Walk the first part of Medieval Christendom’s fourth-most-important pilgrimage route from Le Puy in Haute Loire to Portes Castle near Ales, the gateway to Cevennes. We were the first tour operators anywhere in the world to offer this trip, so purchase yours in the knowledge that you’re in the safe and competent hands of the trail experts. Do contact us if you would like to complete the full pilgrimage route in one go, from Le Puy to The Med., by adding the St-Giles Pilgrimage [Part Two, a light tour] to Part One.”
St Giles Way – Part One brings you the first section of the Hexagon’s own and long overlooked pilgrimage trail. Recently resuscitated after a lifetime’s research by one Frenchman, Marcel Girault, the trail is a distance of around 95 miles or 152 kms, offering seven days of excellent hiking from Le Puy-en-Velay to Alès and traversing the Massif Central and Eastern Cevennes.
This is a well-balanced, moderate walking holiday comprising countryside walking in France’s remote centre and historical discovery. More precisely, a four-day trek across undulating volcanic upland followed by three days of descent into the valleys of the eastern Cevennes.
St Giles Way – Part One delights you with ever-changing scenery and flora as you traverse the ancient region of Velay, follow the natural geological fault-line separating Gévaudan from Vivarais, and descend via lake Villefort into the valleys to the east of Cevennes’ Mont Lozère. The villages en route are full of character and a renewed vitality and complemented by welcoming accommodation. The first sight of olive groves and vines signals your arrival in the Mediterranean lowlands and the end of a fine week’s walking retracing the first half of ancient Gaul’s very own pilgrimage.
Note: Apart from the initial section, and a few stretches thereafter, the trail from Portes to Alès has mainly been destroyed over the years and does not lend itself to the ‘big finish’ that we like to incorporate into our hiking tours. We have thus decided to omit it from our standard tour format. Nonetheless, for those who are determined to walk the trail in its entirety, as per the pilgrims that continue to walk the St Giles, we do offer options for you to do so upon demand. Please ask us for details.
- £765.00 Pounds Sterling or €870.00 Euros [per person, shared double or twin-bedded room]
- Single person rate – please enquire
- Discover a unique medieval pilgrimage with the English-speaking experts on the trail
- Enjoy ever-changing flora, from sub-alpine to Mediterranean
- Traverse fascinating linear settlements and villages
- Visit numerous historic buildings, incl. castles, chapels and churches
- Walk volcanic plateau, impressive gorge, schist valley and Lake Villefort en route to the Garrigues
- 7-night, self-guided moderate tour
- Start any day, early April to mid-October
- Start in Le Puy en Velay, finish in Portes, north of Ales
- A moderately graded, inn-to-inn tour
- Good accommodation standard
- We transport your luggage, you just carry a light day pack.
- 7-nights B&B:
- 6 evening meals – leaving you free to choose where to eat dinner in Le Puy on arrival, where a multitude of options exist, incl. your hotel
- We transport your luggage throughout¹
- Transfer from Portes to Ales at the end of the tour
- 1: 25,000 scale maps, excellent walking notes & dossier
- Telephone back-up & support.
¹ This allows you to take one piece of luggage per person up to 16 kgs in weight. Supplements apply for overweight luggage.
- A mix of welcoming hotels, guest houses and auberges
- Seven 2-star hotels, one chambre d’hotes
- En-suite facilities throughout.
- Nearest airport or SNCF station is Lyon [3 hrs on TGV from Paris or Lille] with onward train journey to Le Puy via St Etienne.
- Next-best access is via Nimes or Montpellier airports, with onward TGV to Lyon – 30 and 60 minute journeys, respectively.
- Alternative convenient option is via Clermont-Ferrand airport, with onward regional train to Le Puy via St Etienne.
Departure by train to Nimes [70 mins.] and onward TGV train north or south, or fly from Nimes airport to London Luton by RyanAir[UK].
- Warm, dry summers; mild spring and autumn
- Undulating volcanic plateau, incised gorge & geological fault-line, schist valleys
St Giles Way – Part One: Tour Itinerary
Times, elevations and distances are approximate
Day 1: Arrive in Le Puy-en-Velay – well worth a day in itself to explore the origins of this pilgrimage. Night in Le Puy.
Le Puy to Costaros
13 miles-19.5 kms, 6 hrs, +430ms
Climb 260 metres to L’Estrade, take lunch in Chassilhac and enjoy the puy-littered countryside of the volcanic platueau. The easy-going afternoon takes you to Chadernac castle, from where you descend to Costeros. Collection and transfer to nearby hotel.
Night near Costaros.
Costaros to Pradelles
11.5 miles-17 kms, 5 hrs, +140 ms/-80ms
Pont des Anglais
Return to Costaros. The black ash volcanic trails are replaced by terra cotta, as you cross gently from Auverge into Lozere and Knights’ Templar country, over the ‘Pont des Anglais’ and onward to the granite charms of medieval Pradelles.
Night in Pradelles.
Pradelles to La Bastide
16.5 miles-25 kms, approx. 6.5 hrs, +390 ms/-480ms
Two historically-sound routes exist for today’s hike, the medieval or the 18th C, according to the weather. Each offers its own insight into this mythical route.
Night in La Bastide.
La Bastide to Villefort
10.5 miles-16 Kms, approx. 5.5 hrs, +175ms/-540 ms
An unforgettable walk along hill crest and across the Chaussezac gorge to a classic medieval village and Lake Villefort.
Night in Villefort.
Villefort to Genolhac
11 miles-15 kms, 5 hrs, +280 ms/-400 ms
Visit a cliff top chapel, subject of its own pilgrimage, before you enter Le Gard via a fine trail through the villages at the foot of Mont Lozere, with their unique Roman churches, before arriving in charming Genolhac.
Night in Genolhac.
Genholac to Portes
9 miles-13 kms, 4 hrs, +180ms/-270ms
The Ship in Cevennes
Walk through the fine countryside of the Cevennes’ most famous writer, J-P Chabrol, over Pont de Rastel and past the château de Montjoie en route to Portes Castle.
Night near Portes.
Day 8: Departure day – Breakfast and transfer to Ales Gare SNCF. Bon retour et à bientôt. Please return next year for Part Two of this fine trail! Short onward journey by train to Nimes and Hign Speed options beyond.
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- The first half of the historic pilgrimmage route that helped to shape modern France.
- Follow in the footsteps of Kings, clergy, Simon de Montfort, early-Middle Ages traders and pilgrims.
- A masterclass in French history.
- Much of the original trail has been usurped by farmers.
- You walk a mix of trails that are on and off [minor] road. Frequent changes of footwear are recommended.
France's quintessential historical trail is a masterclass in French history, from the early Middle Ages to the ideas of the Reformation."
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