Day 1: USA – Lyon
Tour members will meet at the airport three hours prior to departure to organize group and check in. Dinner and breakfast will be served in flight.
Day 2 : Lyons – Le Puy-en-Velay – 135 km Morning arrival at the airport Lyon Saint-Exupery – Welcome and transfer by coach to Le Puy-en-Velay, (135 km) - Installation in the hotel – lunch and afternoon at leisure. Here begins the Via Podiensis, great pilgrimage route to Saint-Jacques. This is one of the four major jacquaires road described already in the XII century to join the Spanish sanctuary of Saint-Jacques de Compostela. Since December 1998, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy, the Hotel Dieu of the city as well as seven sections of the road between Le Puy-en-Velay and Ostabat are listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Today the town of Le Puy occupies a unique place in the practice of pilgrimage on foot. Dinner and overnight in Le Puy.
Day 3: Le Puy en Velay Morning Mass at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy (XII) and visit of the city: the rock Corneille, the Chapel St-Michael's Aiguilhe atop a rocky lava peak 80 meters high. Rest of the day at leisure. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Le Puy.
Day 4: Le Puy - Saint-Privat-d'Allier – 23 km/6h00 This is the day of the great departure: Santiago is 1521 km away. We follow the GR65 marked in red and white which lead us soon at La Roche, the first village through. Then the path roams through the hills of Velay and vast plateaus of basalt. We pass St. Christopher Dolaison. Shortly before Montbonnet we stop at the Chapelle Saint-Roch, XIIth century church dedicated to Saint-Jacques, and then the descent to Saint Privat offers superb views over the mounts of Velay. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in St.-Privat.
Day 5: Saint-Privat-d'Allier – Saugues – 18 km/5h00 If you have sore legs this morning, tell you that the first day is always the hardest. Shortly after leaving the nest of Rochegude emerges a castle from which nothing remains but ruins and a lovely small chapel clinging to the rock from where the view is superb over the gorges of the Allier. The path descends to Monistrol d’Allier, in the heart of the wild river gorges. Picnic and climb to reach Montaure at 1022 meters on the edge of the plateau of Gevaudan. Stop in front of an amazing cave chapel dedicated to Saint Magdalene. The road then continues to rise becoming calmer until the final descent to Saugues, capital of Gevaudan region on the banks of the Seuge river. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Saugues.
Day 6: Saugues – Les Faux – 22km/5h00 Today is a long crossing of the Margeride area, a vast granite plateau at 1000 meters high. We walk along green pastures and pine forests, crossing the country of the "Beast of Gevaudan" to the hamlet of La Clauze with traditional houses, darkened by the presence of basalt, which seem to fit the mineral decor that surround them. Then it is Villaret d’Apchier and the Chapel of Saint-Roch before reaching the village of Les Faux. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Les Faux.
Day 7: Les Faux - Aumont-Aubrac – 22 km/6h00 It's a fairly short transition day that awaits us today between the plateaus of the Margeride and those of Aubrac. From Les Faux we join first St. Alban-de- Limagnole where we visit the beautiful Romanesque church. Then we follow a fragment of the ancient Via Agrippa through Estrets to Aumont Aubrac. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Aumont-Aubrac.
Day 8: Aumont-Aubrac – Nasbinals – 26 km/8h00 It's a legendary section often feared. The GR65 leads first for miles through pine forests before hitting the desert of Aubrac, beautiful but desolate, lonely and hostile. Endless prairies with grass turned yellow windswept. Chaotic granite forms awake ghostly legends. Hamlets are rare and solitary reminding of the presence of mankind. Once, pilgrims who wandered into the night, fog or snow should wary of wolves and bandits ready to rob them. Located at 1470 meters altitude, Nasbinals, with its Romanesque church, is a well-deserved stop. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Nasbinals.
Day 9: Nasbinals - Saint-Chely d'Aubrac – 17km/5h00 We leave to follow the Great Nasbinals Draille (transhumance path) through large pastures to the severe-looking village of Aubrac, with its Dômerie, hospital and its monastery on the road to Santiago, founded in 1120 by Abelard, Viscount of Flanders. Then continuing with a series of steep valleys before finally finding a flat terrain we reach Saint Chely d'Aubrac nestled in a hollow surrounded by steep wooded hills. The "cross of three bishops," as many others on the road to Saint Jacques, aims to give courage to the weary pilgrims. See also the Bridge of pilgrims on the Borlade river World Heritage of Humanity. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Saint-Chely-d'Aubrac.
Day 10: Saint-Chely-d'Aubrac – Espalion – 22 km/6h00 Leaving Saint-Chely by the bridge spanning the Borlade we finally reach the Lot at Saint-Côme-Olt. This village has retained its medieval character with several notable monuments including the Chapel of the Penitents of the XIth century and the flamed spire of the Church. Then we join Espalion and its two major architectural landmarks, the Renaissance castle built on the banks of the Lot and the elegant Gothic bridge built during the reign of St.-Louis. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Espalion.
Day 11: Espalion – Estaing – 11 km/4h00 Altogether the Lot, the old bridge, the church and the chateau d'Estaing is a treat. The bridge dates from the 16.Century and was built by François d'Estaing, bishop of Rodez. The castle was the residence of the Counts of Estaing and the church houses the relics of Saint- Fleuret. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Estaing.
Day 12: Estaing - Golinhac. – 16 km/5h00 We first walk along the Lot then continue with a sharp rise followed by a peaceful walk through the valleys to the village of Rouergue up to Golinhac overlooking the deep gorges of the Lot. Stopover village, Golinhac has a half-Roman half-Gothic church, dedicated to St.-Martin. Near the village, 684 m above sea level, Puech de Regault offers a magnificent view over the Entraygues valley, the Viadène, the mounts of Auvergne and Aubrac. Also nicknamed "the hill of light", one can see the Plomb du Cantal (Auvergne) by good weather. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Golinhac.
Day 13: Golinhac – Conques – 22 km/7h00 Throughout the 25 km separating Golinhac from Conques, our journey takes us through vast meadows, woods of chestnut and oak. We cross Campagnac and Espeyrac built on a rocky promontory. According to legend, a pilgrim named Vuitbert blinded due to the aggression of robbers would have its vision restored by invoking Sainte-Foy. Visit of the church of Saint-Pierre-d'Espayrac. On the way, Castle Senergues consists of a tower built in 1388 and a main building of the XVth century. The church Senergues also dedicated to St.-Martin dates from the XIVth and XVth centuries. Leaving Senergues, we take a path that leads up from Fontromieu to Conques. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Conques.
Day 14: Conques – Toulouse – 186 km Heritage site of humanity, Conques is a major step on the road to Santiago. Although it has become a major tourist center, there continues to reign the spirit of medieval pilgrimage.The abbey is famous for the relics of St.-Foy that can be seen in a reliquary in the shape of a statue of the saint as outlined in the treasury of the Abbey. Morning at leisure in Conques. In mid-afternoon departure by bus to Toulouse (186 km). Installation at the hotel. In the evening farewell dinner in a restaurant around a traditional dish: cassoulet Toulousain. Overnight at our hotel in Toulouse
Day 15: Departure
Transfer to the airport for flight to your destination