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ROUTE ST JACQUES

from £1435
A continuous walk along this famous pilgrim's path from Le Puy to Conques with your baggage transported for you.
  • Product Code 10100
  • Holiday Type Continuous Route Holidays
  • Grade Grade 5
  • Holiday Duration 13 Nights

Stop for a moment to consider that buron stone hut on the Aubrac plateau, or the ancient bridge over the Allier River. How many feet have passed this way through the centuries on their way to Santiago de Compostela? This is ‘la France profonde’, deepest France. You follow in the pilgrims’ footsteps between Le Puy and Conques, through summer pastures, forests of oak, beech and chestnut, between villages with bread ovens and small shops selling Cantal cheese and peppery green lentils. On the way you hear tales of the Beast of Gevaudan, brigands, the hostelries feeding the pilgrim masses and Our Lady of Lestours who watched over them.

Moving on most days, we stay in small simple hotels. Our bags are transported separately leaving us to carry only our day packs. Daily distances average from 10 to 12 miles. Please see our Holiday Information Sheet for exact details.

start in the distinctive volcanic town of Le Puy with a day to explore and walk to the chateau at Polignac. Setting out on our pilgrimage we head south west passing through the Allier and Lot valleys. We also cross the Aubrac plateau, vaguely reminiscent of Dartmoor. On arriving in the village of Estaing, on the banks of the River Lot, it is easy to see why it is considered one of the most picturesque in France. Conques makes a fitting finale to our walk. Beautifully situated above the river Dourdou it rivals Estaing in beauty and in character.

Having been trodden for over a 1000 years the paths we take are generally good underfoot. The terrain is largely undulating but varies considerably over the walk. Each day brings something new to enjoy. Be it the scenery, the history or the company of our fellow pilgrims. Every village has some historic jewel, that can be found in the remotest of places. On all levels this is a marvellous walk.

Holiday Highlights

  • Ancient reminders of the pilgrims that came before us, a chapel or a shrine by the road side.
  • Medieval Conques, a fitting finale to a great walk, a chance to see rural France at its best.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
Whats included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Heathrow to Lyon returning Toulouse to Heathrow (British Airways)
      Airport transfers
      Baggage transfers between hotels
      Half board en suite accommodation
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under Dates & Prices tab)

This departure: Grade 5

  1. Day 1
    We fly into Lyon and transfer by road to Le Puy-en-Velay, a journey of just over two hours. Our hotel is only a stone’s throw away from the busy and attractive centre of town.
  2. Day 2
    Le Puy-en-Velay: In the morning we gently ease into “Pilgrim mode” with a pleasant walk to the impressive Fortress of Polignac. All around us are the “puys”, imposing vestiges of the area’s relatively recent volcanic activity. After lunch back in Le Puy, we spend the afternoon exploring the town’s old streets, visiting the 12th century cathedral and the seemingly inaccessible Chapelle St Michel, perched atop a slim volcanic plug. The chapel’s exquisite polychrome frescos make the climb well worth it. 10km / 6 miles, +150m/-150m, 2 ½ hours
  3. Day 3
    Le Puy to St Privat d’Allier: The picturesque Place du Plot with its weekly food market is the historical starting point of the “Via Podiensis”, the route we will follow all the way to Conques. A conspicuous sign tells us that our final destination is 205 kilometres away – we had better start going! Our route today follows little paths and pleasant tracks winding through pastures and woods. This really is deepest France and apart from “pilgrims” like us, the villages we go through see few visitors. 23.5 kms / 14.7 miles, + 700m/-350m, 6 hours
  4. Day 4
    St Privat d’Allier to Saugues: After a short and easy climb we arrive at Rochegude and its picturesque Chapelle St Jacques. The view from the chapel plunges down the gorges d’Allier, the route of the Cévenol, one of the most scenic railway lines in France. The local architecture is remarkable, everywhere are huge stone farmhouses built to last forever. Mid-morning, lunch and afternoon stops allow us to refuel and, more importantly for some, the opportunity to collect additional stamps for your Pilgrim’s Passport. 18.8 kms / 11.7 miles, + 700m/-360m, 6 hours
  5. Day 5
    Saugues to Les Faux: Our longest day today. Fortunately, the terrain is easy with no steep uphills or tricky downhill’s. Even better, unlike 19th century pilgrims we have nothing to fear from “La Bête du Gévaudan”, a wolf-like monster that killed over 100 people in this area. Most of the time, we feel on top of the world, with wonderful long distance views in every direction. We make the most of our rest stops by sampling “Tarte aux Myrtilles” and “Coupétade”, a local take on bread and butter pudding. 28 kms / 17.5 miles, + 300m/-260m, 7 ½ hours
  6. Day 6
    Les Faux to Aumont Aubrac: An easier day after yesterday’s exertions. The pleasantly undulating terrain is not too taxing and we have plenty of time to enjoy our refuelling stops. 22 kms / 14 miles, + 250/-270m, 5 ½ hours
  7. Day 7
    Aumont Aubrac to Nasbinals: Another long day made easy by the comfortable terrain. Shortly after our lunch stop, the scenery changes dramatically as we enter the Aubrac, a volcanic and granitic plateau strongly reminiscent of the Yorkshire moors. The area is famous for its eponymous cattle and harsh, long winters. 27 kms / 17 miles, + 150/-120m, 6 ¾ hours
  8. Day 8
    Nasbinals: A well-deserved rest day in Nasbinals, a small village nested around an 11th century church. Here we can unwind by doing very little or by going on a half day scenic circular walk. 12 kms / 7.5 miles, + 200m/-200m, 3 hours
  9. Day 9
    Nasbinals to St Chély d’Aubrac: We are on our way again, crossing the last section of the Aubrac plateau and reaching the highest point of our walk, 1368m, 23m higher than Ben Nevis. It is no wonder they have 150 days of subzero temperatures here. From there, our downhill walk takes us to the village of Aubrac, dominated by La Tour des Anglais and a large Romanesque church. Less than two hours later, we have left the high plateau and are in St Chély on the banks of La Boralde. 16 kms / 10 miles, + 200m/-600m, 5 ½ hours
  10. Day 10
    St Chély d’Aubrac to Espalion: Today’s mostly downhill walk leads us to the fertile Lot valley, with its rich woods of oak and sweet chestnut. In the afternoon, we reach the wonderful village of Ste Côme d’Olt, one of France’s official “Plus Beaux Villages”. It is also one of the 104 villages in Europe boasting a church with a twisted spire. 22 kms / 14 miles, + 290m/-780m, 6 ½ hours
  11. Day 11
    Espalion to Estaing: A short stage today, from Espalion to Estaing, another “Plus Beau Village de France”, dominated by its castle. On our way, we stop to visit the wonderful Romanesque church of Bessuéjouls and its intriguing upper chapel. 12.7 kms / 8 miles, + 200m/-200m, 3 ½ hours
  12. Day 12
    Estaing to Espeyrac: A day of many ups and downs. Depending on the weather, we may briefly leave the Route St Jacques and reach Espeyrac via the scenic GR6. 24.5 kms / 15.3 miles, + 400m/-410m, 7 hours
  13. Day 13
    Espeyrac to Conques: A short morning walk and we reach the end of our journey. By lunchtime, we arrive in Conques, an extraordinary medieval village dominated by the stunning abbey church of Ste Foy. We have the entire afternoon to relax, explore ...and collect our last stamp. 11.8 kms / 7.3 miles, + 260m/- 360m, 3 ½ hours
  14. Day 14
    Conques and return flight: A lazy breakfast for some, more exploration for others; around midday, we start our coach journey to Toulouse airport from where we catch our return flight to the UK.

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Lyon returning Toulouse to Heathrow (British Airways)
  • Airport transfers by road c. 2 hours

Trip Map

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La Vieille Auberge

A good example is La Vieille Auberge (pictured) in St. Privat, which is conveniently situated for our walking on the route, being very close to the path. This former coaching inn gives a warm welcome and has a bar and restaurant, serving local cuisine and specialities that use the high quality local produce such as cheese and veal. Bedrooms are basic but adequate; most have been renovated to include en-suite facilities, TV, phone, and free Wi-Fi. For all accommodation continental breakfasts and dinners are included. Lunches are not included and are normally an en route picnic, or sometimes an opportunity to eat in a local restaurant. Accommodation is in twin bedded, double bedded and single rooms with hot water in simple country hotels or pensions. We hope that all clients will enjoy rooms with shower and WC for at least 6 or 7 nights.


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