I am thinking about doing the Le Puy leg of the Camino in August. I recently finished the Camino Frances and found it very sociable and met lots of interesting people who could speak English.
Does anybody have any views on how the two routes compare in this regard.
There were not many English speakers at all on the Le Puy route. Most speakers were French, and after that came the Germans. It is not nearly so international a route as the Camino Frances. However, having said that, I found the 'community' amongst walkers on the Le Puy route to be very strong, and the welcome in the gites to be very warm. I spoke some French so could communicate to a certain extent. But others who did not speak French seemed to be enjoying themselves, and those French speakers who did speak some English were usually more than ready to help a fellow walker.
Hi, I'm afraid the Le Puy route is nothing like the Frances for international walkers and english speakers. I went the first two weeks before I had a conversation with someone other than my mum!!
I would strongly advise you to learn a little French, even just some basic french will mean you can chat to people you meet along the way (most of whom will be French). On a good note though you will improve your French rapidly, even today after much more walking in Spain my pilgrim French is much better than my pilgrim Spanish and I'm very good at the French for "where are you walking to today, knees, feet, blisters etc etc"...
Another thing worth thinking about is that you usually need to call ahead to reserve your accomodation in France. If you can't manage this yourself the trick is usually to ask the host of the place you are currently staying in to call ahead to the next place for you or if that doesn't work you can try asking in the tourist offices where they will often call for you.
In two months (we were slow walking) on the Le Puy route I met only 2 americans, 2 english, 1 irish and 2 australians who were english speakers.... Watch out for germans they often speak some english! That said the australians made it the whole way without any French whatsoever and were quite happy about it so it's possible!
thanks for the replies and useful information. I am still not sure about the actual date I will be going but probably around 23rd August, I have some business to finish in the UK which is taking longer than expected.
I do have some French, quite good on vocabulary not so good on grammar, maybe it is my chance for a 4 week French immersion course. I am really looking forward to it, I have always loved France and am hoping for considerably better food than the standard pilgrims menu I ate almost every day in Spain.
Hi Kelvin, did you end up doing the Le Puy Route? I left Le Puy on the 22nd of August and arrived in St Jean Pied de Port on the the 29th of September. I had a wonderful time, very few English Speakers, but that did not bother me. How about you? Did we ever cross paths??? Gitti
I've just returned from walking Le Puy to Cahors. I don't speak French, but I am competant in German at the phrasebook level. During the first week, there were two fluent Francophones in our group of five, so they handled all the necessary and casual interaction in French. After that I was on my own. By this point, I had lodging reservations set up about four days in advance (imposing on French speakers at my lodgings to assist), and I was able to manage basic restaurant instructions, which was enough. I still cannot handle directions in French (guess that's what I'll work on before next year's trip).
I encountered very many Canadians on my walk (there can't be anyone left in Quebec, it seems); almost all were bilingual to some extent and so made for very sociable walking companions. Pilgrims from the German-speaking lands (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) were quite ready to converse in good English. The Dutch and Belgians were also very comfortable in English. However, I would say at least three-quarters of the walkers were French.
Not speaking French, I was able to manage the essential activities of travelling, but missed out on the dinner table conversation and other interactions unless I lucked out with English-speakers.