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Accomodation on the Le Puy route

#1
I am thinking of walking the Le Puy route this autumn (yup - very imminent). I've heard that accomodation can be difficult to find if one just turns up hoping to find a bed for the night. Is this true? I am worried by the idea of having to plan my stages out and pre-booking in rigid detail as I like a bit of flexibility (and I'm just not that organised). I never had a problem with getting a bed in Spain on the Camino when I walked in June/July which were busy months. Just how difficult is France?

Plodding Pilgrim
 

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KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#2
I have been in contact with a couple of people who have walked from Le Puy who have said it was necessary for them to book accommodation, but they have walked in May when the route is perhaps busier.
However, they said bookings were more important in the weekends when it was crowded, and both tended to book 2 or 3 nights out. (So you don't need to book your whole schedule ahead.)
Both strongly recommended the Miam Miam Dodo guidebook for the route, which is obtainable from CSJ. It lists accommodation for every section of the route, with phone numbers and costs etc. (They told me everyone basically walks with this guide.) It is written in French, but has graphics and a glossary so you can work out the important info without knowing French,
 

Janeh

Active Member
#3
I have a friend walking from Le Puy right now - she started about 10 days ago. from her emails it appears that she is booking accomodation 3 days ahead - the people in the tourist office or where she is staying are doing that for her. She has changed her itinerary a little so obviously you can stay flexible if you're only having to change a few days at a time. She also is carrying the guide book KiwiNomad suggested. So yes, booking would probably be best. I have stayed in gites myself and I think the owners prefer to know you are coming as the majority, if not all, I think are privately owned and the madame can organise her own life around who will be arriving. We ate with the gite owners on many a night which was the highlight of the trip for me because you are able to spend sometime with a local and find out about their little village or area. plus it's a good way to practice french! :)
 
#4
accomodation on Le Puy route

Hi Plodding Pilgrim,
I last walked the Le Puy route in 2005 during April/May. This is the period following Easter with several feast days and holidays so there were, at times, lots of walkers on the route doing short stretches. Once we had to go off route and stay in an hotel, Livinac-le-Haut was very busy but we got beds, and at Lascabanes some had to go further. The CSJ guide for 2004 says '...it is becoming increasing necessary to book ahead from June to September', this is if you intend to stay in the gites d'etape. My guess would be that Autumn will be quieter and as Kiwi says, you can book a day or two ahead and work your stages accordingly. Try to get a good idea of how many French people are on the route because they tend to book well ahead whereas 'les etrangers' are less organised or less anxious. Less French means more beds.
I haven't used the MMD guide but the CSJ guide, I think, is good and has telephone numbers, etc.

Buen Camino,
Brendan
 

windeatt

Active Member
#5
Hi plodding p!

We walked Le Puy - Pamplona in May and June this year. It WAS very busy in May BUT Gite owners told us that May was their busiest time - followed by June and that it was very quiet in July and August.

However, even in May, there were plenty of people who didn't book and just arrived. The communal gites seemed to have an extra room they would open or they had a space where they could put mattresses on the floor. The private gites often had extra beds or folding beds in communal areas or tents outside and these would then get filled up with late arrivals . . . It depends how fussy you are - if you want to be sure of a comfortable room (and we usually tried to get a room for just the two of us - often possible in French Gites both private and communal) then you need to book ahead. But if you don't mind too much where you sleep or if you don't mind having to walk on a bit further then you should be OK. Also, if you can afford a B&B, there are lots of off-route ones which will come and collect you in a car and deliver you back the next day.

I also found the Miam-miam-dodo book (Translation: Yummy-yummy, beddy-byes) an essential tool. Also - provided there is one where you are and it is open - tourist offices in France are very good and will find you accommodation. And I had the impression that gite owners will often phone round for you if they don't have any spaces themesleves.

We booked a few days ahead until June when we started not bothering but then it got more crowded and accommodation became sparser as we neared SJPP and so we started booking again.

However, a couple of things to be wary of:

In July and August (and possibly September?) many of the private bed and breakfast places rent out the accommodation to people staying for one or two weeks at a stretch so they won't be available.

I don't know how much this is something to take too seriously but I understand that the hunters are out in the autumn and you'll need to avoid going off the path (just about every stage of the walk is through 'Hunting/shooting reserved' areas and you will walk past lots of hides).

I think you will probably be all right without booking - but check the Miam-Miam a couple of days in advance to see if you have any very long stretches where there are only one or two places to stay - it might be worth booking up then - unless of course you don't mind walking an extra 10 km! However, on an optimistic note, three people we met decided they wanted to stop in a village where there was no accommodation listed in the Miam-miam and they just walked around knocking on doors and asking people and someone let them stay in an unlet summer holiday cottage for the night and very cheaply.

TIP: These three didn't speak French but they did discover that if you say: 'Do you speak English?' everyone says 'Non' but if you say: 'Parlez-vous Anglais?' everyone says 'A leetle'.
 

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#6
Thanks for the replies. I will definitely take a guidebook and I guess I might try to phone ahead at the start of the day to where I think I want to walk to and call places either side of my stage just in case. That's probably sensible. From what windeatt says it sounds like there is the will to help people find a rest place for the night which is reassuring.

I'm a bit disconcerted by the idea of people toting guns though - yikes!!

Plodding Pilgrim
 

windeatt

Active Member
#7
Bonne route plodding p!

When you get back do let us know here how you found the accommodation situation . I have a review of the accommodation we stayed in here:
http://www.windeatt.f2s.com/camino.htm - all very subjective of course.

Re the hunting situation - I may have been a bit alarmist because I then I tried to find out what the statistics are for shooting fatalities and walkers etc but couldn't find anything much - which is a good sign. The French walkers association don't seem to have anything on their website and what I did find indicated that the very few people who do get shot are other hunters - so it seems as though the risk is minimal to say the least. You are far more likely to be hurt or killed through walking on the roads.

I was worried about lots of things on our walk (I AM a worrier) but in the event absolutely none of the things I was continually worrying about happened and I didn't even get a blister! We had a very interesting and mostly enjoyable - albeit very muddy- time.
 
#8
Windeatt,
Excellent review and information of where you stayed, gives bed configuration, shower situation, toilet, meals, comments on persons running the place. Good balance of albergues, hostals and hotels. Walking distances and degree of difficulty, rest days included.
One of the best practical website.
 

windeatt

Active Member
#9
Thanks Joseph.

I have a bit more to add at some point - I have already posted something about equipment
viewtopic.php?t=2827&highlight=

My main comment about accommodation would be that Hotels, in general, are definitely NOT worth the money. You can get equally good or much better accommodation in B&Bs (Chambres d'hotes) while the private Gites and Farms along the way provide much better food than restaurants or hotels. Most hotels seem to take just one look at your dirty mud-spattered appearance and give you the worst room in the place. Having said that, one or two were really nice to us - despite our dirt and mud (they're the ones with three stars on my list).

I wouldn't use hotels again unless I were (a) just desperate for a bathtub - most of the other accommodation has showers - although always with lashings of hot water or (b) equally desperate not to have to talk to anyone. Mostly you have a great social time in the gites and the chambres d'hotes chatting to the proprietors and other pilgrims but occasionally you might want to just go exhaustedly straight to bed or simply not want to speak to anyone for whatever reason.

If you are one of the latter types though you might consider sleeping rough . . . we met one or two people doing this - one guy was managing on 6-7 Euros a day and had spent only 200 Euros for walking through the whole of France (from Germany). I was ashamed to tell him what I had spent. His main complaint was the lack of water in France and how much it cost him in the shops. But you don't need to buy water in France - there is drinking water in every cemetery - and you will pass lots and lots of them!
 

Artemis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
#11
windeatt,

What do you mean by "sleeping rough"? Camping out? I loved your pictures.

Artemis
 
#12
The pictures are beautiful and bring back great memories. When we walked on the GR65 we also walked on the Cele River Valley alternative, and I was so glad we did. Those towns, as your photos show, are just georgeous. We were stunned to find empty gites and rarely found anyone either before or after our "detour" who had even heard of it. Aren't we lucky we did?
Thanks for all that terrific information on your website. It will be very helpful to others.
Laurie
 

windeatt

Active Member
#13
Re: sleeping out?

Hi Artemis -

'sleeping rough' - we met a few folks who just slept anywhere. One guy said he just went 30 metres of the path in one direction or the other and got into his bivi bag and slept there. Another lady said she was with a group who looked for shelters, barns etc. This is probably not legal (does anyone know?) and possibly annoys the locals but people do it. Not for me I'm afraid but the guy we met said it was good for him to understand how people who are really poor have to live.

Hi peregrina

Thanks for the compliments - the photos were taken by my daughter. You must have had better weather along the CELE than we did. When we decided to go that way, we were in Figeac and broiling in 36 degrees - of course as soon as we set out it started to rain and it wasn't very pleasant pushing through soaking wet bushes on waterfall-like paths. But it was probably more spectacular than the alternative and certainly less crowded.

Windy
 

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