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The Covid-19 has emptied the roads of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (France) (AFP) - In Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in June, the streets have never been so deserted.The health crisis has deprived this little girl common in the Basque Country of its usual visitors: the pilgrims of the ways of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle.

"Usually, at this time, the city is full of pilgrims, we hear Brazilian, Korean, Spanish, German speaking", sighs the mayor, Laurent Inchauspé.

Because from this village of 1,600 inhabitants, the meeting point of the routes of Tours, Vézelay and Puy-en-Velay, each year more than 60,000 hikers set off who cross the Pyrenees to reach Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, Léon and more a month and 770 km later, Compostela.

In the rue de la Citadelle, steeply sloping up to the small stone bridge that crosses the Nive, most of the lodgings have kept the door closed, and there are about 20 of them offering 400 daily beds for walkers.

The month of May, when the crowd is greatest, is already behind, and the summer promises to be calm."I have already lost 270,000 euros on the usual financial year", estimates Pierre Bouresmau, boss of the Boutique of the pilgrim, who sells hiking equipment.

"I think I will lose 85% of my turnover over the year, my cash flow will be completely devastated", adds this trader who feels "completely forgotten".

Opposite in the narrow street, Maialen Laby also yearns for pilgrims.Usually, she carries luggage, equipment and sometimes walkers from one stage to another, picking them up at the airport or at the station."Normally, I 'm doing so.employs five people and there, I have no activity, I did not even take out my panel ", she blurted, annoyed.

Higher up, the pilgrims' house has remained closed and will reopen on Monday, June 29, a week after the official opening of the borders, explains Jean-Louis Aspirot, responsible for welcoming walkers, according to whom "80% of pilgrims are foreigners who start from here.Last year, we counted 114 different nationalities ".

Posted Date: 2020-09-25

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