Towards the end of the packed three-day return trip to England to collect my things, I stopped in Chatellerault and parked up for a few minutes to go and spend some time with the lovely fifteenth century pilgrim statue (now sadly behind bars because his value on the art market is now realised).
I began the day at 3.40 am in Dieppe, driving off the ferry and trying to make as much distance as possible while the roads were traffic free, but even while doing the journey in this way I could not separate the driving from the fact that I had to honour the route as a pilgrim.
I followed the “Route des Anglais” as I had not seen it before: from the main road. And each time I noticed a place where some track I am familiar with comes out of a forest and crosses the main road, my heart leapt. Yes, driving is not really the same, and yet the sense of being on the pilgrimage road and paying respect to it is just as powerful.
While making as much distance as possible in the early hours, I still found time to linger for a minute or two by the key points on the route. Our Lady of Chartres, the statue of the Annunciation; then Chartres railway station coffee machine for a quick capuccino (€1.20) before going back on the road. We piligrimins can be too purist at times. I can see that the pilgrim route can be just as effective at 60 miles an hour in the right circumstances…