The reasons for leaving to complete the Way of Santiago de Compostela are specific to each person, diverse and varied: some will seek the sports challenge, exchanges with others, the scenic beauty, religious reasons, etc. Different motivations, but stages and a common point of arrival. The vast Aubrac trails await you.
Four paths to a common destination
Several routes cross French territory to lead to Compostela:
- the via Turonensis is the way to Tours,
- the via Lemovicensis starts in Vezelay,
- the via Podiensis from Le Puy-en-Velay,
- the via Tolosana, the way of the south of France.
The via Podiensis crosses our Occitanie region: it connects Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port over 750 km. From the Haute-Loire to the Basque Country, this path leads you through the granitic Margeride, the Aubrac plateau in Aveyron and its immensities, the Lot valley and its green setting and the limestone Quercy. You will discover an exceptional natural and built heritage.
The route was developed from 1970 by the French Federation of Hiking. It then becomes the oldest "way of Saint-Jacques" open in France. The Route du Puy is today the busiest route and the best equipped with accommodation. It is surrounded by so much beauty that you will find your soul as a pilgrim over the stages.
A sparse path of heritage riches
The Puy-En-Velay route is a legendary route, rich in emblematic stages of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Prestigious abbeys, Romanesque churches and bridges follow one another on this path in a succession of splendid settings: Margeride, the immensities of Aubrac, Quercy.
The Aveyron section of the Way of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle (GR® 65) represents 102 kilometers between Aubrac and Livinhac-le-Haut, in the Lot valley. It takes about 5 days to complete. Here are some mystical places you will come across on the way.
The Domerie d'Aubrac
In the distance, a dark mass stands out from the plateau, like a lighthouse that guides pilgrims. the village of Aubrac was synonymous with hope for anyone who had crossed the bare lands of Aubrac. Moreover, in snowy and foggy weather, the bell of the lost could ring day and night to direct the lost pilgrim to find refuge in the Domerie.
The Neck of Belvezet
A neck is a residual volcanic relief. It corresponds to a old volcanic chimney which solidified at the end of an eruption and which was then released by erosion. This structure of solidified lava resists erosion better than the ejection materials that surround it. Once the cone has been eroded and disappeared, there remains the neck, which was its center. The neck of Belvezet, which dominates the hamlet of Belvezet, on the Aubrac, dates from around 8 million years. On this double neck of basalt was erected, in feudal times, a castle of which only a few ruins remain today.
The Ways of Compostela and UNESCO
In 1987, the routes to Compostela were designated the first “European Cultural Route” by the Council of Europe. This denomination has made it possible to highlight the universal value of the path.
In 1998, Unesco decided to classify 71 monuments, including 64 individual monuments and 7 sets, of the various French paths on the list of World Heritage. These monuments are recognized as being the main milestones on the roads to Santiago de Compostela. We count among this classification:
- the pilgrims' bridge of Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac
- the old bridge of Espalion
- Estaing bridge
- Sainte-Foy abbey church in Conques
In addition to these 71 monuments, Unesco has classified certain sections of the Route du Puy-en-Velay. We count among them:
- From Nasbinals to Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac: 17 km
- From Saint-Côme-d'Olt to Estaing: 17 km
Compostela in figures
From the Puy route, also called GR® 65, the Compostela route is:
- 13 regions crossed, 32 departments and 95 municipalities
- 1 kilometers from Puy-en-Velay to Spanish Galicia
- About 30 walkers per year departing from Puy-en-Velay
- Busiest months: in order September, May and August
- 52% women – 48% men
- 1/3 of pilgrims walk alone, 1/3 in pairs, the rest in groups
- 3 hikers out of 10 follow the path in its entirety (from Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela), the vast majority in sections
- Walkers cover an average of 20 km per day
A few tips before you go
- Book your accommodation. It is difficult to find accommodation on certain sections of the path, especially from April to October.
- Book your Transportation between stages: booking is essential (24 hours before).
- Steps: It is recommended toadapt the stage to the difficulty of the terrain. It is best to schedule short stages at the start.
- Hike light : limit the weight of your backpack. We recommend a maximum load of 10 to 12 kg. Some will opt for the transport of luggage from stage to stage, which will allow you to leave with an even lighter bag.
- Plan to always havewater on you !
- Have your credential always with you ! By having it stamped with your hosts or tourist offices, you will be able to benefit from access to lodgings reserved for pilgrims (the credential is compulsory to access hostels in Spain, but not in France) and gives you the right to obtaining the Compostela (certificate of pilgrimage) on arrival in Santiago de Compostela.