The Le Puy to Conques walk is one of the best loved walks in France. Also known as the Via Podiensis, is one of the four traditional pilgrim routes that cross France and converge in Spain to continue their way to Santiago de Compostela.
Starting from Le Puy, the 205-km trail winds its way westwards across the Central Massif and ends at Conques, an old pilgrimage centre. The French countryside is picturesque and there are some steeper sections to cross. This is easily the most popular way to Compostela and is the one commonly referred to in English as the Way of Saint James (who translates as Saint Jacques in French and Santiago in Spanish).
The Via Podiensis gets its name from Le Puy-en-Velay city, from where the bishop Godescalc started his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 950 after JC, with a joyful group of troubadours, jugglers, barons and of course archers to protect them. The bishop was the first non-Spanish pilgrim to achieve the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
The traditional route has been approximately replicated by a marked pathway or Grande Randonnée (GR). The Way of Le Puy is the GR65, and there are three accompanying guidebooks put out by the French Walking Club, the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre, commonly known as the FFRP.
Trip grade: Moderate to Challenging
Extend Your Holiday – City Breaks
Double your holiday experience by including a stopover on your journey! A city break is a great way to explore another place, indulge in some extra shopping, dining or sightseeing and is a great way to break up a long flight. Our fabulous array of RAW Travel city breaks can be tailor made to your requirements and usually include an arrival transfer, 2 nights accommodation and a city sightseeing tour.
Day 1: Arrive in Le Puy-en-Velay
Internationally recognised as a starting point for St James Way (the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela), Le Puy-en-Velay enjoys a unique historical and architectural heritage that you must discover before you start your hike on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
An attractive town, Le Puy-en-Velay is also known for its ancient buildings and well-preserved architecture. The stones and paths of the town are a testament to architectural skill. The charming historical streets winding their way up to the UNESCO World Heritage listed cathedral provide a great place to stop off in one of the many restaurants where local specialities are served, including AOC (controlled origin) Le Puy lentils and the famous Velay Vervaine, a precious liquor offering digestive benefits (to be consumed in moderation).
Overnight: Le Puy-en-Velay
Day 2: Le Puy-en-Velay to St Privat d’Allier (23.5 km)
After exploring Le Puy the previous day, the GR65 soon takes you out into the countryside. Climb out of Le Puy and onto a large plateau passing small villages and a chapel dedicated to St Roch, the patron saint of pilgrims.
Overnight: St Privat d’Allier
Meals: B D
Day 3: St Privat d’Allier to Saugues (19 km)
Most of today is spent crossing the valley. You will pass through the village of Rochegude, famous for its St Jacques Chapel, before descending to the river at Monistrol. Continue up out of the valley and along the trail to Saugues – a historic village famous for its mushrooms and known as the traditional meeting place for all pilgrims coming from the Auvergne region.
Meals: B D
Day 4: Saugues to Les Faux (26 km)
A picturesque walk is spent crossing the Margeride Plateau and passing through forests of pines. A highlight is a visit to Chapelle-Saint Roch or L’Hospitalet du Dauvage Chapel, founded in 1198 as a hospital for pilgrims and travellers.
Overnight: Les Faux
Meals: B D
Day 5: Les Faux to Aumont-Aubrac (22.5 km)
Visit the village of St. Alban and its Romanesque church. Today’s walk is across a desolate region, treeless yet with wildflowers, following part of the old Roman road of Agrippa into Aumont. Set at 1043m, the town of Aumont-Aubrac is in the heart of Lozère and is an important point on The Way of St James. There is a statue here to view – the “Bête du Gévaudan” (Beast of the Gévaudan), the man-eating wolf-dog that terrorised the Lozère area in the late 1700s and as a werewolf has inspired literature and popular culture since the mid-1800s.
Meals: B D
Day 6: Aumont-Aubrac to Nasbinals (26 km)
The Aubrac plateau is a volcanic and granitic plateau and the landscape is picturesque with wide pastures and narrow paths with stone walls. The scenery en route is dotted with Burons (huts built of lava and granite topped by limestone slabs) and drailles (old drove roads). Recommended is a stop at the beautiful granite fountain in the remote village of Rieutort. Make sure you visit the 11th-century Romanesque church in Nasbinals which has statues of St James and St Roch inside.
Meals: B D
Day 7: Nasbinals to St Chely d’Aubrac (17 km)
Ascending to the Camino’s highest point today, the landscape is dotted with tiny hamlets and ancient bridges. The historic village of Aubrac was founded by a Flemish knight who was attacked by bandits while on his way to Santiago. On his return journey he was almost killed during a wild storm here. He decided to build a pilgrim refuge on the site of his deliverance. Walk past the Tour des Anglais, constructed in 1353 as a defence against the English during the 100 Years’ War. Continue past the ruins of the Templar castle and make your way down into St. Chely.
Overnight: St Chely d’Aubrac
Day 8. St Chely d’Aubrac – Rest day
Today is a rest day, so you can explore the village of Saint-Chely d’Aubrac at your leisure. The Tower, built in the 15th century, belonged to the congregation “Chaplains of Cuisine” until its purchase by the surgeon of Saint-Chely, after the Revolution (now private property). The Place de la Mairie was, until the 1920s, a space occupied by a block bounded by two streets. To the left of the hospice, inaugurated in 1927 to house the elderly and sick, there is a wrought iron cross of the 19th century. The early 15th-century church is steeped in history and the old bridge, called “Bridge of Pilgrims” was formerly known as the street of weavers. The double-arched bridge dating from the Middle Ages, which spans the Boralde, was classified cultural property to the World Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO), under the Roads to Santiago.
Overnight: St Chely d’Aubrac
Day 9: St Chely d’Aubrac to Espalion (23.5 km)
The route today enters the Lot Valley. The picturesque St-Come-d’Olt is classified as a “Les plus beaux villages de France” and is known for its old quarters and lovely church. The village of Espalion – a UNESCO World heritage site – with its pilgrim bridge is located on the banks of the Lot River and is the rest stop tonight.
Day 10: Espalion to Estaing (12km)
A visit to the Church of St. Pierre-de-Bessuejouls which has a chapel of pink sandstone is a worthwhile during today’s walk. The medieval village of Estaing – our destination for the day – has the festival of St. Fleuret in which costumed folk follow a procession to commemorate St. Jacques and pilgrims. The chateau of the Counts of Estaing is now a monastery with daily mass.
Day 11: Estaing to Espeyrac (22.5 km)
The route today continues along the Lot Valley before climbing above the Lot Gorges to the Rouergue plateau. A cross with its little stone pilgrim can be seen at the entrance to Golhinac, an ancient and highly recommended resting place on the St. James Way. Finally, after passing through Les Albusquies and Campagnac, you arrive in Espeyrac.
Day 12: Espeyrac to Conques (12.5 km)
The walk to Conques is one of the favourite stages for pilgrims. While descending into the deep valley of the Ouche, you will arrive near the Dourdou river (which flows into the Lot river, to the north) and discover this village with pointed roofs over which the towers of the Romanesque Abbey-Chruch Sainte Foy dominate. You can also admire the village’s portal, a real treasure from Roman times. Relax in one of the many bars to experience the atmosphere of this lovely town
Day 13: Conques
Your trip concludes this morning after a leisurely breakfast.
Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing. As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.
Note that if booking for a start date of less than 30 days from the time of booking we cannot guarantee that your trip is possible unless you have contacted us first and your trip details have been confirmed.
- 12 nights’ accommodation in simple guesthouses or hotels with private facilities on a twin share basis
- 11 Breakfasts, 6 Dinners
- Daily baggage transfers – maximum weight 15kg and 1 piece per person
- French Camino guidebook
- French phrase book
- Waterproof map and document case
- Daily luggage tags
- Maps of your hotel locations
- Travel insurance
- Single supplement from $790
- All items of a personal nature
Map & Guide
Judy Moore – August 2016
I found RAW Travel to be extremely professional at every contact. Our Camino was everything that we expected and more, this was largely possible because of all the hard work from the people at RAW. I would highly recommend RAW Travel!
Lani Van Dalsen, Brisbane – August 2016
I think it is quite unique as a walking experience. As always it depends very much on the individual and your perspective. I would recommend this to all people who love walking and meeting people from all over the world.
Nella Truscott – September 2015
My trip was awesome. The physical difficulty was as expected. The people you meet along the Camino walk and the encouragement we all gave each other was a highlight. The scenery in the countryside was also a highlight. Thank you for all your hard work RAW Travel.