Day 1: St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson – La meme bouteille s’il vous plait

Up this morning, breakfast with the others, and onto the road. I was feeling quite pleased with myself, being so well organized and mentally together. I walked the 8 km to Orisson in 2.5 hours  by 11:00 a.m. and had a snack with my nice friends who then left for the remaining 18 km of their day. I wandered outside to watch passing pilgrims and wonder how I would entertain myself for the rest of the day. Boring,  right? Feeling sorry for me yet?


I heard a voice coming up the hill – a small Irish female, 40s, carrying what I later learned was12-15 kg on her back. “Is that place open? It better fecken be serving lunch or I will fecken die!”
Soon after, a party had developed on the deck, featuring A-Irish-Woman in a mid-life crisis, her newfound younger Israeli walking companion (a sensible young woman who couldn’t believe what who she had found on Day 1 of her own voyage of self discovery), and 3 Americans. All of them had carried ridiculous weights (20-25 lb) and were recuperating with generous servings of rose wine. As the afternoon progressed, the phase “la meme boteille” was repeated until it was mastered. (We were, after all, still in France.)
I offered up some of my dry bags and pack liners so the others could ship some excess weight tomorrow. (Except for the Israeli who was only 29 and was experienced with such loads due to military training. A-Irish-Woman, however, is not good military material for a number of reasons, and was travelling with many of her worldly possessions. To illustrate the cause of her overweight backpack, she brought out an assortment of things she had carried today. Serums and cosmetics for external beauty and eternal youth, in glass jars. She had walked 8 km uphill with the load, hoping the road would turn downhill but her face would not.


The communal dinner was good. There were about 8 Germans, 4 French, and my motley crew. See the photo below. Without knowing it, I captured the shameful moment when A-Irish-Woman offered wine to the Frenchman on her right. He informed her that one NEVER served wine before the soup! She was not amused at the time but made the most of the story afterwards. Did I mention that A-Irish-woman is Irish? In a mid-life crisis?


I didn’t sleep well – too much excitement and wondering if I could develop any serenity with the “family” I had acquired on Day 1.

1. I can’t do French or Spanish accents on my phone.
2. WiFi is often impossibly slow even where it exists, so my posts will be uploaded erratically.

6 thoughts on “Day 1: St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson – La meme bouteille s’il vous plait

  1. Good to know about the soup/wine issue! Next year, I plan to walk from Le Puy, so I won’t make that mistake. Was it Mspath from the forum whom you met en route? I love her blog, but each year she writes less and less. She “has seen it all before” I suppose.

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