Churches

Typically, you’ll pass three to six a day.  And, even for the less-than-devout, there is near always something of interest.  Plus, a little known fact:  where there’s a church in France, there is a cemetery, and where there’s a cemetery, there – by law – is potable water.  Which means you can carry a minimum, as little as a quart if the day is temperate.

Ceilings.  Look up.  Overhead there are fields of stars, Moorish designs, fanciful animals, and every so often sculpted bawdy behavior, out of sight of the casual visitor.  Ceilings are usually the best-preserved element of an ancient wayside chapel, protected from the elements and beyond the reach of vandalism (as wreaked by the French Revolution).

Saints.  As they were to past pilgrims, they’re your on-the-trail new friends and acquaintances.   As might be expected,  St. James is prominent, sometimes regally clad, sometimes in the humble garb of a pilgrim.  But, as you’ll see, he has a competitor in St. Roche who, struck by the plague, was succor for fellow victims and was hugely popular.  Further, there’s a variety of saints good for a variety of ailments.  Sore feet or fever?  Pray to St. Peter.  Chucked off a horse or drunk?  St. Nicholas would bring you around.  Twitching and fits?  Check with St. Bartholomew.  The list goes on.