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4 most beautiful days on Podiensis

Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
Norte/Primitivo 2023
Hello fellow pilgrims
I am new to Ivars forum. Did CF earlier this year, planning Norte/Primitivo next year. But my big question regards Podiensis. I want to take my wife on a 3-4 day hike to give a feel for walking the Camino and I am looking for a pretty section, relatively easy to get to. I am considering starting in Arles Sur-le-dur and heading towards St Jean. What do you think?
 
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Welcome!
I am considering starting in Arles Sur-le-dur and heading towards St Jean. What do you think?
While I enjoyed every stage of this camino, the ones after Aire-sur-l'Adour weren't near the top.

Here are the number of days it would take, on average, to walk between towns with train stations. Three days will be challenging ... but if you can pull five there are many more options! I've bolded the ones I'd recommend you consider.
  • Le Puy to Aumont-Aubrac (4 days)
  • Aumont-Aubrac to Decazeville (5 days to Conques, then taxi to Decazville)
  • Figeac to Cahors (5 days via the Célé variant)
  • Cahors to Moissac (3 days)
  • Moissac to Aire sur l'Adour (5 days)
  • Aire to SJPP (6 days)
The first would be great for feeling like you are part of a pilgrimage journey. A lot of people start from Le Puy, and there's a nice sense of community. But you might feel as if you've only just begun, and then it's time to end.

The second passes through Conques, one of the most iconic stops on the Via Podiensis. You also pass through some nice medieval towns tucked away in the woods. You can end in Conques (five days) and take a taxi up the hill to Decazville, then train out.

The third, a variant through the Célé Valley, is a stunningly beautiful and magical walk through a medieval landscape. You would also begin and end in two towns with decent transport options, Figeac and Cahors.

But it is also a variant, and most pilgrims take the direct route. I only met one to three pilgrims a day. If you're looking for the groups like on the CF you won't find them. It might not feel like a camino in the same way ... though it very much is one. You and your wife will get an excellent feel for walking in France, however. It would be my personal choice if I could only do a short walk.
 
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Is baggage transfer services available in these stages?
  • Le Puy to Aumont-Aubrac (4 days)
  • Aumont-Aubrac to Decazeville (5 days to Conques, then taxi to Decazville)
  • Figeac to Cahors (5 days via the Célé variant)
Thanks,
 
Yes, baggage transfers are available in each case. And with regard to the recommendations by MichaelC, all are superb, although the hill out of Cahors is somewhat demanding.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I agree with the recommended sections. All beautiful.

But with regards to giving your wife a feel for walking the Camino... You might know this, but this route is a bit different than the Frances. Biggest differences:

1) Not nearly as many people walk this route, and almost everyone speaks French. So if you're not a French speaker this will be nothing like the social feeling you get on the Frances. Of course, you get a lot of quality time in nature without a lot of people around, which is really wonderful.

2) Towns and supplies are much further apart. Often you need to carry food and drink with you, because there will be nowhere to get supplies until your finishing town. Most days I would carry my lunch with me and have a picnic at a pretty place along the trail.

That said, this is a wonderful trail, and you and your wife will love it. It's just different than the Camino Frances, so I wanted to make sure you understood that.

FWIW... My adult kids work, and can't do a whole Camino. My plan is to bring them to France in a couple of years and take them on the first few days out of Le Puy. I know they would love it.
 
Welcome!

While I enjoyed every stage of this camino, the ones after Aire-sur-l'Adour weren't near the top.

Here are the number of days it would take, on average, to walk between towns with train stations. Three days will be challenging ... but if you can pull five there are many more options! I've bolded the ones I'd recommend you consider.
  • Le Puy to Aumont-Aubrac (4 days)
  • Aumont-Aubrac to Decazeville (5 days to Conques, then taxi to Decazville)
  • Figeac to Cahors (5 days via the Célé variant)
  • Cahors to Moissac (3 days)
  • Moissac to Aire sur l'Adour (5 days)
  • Aire to SJPP (6 days)
The first would be great for feeling like you are part of a pilgrimage journey. A lot of people start from Le Puy, and there's a nice sense of community. But you might feel as if you've only just begun, and then it's time to end.

The second passes through Conques, one of the most iconic stops on the Via Podiensis. You also pass through some nice medieval towns tucked away in the woods. You can end in Conques (five days) and take a taxi up the hill to Decazville, then train out.

The third, a variant through the Célé Valley, is a stunningly beautiful and magical walk through a medieval landscape. You would also begin and end in two towns with decent transport options, Figeac and Cahors.

But it is also a variant, and most pilgrims take the direct route. I only met one to three pilgrims a day. If you're looking for the groups like on the CF you won't find them. It might not feel like a camino in the same way ... though it very much is one. You and your wife will get an excellent feel for walking in France, however. It would be my personal choice if I could only do a short walk.
Having walked the Le Puy Route x 3, I think Michael's suggestions are really great.
I would start in Le Puy. It is a beautiful town, make sure you are there for the Saturday Market. It is fantastic.
I usually stay with Mme Decheaux at Logis Meymard just around the corner from the tourist office. She is an artist, historian, sculptor, former pilgrim and made the giant wood sculptures you see around the town. She has 3 rooms available and makes a wonderful bfast.
The pilgrim mass in the Cathedral is lovely, complete with blessing and walking down the Cathedral steps and taking in the wide distant view is an amazing start to the pilgrimage.
If you are looking for an intense pilgrim experience, that is it.
The landscape and villages from Le Puy on are stunning.
I adored the Cele variant, but hardly met anyone.
It is hard to get a feel for a pilgrimage in a few days. To me the sense of departure and sense of arrival is really important.
If you depart in Le Puy, you fully get that sense. You won't really get a full sense of arrival anywhere, as the ultimate destination is Santiago de Compostela...
By the way. You MUST book well ahead. This route has relatively limited beds and has become increasingly popular and is often booked out by groups.
I have heard accounts of people having to taxi 15 km off route to find accommodation.
 
Last edited:
Hello fellow pilgrims
I am new to Ivars forum. Did CF earlier this year, planning Norte/Primitivo next year. But my big question regards Podiensis. I want to take my wife on a 3-4 day hike to give a feel for walking the Camino and I am looking for a pretty section, relatively easy to get to. I am considering starting in Arles Sur-le-dur and heading towards St Jean. What do you think?
Walking into Conques was amazing. And the three days before it. Staying at the abbey there and hearing the organ concert is one of my life top memories 😊😊. Lisa
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Thanks to all for the fantastic feedback. My wife met me in Santiago at end of my CF so has a sense of the end of the Way and I realize it will be difficult to get the Camino family feeling in only a few days. She does speak French, so that is good, but she is a very sociable person so maybe a nice section of the CF would be good. But since it is only a few days I am leaning towards France, and after reading your replies, starting in Le Puy looks like a winner. I hope to do the entire Via Podiensis one day, maybe with my wife! Thanks again, my friends.
 
Thanks to all for the fantastic feedback. My wife met me in Santiago at end of my CF so has a sense of the end of the Way and I realize it will be difficult to get the Camino family feeling in only a few days. She does speak French, so that is good, but she is a very sociable person so maybe a nice section of the CF would be good. But since it is only a few days I am leaning towards France, and after reading your replies, starting in Le Puy looks like a winner. I hope to do the entire Via Podiensis one day, maybe with my wife! Thanks again, my friends.
Great! Do stay a couple of nights in Le Puy, there is a lot to see.
Bon Chemin.
 
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I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of starting at Le Puy, particularly if your wife is keen on getting the "Camino family feeling". I would also recommend travelling from your finishing point, probably Nasbinals, to Conques. This can be done by taxi (rather expensive) or by bus (long and round-about, but a cheaper choice). Conques is such a wonderful place, full of Camino-related buildings and other points of interest. From Conques, you can catch the regular Compostelle bus back to Le Puy. An extra day would be needed but this could prove to be an excellent way to round off your Camino experience before your return home.
 
I agree with the suggestions given, landscape is beautifull. But if you want to give your wife a sense of the Camino I wonder if walking te Le Puy route is the best option. There are a few important differences with the other caminos in Spain.
- For many walkers on this trail it is not a Camino , it is part of the big GRnetwork in France. For many people you meet Santiago will not be the goal, for them it is just another long distance walk. Surely you would meet some "real pilgrims" along the way.
- You would find less albergues in the Camino style, most accomodations are like pensions, somewhat more expensive than in Spain but the food there is most of the time very good.
- For me the most important difference was the fact that at least 80% of the walkers were french. A Camino is much more international with people from all over the world. The common language on a Camino will normally be English, on the Via Podiensis it will be french. I dont't know where you are from but if you don't speak or understand french you could have a hard time at the dinner table in the evening. ( I speak some french myself quite enough to have more than superficial conversations on an individual basis but in groups it gets more complicated. Too late I found out that the best way at long dinner tables was to get there on time to pick a seat at the corner of the table to avoid getting "caught between conversations"
To conclude The Via Podiensis is very beautifull I really loved it despite the differences with other caminos
 
Welcome!

While I enjoyed every stage of this camino, the ones after Aire-sur-l'Adour weren't near the top.

Here are the number of days it would take, on average, to walk between towns with train stations. Three days will be challenging ... but if you can pull five there are many more options! I've bolded the ones I'd recommend you consider.
  • Le Puy to Aumont-Aubrac (4 days)
  • Aumont-Aubrac to Decazeville (5 days to Conques, then taxi to Decazville)
  • Figeac to Cahors (5 days via the Célé variant)
  • Cahors to Moissac (3 days)
  • Moissac to Aire sur l'Adour (5 days)
  • Aire to SJPP (6 days)
The first would be great for feeling like you are part of a pilgrimage journey. A lot of people start from Le Puy, and there's a nice sense of community. But you might feel as if you've only just begun, and then it's time to end.

The second passes through Conques, one of the most iconic stops on the Via Podiensis. You also pass through some nice medieval towns tucked away in the woods. You can end in Conques (five days) and take a taxi up the hill to Decazville, then train out.

The third, a variant through the Célé Valley, is a stunningly beautiful and magical walk through a medieval landscape. You would also begin and end in two towns with decent transport options, Figeac and Cahors.

But it is also a variant, and most pilgrims take the direct route. I only met one to three pilgrims a day. If you're looking for the groups like on the CF you won't find them. It might not feel like a camino in the same way ... though it very much is one. You and your wife will get an excellent feel for walking in France, however. It would be my personal choice if I could only do a short walk.
N.B. Note that there is also the La Malle Postale shuttle that will take hikers / pilgrims from Conques to Decazeville <https://www.lamallepostale.com/fr/services/navette-chemin-de-compostelle-voie-du-puy> AND a public bus [operated by Iio Occitanie 50 mins] as well as a shuttle taxi service to Rodez where it is possible to take the train to Paris or elsewhere ... another option out of Conques is to take the shuttle service/s back to Le Puy-en-Velay where there is also a train service.
 
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@MichaelC A very well thought out response to a challenging query. I was still getting my head around best recommendations when your response came up. 🙏
I had a head start! Last weekend I was talking with a friend, who dreams of a long Camino, on the best way to introduce his husband to the idea by starting with a shorter walk.
I adored the Cele variant, but hardly met anyone.
It is hard to get a feel for a pilgrimage in a few days. To me the sense of departure and sense of arrival is really important.
I agree so strongly with this. To me Le Puy to Conques makes almost the perfect short-pilgrimage. You have an opening ritual (morning mass in Le Puy) and a closing ritual (the organ recital at night in Conques).
 
I agree so strongly with this. To me Le Puy to Conques makes almost the perfect short-pilgrimage. You have an opening ritual (morning mass in Le Puy) and a closing ritual (the organ recital at night in Conques).
Me too.

@Jaime Carrollo I am not a religious person but beginning the Le Puy Way with the morning mass - and pilgrims' blessing - at the Cathedral (where all are welcome) and then setting off down those long stairs is the most magical start to any Camino that I have walked. Even all these years later, I remember it as if it were yesterday. And Conques .... well ... it's such a special place.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Me too.

@Jaime Carrollo I am not a religious person but beginning the Le Puy Way with the morning mass - and pilgrims' blessing - at the Cathedral (where all are welcome) and then setting off down those long stairs is the most magical start to any Camino that I have walked. Even all these years later, I remember it as if it were yesterday. And Conques .... well ... it's such a special place.
It indeed is a very special moment when you go to the morning mass and after the blessing the gates that close the stairs are opened. In my diary I wrote that it reminded me of the moment after the winter when the doors of the stable are opened and the cows can get out for the first time "they run and jump for joy in the meadow'
 
although the hill out of Cahors is somewhat demanding
I did take this way up - about 1.1 km to la Croix Magne
I have since found an easier variant.
  • Cross Pont Valentre
  • Turn right and walk about 100 metres
  • Turn left up the D27 - about 2.4 km to "la croix Magne"

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)
 
I want to take my wife on a 3-4 day hike to give a feel for walking the Camino and I am looking for a pretty section, relatively easy to get to
My suggestion is to start at Le Puy and walk to Nasbinals:
  • 22 km - Le Puy to Privat d'Allier
  • 18 km - to Sauges
  • 14 km - to Chazeau
  • 13 km - to Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole
These are relatively short stages - 67 km in total. This could be done in 3 days by combining the last three stages. You would almost cross the southern half of the Massif Centrale - higher than 1,000 metres above sea level (3,300 feet asl)

Another short suggestion is Cahors to Moissac - much to see in both places and a must see of Lauzerte on the way - about 60 km.

A third suggestion with middling stages is:
  • 22 km - Lectoure to La Romieu
  • 17 km - to Larresingle
  • 25 km - to Eauze - with a marvelous museum

My final suggestion is:
  • 18 km - Navarrenx to Aroue
  • 18 km - to Ostabat-Asme
  • 18 km - to Saint Jean-pied-deport

These might be pretty section (beauty is ...). After Moissac the population and towns thin out and getting to them is more difficult.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
My final suggestion is:
  • 18 km - Navarrenx to Aroue
  • 18 km - to Ostabat-Asme
  • 18 km - to Saint Jean-pied-deport

I loved this portion of the trail. The walk to Ostabat-Asme is especially beautiful.

Suggested tweaks to your stops...

Aroue is really small and only has one gite, as I recall. A wonderful alternative is after arriving in Aroue, catch a bus or cab to Saint-Palais. It's about 15 minutes away and has many lodging and restaurant options. Then walk from there the next day. Stages would look like...

18 km - Navarrenx to Aroue (then bus ride or taxi to Saint-Palais)

16 km - Saint-Palais to Larceveau (or Ostabat which is about 2km shorter)

16 km - Larceveau to SJPDP

It's also possible to walk to Saint-Palais rather and drive, but that creates about a 30km stage from Navarrenx, I believe. Personally, I was done with 30km stages by then, and was happy to ride to Saint-Palais. In fact, the local gite owner in Aroue volunteered to give us a ride. That was nice of him.

FWIW... I think starting the Camino Frances in Navarrenx is an interesting idea. It gives you several days to warm up for the Pyrenees, and there is a significant climb before Ostabat which is a nice warm up for the mountains.
 
Once again, thanks for the suggestions. It has firmed my resolve to do the entire Via Podiensis on my own. But that will wait until 2024 because 2023 is dedicated to the Norte/Primitivo. I am also considering taking my wife on a short section of CF instead of Le Puy, but will use another forum to seek guidance.
 
Hello fellow pilgrims
I am new to Ivars forum. Did CF earlier this year, planning Norte/Primitivo next year. But my big question regards Podiensis. I want to take my wife on a 3-4 day hike to give a feel for walking the Camino and I am looking for a pretty section, relatively easy to get to. I am considering starting in Arles Sur-le-dur and heading towards St Jean. What do you think?
Cele Valley all the way
 
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Cele Valley all the way
I walked the Celevalley and did like it very much. If you want to walk only a few days and get a caminofeel I would not go for this option. I found the way through the Cele valley to be like a chain of pearls : beautifull highlights but the stretches in between were less impressive. There were not many people on this route. In general I liked the first half from Le Puy to Conques more. More difficult but after a climb I was always rewarded with beautifull views and mostly I could walk on the crest of the hill. Both in Le Puy and in Conques there are "pilgrimmoments". The mass in the cathedral of Le Puy with the blessing. Most of the people you will meet you will be there. In Conques also the mass and the illumination of the "timpanum" of the impressive church. You can stay in the convent. In 4 or 5 days you cannot walk from Le Puy to Conques though. Le Puy is probably easier to reach by public transport.
 
I walked the Celevalley and did like it very much. If you want to walk only a few days and get a caminofeel I would not go for this option. I found the way through the Cele valley to be like a chain of pearls : beautifull highlights but the stretches in between were less impressive. There were not many people on this route. In general I liked the first half from Le Puy to Conques more. More difficult but after a climb I was always rewarded with beautifull views and mostly I could walk on the crest of the hill. Both in Le Puy and in Conques there are "pilgrimmoments". The mass in the cathedral of Le Puy with the blessing. Most of the people you will meet you will be there. In Conques also the mass and the illumination of the "timpanum" of the impressive church. You can stay in the convent. In 4 or 5 days you cannot walk from Le Puy to Conques though. Le Puy is probably easier to reach by public transport.
I do agree “ camino feel” including Conques should be highly considered!!!!
I just love love love the beauty of the Cele !
 
I loved this portion of the trail. The walk to Ostabat-Asme is especially beautiful.

Suggested tweaks to your stops...

Aroue is really small and only has one gite, as I recall. A wonderful alternative is after arriving in Aroue, catch a bus or cab to Saint-Palais. It's about 15 minutes away and has many lodging and restaurant options. Then walk from there the next day. Stages would look like...

18 km - Navarrenx to Aroue (then bus ride or taxi to Saint-Palais)

16 km - Saint-Palais to Larceveau (or Ostabat which is about 2km shorter)

16 km - Larceveau to SJPDP

It's also possible to walk to Saint-Palais rather and drive, but that creates about a 30km stage from Navarrenx, I believe. Personally, I was done with 30km stages by then, and was happy to ride to Saint-Palais. In fact, the local gite owner in Aroue volunteered to give us a ride. That was nice of him.

FWIW... I think starting the Camino Frances in Navarrenx is an interesting idea. It gives you several days to warm up for the Pyrenees, and there is a significant climb before Ostabat which is a nice warm up for the mountains.
Aroue has a fantastic gite, in the countryside, by the side of the Camino, and a couple of miles before the village of Aroue, Ferme Bohoteguia, the owners are very friendly, you have dinner by the meadows, and the place is purely bucolic
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Aroue has a fantastic gite, in the countryside, by the side of the Camino, and a couple of miles before the village of Aroue, Ferme Bohoteguia, the owners are very friendly, you have dinner by the meadows, and the place is purely bucolic
Oui. Je suis d’accord. 😎 One of my favourite gites, not just on the Le Puy. Of all the gites and albergues I’ve stayed in, this was one of the standouts - warm welcome, beautiful setting, excellent facilities, and delicious dinner, breakfast and packed lunch the next day . Wonderful memories. I hope to pay another visit later this year ❤️
 
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