Le Puy to Conques: A Classic pilgrimage trail through France:
The Le Puy to Conques Walk is one of the best loved walks in France. This walk takes you over a number of ranges and valleys including the Auvergne plateau and the Lot River valley.
We start off in the marvellous city of Le Puy-en-Velay (Le Puy) with its Black Madonna, Sauges with its wooden sculptures, Espalion and Estaing with their bridges and Conques with its Abbey church and dedication to St. Foy.
Alison Raju wrote one of the original guidebooks ‘The Way of St James’, which is a useful book, with maps, route directions and accommodation suggestions.
The Le Puy to Conques route is 210 km long and for those contemplating this trail for their walking holiday in France, planning is required. Although the GR 65 (Grand Randonnee) path is well marked, a map and compass is required as you can find yourself meandering off the route.
Some general information about the walk: Le Puy to Conques Route: Starting from Le Puy, the 210 km trail wends its way westwards and ends at Conques, an old pilgrimage centre. The French countryside is definitely picturesque and there are some steeper sections to cross.
Some Highlights: Le Puy’s conical hills and the chapel of St Michael, Chapel of St Roche near St Privat D’Allier, Church of St Pierre Bessejouls, burons (shepherds huts) on the Auvergne, Tours des Anglais at Aubrac, St. Come-d’Olt with the church of the twisted spire, and the chapel of St Foy in the woods outside Conques.
Walking Route Planner: The number of days required depends on how fit and how quickly or leisurely you want your walking holiday to be. Work out the average number of kilometres you are prepared to do in a day, taking into account the landscape and the town or village in which you will end your day. It’s also nice to plan on arriving a little earlier in a village if there are interesting attractions you may like to visit, such as in Aumont Aubrac or Espalion. We did the walk in 13 days, however it’s also possible to do it in 10 days.
Luggage transfer: This efficient service is readily available and can be organized through a number of tour operators on the ‘self-guided’ or ‘guided’ itineraries.
Your Le Puy to Conques Accommodation: This is usually in auberges or hotels and should be booked in advance.
Food: The French regional foods served in towns and villages will satisfy epicureans and there are wide choices in their menu. The local wines are recommended. Most hotel and restaurant owners can cater for vegetarians or people with other food preferences. Be sure to have a meal at the restaurant in Gohinlac.
When to go? The European Spring and Autumn seasons are recommended as accommodation is easier to obtain and the tourist numbers are lower.
Walking Gear: Good walking boots and socks are critical. Your shoes should have been worn in. It does rain in France, so take wet weather gear, both jacket and trousers. Make sure it’s made from a breathable material like Gore-Tex. Walking poles are also recommended.
Our Take: There is a lot to see on this 210 km journey through France, so don’t forget to bring your camera. Be prepared for wonderful walking. The GR 65 is a French gem, and the village churches will delight you. See you on the track.