Thursday, June 6, 2024

Confiture de Fraises

7 x 5", acrylic on gessobord 
Painting #295, 2024

I've just returned from a solo trip to France where I spent 24 days. My main goal was to walk again on the Camino de Santiago Trail network. This time, my trek began in Périgueux in the rain, on the Vézelay Way GR-654. It’s a much less traveled path. My first three days were spent on the Bergerac variant. I left the Vézelay Way after 9 stages, and transitioned onto the Puy-en-Velay Way GR-65 during my 10th stage (so I was off the grid from Villeneuve-de-Marsan to Aire-sur-l'Adour). My last six stages took me to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the finish line. Having previously completed 10 stages in 2017 and 14 stages in 2018, by walking these last six stages, I've completed the Puy-en-Velay Way (752 km). After five treks on the Camino de Santiago network (2009, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2024), I have now accumulated 78 stages in France, Spain and Portugal totaling over 2000 km. I hope that there will be more in my future.

Saint James Gate and the finish line!

Before departing on my Camino, I had an opportunity to visit some friends, Chantal and Thierry who happen to live 5 km from Périgueux in France. The Dordogne region of France is known for its vineyards and the land of 1001 castles. After I was done hiking on the Puy Way, I spent three days in the Basque country in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Bayonne and Biarritz. As luck would have it, the Olympic Flame of the Paris Summer Olympiads would be making its way to Bordeaux during my last day in France. I had the opportunity to take part in the festivities surrounding the Olympic Torch Relay. Having been a torch bearer twice, it meant the world to me to just bask it all in.

This small painting was gifted to my friends who picked me up at the Bordeaux airport, hosted me in their beautiful home for two days and share with me some the local culture, cuisine and wines.

-Private collection - FRANCE