Saint-Guilhem Way is an ancient transhumance route linking the lush green plateaux of Aubrac in the Massif Central to the parched Mediterranean lowlands of the Languedoc.
The Saint-Guilhem Way is one for the purists – one of the best walking tours in southern France.”
- Margot Shona, The Enlightened Traveller.
Saint-Guilhem Way was bustling with caravans of mules and traders from the early Middle Ages They were eagerly transporting their produce to and from the fairs of Meyrueis and Le Vigan: salt, wine, oil, milk, cheese, lace and leather. Close on their heels were pilgrims, keen to visit the abbey of Gellone. This is the resting place for William of Orange, with its relic of the Holy Cross donated by his cousin, Emperor Charlemagne. From here pilgrims would join the Arles Route and kick on eastwards to Rome or westwards to Santiago de Compostela.
Saint-Guilhem Way is Languedoc’s drovers’ trail par excellence: an ancient thoroughfare for transhumance. Unlike its cousin to the east, Le Chemin de St-Gilles, it has not fallen foul to tarmacking and the automobile. The path offers an extraordinary variety of landscapes en route as you cross the three departments of Lozère, Gard and Herault and get a sniff of a fourth at the beginning – Aveyron.
- Per person in a shared double or twin-bedded room:
£1280.00 Pounds Sterling or €1425.00 Euros
- Per person in a shared double or twin-bedded room:
£1065.00 Pounds Sterling or €1180.00 Euros
- “One of the best walking tours in southern France.”
- Enjoy a transhumance, medieval trading and pilgrimage trail crossing Lozère, Gard and Herault.
- Hike an extraordinary variety of landscapes, including Causses/limestone tabletops, Gorges and the magnificent Cirque de Navacelles.
- Visit and stay in some of southern France’s most picturesque villages.
- Big finish in Saint-Guilhem-le-Dèsert.
- 11 or 9-night, moderate self-guided tour
- Start any day in May and June, and from September to mid-October. (Avoid arriving in Aumont from 21 to 24 May).
- 11-night tour starts in Aumont-Aubrac and finishes in Saint-Guilhem-le-Dèsert.
- 9-night tour starts in La Canourge/Banassac.
- Best access is via Claremont-Ferrand to Aumont-Aubrac or Banassac-La Canourge gare SNCF. SEE FULL DETAILS BELOW under Getting to Aumont-Aubrac or Banassac-La Canourge & from Saint Guilhem.
- The best accommodation at every stage of the Way and high comfort levels for such a remote trail.
- We transport your luggage, you just carry a light day pack.
- 11 or 9 nights nights Bed and Breakfast in ‘2 or 3-star standard’ hotels and auberges and all hotel taxes
- 11 or 9 evening meals, plus three or one picnic lunch/es, respectively.
- Luggage transfers¹ from inn to inn.
- Taxi transfer from either Aumont-Aubrac to Aubrac (11-night trip) or from Banassac SNCF station to La Canourge (9-night trip). Plus morning transfer from La Canourge and return transfers Navacelles-Les Natges.
- Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
- 1:50,000 scale maps & themed vacation dossier.
- Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking backup.
¹ You are entitled to take one suitcase per person weighing up to 20 kgs – i.e., no suitcase must exceed 20kgs.
Remaining meals and all drinks and extras;
entrances into any optional cultural visits and venues;
hiking, personal and travel insurances;
travel to Aumont-Aubrac or Banassac-La Canourge and from Saint Guilhem.
These details are non-contractual and subject to change.
the TER Site here.
Aumont-Aubrac has its own SNCF station.
• By air to the following airports: Paris, Claremont-Ferrand, Lyon, Bezier or Montpellier. Nimes or Rodez are options if coming from the UK.
• By rail
- Best access is from Claremont-Ferrand for onward SNCF train or bus to Aumont-Aubrac.
- From Nimes via Mende with onward SNCF bus to Aumont-Aubrac.
- From Montpellier gare SNCF to Millau by tramway and SNCF bus (90 mins), for onward SNCF bus to Marvejols (65 mins).
- From Bezier, there’s one direct morning train to Aumont-Aubrac in as little as 3.30 mins.
- From Lyon via Saint-Etienne-Chtx and Clermont-Ferrand to Aumont-Aubrac.
- From Millau to Aumont-Aubrac.
- From Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF to Aumont-Aubrac.
- From Millau Gare SNCF to Aumont-Aubrac.
- From Millau Gare SNCF to Marvejols.
- From Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF in 3.30 mins.
- From Montpellier gare SNCF to Beziers by train (49 mins), for onward train to Banassac La Canourge (2 hrs 50 mins).
- From Bezier there’s one direct morning train to Banassac in under 3 hours.
- From Montpellier gare SNCF to Millau by tramway and SNCF bus (90 mins), for onward SNCF bus to Banassac (40 mins).
- From Millau – as above.
- To Gignac bus station for onward coaches to Bezier, Montpellier or Millau. Taxi will cost about 30€ euros (Monday to Saturday) and 45€ on Sunday.
- From St Guilhem Le Désert (Bus ligne 308, excl. Sundays) to MONTPELLIER (in 55 minutes). One bus per day departing at 12:45 hrs and arriving at 13:40 in Montpellier (tramway at Mosson stop, Lines 1 & 3).
- From GIGNAC (Bus ligne 301/381) to MILLAU (in 100 minutes) and MONTPELLIER (in 30 minutes).
Example – from Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF: dep at 10.50 by SNCF coach, arrive in Aumont at 12.32; or dep at 13.03 by train, arriving in Aumont at 15.53.
Example – from Nimes gare SNCF: depart at 12.22 by train, change at Mende and arrive in Aumont-Aubrac at 16.48 (4 hrs 26 mins).
Example – from Montpellier: depart on SNCF bus at 12.05 from tramway at Mosson stop (Lines 1 & 3), arriving in Millau at 13.35; onward SNCF bus departs Millau at 15: 05, arriving in Marvejols at 16.10 – we can transfer you by taxi from here.
From Bezier gare SNCF: dep at 09.37, arrive in Aumont at 13.10.
Example – from Lyon-Part-Dieu gare SNCF: depart at 09.24 by train. Change at Saint-Etienne-Chtx for SNCF bus to Clermont-Ferrand, followed by train to Aumont-Aubrac arriving at 15.52 (6 hrs 28 mins).
Example – from Millau gare SNCF: depart at 11.29 by train direct to Aumont-Aubrac arriving at 13.10 (1 hr 41 mins).
• By bus:
This service is run by Autocars Lozère and the SNCF and there are three services each day:
Example: departure from Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF at 10.50 by SNCF coach, arriving in Aumont at 12.40 (not on Sundays or National holidays); departure from Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF at 13.03 by SNCF coach, arriving in Aumont at 15.52 (not on Sundays or National holidays) or departure at 16.50 by Autocars Lozère coach, arriving in Aumont at 18.45.
There is one SNCF bus per day, departing from Millau at 08.40, arriving in Aumont-Aubrac at 10.29.
There is one bus per day, departing from Millau at 15.05, arriving in Marvejols at 16.10. Onward taxi transfer.
• By rail:
Example from Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF: dep at 10.50 by SNCF coach, arrive in Marvejols at 13h05; change for Banassac La Canourge, dep at 13. 53 by train, arriving at 14.17.
Example from Montpellier gare SNCF: depart on SNCF train at 08: 20, arrive Beziers at 09: 09; onward train departs at 09: 37, arriving in Banassac at 12: 27.
From Bezier gare SNCF: dep at 09.37, arrive in Banassac at 12h27.
These details are non-contractual and subject to change.
or the TER Site here.
• By bus:
Example from Montpellier gare SNCF: depart on SNCF bus at 12: 05 from tramway at Mosson stop (Lines 1 & 3), arrive Millau at 13: 35; onward bus departs Millau at 15: 05, arriving in Banassac at 15: 45.
• By Taxi
• By bus:
Further details from: herault-transport.fr or
- A mix of very comfortable, family-run, hotels and auberges.
- We aim to bring you five ‘3-star’ hotels, two ‘2-star’ hotels and four ‘2-star standard’ countryside auberges.
- En-suite facilities.
- Evening meals follow a fixed menu format for all half-board guests and do not include drinks. All showcase ‘produits du terroirs’ typical of the regions through which you walk.
- Most hotel menus provide a meat or fish dish, plus a vegetarian option. You can opt for greater choice from the whole menu (à la carte) for a supplement – please ask your hosts about this.
- Auberges function around one common meal of which all guests partake, bar vegetarians, who would have an alternative dish.
- Hot and dry summers; mild and sunny spring & autumn
- Unless you are used to walking in temperatures of 28+c, we advise you to avoid choosing this trail for July & August.
- Enjoy extremely varied countryside: the High Aubrac plateaux and Causses; the deeply incised canyons of the Tarn, Jonte and Vis; not forgetting the schist hills and valleys of Cevennes.
After the volcanic uplands of Aubrac, stride out across the Northern Causse, the Causse de Sauveterre, and cross the River Lot and the Tarn Gorge. Then climb up to Causse Mejean and walk the Mont Aigoual massif. Traverse the Causse de Blandas, before plunging into the topographic marvel that is La Cirque de Navacelles. Explore the Vis Gorge on the penultimate day before enjoying one of the best day’s hiking Le Midi has to offer: the descent to the grande finalé, Saint-Guilhem-le-Dèsert.
Packed with Heritage
This self-guided walking tour offers a moderate challenge, with a total distance of 120 miles. So you average 12 miles or 19 Kilometres per day. The Saint-Guilhem Way uses existing GR trails newly-badged by a Saint-Guilhem shield. Depart from the highlands of World Heritage Aubrac in the north (1350 ms altitude) and walk south to UNESCO’s Saint-Guilhem Le Desert (105 ms alt.). En route your hiking trip is punctuated by some of southern France’s most picturesque villages, farmsteads and churches; an impressive assortment of stone crosses, menhirs, bridges and hermitages; and complemented by a mix of small-scale characterful and comfortable accommodations. Due to bottlenecks, the maximum (self-composed) group size is eight.
Saint-Guilhem Way is best accessed by train via Aumont-Aubrac (full tour) or Banassac-La Canourge (abridged version) and the trail best walked in May, June, September and the first half of October. Customers who have already walked our Le Puy to Conques and Tarn Gorges trails can fear not: you will not re-walk any paths hitherto hiked, but you do get the chance to revisit the bijou villages of Aubrac, Ste-Enimie and Meyrueis.
Distances, elevations and timings are approximate, with no breaks included.
Aubrac to Col du Trébatut
[Approx. 13 miles/21 kms,
+445 ms/-365 ms,
6 hrs walking]
Chaos de Rajas
Short transfer to Aubrac where you see the first of the eponymous cows before descending to an ancient Roman trail. Cross a denuded plateau, follow a minor road to Laz Croix de la Rode before branching out across prairie to the isolated gîte des Rajas. Enjoy refreshments at the Relais des lacs de Bonnecombe (1391 ms) before commencing the descent through the forest to the col des Trébatuts and your comfortable auberge.
Night in Col du Trébatut.
Col du Trébatut to
[Approx. 9 miles/14½ kms,
+70 ms/-590 ms, 4½ hrs].
We continue our descent through forest and across prairies to the picturesque and busy village of Saint Germain du Teil. Then climb to the Croix du Bois du Juge with its impressive belvedere before enjoying some fine countryside trails en route to the River Lot at Banassac and its twin village, La Canourge.
Night in La Canourgue.
La Canourgue to Sainte-Enimie
[Approx.13 miles/21 kms,
+220 ms/-595 ms, 5½ hrs]
An after-breakfast transfer cuts out an initial 450 mètre climb and drops you onto the plateau du Plo de la Can. Cross the Causse de Sauveterre, a vast limestone plateau and home to herds of grazing sheep roaming between isolated hamlets, testimony to the harsh life of the few who still choose to live here. After picturesque Champerboux, we start the impressive descent into the Tarn Gorge for your overnight stay in the honeypot village of Sainte Enimie.
(9-night tour starts from Banassac-La Canourge.)
Night in Sainte-Enimie.
Ste-Enimie to Nivoliers
[Approx. 9½ miles/15 kms, +560 ms/-95 ms,
6½ hrs walking]
A morning climb gives up some glorious views back down to the village and along the Gorge. Take your time and take it all in! The tree-covered western Causse Mejean is a delight to hike and we prefer the wilder GR60 crossing favoured by transhumance. The village of Nivoliers is a peach, and the auberge comfortable and with great food.
Night in Nivoliers.
Nivoliers to Meyrueis
[Approx. 8 miles/13 kms, +220 ms/–470 ms,
5 hrs walking]
Another reason we favour the GR60 is that we couldn’t bear the thought of you missing this day’s walking – short but very, very sweet. Unforgettable countryside, a lost hamlet and the GRP with jaw-dropping views of the Jonte Gorge and eventually of Meyrueis itself. Enjoy the descent and your evening canal-side.
Night in Meyrueis.
(Option to combine Days 5 and 6 – but makes two consecutive and challenging days)
Meyrueis to L’Espérou.
[Approx. 12½ miles/20 kms, +675 ms/–255 ms,
7½ hrs walking].
Another morning climb and this time via a variant that is off-road and much more interesting than the standard GR6/66. Pass the menhir de la Pierre Plantée and arrive at the abime de Bramabiau (impressive sink hole and river source, paid visits only) and its restaurant (optional visit). Your path climbs ‘Happiness Valley’ and continues in the shadows of Mont Aigoual via the Serreyride and Espérou cols before you descend to the latter.
Night in L’Espérou.
L’Espérou to Avèze
(or Le Vigan)
[Approx. 13½ miles/21½ kms, +105 ms/–980 ms, 6 hrs walking]
Leaving the foothills of Mont Aigoual, we follow the Great Languedocienne Drover’s Trail. From the col de la Broue (1100 ms) we descend to Le Vigan, capital of southern Cévennes via the quaint medieval village of Aulas. Follow the course of the River Arre out of Le Vigan to Avèze.
Night in Avèze or Le Vigan.
Avèze (or Le Vigan) to Navacelles.
[Approx. 13 miles/21 kms, +540 ms/–555 ms, 6½ hrs walking].
Climb up to Causse de Blandas and lunch at Montardier. An irate farmer has caused a long detour, but we recommend a short passage along a B road with some interesting menhirs, dolmens and stone circles, testimony to neolithic man’s presence on the plateau. Refreshments at Blandas before stepping out towards the Navacelles visitor centre and the panoramamic Cirque de Navacelles itself. The descent into the Vis Gorge is steep but spectacular, and your overnighter in the hamlet of Navacelles, memorable.
Night in Navacelles.
Navacelles to Les Natges.
[Approx. 11 miles/17½ kms, +600 ms/–310 ms, 5½ hrs]
Cirque de Navacelles
The climb out of the Gorges is rude but exhilarating and you follow a water canal carved into the rock before rejoining the plateau and arriving in the village de Saint Maurice de Navacelles for your picnic lunch by its XVII century Château. Then it’s a gentle descent down valley to the tiny farming hamlet of Les Natges. Collection and return to Navacelles by your hosts.
Second night in Navacelles.
Les Natges to St Guilhem Le Désert
[Approx. 10 miles/16 kms, +60 ms/–590 ms, 5¾ hrs]
Notre Dames hermitage
After-breakfast transfer to Les Natges. The final stage will remain long in the memory as you enjoy multiple panoramas on the cirque de la Seranne and the summits of Peyre Martine and Roc Blanc. The magnificent descent on dolomite rock and through Salzmann pines is a pleasure to behold and is guaranteed to delight your soles. Pass the Notre Dames hermitage and the clifftop castle ruins overlooking the Languedoc Plain before your arrival in saintly Saint Guilhem.
Night in St Guilhem Le Désert
Day 11: Departure day: end of The Saint-Guilhem Way – Breakfast, bon retour et a la prochaine! Onward Bus or taxi transfer and bus to Montpellier or Millau – own arrangements and not included in the tour fees. See drop-down box above-right entitled “Getting to Nasbinals or Banassac & from Saint Guilhem.”
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Independent testimonials about walking the Stevenson Way with The Enlightened Traveller can be read here:
- Spectacular scenery throughout - an extraordinary variety of landscapes
- So many reasons to enjoy this transhumance, medieval trading and pilgrimage trail - not to mention its rich flora and fauna.
- The magnificent Cirque de Navacelles and the Big Finish: Saint-Guilhem-le-Dèsert.
- Only for small groups - but isn't that positive?
- Too hot to handle in July and August.
- Rustic accommodation in a couple of remote areas - but you stay in the best available throughout, incl. five 3-star hotels!
A veritable journey of discovery from start to finish: from the rolling green uplands of Aubrac, across limestone table-top and the deeply-incised canyons to the wonders of Navacelles and Saint-Guilhem."
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