Chemin de Saint Jacques (The Chemin)

12 days / Self-guided walking

Le Puy to Conques

Chemin de Saint Jacques (The Chemin)

This 200-kilometre section of the Chemin de Saint Jacques will see you walk from the historic cathedral in Le Puy to the bustling pilgrim town of Conques. A journey spanning 12 days in total, this walk is a memorable snapshot of the French countryside and takes in a number of historic sites along the way.

TRIP STYLE

Self-Guided Walking

DURATION/LENGTH

12 days/200 kms

DATES

Any date to suit you

START/END POINT

Le Puy to Conques

GRADING

Moderate Walk

PRICE P/P TWIN SHARE

From EURO 1,820 / AUD 3,195

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The Chemin de Saint Jacques features some of the best long-distance walking in Europe. This section, from Le Puy to Conques, is a taste of everything that makes France such a special country. From the historic cathedral in Le Puy to the legends surrounding Saugues and the treasured relics of Conques, there’s mystery and intrigue around almost every corner. And if there’s not, you’ll be greeted with jaw-dropping scenery instead, especially along the celebrated Aubrac plateau. The meals and accommodations along the way, provided by incredibly warm and generous hosts, are sure to make this an experience you’ll never forget.

Day 1 | Arrive in Le Puy-en-Velay

Nestled between the Auvergne volcanoes and the Rhone Alpes valley, Le Puy is an old city with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. It’s an absolute delight arriving in this wonderful French village, which is known for its green lentils and as a gateway to the Camino de Santiago. The Notre Dame Cathedral is a 12th-century marvel and where you’ll begin the Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostela tomorrow morning.

Day 2 | Le Puy-en-Velay – Saint-Privat-d’Allier | 24 km / 5–6 hours

Your journey along the Chemin de Saint Jacques begins by the cathedral and takes you through the stunning mountains of the Velay massif. Saint-Private-d’Allier is a tiny, picturesque village overlooking the exceptional Allier Gorges, located in the south of Auvergne, and is the perfect place to spend your first evening enjoying a delicious evening meal, some French wine and a good night’s rest after a tiring yet thrilling day.

Day 3 | Saint-Privat-d’Allier – Saugues | 20 km / 4–5 hours

A challenging walk awaits today but the rewards are well worth the effort, with wonderful views, picturesque villages and rural communities dotted along the way before arriving in Sauges. At the entrance to the town, whose historical centre was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1788, pilgrims will be greeted by an impressive wood carving of the beast of Gevaudan, a wolf-dog crossbreed that terrorised the region in the 18th century. There are thought to have been some 200 attacks, half of which were fatal, between 1764 and 1767 before the beast was finally killed.

Day 4 | Saugues – Les Faux | 26 km / 7 hours

Continue along the path through the farming area of Le Sauvage, an area that dates back to the time of the Templars. There are plenty of spots to stop for a picnic, as well as a number of bars and cafes serving food and coffee, before arriving in the small village of Les Faux.

Day 5 | Les Faux – Aumont-Aubrac | 21 km / 5 hours

Depart Les Faux in the morning and make your way – at your own pace – to the town of Aumont-Aubrac, which has always had a strong affiliation with the Camino de Santiago. Be sure to try ‘aligot’, a delicious local dish consisting of melted cheese blended with mashed potatoes and garlic. It’s phenomenal stuff and given all the walking you’re doing, there’s no need to feel guilty about reaching for a second – or third – helping.

Day 6 | Aumont-Aubrac – Nasbinals | 26 km / 7 hours

With wide pastures and narrow paths flanked by stone walls, the Aubrac plateau is a truly lovely place to walk. You’ll no doubt see the local Aubrac cattle out in the fields, as well as the beautiful granite fountain in the village of Rieutort, with plenty of sleepy villages and remote farmhouses dotting the landscape throughout the day. This region is known for its knife industry, with around 30 local craftsmen employed in making the Laguiole knife in nearby Laguiole. After arriving in Nasbinals, it’s well worth taking some time to visit the 11th-century Romanesque church, which was built in the shape of a Latin cross.

Day 7 | Nasbinals – St-Chely | 17 km / 4 hours

Today’s entire stretch of walking is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the Camino ascends to one of its highest points before descending into the historic hamlet of Saint-Chely d’Aubrac. This pretty little town is accessed via the World Heritage-listed Pilgrim Bridge, on which the cross of Saint-Chely sits, and has a lovely church that’s worth visiting too. The landscapes today are quite beautiful, with wide open pastures, quiet rural lanes and rolling green hills that never seem to end.

Day 8 | St-Chely – Saint-Come-d’Olt | 16 km / 3 hours

Spend the day walking in and out of beautiful beech and chestnut forests en route to the medieval village of Saint-Come-d’Olt, described as being one of the nicest villages in all of France thanks to its historic old quarter and an impressive church with a unique twisted spire. The village is reminiscent of a fairy tale, and the magic of the Camino de Santiago flows up and down its cobbled streets.

Day 9 | Saint-Come-d’Olt – Espalion | 8 km / 2–3 hours

Enjoy a shorter day and a leisurely stroll as you descend from the Aubrac plateau to the attractive village of Espalion, set on the banks of the Lot River. After wandering over the World Heritage-listed bridge, you may wish to explore the markets, enjoy a meal at one of the world-class restaurants, visit the church or the old palace, or simply stroll around the village and soak up the provincial atmosphere.

Day 10 | Espalion – Golinhac | 27 km / 6–7 hours

Highlights today include the walk up Mount Rouergate, from where you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Lot Valley, and the beautiful church at Bessuejouls, not to mention the impressive castle that watches over the medieval village of Estaing. After walking alongside the Lot River, you’ll eventually reach Golinhac, your destination for the evening. This appealing village has an abundance of rural charm and there are plenty of good vantage points to catch the evening’s sunset.

Day 11 | Golinhac – Conques | 21 km / 5 hours

Walk through peaceful woodland countryside to arrive in Conques, an incredible town that has been welcoming pilgrims for centuries. The Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy is a jaw-dropping architectural marvel and contains a number of treasured relics including a jewel-encrusted letter ‘A’, said to have been gifted by Charlemagne himself, as well as the arm of Saint George the Dragon Slayer. There’s also the Reliquary of Sainte Foy, a wooden statute covered in gold and gems that has a piece of Saint Foy’s skull embedded in its bust.

Conques is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire Chemin de Saint Jacques and a great place to wrap up this particular section. There are plenty of places to celebrate your achievements along the trail and there will no doubt be some sad goodbyes to those you’ve met along the way.

Day 12 | Finish in Conques

Your walk along the Chemin de Saint Jacques comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Although there are plenty more steps to take to Santiago de Compostela!

 

Visit www.wanderingtheworld.com.au for more information.

Inclusions

  • 11 nights accommodation, all carefully selected to enhance your walking experience
  • Private en-suite facilities
  • Daily luggage transfers from hotel to hotel (1 x 13kg bag unless indicated otherwise)
  • Daily breakfast
  • Information packs with route maps and instructions on how to locate hotels
  • Luggage identification tags
  • Pilgrim’s passport
  • Emergency contact details and 24/7 local on-the-ground support
  • Pre-departure and ongoing support from Australian office
  • Guidebook

Optional Inclusions

  • Three-course dinners with local wine
  • Suggested rest days as outlined in itinerary or if required
  • Upgraded accommodation including paradors, country properties and premium/high-end styles
  • Private vehicle transfers to the trip’s starting point
  • Single supplement for your own room
  • Additional night’s accommodation before or after trip (please advise at time of booking)

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Travel to trip’s starting point
  • Transfers not already outlined in detailed trip itinerary
  • Lunches

We know from personal experience that a good night’s rest can make or break a trip, which is why we carefully hand-select all our accommodation. We ensure that our knowledge and firsthand experience of the best places to stay is passed on to all our walkers.

Your accommodation along the Camino is booked in advance, on a twin-share basis with private facilities, and chosen to make your pilgrimage experience as rewarding as possible. You may be staying in a refurbished farmhouse, some of which have been in the same family for centuries, or perhaps a boutique hotel with a chef who would not be out of place in a Michelin-starred restaurant. There are unique properties scattered throughout the different routes including converted monasteries, lighthouses and tiny B&Bs with the most generous hosts you could possibly imagine. Best of all, you’ll always have private en-suite facilities. Wherever you end up, you’ll be well looked after, warm and comfortable and, most importantly, ready to tackle the next day’s walk.

Single supplements are also available so you can enjoy your room with private en-suite. This supplement will apply if you are travelling alone or if there is no gender-share option. You can request a shared room through Wandering the World at the time of booking, however this is not guaranteed.

There are opportunities to upgrade to more luxurious lodgings in many places along the Camino. These are perfect for celebrating special occasions and milestones, or even to enhance your entire journey. We can recommend some very special, unique places to indulge in the Camino hospitality in spectacular style, so please ask us about these options when booking.

Food & Dining

The local cuisine is a definite highlight of your walk. The Camino regions are famous for their culinary delights, and you’ll end up exploring the destination using not only your feet, but also your taste buds.

Breakfast at your place of accommodation is usually continental style and may include cereals, yoghurt, bread, pastries, ham, tea, coffee and juices.

Lunch – at your own expense – will depend on where you are on your walk and what is available. It’s often purchased at a local café or bar, with choices along the trail perhaps including Spanish omelette (tortilla Espanola), tuna empanadas, soups or sandwiches (boccadillo). Alternatively, you may wish to enjoy a picnic in a perfect spot along the path.

Evening meals are a hearty, three-course affair known as the ‘pilgrims’ menu’. These usually consist of a salad or soup to start, followed by a choice of a meat or pasta dish, then finishing with a dessert. This is always accompanied by a bottle of local wine, of course. On occasion, the owner of the accommodation may be in the kitchen preparing the house special, which will not disappoint.

Most evening meals are included on guided group trips, and for self-guided itineraries Wandering the World can include as many evening meals as you wish. We may strongly recommend this in some places because it’s either been a long walking day or there are limited choices available in certain destinations. We can share our advice and talk to you about this at the time of booking. We can accommodate most dietary requirements, so please let us know in advance.

THE WALKING

Although this trip is escorted/hosted and you are part of a group, you are free to walk each day at your own pace and in your own time.

TRIP GRADE

Challenging – This itinerary is designed with more experienced walkers in mind. Averaging 20-25 kms per day, approximately 7-8 hours.  Longer pilgrimages will generally have some longer walks of 30km plus days as per the itinerary. Surfaces may be uneven at times with regular ascents and descents, and sometimes in more remote areas. A good base level of fitness and experience in walking is recommended.

LUGGAGE TRANSFERS

Wandering the World arranges a daily luggage transfer to maximise your comfort and enjoyment, so all you need to carry is a day pack. Luggage allowance is one bag per person of no more than 13kg.  Your luggage must be left in the reception of your hotel before breakfast (8 am) each day.

Please note:

  • It is essential to attach the bag tag provided to ensure your luggage is delivered to your next accommodation.
  • Only one bag will be moved each day and additional charges will apply if your bag is heavier than 13kg.
  • Should you require special arrangements for additional luggage transfers, these can be made ahead of time and must be paid as part of your final payment to Wandering the World.

GROUP SIZE

Wandering the World’s guided groups have a maximum group size of 12 participants. This small group size means that we have the flexibility to stay in a wider range of accommodations, can dine together in the evenings, have the freedom to walk alone or together, and there are more opportunities to get to know your travelling companions.

TRANSFERS/TAXIS

If, for any reason, you wish to shorten your walking day, there are options along the Camino and in the villages to arrange a taxi.

On some itineraries, there are times when Wandering the World may arrange a transfer for you or can do so at your request. This might happen where small villages do not have accommodation with private facilities, for example, or when we want to take you to a special country property that we know you are going to love. In this case, Wandering the World will either arrange a transfer for you or suggest a taxi.

Transfers on the Camino are common in parts. A simple procedure is outlined in your trip notes explaining the details of your private transfer, the designated meeting point and the agreed transfer time.

WEATHER

The weather and climate on the Camino can vary from country to country, region to region and, of course, from day to day. Each season has its own benefits, with long, warm and sunny days in spring and early summer, while early spring and late autumn tend to enjoy cooler walking temperatures. Some sections may be too hot for walking mid-summer, while others are more likely to be wet at certain times. The experts at Wandering the World can discuss your preferences and guide you when you are planning your trip.

Once you’ve started your walk, the weather can play an important role in your overall enjoyment of the journey. Checking the forecast can be a great help when planning your days. If you do strike hotter weather, leaving early to avoid the warmest part of the day will make a huge difference.

24/7 SUPPORT & CARE

Your information pack will include details of local emergency contacts and international contacts. We have local, on-the-ground support to provide any assistance you may require and we’ll also check-in with your hotel at the end of each day to ensure that you’ve arrived safely.

GETTING THERE / GETTING HOME – see below

This itinerary begins in Le-Puy-en-Velay and ends in Conques.

The closest airport to Le-Puy-en-Velay is Lyon Airport and there are many flights into Lyon from the UK and Europe.

There are bus, train & flight options for arriving and departing your walking commencement destination.

Train bookings are recommended.  Please note you can only book two months in advance of the date of travel.

Getting to Le-Puy-en-Velay

The closest international airport to Le-Puy-en-Velay is Lyon Airport, approximately 150km away. There are many flight options from the UK and Europe into Lyon. From Lyon you can take a train to Le-Puy-en-Velay (approximately 2.5 hours).  Train schedules and costs can be found on the   SNCF website.

Returning from Conques

From Conques you can either take a bus or a taxi to Rodez Airport and from there flights are available on Ryanair and Air France.

INSURANCE

Insurance is compulsory for everyone who travels with Wandering the World. The insurance policy must include cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability. Wandering the World recommends insurance coverage for cancellation to be taken at the same time your deposit is paid, as no exception to the cancellation provisions can be made.

BOOKING AND TRAVEL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Wandering the World’s full booking terms and conditions are available upon request and will also accompany your initial invoice for deposit.

“I didn’t want to leave the beauty of Le Puy, and I didn’t want the walk to end in Conques, so I just kept going!  This was a fabulous taste of rural France, and topped off superbly walking into Conques, a fairytale medieval setting that looked perfectly lost in time.  I am still yearning for the most decadent croque-monsieur I have ever tasted with a view to match looking over the Dourdou River accompanied by a refreshing glass of french bubbles served by Louis who is both cook and waiter, to celebrate the first stage of the Chemin”.  Glenyce, Founder of Wandering the World.