Im walking from Le Puy on the 8. juli. Does anyone know about the traffic in the Gites in juli? Heard rumours about in beeing very overcrowded... Dont want to sleep outside...
And how is the water in france?Anyone who got sick from it? :?
Others will no doubt provide a response on the accommodation. As far as the water is concerned, I drank many many litres on the GR653 from Toulouse through Auch & Pau & over the Pyrenees, without any ill effect. A gendarme in l'Ile Jourdain advised me to always look inside cemetery gates for a tap with potable water and, while I was initially startled by the advice, I happily followed it for two weeks.
I think that papajohn need not worry too much about reservations along the GR653 in September. When I walked from Toulouse in 2005, I do not think that I saw a dozen pilgrims in the ten days it took me to get to the Spanish border. His greatest challenge will be the fact that the markings are not always clear-- Pibrac to Île Jourdain will be challenging, unless they've fixed things up. I heartily recommend the gîte in Le Puy de Grâces, run by Marie-Dominique Grasset outside Lahitte-Toupière-- PM me if you wd like further details.
i started in le puy last year on july 25 and most of the time the gites weren' crowded at all. during the week and in smaller villages and towns it's usually no problem without a reservation, but on the weekends you should better call ahead, because there are a lot of french families who are making hiking trips on the weekends so the gites are sometimes crowded.
in nogaro i once had some troubles getting a bed, but i could manage to hire a caravan at the camping ground of eauze.
i wish you a great time on the camino!! i really enjoyed the part from le puy to st. jean last year and when i got into spain i really missed france a lot because suddenly i felt that there were so many people in spain. in certain areas in france it can get pretty lonley, but that's beautiful as well (especially in the aubrac and the area around figeac)!! i still miss the french part of the camino this year i'm going to try the way from lisbon to santiago, but i really hope to get back on the via podiensis one day!!
Have just come back having walked from Le Puy. We found it was best to call ahead and reserve in France. We didn't always do it but it depends how fussy you are as if you want a chambre in the gite then you probably need to reserve but if you're happy with a domitory bed then you'll probably be fine. Mainly we concluded that it's best to reserve if you're going to a small village where their isn't a lot of places to stay but if you're headed for a larger town you can usually find somewhere. It's a bit tougher than in spain as you need to plan carefully where you're going each day as most travellers are french and have booked in advance. Everyone told us that May was the busiest time in France and that July was much quieter so you probably won't need to worry too much!
I forgot - I only got sick once in france in Estang not sure what caused that... We drank the water from the taps everywhere and were absolutely fine. There are drinking fountains along the way but not that many, especially in the quieter stretches in the middle of the route which are less popular. In popular areas (such as the aubrac) pilgrims are well catered for.