At St Etienne station, there was an influx of walkers joining my train: one put his rucksack down opposite me. "Roland," it was inscribed, so I introduced myself. "Enchanté," came the reply. It turned out we were both booked into le gîte des Capucins, and so, upon arrival at Le Puy, just before 2.30, we walked there together. Roland, from Grenoble, is nursing a bad ankle, not a great omen for his pilgrimage. We are sharing a room - two two-tier bunks and a bathroom between the four of us. All very modern and quite comfortable, a well-chosen first billet. (It is in fact the only one I've booked, so there's a test for me!)
After settling in, Roland and I strolled into the old town, and up towards the Cathedral. At the foot of the extremely steep Rue des Tables, we saw this lace maker, sitting outside his shop: he explained the process to us patiently, while he worked away - an extraordinary skill, perfected in Le Puy over more than six centuries.
I thought later that something lacey would make the perfect present to take home; but just now, at the outset of my fortnight's walking, I'm not feeling in present-buying mode. Not that I need have worried too much about the extra weight.
How did people begin to think of building on Le Puy's volcanic pinnacles? Crazy! But at the same time rather wonderful.