“An adventure to find yourself, without thinking about the future”

For ten years, Éric Bellet from Gannat, an unconditional walker on the paths of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, sets off again each year for new journeys.

His encounter with the Way of Saint James dates back to the final years of his professional life. Éric discovers it in four stages: between Le Puy-Conques in 2011, between Conques and Condom in 2012, between Condom and Pamplona in 2013, and, finally, between Pamplona and Santiago in 2014.

Upon retirement, this regional level footballer and rugby player travels impressive distances each year which allow him to improve his physical potential, to multiply encounters and to question his spiritual dimension. He becomes over the years a pilgrim of modern times.

Le Puy – Santiago, round trip! In September 2014 and September 2015, Éric made the Puy-Compostelle (Camino Frances) in one go. In the meantime, in March 2015, he left on the way from Arles to Puente-la-Reina (via the Somport pass), then he continued with “the Camino del Norte” from San Sebastian to Santiago.

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In 2017, he covered 3,188 km in 100 days: Le Puy-Santiago (49 days); Santiago-Finisterra-Muxia, 4 days; Santiago-Le Puy, 47 days. And to sum up this oh so enriching experience as follows: “On the way there, we meet, we help each other, we take the time to talk to each other; alone on the way back, we meet”.

In 2018 and 2019, Éric traveled 3,000 km, starting from Spain and Portugal on new paths, with among others the via de la Plata, from Seville to Santiago and the Camino Portuges, from Lisbon to Santiago.

But why are we on the way? “It’s a question that keeps coming up during the discussions and which has always embarrassed me a little”.

“Of course, there is the pleasure of long hikes, surpassing oneself, the beauty of the landscapes crossed, the discovery of exceptional heritage, encounters, without forgetting the religious or rather spiritual approach. For my part, I pray a lot for my family, my friends and thank the creator every day for the graces received. But I believe that we go on an adventure above all to find ourselves, to live intensely the present moment conducive to serenity, without thinking about the future, which generates anxiety. French and foreign, pilgrims, believers or atheists, we share beyond the convictions of each, the same passion, the same physical and moral suffering over the miles: the path helps to cultivate humility and tolerance; you have to take advantage of the moment…because the moment is a gift and that is why it is called Present”.

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