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2
introductory to moderate

Traveller Rating

 

Activities
  • guided walk
Accommodation
  • 10 nights in 2-4 star hotels
Meals
  • 9 Dinners
  • 3 Lunches
  • 10 Breakfasts

11 Days£4440GBP

Overview

Trip Code: CCF

Trip highlights


  • Taste the culinary specialties along the Way of St James
  • Experience the best walks along the route
  • Discover the most beautiful villages and towns whose history is linked to the trail
  • Stay in atmospheric hotels specially chosen for their local flavour

This guided 'Food Lover's' walk along the Camino in France is destined to appeal to a wide range of palates. This exquisitely crafted and zesty itinerary captures the essence of the Way of St James pilgrimage and the many culinary delights to be found along the way. Beginning in Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne, the journey on foot is a rich sensory experience taking in the best sections of the Camino between Le Puy and St Jean Pied de Port, including time in the historic and beautiful towns of Conques, Rocamadour, Saint Come d'Olt and Saint-Cirque-Lapopie. The foodie highlights are endless, with tastings of delectable cheeses, wines and truffles, interspersed with the rustic cooking style for which the region is renowned. From lunch at a small 100 year old family restaurant, to wine and Armagnac tasting, market visits, truffle hunting demonstrations and fine dining, this is a full-bodied experience. Most days include walks for 10-15kms and each night you'll stay in atmospheric accommodations ranging from restored convents to countryside inns and family run hotels.

Countries:

France

Starting Point:

Le Puy en Velay

Finishing Point:

Pau


On arrival in Le Puy en Velay, make your way to the joining hotel on the edge of the historic town centre. In the mid-afternoon (usually 3.30pm), your escort will meet with the group and provide a brief introduction to the tour before heading out for a guided walking tour of the city (at 4pm for approx 2 hrs). You have the option to ascend high up to the iron statue behind the cathedral, the Notre-Dame de France (The Virgin Mary). From here there is a wonderful view of the town and surrounding old volcanic countryside. This afternoon you can also visit the cathedral sacristy to obtain a pilgrim passport and your first stamp. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening.

Meals:  D

Every morning the cathedral conducts mass at 7am followed by a pilgrim blessing and the option to attend before breakfast is the first activity for today. Following breakfast, we'll gather lunch supplies before commencing our food pilgrimage from the steps of the cathedral. Following the bronze shells through the old town, outside the gates and into the countryside evokes a sense of the journey to come. We follow a well worn path passing small chapels and sweeping vistas at a relaxed pace to St-Christophe-sur Dolaison (8.5km). From here, we'll transfer to St-Privat-d'Allier for our picnic lunch. Set high above the gorges of Allier, the next stage of the walk (7km) begins from this small town with a small ascent to one of the many Hundred Years War watch towers which dot the surrounding valleys. The GR65 leads us down to the valley floor and the town of Monistrol d'Allier. Our driver will pick us up here and drive us to Rognac from where we can walk the last stage (2.8km) into Saugues. The town is rich in historic houses and dominated by La Tour des Anglais, a square tower dating back to the 13th Century. The tower takes its name from an episode during the Hundred Years War when a troupe of English soldiers besieged the town. Tonight we are accommodated in a simple hotel with a gastronomic restaurant; a favourite with pilgrims and locals alike. Transfers: 31.5km, 65 minutes Walk: 18.3km +325m, -475m

Meals:  B,D

This morning we take time out to discover the Laguiole museum, where the famous knives are made. Later we head to the Aubrac and visit a typical farm to discover Tome and Fourme cheese and of course try the famous dish of the region, Aligot. The gothic church bell tower of Aubrac holds the great bell, the bell of the lost ones, which in the Middle Ages was rung in stormy weather to help lost pilgrims find their way. This is one of the most sparsely populated regions of France. From here we walk on the Aubrac Plateau to discover this vast volcanic granite landscape, a source of building materials for the local villages. Walking through small villages we descend to Saint-Chely d'Aubrac and on to Les Cambrassats (10.5km) before we transfer to Cinqpeyre. We continue for a further 1km on foot to Saint Come d'Olt, one of the 'plus beaux villages de France'. The village is situated in the Lot valley, between the granite dome of the Aubrac and the Causses (limestone plateau). Dinner and overnight in a convent. Transfers: 103km, 2hrs Walk: 11.5km -497m, +128m

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning after breakfast we transfer to Espeyrac on the GR65 and enjoy a stage of the Way into Conques. The route we follow is largely on quiet country roads (tarmac) with some sections on paths, with the last steep descent into Conques on a stony track. The rewards are great as we make our way into one of the most beautiful towns in France, brimming over with history and with a wonderfully preserved medieval heart. We have a short guided walking tour of Conques later in the afternoon then there's free time to explore the town and Abbey or relax at one of the many cafes. Transfer: 50km, 1hr Walk: 12km -350m, +265m

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning is all about the truffle, a key ingredient in the regions cuisine. Following a transfer we arrive at a truffle orchard with its oaks, hazel bushes, vines and hedges. We learn about this mysterious fungus; its history, cultivation, soils required and ageing. A truffle hound will give a demonstration of 'cavage' or truffle hunting. We have the opportunity to sample the truffle, then have lunch before we continue by vehicle to Rocamadour. For over 1000 years, the town set high on a cliff about the Alzou River, has been an important pilgrimage destination as it was built on the site of a shrine to Madonna. The healing powers associated with this have drawn pilgrims and the town flourished as a result. We spend the afternoon walking around this UNESCO World Heritage village, marvelling at the well preserved buildings and dramatic cliff top position. Transfers: 150km, 3.5hrs

Meals:  B,D

From Rocamadour we transfer to Montcléra with its 16th Century fortification, before continuing on foot to Frayssinet-le-Gelat (about 7km). The centre of the village is a crossroad dominated by an imposing Romanesque church with a memorial to the villagers who lost their lives in both World Wars. Then we transfer to Pomarède, where we will enjoy a special lunch. The history of this restaurant is well documented in Mary Moody's book ‘Lunch at Madame Murat’s’ and through her television series. Following our plentiful lunch, we transfer to Cahors on the Lot River, with its lovely 14th Century bridge, “Pont Valentré”. Our hotel for two nights is located on the riverfront. Since Celtic times, the town has had a rich history. It is known as the centre of AOC ‘black’ wine which has been produced since the Middle Ages and exported via Bordeaux, long before that famous region developed its own viticulture industry. The choice is yours as to where to dine this evening. Transfers: 85km, 2hrs Walks: 9.5km

Meals:  B,L

This morning we spend time at the Cahors markets and purchase our lunch supplies. Cahors' local produce market is centred around the cathedral on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is well attended by locals. Selling anything from flowers to local cheeses, freshly baked bread, colourful spices spilling out of hessian sacks and dried sausages and much more, the markets are a thoroughly enjoyable sensory experience. Armed with fresh goodies for our picnic lunch we transfer to Grotte de Pech-Merle and work up our appetite during our walk to Saint Cirque Lapopie, another of the 'plus beaux village de France'. Return to Cahors for a special wine tasting and Michelin star (red) dinner. Transfers: 58km, 1hr 20mins Walks: 9.7km

Meals:  B,D

Leaving Cahors, we transfer to Lauzerte, to continue our walk (5.6km) along the Way of St James. You can then continue walking (6.1km) from the Chapelle d’Espis to Moissac, or transfer to Moissac. For those interested in architecture and engineering, in Moissac you can take a walk along the canal to the 'Canal Bridge' which enables the barges travelling along the Canal de Garonne to cross the Tarn River (356m below). The aqueduct is one of the largest canal bridges in France and was built in 1846. Later this afternoon, we have a guided tour of the abbey of Saint-Pierre, which with its Romanesque cloister and ornately carved Tympanum is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The abbey is home to an array of remarkable sculptures. This evening we have a typical dinner in a centrally located restaurant. Transfer: 55km, 1hr Walk: 5.6km + optional 6.1km

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast we have a short drive to Auvillar, another picturesque village. Situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Garonne river, the town dates back to the Romans and is surrounded by ancient fortified walls with gateways granting access to the centre. One of the gateways passes under a 17th Century clock tower whose alternating levels of white stone with the typical red-brick of the region gives it a distinctive character. After a short guided tour of the historic heart we continue to the impressive village of Larressingle in the Gers. The fortified walls of the village date back to the 13th Century and it was the home of the bishops from Condom in the Middle Ages. Here we have our picnic lunch before walking to the Roman Pont d’Artigues, which is 1000 km from Santiago and UNESCO classified. We continue on foot to Montreal, before transferring to Eauze, an historic market town in the Midi Pyrenees. There's some free time to explore before we head to an Armagnac producing estate to visit the distillery and the ageing cellars. May departure: Transfer to our hotel in Saint-Palais (2hrs) for dinner and overnight Sep departure: Dinner and overnight in Eauze. Transfers: 135km, 3hrs Walking: 11.5km

Meals:  B,D

This morning we transfer to the start of our last stage on the Camino. It's one of the most scenically beautiful sections of the route through the Basque countryside, passing through forest to reach the Pyrenean foothills and the town of St Jean Pied de Port. Many pilgrims begin their journey here, travelling on foot, by bike or with a donkey to cross northern Spain to reach Santiago de Compostela. As a result the town will be full of pilgrims. On arriving at the gate we enter the old town with time to relax and absorb the atmosphere before we take an orientation walk to view the town's attractions. Later we transfer to our hotel in the countryside, and enjoy a farewell dinner of local ingredients. Transfers: 128km, 2hrs (shorter for the May departure) Walking: 15.5km

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast there is a transfer to Pau train station (approx 1.5hrs drive) to end the trip. Or you can depart St Jean by train (own arrangements) to Bayonne for your onward travels.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.


Inclusions

  • 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches (includes 1 picnic lunch) and 9 dinners (drinks included for dinner on day 7)
  • 10 nights at specially selected hotels from 2-4 star on a twinshare basis with private facilities
  • Tour escort throughout
  • Private vehicle and driver for transfers including luggage during walking sections - luggage should be kept to a minimum. One bag weighing no more than 20kgs plus your day pack to wear while walking. Luggage room is limited in the vehicle.
  • Guided visits: Le Puy en Velay on day 1, Conques on day 4, truffle orchard on day 5, guided tour of the abbey of Moissac on day 8, Auvillar on day 9 and St Jean Pied de Port on day 10
  • 2 wine tasting sessions - AOC Cahors Malbec on day 7 and Armagnac on day 9
  • Detailed program and general cultural information booklet
  • Group departure transfer to Pau on day 11
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to Le Puy and from Pau
  • Meals not listed as included: lunch (except on days 3, 4, 6) and one dinner (day 6),
  • Beverages except at wine tastings, breakfast and with dinner on day 7
  • Travel insurance - mandatory
  • A supplement will apply if you are booking a single room
  • Entrance fees not noted as included
  • Transfers not listed as included
  • Optional arrival transfer: Lyon airport to Le Puy En Velay can be booked at extra cost
  • Items of a personal nature

About Your Leader

Jaclyn Lofts taking a break in Estaing, on the French Way of St James&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Jaclyn Lofts</i>

Jaclyn has been UTracks’ resident Camino expert for over a decade, regularly hosting information evenings and assisting travellers to realise their Camino dreams. She has walked and cycled through Europe's unexplored pockets with UTracks for well over a decade and is constantly fascinated by the endless options still available.

Naturally, she has extensive pilgrimage experience, having walked the entire Camino de Santiago and St Francis Way, along with stages on the Le Puy Camino, Japan’s Kumano Kodo, and Camino Portuguese.

A lover of good food and wine, Jaclyn tends to plan active holidays that are known for their culinary delights. She has tasted her way through India, Malaysia, Italy and Japan, but it is always France that draws her back.

She is a committed Francophile: sipping merlot in Bordeaux, seeing Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, hiking the stunning Tour du Mont Blanc, and cycling along the Rhône river are some of her most cherished memories.

Jaclyn is looking forward to supporting you on this journey, sharing what makes people so excited about divine French cuisine, and without doubt, creating lifetime memories.


Suitability

introductory to moderate

2

INTRODUCTORY TO MODERATE – GRADE 2 This trip involves walking between 2 to 5 hours during 7 days over undulating terrain, on a mixture of asphalt, dirt and rocky paths, with some short steep ascents and descents. Walking distances range from 7-12km except on day 2 which is 18.2km. As there is a support vehicle in the vicinity, there are options to shorten some stages. The trip is graded introductory to moderate and is considered suitable for active people who have a reasonable level of fitness.


Departure dates


Priceper person from

£4440GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • Single Supplement (limited availability)GBP£540
*Prices listed are per person

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Walking the French Way of St James Camino with UTracks

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