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Discover the pilgrim Way of St James with a Cicerone Guidebook

Cover of The Way of St James - France
2 Feb 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
1st Published
17 Mar 2010
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The Way of St James - France

Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle - Le Puy to the Pyrenees

by Alison Raju
Book published by Cicerone Press

This handy guidebook describes the 730km Way of St James pilgrim route from Le Puy-en-Valey in central France to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees. The camino route descriptions include the history of the pilgrimage, places of interest and accommodation. Suitable for all abilities but a basic level of fitness is required due to the distance.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
Weight: 270g

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The Way of St James is one of the most popular long-distance treks in the world, a pilgrimage route for over 1000 years. Starting in Le Puy-en-Veley in central France, it angles southwest to cross over the western Pyrennes into Spain before heading west to the end point of Santiago de Compostela (or further, to the Atlantic at Finisterre). Many who walk the route, known as the Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle in France, are not experienced walkers, but with this guide, all the information a pilgrim needs to tackle the challenge is at hand.

Ancient pathways, medieval churches, castles, towering mountains, and following in the footsteps of history over 1500km in France and Spain. It's a daunting distance, and this first-part guide to the pilgrimage in France covers the first 730kms of the route. It is further divided into four sections: Le Puy-en-Veley to Figeac, Figeac to Moissac, Moissac to Aire-sur-l'Adour and Aire-sur-l'Adour to the Pyrennees at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Further route guidance is given to cross the Pyrennes, either to Roncesvalles (and Pamplona), or to Irún to begin the Camino del Norte trail rather than the usual Camino Francés route (the latter being the most popular way to Santiago, covered in the second volume).

This guide is the ideal companion to the French section of the Pilgrim Way to Santiago. The walk from Le Puy to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port can be completed in four to five weeks by anyone who is fairly fit and who also likes to visit the myriad places of interest along the way. It can also be undertaken in sections by those who lack the time to do it all in one go or who would just like to cover certain stretches. As well as the route description, the guide also includes stage maps, information on accommodation, access and where to get your pilgrim stamp in the towns and villages. A thorough introduction informs on the long history of the Way of St James, and advises on what to take with you, and how to manage a long-distance trail.

  • Seasons
    definitely not recommended in winter but can be safely undertaken, adequately prepared, any time between late March and mid-late October
  • Difficulty
    far from flat but requires no specialist equipment and can be undertaken, with appropriate preparation, by anyone of average health and fitness
  • Must See
    starts in the volcanic Velay region of France, passes through the Margeride, over the Aubrac plateau, the causse before Cahors and the flat Landes region before reaching the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Basque country; interesting churches, cathedrals, historic monunments and vernacular architecture architecture along the way

September 2016 

Details of a hostel:
La Maison des Pèlerins - 4, rue Général Labat, 40800 Aire-sur-l'Adour. They are open from March to October
Phone: +33780041140 /  +33558716807 / +33780393658
There are 15 beds in 5 rooms for 2,3 and 6 pilmgrims with open kitchen, free Wi-fi, washing machine and dryer.
Price by person (taxes included) Shared room: Bed, 15€, breakfast, 5€, dinner 14€. Half-board in private room (min. 2 person) 35€. Picnic, 5,50€

January 2012

Gîte St-François, Le Puy, page 41

The phone number in the guide has an error in it, which a couple of readers have pointed out:

It should be (not 96.86).

October 2011

Gaillac, page 107

The Gite at 29 Rue Grande Cote is not in this village. These contact details are for a gite in Gaillac in the Aveyron not Gaillac in Lot.


Pilgrim Roads to Santiago through France and Spain   
Topography, Economy and Language    
Before you Go    
Planning your Schedule    
Getting There and Back    
Planning the Day   
Other Practical Information   
Using this Guide    
When to Go   

Section 1    Le Puy-en-Velay to Figeac    
Section 2    Figeac to Moissac    
Section 3    Moissac to Aire-sur-l’Adour   
Section 4    Aire-sur-l’Adour to the Pyrenees    

APPENDIX A Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles    
APPENDIX B Saint-Palais to Irún   
APPENDIX C GR651 – Variant along the Vallée du Célé    
APPENDIX D Summary of St James’s and other Pilgrim References    
APPENDIX E Suggestions for Further Reading    
APPENDIX F Useful Addresses    
APPENDIX G Glossary    
APPENDIX H Index of Principal Place Names    
APPENDIX I Index of Maps    
APPENDIX J Summary of Route   

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