Camino Credential from Notre Dame Paris

We got out early to catch the gregorian Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. It was breathtaking – and very moving.

We noticed the font in the front of the cathedral with the words: ‘I am the way, travellers are looking for’ – translated into several languages – including Spanish – for which the word ‘way’ translates into the word ‘camino’.


On the spur of the moment, we decided to get our Camino credential from here.

The pilgrim office was located in the side street next to the Cathedral 10, Rue de Cloitre, Paris. The young priest positively beamed as he presented us with our Créanciale – the pilgrim’s credential, and registered that we would commence officially from St Jean Pied de Port, and he directed us to the Cathedral for our first stamp. This credential is required in order to furnish proof that you have completed the journey – you get stamps all along the route as proof you didn’t just fly to Santiago. It was also required to secure pilgrim accommodation and various discounts along the route.

We emerged happy, and went in search of our first stamp. At the cathedral, the previously somewhat grumpy person behind the counter transformed as we presented our credentials. She took great care to make a clear imprint and handed them back to us with a smile, and said ‘Bon chance’ – good luck.

It suddenly hit us that this was real. From this point, we are officially pilgrims, and the enormity of what lay ahead hit like a tonne of bricks – we both teared up, deeply moved. At this moment we had entered a confraternity of pilgrims with a tradition stretching back over 1000 years. It was to be our privilege to walk in their footsteps.14237550_10155103288163238_7560709643255083398_n

We took a moment take it all in, before heading outside into the sunshine. Time for a selfie to commemorate the occasion and then off to find some lunch and a glass of wine to celebrate our new-found status.

Camino credentials

As we walked away from the cathedral, we noticed yellow arrows on the ground – they pointed in the direction of the Church of St James and towards the road route for pilgrims to depart Paris on their age-old journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We would see many more arrows before our journey concluded. Pelerin, peregrino, pilgrim. We are part of a great tradition and a wonderful community.

Was it a religious experience? I’m honestly not sure, but perhaps a sublime one, and a deeply emotional one for us both. Why should I feel so deeply? I profess to be an atheist, comfortable that the laws of physics, of nature take their course, and find it difficult to reconcile with the concept of intelligent design, or a personal god that might take the slightest interest in me. A good friend is fond of saying ‘it is what it is.’ As we progress along this path I shall be exploring what this means. Everone’s experience will be different;  we all walk our own Camino and come at life from our own perspective.

So what is my purpose for the Camino? It is a question I will be asked many times, and will ask of others. I will explore that in another post.



INDEX – If you wish to follow our journey from the beginning, or jump in to any of the Camino posts,
here is a link to the index page – which can also be found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog


Paris – Segway Tour

There are many ways to see Paris, but gliding along on a Segway is one of the better ones. I booked mine through Fat Tire Tours – who also run bicycle tours. The tour leaders spoke perfect English, and were very friendly. In addition, they dealt smoothly with my abrupt change of date to avoid an impending heat-wave – many thanks guys!


We had a great bunch of people – a gregarious American family, a Croation couple, myself from Australia, and our tour guide who was from Hungary.

We had a few who had never been on a Segway before – including a 72 year old woman – and within just a few minutes she had mastered it.

Soon it was time to set off. First stop was the Paris military school – this is where Napoleon Bonaparte studied, completing his military studies a year early.

École Militaire, Paris

The military school was built in the reign of Louis XV. Louis was a dilettante, and was at risk of losing the support of his people and of the military. So on the advice of Mme de Pompadour – his chief mistress – he agreed to establish the École Militaire. The problem was that having spent much of his money on palaces and entertainments he was actually close to bankruptcy. Fortunately, Mme de Pompadour had amassed a fortune in her own right and was able to finance the building works.

Then on to the Hôtel des Invalides – a complex of buildings dedicated as a retirement home for invalided soldiers, with a hospital and church that was built for Louis XIV in 1670. Although built for the King, Louis only visited the church four times in his lifetime. The entire complex is now one of the largest military museums in the world.

Hôtel des Invalides

After this, we traversed a large green space to head towards the Eiffel Tower – designed by Gustave Eiffel. The tower was built as the entrance for the World’s Fair in 1889 – a fair commemorating a decade since the Revolution. Initially the Government was to finance it. But on realising the cost, the Government went to Eiffel, asking him to fund the main cost. He agreed, but being a smart businessman, said he would fund it on condition he has sole rights to the earnings from the tower for 20 years. He actually recouped the cost within 6 months and went on to become one of the wealthiest men in France.


Eiffel Tower

There were many other sights, but suffice to say it was fun way to see the city. And while the bike tours take the same route, I’d have to say it is so effortless to do it on a Segway! Many thanks to our tour guide Bianca, and to the fun folks I travelled with – a truly memorable day 🙂

Tour guide explains the sights


Paris – Musée des Arts et Métiers

The Musée des Arts et Métiers is one of my absolute favourite museums in Paris. How often have you looked at a piece of technology and wondered how on earth someone came up with that? I have always been interested in the precursor technologies that led us to where we are today. It is also amazing to consider how there was such a flowering of technology development at the end of the 19th century – and France was at its centre until the First World War.

Musée des Arts et Métiers

Let’s go back a bit. I currently own a French car. It has front wheel drive and front wheel steering with a transverse in-line multi-cylinder engine. This format goes right back to the very first full-size self-propelled vehicle – Nicolas Cugnot’s steam wagon. His first version was built in 1769, which tested the concept of a steam driven vehicle for the French Army. Version 2.0 pictured here – yes it’s the original – was built in 1770, the year Captain Cook encountered Australia. This one was slightly more efficient and showed that a gun carriage could be pulled by this wagon.

Cugnot's steam wagon

Weighing in at 4 tonnes and able to achieve around 6kph for 15 minute  stretches, it had front wheel drive, front wheel steering and a multi-cylinder transverse in-line engine. Clearly things have evolved a long way to my Citrôen, but you get the idea.

Move on to 1873 and Amadée Bollée had a regular functioning bus service using buses like this one – the bus was capable of 25kph and ran a regular service in Paris.

Bollée bus

And while the Wright Brothers are credited with the first human carrying powered heavier than air flight, 11 years before, Clément Ader made powered hops in this steam-powered aircraft in France. He produced three versions – this one is Avion III – and his machine gave the French their word for aircraft.

Avion III

But this museum is not just about transport, there are automatons, textile machines and prototype televisions and radios and telegraph machines dating back into the beginnings of these technologies.


Automaton ca 1900

Check out their website here – and do yourself a favour if you are at all interested in how our modern technology came into being – this is the place to see it.