- Stage 1: Le-Puy-en-Velay to Aumont-Aubrac
- Stage 2: Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
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The objective is to allow you to meet interesting travellers along the Way, who value the same comforts as you, and spend time with hosts who know the area and its history and enjoy sharing it with their guests. The human factor and the personal touch is thus writ large in this option. Your hosts are accustomed to welcoming Anglophones into their homes although, as with anything in life, your extra effort will be handsomely rewarded and so practicing some French [however rudimentary] is highly recommended.
The homes are on the Way itself. Three of your hosts do not provide an evening meal, simply because the village in question offers a series of local options to suit most tastes less than metres away. Allows you to experience the trail by day whilst focusing the evenings on you, your family and close companions. You set the social agenda in the welcoming environment of your hotel bar, restaurant or room. Hotels are on the trail and the average standard is superior 2-star, including three 3-star hotels and one sumptuous country auberge — be prepared to be spoiled!
We have chosen to place you in a 3-star hotel within walking distance of the railway station in Le Puy en Velay to give you maximum flexibility re your arrival time and excellent comfort from the start. Nevertheless, availability is like a moving escalator and things can change from day to day. However, we cannot guarantee that corresponding accommodation will always be available at each stage and so this cannot be a precondition of your booking.
Day 1: Arrival in Le Puy en Velay. Steeped in Christian history, the monuments and squares of Le Puy merit your attention — get there early, check into your centrally-located 3-star hotel and have a good look around. Night in Le Puy. Day 2 Le Puy to St Privat. Across Haute Loire. Climb out of the Puy basin to the Velay Plateau and its volcanic cones and follow the trail above the Dolaizon river to St Christophe.
Day 3 St Privat to Saugues. Beast of Gevaudan. You climb to a majestic belvedere before gaining Rochegude with its fine hillside chapel and castle ruins on the Velay-Gevaudan border. The descent to Saugues is a delight. Day 4 Saugues to St Alban. Traverse the hamlet of La Clauze with its imposing 12th century tower, walk the picturesque Virlange Valley and climb through the Ranchoulet woods.
Descend to Le Sauvage for lunch.
Stage 1: Le-Puy-en-Velay to Aumont-Aubrac
The option exists to split day 4 into two with an extra night in Saugues — please ask our advice. Day 5 St Alban to Aumont-Aubrac. You finish crossing the granite Margeride and enter volcanic Aubrac. A short day full of fine and varied trails and boulder-speckled scenery. The Via Podiensis is one of the main pilgrim ways in France. The trail is very attractive, taking in some of the best parts of France, like the Causse, the Aubrac plateau, the volcanoes of Velay.
The trail is also dotted with many churches, old towns and other monuments. Not surprisingly, this route is one of the most popular and busy pilgrim ways in France. The walking association FFRP did a great job to mark the whole way white-red, and describe it in a topoguide. It diverges in Le Puy from the GR65 and heads north.
After clicking away the intro, this home page of the Via Podiensis has a lot of background information and practical information to offer. Finishing the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is a wish of many. Jean-Pied-de-Port in Pays Basque. You will find a lengthy day to day report here including many photographs.
Description and photos of the km section of the Via Podiensis between Le Puy and conques. Bed at Kinda damp! Yesterday it rained all day, some 29 km or 7 hours of it! But I must consider myself lucky that this is the first day it has rained all day in some 58 days of walking. You go along, head down watching where you put your feet so, as they say in racing parlance, the going is soft.
Where do I go on the track? It looks good here but no, there are stones making it rough; looks better on that side over there so over you go. Oh no! A smooth path seems be just off there on the left. Previous walkers have made it that so it must be OK.
Move over to that path on the edge of the track. I saw that stone so I did I come to kick it?! I can look around a bit more, but the hood has slipped in that gust of wind, needs adjusting. At the end of the day a fair bit of the outside clothing was wet or damp so Rule Number One had to be applied. Rule Number One? Yes, one set of kit must be kept dry at all times so that it can be put on in when one stops walking.
So it was this morning as there was little chance of drying out clothes in an Albergue where the temperature was 13C. Putting some on my sleeping bag during the night helped but they were still slightly damp. Dried the boots partially in the bar opposite. Looked out this morning: crescent, waning moon visible. Good, no rain. Hang socks out to dry on rucksack. After sunrise leaden skies where I was, but over there you can see the sun coming up.
But no rain fell, the wind got up and it became really strong so it moved me around on the track. The journey seemed never ending today on the Calzada Romana or Roman Way. I elected to follow the old Camino rather than a more direct route beside a road. The guide book advised switching to the road route at a point I calculated be 20 km from my starting point. So where is this point?
I am out in the open in virtually featureless country. How long to take to walk 20 km? Leaving at At Take it. Eventually arrived at Manzilla de las Mulas after 33 km on the trail. That young Frenchman, Philippe, I mentioned a couple of days back: had supper with him 2 weeks ago and asked him why he is doing the Camino a second time. He had some sort of injury to his leg some 2 years ago which put him in bed for months and he wanted to see that it was now fine, plus he felt a spiritual need to do it again from where he lived in the Basque country near SJPP.
He caught me up. We talked for a few minutes as we went along. I can easily do 30 km. Within 2 hours, he was a small dot way in front of me. What enthusiasm! Not met him again since. Still lots of pigrims on the Camino: anywhere between 6 and 20 in the municipal albergues.
Stage 2: Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
La Meseta - Thursday, October 27, -. Stepping back in time - Friday, October 21, -. It is also a form of escapism for many: no need to keep in touch with the world, but the enjoyment of meeting other walkers of like mind walking to Santiago or part way. I think many pilgrims return to do part or all of the Way, because they enjoy the experience and they hope to re-capture the good moments they enjoyed the first time - and they must succeed because they do it more than once! Two nights ago would be a case in point. In the corner a large fire-place, later lit by the Frenchman hospitalero running the place for a fortnight , and a filled in church window in the church wall; upstairs the bell tower where washing could be hung!
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Second, the people: 19 pilgrims sat down to supper after a Spaniard had entertained us to guitar playing and singing, and another had sung in a powerful voice, and afterwards he could be heard singing in the church during evening prayers. A particularly attractive albergue, well run - and sleeping on mattresses on the floor was no discomfort after a 28 km walk! I was tempted to have a second night there, but will do that in the important town of Burgos, due to be reached tomorrow, where there is much to see.
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And what of the walking? Wonderful, long, open views across rolling and, indeed, mountainous country. On Monday 17 October , the sunrise was spectacular and we could see the Pyrenees, well over km away, silhouetted against the sky in the dawn light. Most days are good, but yesterday was not! Rain throughout the walk which was largely beside a busy main road also known as the Camino de Santiago , but today was really good being through open country, then forest, over a "pass" m , a visit to the fine old church of San Juan de Ortega, described as a jewel on the Camino, and finally into Atapuerca, a small old village, and an old albergue for the night.
A landmark : passed the km mark on this day, the th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Better not comment on the outcome as there may be French readers and I am in Spain! Les grands espaces From Chemin to Camino - Thursday, October 13, -. I chose to do the stage to Roncevalles, where there is the first accommodation in Spain, in 2 stages with a night in the Auberge at Orisson. It was new and good: a completely isolated building with a wonderful view into the Pyrenees and down to the valley near SJPP. To get there required a steep climb, mostly on a road, for 8 km m to m altitude through land used for agriculture and sheep grazing.
Nothing difficult with the route, but the gale force wind for a few hours gave one the feeling of climbing a very steep route. It even stopped me once or twice it was so strong! Fortunately, it was not cold. Views and countryside were splendid: open, treeless mountains, then heather and gorse, more open mountainside, and a descent through beech woods to Roncevalles and its impressive Colegiata. I elected not to spend the night there, as it was only I carried on to Espinal, covering some 29 km for the day.
Regrettably, the cathedral and churches were not accessible when I was there Sous un Chemin d'Etoiles - Saturday, October 08, -. Je donne quelques exemples de ce que l'on peut trouver. Je crois qu'ils sont plus luxueux que les refuges en Espagne. A voir! Quelles vues on avait la veille et l'avant-veille entre Arrzacq-Arraziget et Navarrenx!
Approaching halfway - Tuesday, October 04, -. I just sleep on the ground. This at However, in France at least, there appears to be a slowing down now that September has passed. My latest acquaintances include 2 Brittany ladies walking from Figeac to SJPP, a French couple with Labrador, Antoine the Belgian, who started in Belgium and is going all the way to Santiago pulling his trailer with his tent on it, and others. The rich pattern and variety of styles of church and villages continues. The Way GR 65 passes through Gascogne, and there is plenty of evidence of the current English invasion, properties bought in large numbers most of the chateaux, I am told, are bought by the English.
Instant boost to morale, pack suddenly 2 kg lighter! It meant I was closing in on the half way stage, but still with km to do, however. This on the 24th day of walking..
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And my leg? After 6 days of rest, I set out again and it has been fine. When I stayed in the convent at Moissac, I managed to have my feet massaged by the reflexologist: a pleasant experience. He opined that I had strained a tendon rather than pulled a muscle. The wearing and tiring effect is cumulative. Where am I now? Expect to cross on 10 and 11 October.
Je reprends le Chemin mercredi, le 21 septembre au plus tard.
Ramblings - Saturday, September 17, -. He soon disappears. I assume that those who walk fast are travelling, daily, much further than I; but no, that evening, at the Auberge de Jeunesse et Jeunes Travailleurs, I find him in the bed next to me, asleep at 8. Fast walking must have exhausted him! He has not even got up the next day by the time I slip out of the building at 7. Spartan furnishings, the strict minimum, one might say, but all quite clean.
Supper OK 4 courses , taken with my new companions, and breakfast too and then we climbed the steep hill out of Cahors together before they slipped away ahead of me after we had admired a somewhat misty view of Cahors from above. Hobbling along to Labastide-Marnhac during the morning I stopped from time to time to arrange my rescue from the Chemin which duly took place at lunch-time. Very useful to have a portable phone in my kitbag I can tell you. It was used extensively that morning last Tuesday.
Improving without a doubt, but still not ready to start walking.
While I am not walking I have time to write so if I stop writing that could be a good sign Injury and frustration at D19! I decided to stop and rest for a few days. Suddenly, another 22 km seemed a long way let alone ! Frustrating this is, having to sit around in the sun waiting for one set of muscles to mend while others, in excellent condition, become flaccid and weak! What value training?!
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I always did say the intention was to walk to Santiago, but the body must be willing. By the way, at the last pause I reduced the weight of my rucksack to 12 kg including water and food , so it has been easier to carry. I reckon that is the best I can do. And finally an amusement:. Several men are in the changing room of a golf club. A mobile phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker function and begins to talk Everyone else in the room stops to listen. MAN: "Hello". Are you at the club? MAN: "Yes". Is it OK if I buy it?
MAN: "Sure I saw one I really liked. MAN: "How much? Oh, and one more thing I'll see you later. I love you! MAN: "Bye, I love you, too. The man hangs up. The other men in the locker room are looking at him in astonishment.