Le Puy route

The Le Puy Route, also known as the Via Podiensis or the Le Puy Camino, is one of the most popular and scenic routes of the Camino de Santiago. It begins in the picturesque town of Le Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne region of central France and stretches over 750 kilometers to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, where it connects with the Camino Frances. The route is known for its rich historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and deep cultural experiences.

Variant Options

Along the Le Puy route, there are several variant options that pilgrims can choose, depending on their interests or the need for a shorter or more scenic path. These variants often pass through smaller, less-traveled villages and can offer a more intimate experience of the French countryside.

  1. Cele Valley Variant: This detour offers a quieter path with lush landscapes and less foot traffic.
  2. Rocamadour Variant: This option leads to the historic pilgrimage site of Rocamadour, adding a significant detour but rewarding with its spectacular cliffside setting.

Key Highlights

  • Historical Sites: The route is dotted with ancient churches, monasteries, and historical landmarks, reflecting the deep religious significance of the Camino.
  • Natural Beauty: From the volcanic landscapes of the Velay region to the sweeping vistas of the Aubrac Plateau, the route offers diverse and stunning natural scenery.
  • Cultural Experience: Walking through various regions of France, pilgrims encounter a rich tapestry of French culture, cuisine, and language.

Practical Tips

  • Accommodation: The route is well-served with a range of accommodations, including pilgrim hostels (gîtes), hotels, and B&Bs.
  • Weather: Be prepared for variable weather, especially in the higher elevations of the Aubrac Plateau.
  • Navigation: The route is well-marked with the iconic red and white blaze GR65 trail markers.

The Le Puy Route is more than just a walk; it’s a journey through the heart of France’s spiritual and cultural heritage, offering a deeply enriching experience for every pilgrim who walks its path.

Stages with Variants

The GR-65, also known as the Via Podiensis or the Le Puy Route, is a famed pilgrimage route that forms part of the Camino de Santiago network. Here’s a list of its stages with brief descriptions:

  1. Le Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Privat-d’Allier (24 km): Begins in the historic town of Le Puy-en-Velay, known for its cathedral and religious artifacts, and traverses hilly terrain.
  2. Saint-Privat-d’Allier to Saugues (19 km): Features a descent into the Allier Gorge before climbing back up to the Margeride plateau, offering stunning vistas.
  3. Saugues to Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole (22 km): Passes through the rugged landscapes of the Gevaudan region, known for its legends and pastoral beauty.
  4. Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole to Aumont-Aubrac (15 km): A gentler walk through the Margeride area, characterized by its peaceful countryside.
  5. Aumont-Aubrac to Nasbinals (26 km): Enters the Aubrac Plateau, a highland area with unique landscapes and isolated hamlets.
  6. Nasbinals to Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac (17 km): Continues across the Aubrac Plateau, featuring open landscapes and traditional stone houses.
  7. Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac to Espalion (22 km): Descends from the plateau to the Lot Valley, revealing a shift in landscape and architecture.
  8. Espalion to Estaing (11 km): A picturesque stage along the Lot River, leading to the medieval village of Estaing with its impressive château.
  9. Estaing to Golinhac (20 km): Climbs out of the Lot Valley through wooded areas and farmland, reaching the rural village of Golinhac.
  10. Golinhac to Conques (22 km): Descends into the Dourdou Valley, culminating in the medieval town of Conques, a highlight with its abbey and tympanum.
  11. Conques to Decazeville (18 km): A steep climb out of Conques, followed by a descent into the mining town of Decazeville.
  12. Decazeville to Figeac (26 km): Passes through varied landscapes, including the Lot Valley, before reaching the historic town of Figeac.
  13. Figeac to Cajarc (32 km): Leads through the picturesque Célé Valley with its cliffs and caves, arriving in the town of Cajarc.
  14. Cajarc to Limogne-en-Quercy (19 km): Continues through the Célé Valley, characterized by its natural beauty and tranquility.
  15. Limogne-en-Quercy to Lalbenque (19 km): A pleasant walk through the Quercy region, known for its truffles and limestone plateaus.
  16. Lalbenque to Cahors (20 km): Enters the wine region of Cahors, with vineyards and the famous Valentré Bridge as highlights.
  17. Cahors to Lascabanes (24 km): Leaves Cahors via the Lot River, transitioning into a more rural setting with small villages.
  18. Lascabanes to Lauzerte (23 km): A scenic walk to the hilltop medieval village of Lauzerte, one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.”
  19. Lauzerte to Moissac (25 km): Descends to the fertile plains of the Garonne Valley, ending in the town of Moissac, famed for its abbey.
  20. Moissac to Auvillar (21 km): Continues through the Garonne Valley to Auvillar, renowned for its circular grain market.
  21. Auvillar to Lectoure (16 km): Walks through the rolling hills of the Gers region, famous for its Armagnac and foie gras, to reach Lectoure.
  22. Lectoure to Condom (32 km): A longer stage through the heart of Gascony, arriving in Condom, known for its cathedral and Armagnac museum.
  23. Condom to Montréal-du-Gers (15 km): A gentle walk through Armagnac vineyards to the bastide town of Montréal-du-Gers.
  24. Montréal-du-Gers to Eauze (16 km): Continues through vineyards and farmland, reaching Eauze, the capital of Armagnac.
  25. Eauze to Nogaro (20 km): Passes through more vineyards and the undulating landscapes of the Bas-Armagnac region.
  26. Nogaro to Aire-sur-l’Adour (28 km): Features a mix of farmland and small woods, ending in the historic town of Aire-sur-l’Adour.
  27. Aire-sur-l’Adour to Arzacq-Arraziguet (33 km): Enters the Béarn region, characterized by gentle hills and pastoral scenery.
  28. Arzacq-Arraziguet to Maslacq (29 km): A rural stage through the Béarn countryside, marked by peaceful scenery.
  29. Maslacq to Navarrenx (19 km): Continues through Béarn, leading to the fortified town of Navarrenx.
  30. Navarrenx to Aroue (28.5 km): Enters the Basque Country, with its distinctive culture, architecture, and landscapes.
  31. Aroue to Ostabat (20 km): A journey through traditional Basque villages, merging with other Camino paths.
  32. Ostabat to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (21.5 km): The final stage, culminating in the picturesque and historic town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a major Camino starting point.

Each stage of the GR-65 offers its own unique blend of cultural, historical, and natural sights, making the journey a rich and varied experience.

Célé Valley Variant

  1. Figeac to Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie (30 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte Communal d’Espagnac
  2. Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie to Marcilhac-sur-Célé (20 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte de Marcilhac
  3. Marcilhac-sur-Célé to Cabrerets (20 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte Le Pech d’Anglars
  4. Cabrerets to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (16 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte d’étape de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
  5. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie to Vers (14 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte d’étape de Vers
  6. Vers to Cahors (17 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte d’étape Le Carthage

Rocamadour Variant

  1. Figeac to La Capell-Marival (19 km)
  2. La Capell-Marival to Gramat (21 km)
  3. Gramat to Rocamadour (12 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte Le Terminus des Pèlerins
  4. Rocamadour to Labastide-Murat (20 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte Le Relais des Pèlerins
  5. Labastide-Murat to Vers (27 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte d’étape de Vers (as above)
  6. Vers to Cahors (17 km)
    • Gîte: Gîte d’étape Le Carthage (as above)