The Way of St James - Le Puy to the Pyrenees
GR65: The Chemin de Saint Jacques
By Alison Raju
Guidebook to the Way of St James pilgrim route, describing the 730km French section of the Camino de Santiago route from Le Puy-en-Valey in central France to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees, including pilgrimage history, points of interest, links to other routes and accommodation. Suitable for all abilities but basic fitness is required.
Seasonsnot recommended in winter but can be safely undertaken, adequately prepared, any time between late March and mid-late October
Centresfrom Le Puy-en-Velay passes through Conques, Figeac, Cahors, Moissac, Aire-sur-l'Adour to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Difficultyfar from flat but requires no specialist equipment and can be undertaken, with appropriate preparation, by anyone of average health and fitness
Must Seestarts 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 along the way
This comprehensive guidebook describes the Way of St James (Camino de Santiago) pilgrim route through France. Also known as the Chemin de St Jacques or GR65, the 730km (454 mile) route runs from Le Puy-en-Velay in central France to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees. People have been walking it as a pilgrimage route for over 1000 years, and with adequate preparation it is suitable for most walkers with a basic level of fitness. This indispensible guide contains detailed descriptions and sketch mapping for the route, accompanied by a wealth of practical advice on accommodation, facilities and local points of interest. It also includes information about the history of the pilgrimage, and notes on holy sites and imagery along the route.
The guidebook describes 2-3 additional days from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncevalles (and Pamplona), for those continuing along the Camino Francés through northern Spain. It also outlines a 3-4 day route from Saint-Palais direct to Irún, which links with the Camino del Norte coastal route. A companion volume: The Way of St James: Pyrenees–Santiago–Finisterre covers the Spanish section of the route.
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A very useful guidebook for planning and for use on the Way of St James
This book describes the Way of St James pilgrim route through France and is part of the Santiago de Compostela. There is also a companion book for the Spanish section of the pilgrimage.
This book describes the 454 miles (730km) GR65 and two further walks; Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncevalles and Saint-Palais to Irún. This two walks are both of three days duration. In short, this guide has to cover a lot of ground both literally and metaphorically.
The first section of the book provides the reader with an introduction to the area and the history of the pilgrimage and makes fascinating reading. There are also general sections on preparation, when to go, the pilgrim passport, travelling to and from the trail, accommodation and other important matters. Scarily, the GR65 avoids bars and shops so proper planning is essential. This is not to say these outlets are unknown on the Way but something to be aware of.
From page 41 onwards is the Route Section which deals with the route in detail. There is a large amount of information about what the walker will see en route, facilities and other information with quite detailed walking directions. The accompanying maps are essentially road maps with the Way marked in red. Railway crossings are shown as are town names but there is nothing like contour lines and other symbols. In the preceding section the author does list the proper maps you’ll need. I did use Google Maps/Earth to check out several sections and the directions do match very well with satellite imagery.
The Route Section is subdivided into four subsections; each subsection being further subdivided into manageable chunks of a few kilometres at a time. I was impressed at how much information was given in the book.
The Appendix section gives details of the two supplementary walks as mentioned above plus a variation for part of the GR65. There are also appendices giving information on pilgrimage references, further reading, websites, basic French/English phrases, indexes to the maps and places.
Overall, I think this would be a very useful guidebook for planning and for use on the Way but I think proper maps might well be needed. What is clear is that walking the GR65 is not an undertaking to be taken lightly.
Jon Ivins, Backpack Magazine, June 2018
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Alison Raju is a former teacher of French, German and Spanish to adults and is the author of three other guides published by Cicerone Press: 'Way of Saint James (Camino de Santiago): Pyrenees - Santiago - Finisterre', 'Vía de la Plata (Seville to Santiago)' and 'The Pilgrim Road to Nidaros (Way of St. Olav): Oslo - Trondheim'.View Articles and Books by Alison Raju
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