“Ô la belle vie” takes the direction of the Lot to make a stop on the way to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, this route is one of the longest and most famous in Europe. It is in the heart of the Causse, on the section from Cahors to Limogne-en-Quercy that Sophie Jovillard gives us an appointment, for new discoveries.
Over more than 1,500 kilometres, the road to Santiago de Compostela is attracting more and more walkers from all over the world (more than 150,000 each year). From Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire) to Spain, to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle (capital of Galicia), the reasons for taking the route also called the Via Podiensis are varied: quest for meaning, meditative contemplation , immersion in nature, sporting challenge, or self-transcendence. And if the spirit of the path advocates solitude, silence and letting go, the encounters that can be made there are always rich in exchanges and sharing.
In the heart of the Causse du Quercy, on the section from Cahors to Limogne-en-Quercy, Sophie Jovillard takes us to meet several enthusiasts that we can meet on the road, such as Claudine Baudin, author of travel guides and Jean-Pierre Ger, a sculptor with an extraordinary career.
The fabulous adventure of Jean-Pierre Ger
Life took him everywhere. Worker on a shipyard, Jean-Pierre Ger becomes a skipper, until the day when a storm throws him into the street. Employed in the agricultural sector, then in the meat industry, a burnout stopped him dead in his frantic race. He is recovering from his ordeals thanks to walking. He tells Sophie “One day, while walking in the woods, I pick up a stick and decide to carve it. My wife says to me: you should do more“. One thing leading to another, orders poured in. And then, looking to move, his adventure led him, by the most beautiful of coincidences, to Limogne-en-Quercy in the heart of the GR®65 “The house is on one side and my workshop on the other, the path passes through the middle of the two“. When fate gets involved…
Today, his specialty is carving totem animals on his sticks. Dogs, cats, elephants, diverse and varied cattle, there is something for everyone. He gives each of his sculptures a particular meaning “the theme of Scorpio is the patient warrior“. In line with the slogan of his company “Discover your true nature”, he explains to Sophie: “I wanted people to leave with something that resembled them as much as possible.“.
Claudine Baudin, guardian of local heritage
Claudine Baudin is the author of travel guides on the way. She has made it her mission to discover the treasures it conceals. 20 years ago, with her husband, they restored their barn to turn it into guest rooms for passing pilgrims (La Hulotte). Every evening at mealtime, when she was chatting with the pilgrims, the same question kept coming back: “And in the area, what is there to see?“. Having a great interest in the preservation of heritage, she tells herself that there is something to do. This is how she decides with her daughter Loriane who works in publishing, to devote herself to the realization works dedicated to the path. The first goes from Puy-en-Velay to Conques in the Aveyron, the second from Conques to Cahors, the third from Cahors to Condom. And the fourth, from Condom to Saint-Jean-Pied- de-Port, will see the light of day at the end of the year.
The work-refuge “Pecten Maximus”
Among the huts and shelters on the way, we discover, still on the GR®65, 2 km upstream from Limogne-en-Quercy the work of art refuge “Pecten Maximus”. This is the Latin name for the scallop shell, the most recognized emblem that pilgrims attach to their backpacks as a rallying point. Created by the artist and architect Sara de Gouy as part of the artistic adventure “Windows on the landscape”, it is part of an approach that links contemporary art to heritage history. She realization was supported by the Lotoise association “Derrière le Hublot” with the participation of the French agency of the paths of Compostela. Completed in November 2022, it has been open to the public since April 2023 and can accommodate walkers, pilgrims, residents, for one night.
The slab, made of maritime concrete, is made from thousands of crushed shells, while the roof, in the shape of an upturned boat hull, is covered with 8000 shells. An idea inspired by the territory’s distant marine past, where you can find shell fossils dating back 170 million years. This is enough to feed your imagination and run aground in the heart of the Causses du Quercy for a good night’s rest before continuing your journey.
“O the good life: journey in the Lot valley”. To see on Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 12:55 p.m. A program produced by Laurent Desvaux. A France 3 Occitanie and Grand Angle Production co-production.