Le Puy en Velay, Mai 9 th 2013
These famous words were uttered by General Pershing, the Commander in Chief of American armies when they landed in the port of Le Havre in 1917. It meant that some 130 years after Lafayette and the French fleet helped the American insurgents defeat British troops at Yorktown, Americans were paying back their debt of honor by helping French armies beat the Germans in WW1. Lafayette always symbolized Franco- American friendship, which explains the name of our riding club, the “Lafayette riders ” or “Cavaliers de Lafayette” . We took the attached picture of our current ride going from Barcelona to Amsterdam, under the statue of Lafayette erected on the central place of Le Puy , a city that honors him as a son of the region since he was born in Chavaignac, very near Le Puy, in 1760 . Lots of these bronze statues were seized by the Germans during WW2 occupation to be melted and transformed into canons, but this one was dismounted secretly at night by the French underground and hidden in a nearby farm under a heap of manure. The Germans never found it, thus it was replaced after the war at its original place. Wonderful symbol of the everlasting friendship between our two countries sharing the same basic values of Liberty, Law, Democracy.
Our next stage will lead us to Thiers, some 140 K up north. In the last three days across the departments of Aveyron, Lozere, Haute Loire, which are among the least populated in France we have been seeing endless pastures, isolated farms, scattered herds of sheep and cows, on hills and plateaux at an average altitude of 3000 feet or 1000 meters.We came across lots of hikers on their way to St Jacques de Compostelle on the famous trail that starts in Le Puy and goes all the way down to Spain. Our philosophy is the same: find some internal peace through physical effort in a pristine nature. And above all have a good time with good friends! What else?