Orleans seems like a good place to start our Camino for lots of reasons. It’s a beautiful old city, with a Gothic cathedral, the oldest parts of which pre-date its most famous daughter, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc), by some 150 years. She is supposed to have attended mass here in 1429 when sent by Charles VII to relieve the city beseiged by the English and the main windows trace her story in stained glass from her initial visions as a young teenager to her death at the stake at the tender age of 19.A wedding, complete with swaying gospel choir, was going on in the cathedral when we visited – the tourists watching from the nave gave the whole thing a rather lovely informality. We collected our pilgrim passports (Credencial del Peregrino) today too though I suspect there won’t be that much opportunity to use them in earnest – this route seems to lack the hostel infrastructure we found in Spain and we’ve seen no sign of the scallop shells or yellow arrows which guided us last time.
Wandering through the delightfully wonky houses of the ancient town gave us our first glimpse of the R. Loire today – a sight we’re going to become very familiar with over the next week or so! The indoor market offered plenty of tasty looking food and drink as well the pink grapefruit sorbet we went in to buy so we started as we mean to go on with a bottle of Sancerre and some delicious local mirabelle plums!