I have just arrived in Tours. That is the end of the slow progress, stopping every few hundred metres to make notes while describing the Route des Anglais. Here in Tours I join the Via Turonensis and speed up now, simply following the well-marked St James route to my destination near Poitiers. Probably two or three days ride at most now. (Barbara and Chris take note: probably arriving Wednesday at the latest.)
Today is the Feast of Saint James and it will be quite mad in Compostela, This Holy Year (when the Feast of Saint James falls on a Sunday) will bring thousands more into Compostela for the feast, so it is good to be arriving at another important pilgrim centre on the road to Santiago instead: I arrived in Tours this afternoon, at a very safe distance from the crowds in Compostela!
Here in Tours there are many religious sites to visit, and of course the main attraction is Saint Martin of Tours himself, his relics and his church. But the town also seems to have acquired
another relic since I was last here. Noah’s Ark. I went to pay my respects to this holy relic and found that it is very well preseved. Given that God provided exact plans for the ark, it is very interesting that Noah seems to have added wheels to it, which were not specified in God’s blueprint. I suppose this was an inspired detail that Noah realised would come in handy when the waters had subsided.
In the mediaeval centre of Tours there is a square filled with outdoor cafes where you can happily sit for hours payinf €5 a time for a drink. Luckily one of the cafes was closed, so it is the natural place for a cheap rabit piligrimin to sit with his tin mug of cheap wine and fizzy water. (Cost 25 centimes; no tips needed.)
By the way, returning to the Feast of Saint James today, you can still partake of the Compostela feast at a distance by looking at the TV Galicia live-cam. At night, there is a spectacular firework display outside the cathedral (the Obradoiro) and it may be possible to see it on the web cam. It will be around midnight Spanish time, I think. The firework display tries to capture the burning down of the cathedral in mediaeval times. Take a look: http://www.crtvg.es/camweb/index.asp?