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Advice for pre booking on the Le Puy please

Walden

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 Camino Finesterre/Muxia
2024 Le Puy
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Hospitaleros need to know if you want dinner in advance, in order to plan food. Breakfast is generally included in price.
Cheques are yet used in France for this kind of activity: they do not have other means to be sure of your booking.
My advice is to book at Le Puy (for instance in Grand Seminaire Accueil St Georges) as soon as possible. Then a day before.
I can help you to write e-mails or to communicate with gites if needed.
For instance if you want to book the night now and the dinners a day before you can say:
"Je vous confirmerai la veille pour le dîner"
("I will confirm you the day before regarding dinner").
 
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
It seems bizarre to many of us but yes apparently they still use cheques in France! I remember a reply from one French member of this forum who said they hadn't used one in years, another who said that they used them regularly. The same with people from the States.
There are a number of other countries that are still backwards enough to use cheques 😉 although usage is declining.

The rest of my reply comes purely from research because I will be walking this route next year:

Apparently the first two weeks of July are generally relatively quiet and so you can often get by with just booking one or two days in advance. From mid July onwards people are starting to go on their annual holidays (which typically in France are in August as I understand it).

With regards to booking, you say "I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet". You do realise you don't get a choice, they just serve you whatever they're making, when they're making it? So it's really just a question of are you going to eat breakfast and dinner in, or not.

Why don't you simply just book without the meals and then two or three days before get in touch if you have changed your mind?

Edited to add: whilst I was writing @Pafayac has made an excellent suggestion and a very kind offer!

You might want to read this excellent resource if you haven't already:

 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
It seems bizarre to many of us but yes apparently they still use cheques in France! I remember a reply from one French member of this forum who said they hadn't used one in years, another who said that they used them regularly. The same with people from the States.
We are not very fond of cheques but they remain used for people who have no other means to receive money: associations, individual people, small gites...
 
Thank you Pafayac for the kind offer. I think I will reply with that type of comment. I appreciate the offer.

Of course Peter, I fully understand I get what is on offer. I've been walking Caminos for years, I'm well used to getting by, and very accepting of circumstances. I was really enquiring if it is necessary to declare your dining intentions a month in advance.
I will follow up my enquiries with a booking, without meals option for now.

Many thanks for replying guys. Much appreciated. Very helpful.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Book your meals. It's one less thing to think about on your travels! I never had a bad meal in France.
I agree with both Margaret & @amandurr

Many of the places you’ll stay at, are not near food stops .. & with private kitchens (not for pilgrim use ). It is much easier to do the booking including the dinner etc at one time. Less complicated in my opinion. Rather than explain later that you already have a bed booking but now want to upgrade for dinner inclusion. You’ll get the ‘feel’ if it very quickly tho and will enjoy the more relaxed walking; knowing that your bed and meal for the night is sorted. The food is yummy.

If you are looking ahead to book at a larger town … where it is possible to eat out; your guide or app will clue you on this. Then when calling to book your bed for the night / let them know you want to eat out . They may also give you their recommendations.

Try to have your weekend accommodation booked a few days early. When I walked ., it was harder to find on weekends if left to the last minute.

Bon chemin
 
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I have walked the marvelous Via Podiensis and absolutely loved the awesome demi-pension meals at the Gites, and would not have wanted to miss them. They also were quite different and a nice change from the pilgrim meals and del dias in Spain.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
They also were quite different and a nice change from the pilgrim meals and del dias in Spain.
That's an understatement and a half!

Whilst I have yet to walk in France, I have stayed in multiple Gites over the years.
The food ranged from good to, on a couple of occasions, absolutely amazing 😍. It wasn't mass produced, factory farmed, frozen ingredients, cooked by somebody just doing their job - it was created with feeling, by somebody who enjoys cooking, and often from ingredients that came from the garden - at worst, the market - that same day. Seasonal, regional products at their best!

Anyone would think I like French cuisine...
 
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I am currently walking this route and have been finding the meals to be hit or miss (I am a picky eater) and in hindsight I would have preferred more restaurant dining but in many places there aren't many options so you are stuck at the gite.

For checks, when I have been asked for this I have just explained I am from the US and in every case the gite owner has waived the deposit requirement.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
Prepare yourself for an amazing Camino. The Camino is loaded with beautiful
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
Prepare yourself for an amazing experience. This Camino is full of beautiful medeival
architecture and art, nature, and people. Do take in the detours, Cele Valley, take a day trip to Rockamadour, stay with Serge in Cahors,
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
 
Prepare yourself for an amazing Camino. The Camino is loaded with beautiful

Prepare yourself for an amazing experience. This Camino is full of beautiful medeival
architecture and art, nature, and people. Do take in the detours, Cele Valley, take a day trip to Rockamadour, stay with Serge in Cahors, the Altreia albergue in

I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
 
Choose Demi-Pensión every time that you can. Almost always great food and company.
Tell them you can’t send a cheque, when i’ve done that they have said don’t worry about it, and booked me in anyway.
 
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.
Definitely go for demi-pension!
When a gîte would ask for a chèque (arrhes) I would explain that I lived in the US without a French bank account but could pay using PayPal if they wished. Usually they said no problem, I could pay the total on arrival, but twice I did pay with PayPal. One place was the abbey in Conques.
 
@Mananath , what are the numbers like on the trail, and have you pre-booked everything? (I assume so because of your comment about cheques).
Before I started I prebooked until Cahors. Now I am booked up until Condom. About 200 people left Le Puy on the day I did. Since Figeac the numbers have decreased a lot. I am currently doing the Cele variant (amazing!) and it's not crowded. Quite a few people are not booking in advance.
 
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
For my part, I always took the dinner because I didn't want to have to look ahead what towns had restaurants. But since you're way ahead on your planning I would suggest checking if the places you are staying have restaurants and planning days to eat there. The communal meals are always an hour and a half and mostly in French. They can get really boring after a while. I spoke some French and still found the conversations to be dry. The early stages I had more English speaking companions but after a week it got to be more and more French only.
 
The early stages I had more English speaking companions but after a week it got to be more and more French only.
This was mostly true, but since I walked it with three camino girlfriends, we felt very comfortable in spite of that because we had each other. Since I speak so little French, and Spanish, I do not like pouring over menus in other languages and don't always have good success in choosing. Google translate helps, but not always perfectly when using it for restaurants.
I am not a picky eater, and I loved all the meals I was served on the Le Puy.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Demi-pension is pretty much standard fare on the GR65 Via Podiensis / Voie du Puy … and the communal evening meal around the dinner table with other hikers and pilgrims is one of the highlights of this chemin … that said, if you don’t want to eat in the evening that’s fine too but it is important to know that in many places, in the tiny villages where you might well end up staying for the night, there are no other options, i.e. no bar, café or restaurant; some of the larger villages and towns do have brasseries / cafés or small restaurants but the majority of diners will be locals [or tourists] not hikers and pilgrims who, for the most part, and with good reason, will generally take the home-cooked evening meal at their accommodation … imho the conviviality of the communal dinner is not to be missed … all the best!


**
I'm starting the Le Puy in early July hopefully. In my efforts to communicate with the gite owners, I am using email as my French is almost non existent.

I'm getting lots of replies outlining, in great detail, the options.

Do I have to select breakfast or communal dinner already? Surely its too early to be asked these questions. I don't know when or what I want to eat tomorrow yet. Is it possible to just book the dormitory bed and later, closer to the date, contact them to add me to the communal meal or breakfast etc?

Another reply asked to send a cheque for a deposit. Are cheques still a thing? I haven't seen a cheque in many years. Is this usual in France?

If anyone that has done the route, or any French pilgrims can advise, that would be great.

Lastly, am I running a risk if I don't pre-book, or are there enough Gites in a general area to cover pilgrims in July, or are there crunch spots with bed shortages?

Many thanks to anyone who offers advice.
 
The other thing that often happens at the communal dinners is talk about the next days hike. Sometimes variants are explained, things of interest identified. The gite owners know the area well and often have a lot of good information about that section of the trail.
They also will let you know where to get food, what bakeries, groceries and restaurants will be open or closed on the next day.
We walked the Le Puy in September 2023 and did the Cele Variant.
 
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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.
I wonder how many days in advance I should be booking? I've the first 4 nights organised. Would that be enough for July?

Its been a pretty awkward experience so far. Lots of gites are responding asking for cheques or IBAN. It all seems so un-camino like, and has knocked most of the enthusiasm for trip out of me. I always felt camino was supposed to be relaxed.
 
Yes, one gite owner told us he had 30 no shows in a month that's over a thousand euro loss. It also was nice for me to know I didn't have to spend time each day scrambling to find out where I could find a place to stay. It can be stressful when you are tired and hungry to be trying to contact gites. I found the meals a really nice place to connect with others and to taste a variety of foods.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Hospitaleros were thinking this too. Then they have been fooled by fake reservations...
yes, but I'm sure this isn't unique to the French. But somehow the Portuguese, Spanish and Italians get on with it without IBAN and cheque requests, in my experience. But it is their world, so on I go with IBAN transfers......
 

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