Le Puy Camino

Walk through the most beautiful medieval villages of France

Follow in the footsteps of thousands of pilgrims and traverse the ages of living French history on Le Puy Camino. This ancient pilgrim route through the countryside of south-west France is the most beautiful of all the Camino routes in Europe. There’s plenty for lovers of nature, architecture, history, food and art to admire. And many ‘les plus beaux villages de France’ to explore.

The landscape is ever-changing. There’s the volcanic terrain of the Velay, the high plateau of the Aubrec, the medieval villages, towns and rich agricultural lands of the Lot, limestone river valleys of the Quercy, the rolling hills of Gascony and the beautiful vineyards of Armagnac. Walk through enchanting fairytale villages and fields exploding with sunflowers. Pass by well-preserved churches, tiny chapels and over centuries-old arched bridges. The magnificent gothic cathedrals and impressive abbeys are a sight to behold, and myths and legends abound. There’s fromageries, boulangeries, patisseries and picturesque village squares to dine in. Along with abundant local wines to savour.

The 745km route concludes in Basque country in the foothills of the Pyrenees at the picturesque village of St Jean Pied de Port, and offers an onward journey to Santiago.

Le Puy French Camino

The RAW Travel Difference

landscape icon

WALKING A GREEN TRAIL THROUGH RURAL FRANCE

Our own local experienced staff on the ground in Europe will provide support and a friendly face during your trip. Enjoy verdant scenery that's easy on the eye, this route can't be beaten. The trail from Le Puy takes you through the Central massif uplands and then cuts diagonally across the middle of Southern France. Winding its way through forests and fields, river gorges and rolling hills, it is a truly beautiful walk.

Luggage transfer icon

HAVE A STRESS-FREE ADVENTURE

We book everything directly and make all your arrangements from our office on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. We take care of all the details - accommodation, luggage transfers, maps, breakfasts and transport. Relax and enjoy your Camino experience, knowing you have a secure booking each night with your bags waiting.

signs icon

FLEXIBLE TRIPS TAILORED TO YOU

The Le Puy route can be quite rugged, so we listen to what you want and tailor the walking to your ability and timeframes, giving you the experience that best suits you. We can vary the length of stages and find the accommodation that best suits your needs and budget.

Boot icon

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES AND TOWNS

This walk is rated as one of the very best in France with good reason. The GR65 route winds its way through an impressive list of stunning villages and towns including medieval Conques, St Come D'olt, Estaing, Espalion and Moissac. If you want to explore the French countryside, you'll not find a finer trip.

Example of Le Puy Camino signage

TAILORMADE TRIPS

YOUR PILGRIMAGE, YOUR WAY

We have been operating trips on Le Puy Camino since 2014 so we are the experts! Our full length trip is our most popular trip but we also specialise in tailormade itineraries. You can request additional nights and/or alter the walking distances to suit your timeframe and fitness levels. Luggage transfers are included, so all you carry is a light daypack. We offer real-time advice, book the best accommodation on the routes, and we have staff members on the Camino to provide support.

 

View Our Walks

Le Puy Camino (France)

Le _Puy_Estaing_thumbnail
40 Days

Le Puy Camino (France)

The Full Le Puy Camino

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • Stunning, ever-changing terrain
  • Impressive architecture and historic UNESCO world heritage sites
  • The most beautiful villages in France
  • French culture, gastronomy and dialects across different regions
from

$7,695.00

view trip
Le Puy camino trail walkers
41 Days

Le Puy Camino (France)

The Full Le Puy Camino: Womens Trip

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • One of the best-loved walks in France 
  • Ideal for single female travellers who prefer company on their walk
  • A full immersion into French history, food and hospitality
  • Historic towns, medieval abbeys, pilgrim churches and impressive cathedrals
from

$7,695.00

view trip
le Puy en velay
20 Days

Le Puy Camino (France)

The Cahors Trip: Le Puy Camino

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • Charming villages with rich historical and architectural heritage  
  • Peaceful walking through woodlands, moors of heather, limestone plateaus and verdant farmland 
  • The mythic Aubrac high plateau with its wildflowers and grazing cows
  • Medieval Cahors – famous for its gastronomy and legendary Valentré bridge
from

$3,950.00

view trip
Le Puy Camino
13 Days

Le Puy Camino (France)

The Conques Trip: Le Puy Camino

Challenging Self-Guided
  • A beautiful 200km walk across the Central Massif of France
  • Ever-changing cultures, gastronomy and dialects
  • Espalion’s 16th-century Veiux Palace and 11th century Pont Veiux
  • The beautiful medieval Romanesque abbey and hidden village of Conques
from

$2,550.00

view trip
Pont Valentre medieval bridge, Cahors
13 Days

Le Puy Camino (France)

The Slow Walk – Cahors to Condom

Moderate Self-Guided
  • Shorter daily distances and ample time to relax in the village squares
  • Tranquil country paths and beautiful trails 
  • Picture-postcard rural scenery and a wealth of gastronomic experiences 
  • Impressive architecture and historic UNESCO world heritage sites
from

$2,720.00

view trip
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
Best time to visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Closed

Explore

Le Puy Camino Route Map

Le Puy en Velay

Spectacular Le Puy-en-Velay is the gateway to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail. Explore the historical and well-preserved old town with its delightful maze of small cobbled streets flanked by tall, pastel coloured houses. Le Puy’s famous cathedral is well worth a visit. It houses a Black Madonna statue that is believed to have miraculous powers. Pilgrims and visitors come to pay their respects to this revered religious icon.

CLICK ON A PIN TO REVEAL INFORMATION ABOUT THAT LOCATION
St Privat d’Allier

On the way to St Privat d’Allier you will pass by the first of many ancient stone crosses marking the way of the original pilgrimage route. Once you are through the spruce forest of La Baraque there is a steep decent into the small village.

Saugues

Sauges is the meeting point for pilgrims coming from the Auvergne region. This town features in the history of the Hundred Years War and as a marshalling point for hunters of the legendary Beast of Gevaudan, which terrorised this region in the mid-1700s.

Les Faux

On the way to the small village of Les Faux you will pass the Fountain St-Roch and rest stop, followed by the St-Roch Chapel founded in 1198 as a hospital for pilgrims and travellers. After the chapel, the track commences a gentle descent into Les Faux.

Aumont-Aubrac

Gateway to the mythic Aubrac high plateau, Aumont-Aubrac has always had strong links to the Camino. Back in medieval times this is where pilgrims coming from the East on the Le Puy route rested before tackling the upcoming bleak and isolated lands of the Aubrac.

Nasbinals

Nasbinals is a herding village that marks the beginning of the Aveyron region. From here, the route takes you through the heart of the Aubrac plateau, which has a tough reputation for being windy, cold and remote. This can be an exhilarating day and includes an ascent to the the highest point (1368m) of Le Puy Camino.

St-Chely-d’Aubrac

The pretty village of St-Chely-d’Aubrac is in a secluded valley. It’s a great place to explore, relax and reflect. The early 15th-century church is steeped in history, and the pilgrims’ bridge has a beautiful stone cross that bears a bas-relief representing a pilgrim, with its large cape, staff and rosary.

Espalion

The small village of Espalion has several sites of interest and the area along the riverfront and is lovely. The-16th century Veiux Palace and 11th-century Pont Veiux arched bridge connect the ancient tanner’s houses lining the River Lot. High above the town are the ruins of the 10th century Chateau de Calmont d’Olt.

Golinhac

Golinhac is known for its church, which preserves the Roman foundations of a Benedictine priory, and an original stone cross with a small-sculpted pilgrim erected on it – a replica greets you at the entrance of the village.

Conques

Conques is a superb and bewitching medieval village and one of the finest hill-towns in France. The views of the lauze stone-roofed cottages and dominating towers of the Romanesque Abbey Church Sainte Foy are breathtaking.

Figeac

This medieval town was founded in 830 AD around its Benedictine abbey and became a thriving city in the 13th century thanks to agriculture and commerce. It contains a substantial and interesting medieval historical centre.

Cajarc

In the peaceful town of Cajarc, on the banks of the Lot River, you can see part of the original 13th-century castle in the main street, The Boulevard du Tour de Ville, which forms a ring road around the town. The river is crossed by a 19th century suspension bridge, which replaced a medieval stone bridge.

 

 

Limogne-en-Quercy

Limogne-en-Quercy is famous for its truffle fair, usually held on Sunday mornings from December to March and summer.

Lalbenque

Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Lot region, Lalbenque is a delightful village with timeless charm.

Cahors

The medieval town of Cahors is the largest town on the Le Puy Camino. The famous 14th-century fortified Valentre bridge, an emblem of the city classified as World Heritage by UNESCO and a well-known pilgrim milestone, crosses the Lot on the west side of town. It has three towers each with large arched gateways due to its historical role as a defensive bridge during the Hundred Years War. Discover the legend of the pact that the bridge builder made with the devil.

Montcuq

The quaint medieval and alluring village of Montcuq (officially Montcuq-en-Quercy-Blanc) is full of charm and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Quercy Blanc region. The Saint-Hilaire church in the heart of the village was built in the 14th century and has large Gothic windows and an octagonal bell tower. There are some top-notch foodie spots, too.

Lauzerte

The charming village of Lauzerte marks the halfway point from Le Puy to Saint-Jean- Pied-de-Port. It dominates the surrounding valleys and hills of the Quercy Blanc from its lofty position atop a spur of land. It has one of the best preserved village centres in the region. Many of the shops and cafes have traditional wrought iron signs representing their trade, which adds to the authentic medieval feel. The side streets that radiate off from the square also contain a large number of attractive medieval houses.

Mossaic

Moissac is famous for its Abbey Saint-Pierre – one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in France. It has a perfectly preserved cloister (an enclosed garden used by the medieval monastics for walking meditation and contemplation) dating back to 1100 and is reputably the oldest in the world.

 

Lectoure

This attractive historic walled town sits on a rocky promontory above the Gers River. The Cathedral of Saint Gervais and Saint Protais is impressive, and nearby is the ancient Fontaine Diane, a natural spring inside a little gothic building that provided the source of water for the tannery industry. Lectoure is known for growing one-third of all of the garlic in France, and in spring the surrounding slopes are covered with rows of rose-green garlic shoots.

La Romieu

This lovely village was founded at the end of the 11th century by a German monk returning from a pilgrimage to Rome. Its collegiate church of Saint-Pierre, classified as a World Heritage Site, is an architectural gem and the setting for a large chapel, a charming Gothic cloister and a double-spiral staircase that allows you to climb the 33m of the bell tower. The legend of Angelina’s cats gives the village a unique charm.

Condom

This quiet and relaxed town was once an important stopping point on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela, around which the town developed. Its wealth in more recent times is based around the production and export of armagnac (brandy). As well as an imposing cathedral there is a small medieval old town to explore.

 

Montréal-du-Gers

Perched on a rocky outcrop, on the banks of the Auzoue River, this town has remarkable medieval heritage and is home to the biggest vineyard of Armagnac, the famous brandy.

Éauze

Éauze is a beautifully presented town with a fascinating history. This Roman town is the capital of the Armagnac region and offers one of the liveliest and biggest agricultural markets in the Gers. Almost everything of interest in Eauze is on and around the main square, the Place d’Armagnac, where you can also visit the tourist office for a leaflet that explains the highlights in the village. The area is famous for Armagnac and and duck foie gras.

Nogaro

Nogaro is a busy but inauspicious service town. The town contains a bullring, a 12th-century Romanesque church and is also home of the Circuit Paul Armagnac, a purpose built motor race track opened in 1960. It was here that four-times Formula One world champion Frenchman Alain Prost started his career in 1974.

Aire-sur- l’Adour

This extremely ancient town was the residence of the king of the Visigoths in the 5th century and in the middle ages became established as a major pilgrimage centre on the route to Spain. Today it is known as a gastronomic centre and its economy is largely dependent upon the production of ducks and geese. Its twice weekly market is one of the busiest in France.

Arzacq-Arraziguet

This town used to mark the boundary between France and the then independent country of Bearn. It is another fortified town and has two main squares.

Arthez-de-Bearn

This regional town built on a ridge top has stunning views of the Pyrenees. As you slowly approach Basque Country you will notice the language beginning to change from French to more Basque words, for example, the spelling on menus.

Navarrenx

Sitting above the river of Gave d’Oloron, this beautiful village is one of the oldest in the Bearn region. The town was the first in France to be fortified with Italian style ramparts, successfully defending it during the Wars of Religion. Bastions and military buildings within the walls remain today.

Lichos

Lichos is the first Basque village that you will encounter. Note the distinctive architecture of the buildings which are built with white painted stone, dark red half-timbering, shutters and red roof tiles.

Saint Palais

On your way to Saint Palais you will come across the Stele de Gibraltar, a stone cross erected in 1964 to symbolise where the three French Camino routes converge. Many signs are written in the Basque language and in every town and village there is a pelota court (a traditional Basque game).

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

St Jean is a small border town on the river Nive and is always busy with Camino pilgrims, as it is the starting point of the French Way to Santiago. Walk up cobbled rue de la Citadelle and visit the citadel, which is now a local school, or stroll around the Basque region’s capital and try some of the gastronomic specialities in the many cafes and restaurants. It’s a treat to sit and watch the stream of pilgrims starting or finishing their epic journey.

 

Camino De Santiago destination guide

Exclusive Guide

Le Puy Camino

Discover inspiration, travel essentials, practical information and more in our free Destination Guide. All you need to know about walking the Camino de Santiago routes through Spain, Portugal and France!

Walking the Camino is an incredible journey that will immerse you not only in Europe’s grand history, food and culture but most importantly the extraordinary camaraderie that exists along these routes. The spirit of the Camino de Santiago is alive and well among people from all over the world. It is a ‘bucket list’ experience you will never forget!

Download Now

Great walks magazine featuring Le Puy Camino

Highlights

Get to know Le Puy Camino

If you’re curious about what makes Le Puy Camino (Chemin de Saint-Jacques) a great choice for a pilgrimage walk, read journalist and hiker Matt Gunn’s story of his 16-day 350km adventure with us, walking from Le Puy-en-Velay to Cahors. Less popular than Spain’s Camino Frances, Le Puy Camino in France offers a mixture of challenging mountain trails, country paths, tasty cafes and quiet woodlands.

Read article:

Holy Hiking Words & Photos by Matthew Gunn, Great Walks December-January 2024

LE PUY CAMINO

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Le Puy Camino connect with other Camino routes?

Yes. Le Puy Camino begins in the pilgrim town of Le-Puy-en-Velay in Auvergne in Central France and finishes in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port at the foothills of the Pyrenees where it merges with the Camino Francés (the most popular of all the Camino routes) and extends another 780 km to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain. 

What is the best time of year to walk Le Puy Camino?

The walking season on Le Puy Camino is from mid-April until the end of October, with May and September being the best months. July and August experience much higher temperatures in the height of summer.

Is Le Puy Camino a well-marked route?

The Le Puy Camino trail is very well-marked with frequent horizontal red-and-white stripes of the French Grande Randonée network. ‘Wrong direction’ signs (red-and-white crosses) are nailed to trees or painted on rocks.

How many kilometres does Le Puy Camino cover in total?

Le Puy Camino is 745km in length. It starts in the Massif Central and takes walkers over several ranges and valleys including the Auvergne plateau and the Lot River Valley. On most days you will walk between 20km and 30km on hilly terrain. The time spent walking can vary between 5 and 8 hours depending on your walking speed. Allow 7 to 9 hours to complete an average day. The highest altitude of the walk is just over 1400m.

Read more about the beauty and highlights of a pilgrimage walk on Le Puy Camino

How physically demanding is walking Le Puy Camino compared to other Camino trails?

The terrain on the Le Puy Camino route is varied, strenuous and rarely flat, especially in the beginning stages. It is more challenging than the Spanish Camino, and you are unlikely to see any cyclists. At times, there are descents and ascents from river valleys. Some sections are on single-track paths that can often be rocky in places, sometimes with steps but mostly just bare earth. Tracks are also common: gravel forest roads, walking tracks and unsealed roads. There are some sections of country lanes, and coming into the towns and cities you follow regular footpaths. For most of the walk the gradient is quite gradual once you are into the mountains. 

Read a RAW Traveller’s account of walking Le Puy Camino after completing Spain’s Camino Francés

What historical landmarks are a must-visit on Le Puy Camino?

Le Puy Camino is characterised by medieval abbeys, stunning cathedrals and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Highlights include Le Puy-en-Velay’s famous Cathedral Notre-Dame and the Chapel of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe perched on a rock; the breathtaking Romanesque Abbey Church Sainte Foy in Conques; the famous 14th-century fortified Valentre bridge in Cahors; Moissac’s  famous Abbey Saint-Pierre; and the World Heritage collegiate church of Saint-Pierre in La Romieu.

Read more about the Most Beautiful Villages of France

What myths and legends will pilgrims encounter during their journey on Le Puy Camino?

Le Puy Camino has a rich tapestry of myths and legends, passed down through generations of pilgrims and locals. These tales tell of ancient heroes, mythical creatures and divine intervention, including the Aubrac giant, legend of Saint Foy, the tale of Angeline and her cats, the legend of the devil on the bridge in Cahors, and the Beast of Gévaudan. 

Find out more about the myths and legends of Le Puy Camino

What should I pack for Le Puy Camino?

Waterproof walking boots with full ankle support are recommended for this walk. Make sure your footwear is worn in and comfortable. Trekking poles will give you extra stability, especially when you are tired. We definitely recommend them if you have – or have had – any issues at all with sore knees, ankles or hips.

Travellers pointing at a world map

Not quite what you're after?

Tailor-made trips

If you don’t see the exact trip you’re looking for then consider a customised trip, individually tailored to your ideal walking distances and timeframes. Have a look at our tailor-made trips page on the link below and drop us a line:

Customise this trip

sign up to our newsletter

explore the world with Raw