Le Puy to Conques: Itinerary:
France’s classic Le Puy to Conques walk follows a 210 km route that takes walkers along a number of river valleys and the great expanse of the Aubrac.
The walk can be done in as little as 8 days, but for a more pleasurable walking experience 10 days plus one rest day at Aumont Aubrac, is recommended. In planning an itinerary, some of the considerations in determining the distance for each day should include the type of terrain, the accommodation, weather, time of year and how fit one is.
The following is an outline of the 10-day walk itinerary that we chose. We decided on this itinerary because of the reasonable distances and the available accommodation.
Begin at: Le Puy-en-Velay.
How to get there: Take a train from Paris Gare de Lyon to St. Etienne, and then a local train to Le Puy.
Day 1. Le Puy- St Privat d’allier (22 km)
– After exploring Le Puy the previous day, the GR 65 soon takes you out into the countryside. Climb out of Le Puy and onto a large plateau passing small villages and a chapel dedicated to St. Roch, the patron saint of pilgrims.
Day 2. to Sauges (18 km)
Up out of the valley and along the trail to Saugues.
Stay at the hotel which is the traditional meeting place for all pilgrims coming from the Auvergne region.
Day 3. to Les Faux (25 km)
Continue along the valley to Clauze past forests of pines. Visit Chapelle-Saint Roch with a statue of St. Roch with his dog. Some pilgrims may prefer to walk a part of today’s route and take the local coach the rest of the way.
Day 4. to Aumont Aubrac (27 km)
Visit the village of St. Alban and its Romanesque church. Desolate region, treeless yet with wild flowers, we follow part of the old Roman road of Agrippa into Aumont. Some pilgrims may prefer to walk a part of today’s route and take the local coach the rest of the way.
Day 5. to Nasbinals (26 km)
Cross the remote and vast plateau of Aubrac. Warm clothing advised (except July/August). Burons- huts built of lava and granite topped by limestone slabs. Drailles – old drove roads. Follow the forest path. Take lunch.
Nasbinals- market town with 11th century Romanesque church. Statues of St. James and St. Roch inside. Some pilgrims may prefer to walk a part of today’s route and take the local coach the rest of the way.
Day 6. to St Chely d’Aubrac (17 km)
Tiny hamlets and ancient bridges. Lunch at Aubrac. Aubrac – The village was founded by a Flemish knight who was attacked by bandits while on his way to Santiago. On his return journey he was almost killed during a wild storm here. He decided to build a pilgrim refuge on the site of his deliverance. Aubrac is a great transhumance centre where livestock is moved to and from for seasonal grazing. Walk past the Tour des Anglais, constructed in 1353 as a defence against the English during the 100 years War. Pass the ruins of Templar castle and make our way down into St. Chely.
Day 7. to Espalion (26 km)
Take lunch. Some pilgrims may prefer to walk a part of today’s route and take the local coach the rest of the way. To the Lot Valley. St-Come-d’Olt is classified as a “Les plus beaux villages de France.” The village of Espalion with its pilgrim bridge.
Day 8. to Estaing (11 km)
Church of St. Pierre-de-Bessuejouls has a chapel of pink sandstone.
Estaing has the festival of St. Fleuret in which costumed folk follow a procession to commemorate St. Jacques and pilgrims. The chateau of the Counts of Estaing is now a monastery with mass said daily.
Day 9. to Espeyrac (25 km)
Take lunch or have it at Golinhac. Some pilgrims may prefer to walk a part of today’s route and take the local coach the rest of the way.
Day 10. to Conques (13 km) – your destination!
Walk through Senergues with its picturesque castle. A dramatic descent into Conques, one of the finest hill-towns in France. Lunch at Conques. Visit shrines and relics reputed to cure blindness and restore vigour.
How to get back from Conques: Taxi to Rodez and a train to Toulouse, then to Paris. Another option is: 08.15 bus to Rodez train to Toulouse about 5 hrs, then to Paris.
Our Take: Walking this old pilgrim path is a real treat. You get to stay in some wonderful hotel accommodation in ancient villages. The scenery varies every day. Conques is a remarkable place.