Walking St James Way in Comfort in France is one of the ‘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 – aka The Compostella trail.
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 – choose from Chambres d’hotes du charme or comfortable hotels averaging 3-star or superior 2-star standard. You only get one bite at the cherry, so here’s your chance to do it in style.
Our hotel-led, St James Way experience brings you:
- four 3-star hotels,
- two 2-star hotels, and
- a recently-refurbished gites d’etape with all mod-cons.
Our guest house-led trip sees you staying in the homes of families who live and breath the Camino on a daily basis. They are all located on the trail itself. Your hosts have unique insights into The Way and will be delighted to share these stories with you over a wholesome dinner in the company of other international travellers. Being able to speak a little French would be advantageous, but everyone just gets along fine in this quintessentially shared and ecumenical experience where the linga franca is English.
Of course, we haven’t talked about the walking yet – but then can thirty-five thousand and counting on-foot 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-Rhône-Alpes and Occitanie] before.
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 as you ‘cross the desert’ and then re-join ‘normal life’ re-charged and re-vitalised.
- Le Puy to St-Chely: guest-house based tour
£715.00 Pounds Sterling or €795.00 Euros
(Price per person based on 2 persons sharing double room)
- Le Puy to St-Chely: hotel-based trip
£825.00 Pounds Sterling or €920.00 Euros
(Price per person based on 2 persons sharing double room)
• Extra nights: On Request
• The option exists to split day 4 into two with an extra night in Saugues – please ask our advice. Alternatively, a short morning transfer option can reduce the day’s length.
• Where we are unable to accommodate you in the desired hotel or guest house on a particular night, you will be placed in the equivalent guest house or hotel at that location. The price for that night will be either reduced or increased accordingly.
- 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.
- 7-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 hotels averaging 3-star or superior 2-star standard, or chambres d’hotes du charme and auberges.
- Optional return transfer to Aumont-Aubrac or Le Puy at tour’s end – please ask us for details.
- Luggage transfers throughout.
- 7 nights bed and breakfast and all local hotel taxes
- 4 evening meals [guest-house based] or 5 evening meals [Hotel-based], 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 backup from 8am to 8pm.
¹ You are entitled to take one piece of luggage per person, each weighing up to 15kgs – i.e., no suitcase must exceed 15kgs. 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/High Speed Railway from Paris or Lille] with onward train journey to Le Puy via St Etienne (2 hrs 20 mins by Regional Railway/TER.).
- Next-best access is via Nimes or Montpellier airports, with onward TGV to Lyon – 30 and 60 minute journeys, respectively.
- Alternative option is via Clermont-Ferrand gare SNCF or airport, with onward TER regional train to Le Puy via St Etienne.
- By Car: leave your car in the central Le Puy car park – ask us for details.
These details are non-contractual and subject to change.
the TER Site here (Regional railways).
• 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.
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 – Chambres d’hotes du charme-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 on the Way itself. Three of your hosts do not provide an evening meal, simply because the village in question offers a series 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. There are four 3-star hotels, two 2-star and a recently-upgraded auberge/gite.
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 [Chambres d’hotes du charme-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 du charme or hotel stay on a particular night, you will be placed in the equivalent hotel or guest house, respectively; with a corresponding increase or decrease in fees for that night documented on your final bill.
- 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 Guest House or 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 St Alban
[20 miles-32½ kms, 8 hrs, +370ms -390ms]
Traverse the hamlet of La Clauze with its imposing 12th century tower, walk the picturesque Virlange Valley and climb through the Ranchoulet woods. Descend to Le Sauvage for lunch.
Climb to Hospitalet col and visit the Chapelle de Saint Roche before crossing into the department of Lozère and descending to St Alban.
Night in St Alban sur Limagnole.
The option exists to split day 4 into two with an extra night in Saugues – please ask our advice. Alternatively, a short morning transfer option can reduce the day’s length.
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 8: 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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