Walking Party-St James’s Way

 

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Choose from two parts of the old pilgrim path of Saint James of Compostella;  from Le Puy to Conques, through the magnificent countryside of the Auvergne, or  from Figeac to Cahors, featuring the landscape of  Quercy Regional Park, from dramatic plateau to beautiful cliff-lined river valleys.

LE PUY TO CONQUES

Le Puy to Conques dates – 7-13  April, 2019, & 1-7 September 2019

Distance: 49kms, Walking:  moderate+

Prices: 2690 euros per person, single room supplement – 360 euros

Day 1        You will be met at Toulouse Blagnac airport at 10.30 by James and driven to Le Puy en Velay for your first night.  Stop for lunch at Rodez and view the Pierre Soulages museum.  Pierre Soulages deals with light through painting in black which is quite an apt way to start the chemin!.  We will continue driving to Le Puy, arrive about 18.00 at the three star Hotel Regina.  All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite. There will be time to wander around the old town and to get an idea of the history of this historic place, before dinner in Le Puy.

 Day 2        For those interested, at 7.00am there is a blessing for the pilgrims in the cathedral (Notre Dame de l’Annonciation), but as we are only doing a part of The Way  I feel this is not compulsory.  You will start the walk from the cathedral, going down the steps, then up a hill and meet up with the donkeys.  From now on the going is fla tand we walk towards St Christophe before having a picnic on the plateau surround by the distant soft undulating volcanic hills of the Auvergne.

In the afternoon you continue on foot, accompanied by the donkeys, to the well at Rambourouscle.  Here the vehicles will pick you up for the drive you to Saugues for the comfortable Hotel La Terrasse in the heart of the town.  All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite in the town centre.  Saugues has a good history and is centred around the the 18thcentury stories of the Beast of Gévaudan which relates a sort of man-eating ‘Baskerville’ wolf that was as big as a calf.    Walk: 15km

 Day 3          After an early morning breakfast, we leave with James for Le Villeret.  After a delightful cheese lunch at the farm we will drive to Aubrac for the start of the afternoon walk to the beautiful village of Nasbinals. This is very much a landscape of moors. You are quite high here at 1300 metres and it is barren and strewn with large rocks and threaded with small burns. It is a landscape for Kathy and Heathcliff or the Baskerville hounds!  From Nasbinals you will be driven to Aubrac to your rest place for the next two nights – a beautifully converted hotel.  All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite and simply but very carefully decorated with great taste.  This is a lovely atmosphere in a beautiful remote setting.  We will eat out in the village.   Walk:13km

Day 4        After driving back to Nasbinals, you walk back to Aubrac over the beautiful  moors with ever reaching views.  Picnic lunch at the hotel and then we continue on foot to St Chely d’Aubrac. This is a soft volcanic descent. Beers, or wine or tea in the bar before returning for your last night in Aubrac.   Walk:12km

Day 5       Transfer by car from Aubrac to Estaing and explore this charming village with its castle overlooking the river Lot before starting a walk to another beautiful picnic spot with far reaching views.   Return by car to Estaing for a welcoming hotel overlooking the river. Dinner at the hotel.  Walk:12 km

Day 6        We drive out of Estaing for Espeyrac to meet the  donkeys and Mag and start our walk to Conques.  After three hours and a half we should arrive in the village of Conques. Free time to visit the fabulous cathedral and the medieval streets of this unique village.  Walk: 12km

 Day 7          We drive to Toulouse airport arriving in time for the midday flight.

NOTE:This tour starts and ends at Toulouse airport. The itinerary is subject to change according to local conditions. All mileages shown are approximate.

 

FIGEAC TO CAHORS

Figeac to Cahors dates – 13-19 April 2018, 7-13 September 2019

Distance: 64 kms max (afternoons off are optional)  Walking: moderate+

Prices:  2890 euros per person, single room supplement – 360 euros

Day 1          You will be met at Toulouse Blagnac airport by James and driven to Figeac, stopping for a light lunch on the way in Rodez to see the Pierre Soulages museum. Soulages is an immensely important French contemporary artist and paints in black but talks of light.  I find this an appropriate place to start talking of the St James way!  You will stay your first night at Figeac at the three star Hotel Le Pont d’Or overlooking the river Célé.  All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite. It is a very beautiful medieval town and there will be time to relax and wander before dinner in Figeac.

Day 2         After breakfast you are driven out of Figeac to meet the donkeys and Mag the muleteer and then walk towards Cajarc on the famous pilgrimage route now named the GR65.  This is the original route taken by Bishop Godescalc in 951AD.  The walking is along the plateau with drystone walls and scrub oaks and junipers.  Cajarc is as far as the Vikings could sail down the river Lot in days of yore and here you will stay in a beautiful fortified house on the outskirts of the village.  All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite.  There is a swimming pool. Walk: 12km

 Day 3         After breakfast, we leave again in the vehicles to catch up with the donkeys and Mag as we walk to the heart of the causses. This is characteristic scrubland with oak woods and dotted with ancient dolmens and drystone shepherd huts.  Picnic lunch on the way.  You arrive in Limoges for cold beers and other drinks before driving back to your fortified house near Cajarc for your second night. Dinner at the house. Walk:12km

Day 4         We drive north to a little village on the river Célé to walk the GR65a.  This is what makes the week so interesting as we are using two well-known tracks of the pilgrimage to give you the contrast of the causseswith the dramatic cliff lined valley of the Célé river.  We walk with the donkeys along the Célé river and along the cliffs stopping for a riverside picnic.  For the next two nights you stay at the charming Auberge Sombral in the centre of St Cirq Lapopie, one of the prettiest villages of France.   All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite.  Dinner in St Cirq.  Walk:15km

Day 5          We leave St Cirq to drive to Saint Sulpice where we continue our walk along the Célé valley.  Again this is stunning scenery.  We will picnic on the river in Marcilhac before continuing to the start of our afternoon walk into Cabrerets and then visit the famous prehistoric cave of Pech Merle.  This is a highly important original cave with wonderful geological features as well as paintings.  Return to St Cirq walking along the tow path, a famous art of the St James Way.  Drinks in St Cirq before dinner in the village.   Walk: 15km

 Day 6        We drive out of St Cirq to regain our pilgrimage at the small town of Limogne. We walk through the caussesto a beautiful chateau set in the middle of its large estate in the middle of nowhere.  We have lunch in a very popular local auberge nearby before rejoining the river Lot for a beautiful river walk into Cahors. You will stay at the beautiful Chateau Mercues with its outstanding position and wonderful Michelin starred restaurant.  It is the most prestigious place to end your week, especially for those who have managed the St James Way the week before!!  All bedrooms have bathrooms en suite and stunning views.  Dinner at the hotel.  Walk: 10km

 Day 7          After an early breakfast, drive to Toulouse airport, arriving by 09.30am.

NOTE:This tour starts and ends at Toulouse airport. The itinerary is subject to change according to local conditions. All mileages shown are approximate.

 

 

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