The best way to get any help or information on this trail is to make friends. If you know as little French as I do, you will need friends. A great place to start is the center for the Friends of St. Jaques (St. James) behind the cathedral in Le Puy. I learned about this group when I bought my credential in the sacristy.
At 5:30 p.m. that day the association hosted a gathering for pilgrims setting out the next day. About 14 pilgrims came, most in their 40s to 60s, and we ate cookies and drank chilled wine together. I hardly understood a word of the conversation, but I was still supplied some very useful information as well as a slip of paper listing cheap places to stay.
Years ago while traveling in Central Asia, a friend, Katy, told me if you want to make friends, share your food. I have come to believe this is a world-wide principle. Since I’m gluten intolerant and packing most of my pasta and bread out of Paris, I don’t typically share the meals I cook for myself, but I like to cut up apples and cheese on a plate or break up a bar of chocolate for the table to share. This prompted a “you are nice” from a woman who’d barely spoken a word of English to me before. A cup of tea with lemon can open the floodgates.
In general, you might need to ask for a lot of help, especially when calling ahead for reservations, so be as generous as possible. It always comes around.
“Cast your bread upon the water, and it will come back to you,” as Solomon so enigmatically recorded some 3,000 years ago.
By the way, what is this fruit?