Walking St James Way in Comfort in France is one of the two ‘must do’ walking tours in The Hexagon. This adventure takes you along the most popular of the four ‘French Ways’, the Via Podiensis, from Le Puy en Velay to St Chely d’Aubrac in seven unforgettable days.
Walking St James Way in Comfort is a special, human experience. Our customers have their own personal reasons for wanting to join the Way of St James – or Le Chemin de St Jacques as it is known in France. However, what unites you is that you are not pilgrims and so have no desire to suffer along the Way. Far from it, the objective is to walk the walk in moderate stages, talk the talk with other international travellers, and then ‘eat the eat’ and ‘sleep the sleep’ in the welcoming environment of exceptional guest houses or the best of local hotels. There you have the essential ingredients of our tour: an accommodation-led opportunity to enjoy the best of what the Way of St James has to offer in two formats to suit. What differentiates this trip from other ‘Camino’ tours is the emphasis on accommodation excellence. You only get one bite at the cherry, so here’s your chance to do it in style.
Of course, we haven’t talked about the walking yet – but then can thirty-five thousand and counting pedestrian travellers a year really be hiking up the wrong path? We think not. And the most noteworthy aspect of the terrain and, the trail itself is, without doubt, its diversity – there is something for everyone; and the changes occur on a daily basis as you meander through two departments [Haute Loire and Lozere] and two regions [Auvergne and Languedoc-Roussillon] before dipping your toe into a third: Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrenees.
Walking St James Way in Comfort will also help you address the burning issue of your Work-Life balance as part of your Walk-Life balance. Well, this is France, the home of philosophy! “I walk so I am” should be one of The Enlightened Traveller’s new slogans. Chill out and exchange life’s lessons with complete strangers in ‘the middle of nowhere’ and then re-join ‘normal life’ re-charged and re-vitalised.
- Le Puy to St-Chely du Tarn [Guest house-led]
Price per person based on 2 persons sharing double room:
£695.00 Pounds Sterling or €795.00 Euros
- Le Puy to St-Chely du Tarn [Hotel-led]
Price per person based on 2 persons sharing double room:
£795.00 Pounds Sterling or €895.00 Euros
• Extra nights: On Request
• The option exists to combine days 4 & 5, thus forming an 7-night tour – please ask us for our advice and the price.
- Discover yourself along France’s Classic Pilgrimage trail.
- Explore the cultural heritage of three of France’s most inviting ancient regions [Velay, Margeride and Aubrac] as you walk from Auverge, into Languedoc-Roussilon and finish on the edge of Midi-Pyrenees.
- Choose from two high-level accommodation-led formats to suit you.
- Fine start – Le Puy en Velay and its World Heritage sites.
- Great Finish: the ‘Unesco’ section from Nasbinals to St Chely and the Aubrac Plateau.
- 8-night, self-guided, inn-to-inn walking tour through rural France
- moderate challenge, averaging 12 miles a day over a total of 82½ miles/133 kms. Options to shorten or lengthen days to suit your agenda.
- Start any day, beg. April to mid-October.
- Tour starts in Le Puy-en-Velay and finishes in St Chely.
- Convenient access from Lyon or Claremont-Ferrand.
- Carefully-selected and fine accommodation averaging ‘superior 2-star standard’ hotels, chambres d’hotes and auberges.
- Optional return transfer to Aumont-Aubrac or Le Puy at tour’s end – please ask us for details.
- Luggage transfers throughout.
- 8 nights B & B & all local hotel taxes
- 4 gourmet evening meals [Guest-house led] or 7 evening meals [Hotel-led], respectively.
- Luggage transfers¹ and transport integral to the programme.
- Themed dossier, Hiking Insight Notes and 1: 50,000 maps. The Way is very well way marked and we consider this scale map as entirely adequate for this particular trail.
- 7/7 Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking local backup.
¹ You are entitled to take up to three pieces of luggage per couple, each weighing up to 13 kgs – i.e., no suitcase must exceed 13kgs and the max. weight is 3 x 13 kgs or 39 kgs. Supplements are payable for extra or overweight luggage.
Note: we are able to arrange for your excess luggage to be securely stored for the duration of your tour and delivered to the final hotel before your departure. Please ask us for further details of this service if it is of interest to you.
Remaining meals and all drinks and extras;
1: 25,000 scale maps: nine of these would be required to cover the tour, which we are happy to supply at a supplement;
entrances into any optional cultural visits and venues;
hiking, personal and travel insurances;
travel to Le Puy and from St Chely.
- 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 Eurostar to Paris and change for Clermont-Ferrand and then Le Puy. From Paris Bercy to Clermont-Ferrand in 3½ hours and from Clermont-Ferrand to Le Puy in 2 hours.
- Alternative Nimes option is via cross-country train to Langogne and bus to Le Puy. This option takes a whole day’s travel from Nimes, arriving in Le Puy at approx. 17.30 – please ask for details.
- By Car: leave your car in the central Le Puy car park – ask us for details.
• We can get you transferred back to Aumont-Aubrac, Le Puy-en-Velay or onto Figeac for easy onward travel. Please reserve at time of booking. Please ask us for details.
• Aumont-Aubrac lies on the regional railway line that runs north-south connecting Clermont-Ferrand to Beziers. Onward transport leaves here from around 11am and takes approx. 2 hours to go north to Clermont-Ferrand or 3½ south to Beziers.
Alternatively, you can travel east across by SNCF bus to Mende followed by onward train to La Bastide Puy Laurent and onto Nimes in approx. 5½ hours.
• Please check out the rail/bus options at RailEurope or Bahn.com.
We have literally combed the trail and its surrounding villages to find the best accommodation that the St. James’ Way has to offer so that you enjoy the over-night stay as much as the hiking. We are thus delighted to bring you two options from which you can choose according to your own personal tastes:
- St James Way [Guest house-led]
Sets out with the express aim of placing our customers in fine guest houses at every stage along the trail.
Bedrooms are all, of course, en suite and comfort levels are high. The objective is to allow you to meet interesting travellers along the Way, who value the same comforts as you, and spend time with hosts who know the area and its history and enjoy sharing it with their guests.
The human factor and the personal touch is thus writ large in this option. Your hosts are accustomed to welcoming Anglophones into their homes although, as with anything in life, your extra effort will be handsomely rewarded and so practicing some French [however rudimentary] is highly recommended.
The homes are either on the Way itself, or your hosts collect you from, and return you to, the trail the next morning. On one day we have two options that may affect the day’s walking length by a couple of kilometres, but we can assure you that you will be richly rewarded.Five of your hosts do not provide an evening meal, simply because the village in question offers a multitude of local options to suit most tastes less than 200 metres away.
- St James Way [Hotel-led]
Allows you to experience the trail by day whilst focusing the evenings on you, your family and close companions. You set the social agenda in the welcoming environment of your hotel bar, restaurant or room. Hotels are on the trail and the average standard is 2-star or higher.
Since the star ratings in French hotels were reassessed in 2013, most hotels have found it pretty easy to be upgraded or at least stay the same: one-star hotels are really offering very basic provision indeed.
We have chosen to place you in a 3-star hotel within walking distance of the railway station in Le Puy en Velay to give you maximum flexibility re your arrival time and excellent comfort from the start.
This is the most popular stretch of France’s Compostelle trails and so early booking is advised. Nevertheless, availability is like a moving escalator and things can change from day to day. Our commitment is to bring you your preferred accommodation option, Hiking St James Way [Guest house-led] or Hiking St James Way [Hotel-led], in its purest form. However, we cannot guarantee that corresponding accommodation will always be available at each stage and so this cannot be a precondition of your booking. Where we are unable to accommodate you in the desired chambres d’hotes or hotel stay on a particular night, you will be placed in the equivalent hotel or guest house, respectively.
- Warm summers; mild and sunny spring & autumn
- Enjoy sub-alpine flora and volcanic plateau to schist valley topography.
- Cross three regions: Auverge, Languedoc-Roussilon and Midi-Pyrenees.
Walking St James Way in Comfort is the French self-discovery trail ‘par excellence.’ Whether you opt for the ‘ Home Comforts’ or ‘By Hotel’ format, you will experience something unique and ‘ecumenical’ along the Way and return home better for it. If you seek one week’s total immersion in rural France, then choose the first section of the Way of St James and do it in style.
Walking St James Way in Comfort: Tour Itinerary
[All distances, times and elevation figures are approximate]
Day 1: Arrival in Le Puy en Velay. Steeped in Christian history, the monuments and squares of Le Puy merit your attention – get there early, check into your centrally-located 3-star hotel and have a good look around. Night in Le Puy.
Le Puy to St Privat.
[14½ miles-23½ kms, 7 hrs,
+600 ms -300 ms].
Across Haute Loire
Climb out of the Puy basin to the Velay Plateau and its volcanic cones and follow the trail above the Dolaizon river to St Christophe. Cross the Devès, France’s largest basalt Plateau, via a series of charming villages and arrive at St Privat, with its Roman-style church and castle vestiges.
Night in St Privat d’Allier.
St Privat to Saugues.
[12 miles-19 kms, 6 hrs, +600 ms -500 ms].
Beast of Gevaudan
You climb to a majestic belvedere before gaining Rochegude with its fine hillside chapel and castle ruins on the Velay-Gevaudan border. Then descend into the Allier Gorge with its own ‘Pao de Açucar’ outcrop before crossing the Eiffel bridge and climbing up past the semi-troglodyte St Madeleine chapel and into the granite mountains of Margeride. The descent to Saugues is a delight.
Night in Saugues.
Saugues to Le Sauvage
[12 miles-19½ kms, approx. 5½ hrs, +350ms -40ms]
The hamlet of La Clauze is dominated by its 12th century tower perched atop a vast granite outcrop. Further on, the walk along the Virlange Valley is a treat and the climb up through the Ranchoulet woods never dull. Say hello to the friendly ‘wild horses’ before descending to Le Sauvage for refreshments and your transfer.
Second night in Saugues – it’s nice not to have to pack that case and enjoy real home comforts!
Le Sauvage to St Alban
[8 miles-13 kms, approx. 3½ hrs, +20ms -350ms]
Designed as a rest day, we start by returning you to Le Sauvage. From there you climb to Hospitalet col and visit the Chapelle de Saint Roche before crossing into Lozere [Languedoc-Roussillon] and descending to St Alban and its Romanesque church. Then enjoy the ambiance and facilities in your fine overnight accommodation. Prepare to be spoiled!
Night in St Alban sur Limagnole.
The option exists to combine days 4 & 5 – please ask our advice.
St Alban to Aumont-Aubrac.
[9 miles-14½ kms, 4 hrs, +280ms -185ms.]
You finish crossing the granite Margeride and enter volcanic Aubrac. A short day full of fine and varied trails and boulder-speckled scenery.
Night in Aumont-Aubrac.
Aumont-Aubrac to Nasbinals
[16½ miles-26½ kms, 7½ hrs, +340ms -190ms]
Today takes you to La Chaze de Peyre, with its splendid communal oven, then onto the charming Chapelle de la Bastide. Soon the forest gives way to enormous expanses of rolling green and cattle–laden pastures.
Night in Nasbinals.
Nasbinals to St Chely d’Aubrac.
[10½ miles-17 kms, 4½ hrs, +135ms -490ms.]
Le vieux pont
This World Heritage-rated walk is blessed with fabulous rolling hillsides before you descend to the village of Aubrac itself, a fine lunch-spot. Then descend into the Lot Valley and enjoy your over-nighter in charming St-Chely.
Night in St-Chely.
Day 9: Departure day – end of Walking St James Way in Comfort Enjoy your breakfast, bon retour et a la prochaine! Please enquire about our optional transfers to Aumont-Aubrac or Le Puy. Bonne continuation and we hope to see you next year.
Independent testimonials about The Enlightened Traveller can be read here:
- Most scenic section of the French Camino
- Quintessentially Christian experience
- Choose between fine guest houses or hotels
- Can be busy
- Early booking is advisable
- First two days are the most challenging
Discover the real you and deepest rural France in the company of kindred spirits from all over the world."
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