         I quickly lost any notion of where I was on the route. Impossible to keep in mind the details of the way, I could not get out to measure, to plan the time remaining. Mainly it was impossible to do something I do all the time : the countdown. « 80 % to go, 25 % till the end » I could only carry on, with the certainty that there would be an end, and that like everyone I would get to the finish.


-    In the beginning it felt strange to walk in an artificial way. After two minutes, that uneasy feeling stopped. I wasn’t more conscious of walking than I am aware of sitting at mealtime, for instance. The big difference is that my body is entirely occupied with walking and I do not need to do anything else. My head emptied like when I am in bed without sleep or on my sofa when I do not use any book or computer…


I imagine that these feelings are those of any pilgrimage, among many others,






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A pilgrim's smile on the Way of St James

1 Décembre 2013, 21:30pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com




Ph. Manuel

Manuel is the man who runs the Albergue Bodenaya in Asturias. The way he welcomes the pilgrims makes him more and more famous.


Every morning, before they leave, he takes a picture of all the ones who have stayed at his place. Then he posts their portrait on a social network. Big smiles and happy faces for these witnesses. 


The Way of St James, North or Frances or whatever, makes happy... The pic up here is one more proof. Do you feel depressed ? Try the camino,


you might recover !


Thanks to Hubert and Manuel





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Why walking the camino is good for you

16 Novembre 2013, 22:45pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

Stand up and go !




A previous article showed that the feet are very important and help you stay fit and in a good shape. They are like pumps that make your blood circulation reach the perfect level. 


 http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org has another explanation : sitting kills you. Just look at the pictures.



Sitting is Killing You 2


As you see, it's about time to stand up and walk, walk, walk...


on the camino.





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Marie on the Camino of Santiago

12 Novembre 2013, 21:44pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

"Thank you"


PORTRAIT--5_1342989600_n.jpg           Every year, a party of 40 people help handicapped pilgrims do their pilgrimage during 15 days.





They left Paris in 2011. Last Summer they walked from Bordeaux to the Spanish border.


For the first time in 2013, Marie, a U.S. citizen, joined them. Steve, her husband, stayed in Rome (Georgia), and sent almost daily news via Facebook.


Example :


Day 7: Today a few quick observations at the end of her first week on the Camino, as gleaned from Marie's mid morning call.


The heat is still brutal. Most pilgrims are exhausted at the end of the day. The total length was sixteen miles. Every day the wheel chair folks start earlier than the others, so their support team can meet them at prearranged locations. Marie has ridden the support van for much of the day and will do that for most of the next two days.


After several days of close with contact with the special needs pilgrims, she now does not consider them as any different than others in the group. One lady who can only use one hand, captured Marie's heart today while helping her to eat, when she replied "Merci" after each bite. God's grace comes in many forms. After this first stop, the leader has a devotional then leads a song. When they resume walking, he requests that all remain silent for the next fifteen minutes.


Marie met three young men who have walked from Belgium. When they finish in Spain, the distance will be over one thousand miles.


Each day the food has been good, local, and prepared as only the French can do. Speaking of food, when Marie signed up she was instructed to bring her own plate. Now at last you can forget diets, calories, exercise, and those other weight loss fads. From simple observation over a week of food she has solved the mystery of why Americans weight more than the French. In fact she asked to reveal this discovery at the end of the trip in a short speech given by her in French to the group. This may be the world's shortest speech. Her amazing discovery, her T. J. Maxx plastic, unbreakable is about THREE times bigger than any other plate on the table. Think bread and butter plate for the French.


Now don't thank me I'm just here to help.




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Visit the St James Tower a major building on the Paris Way

6 Novembre 2013, 20:48pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

After the Eiffel Tower, the other tower.



Troubles in the past : 1871


"Last Sunday, I passed near Tour St Jacques, in Paris ! Gorgious !"  a fascinated pilgrim said last Summer...


Tour St Jacques (St James Tower) is the former bell-tower of the St Jacques de la boucherie (of the butchers) church. A landmark of the City of Light aged 500 years, with history and beautiful legends, as usual on the camino. The starting point of the Paris Way was open to the public for the first time in July, August and September, Fri-Sun this year. An experience which should be done again every year.


The visitor climbs the 300 steps to get to the top, about 156 feet above ground. The equivalent of 16 stories while the buildings around have 8 stories only. A perfect viewpoint to the old city center.


You'll see Notre-Dame, the Pantheon, the Champs Elysées, the City Hall and above all, the way of Compostela that crosses the city on 6 miles, plus the nice wooded southern suburbs.


Congratulations to the association who convinced the City Council that such visits are possible without any risk.


Félicitations !

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Blessing and Camino de Santiago

4 Novembre 2013, 18:37pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

Saint Gervais - St. Protais


Pilgrims sometimes wish some blessing on their departure.

To do so, the Church of St. Gervais - St. Protais in Paris is the best choice :



- The church is only two blocks away from the Saint- Jacques Tower . 


- Saint Gervais - St. Protais is a beautiful Gothic church.


- The stained glass windows are large, they boast four pilgrim scenes, if you include the pilgrims of Emmaus.


- This is the place where  the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem was founded thirty-eight years ago. The blessing is given there during Lauds. Morning prayer sung in polyphony is particularly moving.


You attend Lauds, you receive the blessing , you greet St Jacques Tower and the Way to St James will take you.



A St Gervais-St Protais church

B Hôtel de Ville (City Hall)

C St James Tower

D, E, F, G, H, etc. (out of the map) : the Way down to Spain...




Monastic life may be in the mind of the long distance walker. At the beginning of Christianity, the first monks did not live in fixed monasteries. They were homeless or living as hermits. Saint Benedict , with his rule " Pray , study and work," made the monks sedentary.


Along the way we live simplicity , silence, meditation. Normally, the pilgrim's day has many similarities with the daily life of a monk,

normally ...


Blessing Instructions: You will contact the community of the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem the day before departure at the latest, and arrive at the church before Lauds. Contact the blogger, he'll arrange that for you...

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Saint James in Paris : be a patron of the Pilgrim's Tree

26 Octobre 2013, 20:59pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

A symbol of life





Do you know that soon there will be a pilgrim's bench in the City of Paris, France ? Donate for the tree now !


  The Way of St James has many branches in France. One of them winds its way through the City of Light. If enough donators participate, a tree, close to the Way, will be dedicated to the pilgrims. A plaque will make it official and the public will be advised. What will the money be used for ? For disabled visitors of a Science Museum nearby : the Cité des Sciences de la Villette. The money will be sent direct to the administration of the Museum.


Less than 600 €uros are needed to achieve the target. Look at le-banc-du-pelerin.blogspot . Find an automatic translator to have it in English. And celebrate with us next Spring !


How to donate : Click on Ecrire un commentaire at the bottom of this page.


We'll answer to you immediately.

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On her own towards Santiago de Compostela

8 Octobre 2013, 21:03pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com

Who else could you be ?



The gold of the Beauce      Ph. Danielle Desjouis


Marie, this is how the other pilgrims call her.


Like all long-distance walkers she is sensitive to encounters on the way. For her, they are the most beautiful moments. From some contacts with the inhabitants of the villages she keeps a clear, intact, intense memory . Marie says:


"The meetings range from the most important to the shortest ones. In Beauce, a very flat land south of Paris, the route goes straight so you might find it a little boring, and the kilometres seem longer that km. Near Brières-les-Scellées * I see a farmer driving his agricultural machine into a large building, a few hundred meters from the road.


I go there to ask for directions. Two people inside.


Before I had time to say anything but hello, the eldest said:


- To Compostela take the left out and then straight!


I asked him how he had guessed my question, he replied :


- On your own, on foot with a backpack, who else could you be ? ...


In other words, in spite of my expectancies, he was not kidding.



Even more the youngest one came out with me to the road to tell me specifically how to get to the next house I was looking for, which is outside the village

093---autre-aspect-de-la-route.JPG            The main road to Compostela    Ph. Marie France

                      and at some distance from the way..."




* North West of Etampes, South of the French capital city, on the Paris Way to St James of Compostela.

Thanks to MFB and DD.

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The Way of St James in Brussels, Belgium (2)

6 Octobre 2013, 19:59pm

Publié par wayofsaintjames.over-blog.com





Brussel, Belgium, on the Way of St James on one side Photo J F F 


     Today's pilgrims have now a waymarked path thru the streets of Brussels. That's what a previous post explained.

                       Even better : at the exit of the old city they can dream of Santiago de Compostela.


At the Hal Gate precisely. On that spot, on the ground a surprise. The Xunta de Galicia, the local government whose headquarters are at Santiago has offered to the Belgians a big monument, in the shape of a menhir. The menhirs are these prehistoric pieces of stone erected by the Europeans throughout the continent thousands of years ago. Stonehenge is one of the many places where you can see them.


The granite menhir is close to a bronze shell and marks the departure point to the south and the south west. To Spain, but first of all, France and Paris.



               On  the other side Ph. J F F


Would you like to see that in Paris as well ? Write to the tourist Office, or to the City council : Monsieur le Maire, Hôtel de Ville, place de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris, and ask them to do the same thing. 

Paris deserves shells and St James monuments just like in many other towns in Europe and in France : 






and many other places of the camino...



         We are anxious to see that.

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