The Way of St James Cyclist Guide
A Cyclists' Guide From Le Puy en Velay to Santiago de Compostela
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This handy pocket-sized guidebook contains detailed route descriptions for the 1570km cycle route from Le Puy in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain following the original Pilgrim route. The route is described as 27 day stages and with the average distance covered in a day at 50km, cyclists of all abilities can complete this route.
SeasonsIdeal mid-May to mid-July. Not possible winter or mid-summer. Spring/autumn – possible bad weather; much accommodation closed.
CentresLe Puy, Conques, Cahors, Roncesvalles, Burgos, Leon, Santiago
DifficultyMountain cycle ride (altitude up to 1300m+) with demanding and exposed sections. Average distance on most days 50km.
Must SeeConques, Moissac Abbey, church of Ste Quitterie, Eunate church, Astorga cathedral/museum, Burgos, Santiago cathedral
This guidebook contains a detailed route description of the ever-popular Way of St James cycle route covering 1570km from Le Puy in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Using roads with a good surface for touring cyclists, this guidebook follows the original Pilgrim route as closely as possible and provides the opportunity to visit every major church and shrine along the way, with a few detours to outlying monasteries for good measure.
This guidebook splits the route into 27 easy day stages, some of which are shorter than others, to accommodate time taken crossing mountain ranges, or riding difficult roads, or because of fascinating places to visit. Information on places to stay along the stages as well as at the end of each are included so that cyclists may split the route according to their own needs and still have somewhere to stay. The average distance on most days is only 50km, easily within the compass of the moderately fit. Several variants are also given, to provide for both the fit and those who have a basic level of fitness. For those who want something extra, routes from Santiago to Finisterre and to Padron are also included.
The roads used are almost always surfaced in tarmac. In France they tend to be quiet country lanes, and even the short stretches of Routes Nationals are of good quality and not busy. In Spain there are few country lanes. Most of the roads are wide and fast and they usually have a narrow hard shoulder that doubles as a cycle lane. However, compared with English roads, most Spanish ones tend to be very quiet.
Maps and Guides
When to Go
Food and Drink
Using this Guide
Stage 1 Le Puy to Saugues (46km)
Stage 2 Saugues to Aumont-Aubrac (46km)
Stage 3 Aumont-Aubrac to Estaing (76km)
Stage 4 Estaing to Conques (37km or 47km)
Stage 5 Conques to Marcilhac-sur-Célé (78km or 75km)
Stage 6 Marcilhac-sur-Célé to Cahors (65km)
Stage 7 Cahors to Moissac (61km)
Stage 8 Moissac to Lectoure (59km)
Stage 9 Lectoure to Eauze (52km)
Stage 10 Eauze to Pimbo (63km)
Stage 11 Pimbo to Navarrenx (62km)
Stage 12 Navarrenx to St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port (61km)
Stage 13 St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Burguete (40km)
Stage 14 Burguete to Puente la Reina (74km)
Stage 15 Puente la Reina to Viana (65km)
Stage 16 Viana to Santo Domingo de la Calzada (49km)
Stage 17 Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Burgos (70km)
Stage 18 Burgos to Frómista (73km)
Stage 19 Frómista to Sahagún (67km)
Stage 20 Sahagún to León (67km)
Stage 21 León to Astorga (44km)
Stage 22 Astorga to Molinaseca (47km)
Stage 23 Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo (28km)
Stage 24 Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro (36km)
Stage 25 O Cebreiro to Sarria (43km)
Stage 26 Sarria to Palas de Rei (60km)
Stage 27 Palas de Rei to Santiago de Compostela (73km)
Appendix 1 Santiago de Compostela to Padrón (20km)
Appendix 2 Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre (88km)
Appendix 3 Full Kit List
Appendix 4 Glossary of Terms (English/French/Spanish)
Appendix 5 Useful Addresses
Appendix 6 Bibliography
IGN Maps. Nos: 50, 57, 58, 63, 66 (France)
Michelin regional maps. Nos: 573, 575, 571
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We are grateful to Damian Buckley for sending in this updated/additional information.
Stage 17, Villafranca Montes de Oca, p132
Extra accommodation: Municipal Refuge (691 80 12 11) San Antonio Abad (947 58 21 50) and en route about 11km later: a truckers' hotel, Sierra de Atapuerca (947 10 69 12),
Stage 17, St Juan de Ortega, p134
Extra accommodation: Parish Refuge (947 56 04 38) and, not far from St Juan at Ages (turning right at the N120 junction): La Taberna de Ages (947 40 06 97) and El Pajar de Ages (947 40 06 29).
Stage 17, St Juan de Ortega, p138
Extra accommodation: Dona Mayor (685 72 32 86)
Stage 22, Molinaseca, p165
Extra accommodation: Casa Rural/Hostal El Horno (619 35 34 33 or 627 55 42 60) and Albergue/Hostal de Santa Maria (987 45 30 77 or 615 30 23 90)
Stage 6, Cahors, p67
The hostels in Cahors have been recently refurbished and now offer decent cheap accommodation.
There are now two Pilgrim Welcome points in Cahors between May and September. One is at the end of the Louis Philippe Bridge and the other is in the Cathedral. Between them they offer ideas for accommodation and food as well as spiritual support. Similar help should be available in 2006 at Figeac and Lascabanes. This is provided by the Amis de Saint Jacques de Quercy.
Stage 7, Leaving Cahors, p69
Note that this short section of the N20 autoroute is very busy - take extreme care.
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John Higginson is a retired headmaster and lecturer who has explored much of Europe by bike. He has written the Cicerone cycle-touring guide to The Way of St James.View Guidebooks by John Higginson
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