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CAMINO FRANCÉS – DORDOGNE TO BASQUE COUNTRY

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Fares
  • Accommodation

A journey overview

  • Lyon
  • Le Puy-En-Velay
  • Aumont-Aubrac
  • Conques
  • Figeac
  • Rocamadour
  • Cahors
  • Toulouse
  • Pau
  • Saint Jean Pied de Port

21 Days Explorations
  • Departing:
  • 10 Jun 2020

Pilgrims speak of a sense of peace along the rural trails of the second-most popular Camino pilgrimage as they wend their way via unspoiled French scenery and strings of fortified stone villages. Le Puy is a French term to describe volcanic hills. The picturesque and fertile region includes regular steep climbs and descents into valleys. Reserved for just 18 guests.

Map

Arriving in Lyon, France, we ready ourselves for the journey along one of the oldest and most historic sections of the Camino de Santiago route. Upon arriving, we relax and revive before delving into Lyon's medieval charm and strong gastronomic heritage. We enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and afterwards stretch our legs on a guided walk around the old towns hilly, cobbled streets and alleys.

In Le Puy-en-Velay, we enjoy the village, including the Church of Saint-Michel, built in the 10th-century to celebrate the bishop’s return from his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Passing through the forest, we are then led along a paved road into Saint-Privat-d’Allier. Undulating gorges of the Allier region give way to the tiny village of Rochegude and we climb the stone steps of its chapel for views over the surrounding gorges and river.

The Aubrac Plateau is a treeless region of open grasslands, filled with wildflowers that perfume the pastures. We walk along walled paths and country lanes, making a stop at the 11th-century church on the outskirts of Nasbinals. Cross the Boralde River to Saint-Chely-d’Aubrac, where we reside in a 17th-century manor. Here, we also explore the museum dedicated to the works of the French painter, sculptor and engraver, Pierre Soulages.

From Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac we enter the Lot Valley. We then drive to within a few kilometres of Conques, before walking the rest of the way to the village. This is considered the most impressive stop along the Le Puy Route, where cobblestone lanes spiral between medieval homes. The land becomes increasingly picturesque as we near the medieval town of Figeac, where a private dinner within our hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant awaits.

We set off to the World Heritage-listed town of Rocamadour, entering through fortified gates. Ascending the 216 steps of Grand Escalier, we take a moment to savour the view. At Cahors, we enjoy an evening at the 13th-century Château de Mercuès, where we gather for dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. It offers us a unique gastronomic experience based on typical foods of the region, as well as a taste of Cahor’s ‘black’ wine.

A stroll along narrow streets takes us to Cathédrale Saint-Étienne. In the nearby town of Toulouse, we approach Le Basilique Saint-Sernin. At Moissac, we lunch beneath trees on the banks of the Tarn and pay a visit to Abbaye Saint Pierre. An hour out of Moissac, we join the Garonne, roaming through the profoundly French region of Gascony. In Condom-en-Armagnac, we spend the evening lapping up the comforts of the Hotel Le Bastide Cazaubon.

We slow our pace and revel in the scenery. Fields overflow with sunflowers and tall stems of corn dance in the breeze. We glimpse castles, Roman bridges and churches set among vineyards. Upon arrival at Eauze, we end our walk with a much deserved Armagnac tasting. We are then greeted by the old royal city of Pau, nestled between the Pyrénées and the ocean. Here, we stay at the charming Hotel Villa Navarre.

Pau’s main boulevard is lined with an elegant collection of cafes, hotels and 19th-century buildings. Looking toward the horizon, the snowcapped Pyrénées mountains loom. An easy seven-kilometre walk from our drop-off point finds us in Salies-de-Béarn. Spanish and French Basque traditions collide here, which we experience during dinner. Saint James Gate then heralds our arrival into the walled town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

You may have started this pilgrimage not knowing why. But perhaps upon reaching the end point, you have come to a conclusion? Our journey comes to an end as we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

Brochure