Day 0 8th April 20
Dubai to Paris to Sermizelles to Vézelay
I got business class for the final Emirates leg from Dubai to Paris, good idea. It was restful, low stress and I was horizontal.
We were expertly guided by taxi to Bercy station by a Cambodian driver who chatted in broken French. We got to the station in time to grab some lunch, pois cassé (split pea soup with ginger, chives and almonds). And a glass of wine.
On the train to Sermizelles we were next to a walker bound for Vézelay who was from Paris but had walked parts of the Araroa with a French tour company. We introduced ourselves but he didn’t offer his name. He’s going in the northern variant so we probably won’t see him again.
Before I left home and even today, it all had somewhat of a magical quality in my mind. But now it’s real, we’re in Burgundy, everyone around us is speaking French, I’m carrying my pack and it seems the most natural thing to be off walking in the morning. Things go from imagined to real in stages, gradually.
We stopped at a degustation place on the way back from the basilica to the Hotel, to be treated by a most enthusiastic host to a selection of local wines, free to pilgrims. The whites here were originally Melon, but over the last few guests all but one vineyard has shifted to Chardonnay. The Melon is lovely but has no length, subtle, mild and dry. No oak. The Chardonnay might seem lifeless after NZ chards but is soft, light and elegant and again, no oak.
The basilica is devoted to Mary Magdalene, whose relics we saw in the crypt. It’s a huge cathedral in a little village.
We went to the friends of the Camino place and got the first stamp in our credentials.
We had dinner in the Chevalier Blanc next door to the Hotel Compostelle, where we stayed the night.