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should I start from Arles, le Puy, or Vezelay?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ('05)
I walked Camino Frances years ago, and now I'd like to do it again, but start in France. What are your thoughts on the different French routes? Have you done multiple?

I leave in early May--would Le Puy be crowded then?


no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
You won't hear a word of English on the Arles or Vezelay routes. Many of the accommodations on the Vezelay route are in private homes, so you need enough French skills to phone ahead to make arrangements. Sometimes the tourist office can help with that, but keep their business hours in mind.

Bon chemin.


"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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Having a choice, I'd probably walk from Vézelay.

The route from Le Puy may be the more beautiful of the three, or so I hear, but it's also the more touristy. The more southerly Piémont route is on the other hand a little too harsh and strange to use as a matter of choice.

The Vézelay route has been sensibly laid down, and though it's fairly well-travelled these days, the rumours I've heard are that it's still possible to get the whole "genuine pilgrim" thing from out of that path.

Buen Camino !!!


Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
I've walked Le Puy and a large portion of Arles. Both have their charms but Le Puy is unmissable. I'd walk it again in a heartbeat. Beautiful varied landscape, historically and culturally interesting places, pretty villages, excellent accommodation (and choice), and a good sprinkling of other pilgrims so you have company when you want it.
I will be walking with my father (age 75) and my daughter (age 17) in late September. My dad has already done the entire Camino Frances and Porto, but wants to walk a bit with my daughter. We are flying into Paris and only have a week to get a little of the experience for my daughter. I walked with my dad from Burgos to Leon when he was on his pilgrimage, so had a wonderful opportunity to see that great part of the trail. We would love to leave from Le Puy, but getting there and back adds so much travel to our trip. I've been reading about the Arles route and thought we could walk from Arles to Montpellier, but have not seen wonderful things about that part of the route. Am now thinking if Vezelay. Does anyone out there have any suggestions for 4 or 5 good days of walking the Chemin somewhere in France? Should I just get over the travel aspect and start at Le Puy?

Thanks in advance for any ideas!


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Le Puy/Santiago/Fisterra/Murxia Sept/Oct 2012, Portugues march 2013, Arles April 2013
I have walked from Le Puy twice and from Montpellier on the Arles route and would heartily recommend either. However, in May the Le Puy route may be quite crowded and on both you will need to plan accommodation stops and book ahead.

Getting around rural France can be pretty difficult and time consuming, so you will have to plan carefully and not assume that if you want to travel between two towns 50 Kms apart which both have railway stations you can do so. NO, they will probably be on different lines and it will take all day and night from my experience!

As I walk on my own I was alarmed by reports of isolation etc on the Arles route, but after careful information decided to go for it anyway and found nothing untoward and enough people around mot of the time. Having said that you do have to be happy about walking on your own, and even being the only person in the Gite sometimes.

Both could be quite hot in May, but I walked both in May and found the weather cool and pretty wet. Just depends!

I would certainly agree that being able to speak French will make either walk much more enjoyable.


no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
There is a train from Paris to near Vezelay with one train change, and the station near Vezelay is a two hour walk, or a short taxi ride, from the cathedral, which is spectacular. The walk from Vezelay is flat and easy for several days, and very enjoyable.

Bon chemin.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2000), Puy (03), VDLP(04), Arles(05), Paris/London(06), Norte(07),Vezelay(09), Levante(10),Madrid(13),CF(15),CF(16)
Hallo, you can get to the station of Sermizelles 10 km away from Vezelay taking a normal train from Paris station Gare de Bercy. There you can walk on low traffic road or call a taxi from Vezelay


Hallo, you can get to the station of Sermizelles 10 km away from Vezelay taking a normal train from Paris station Gare de Bercy. There you can walk on low traffic road or call a taxi from Vezelay
This is what I did in 2010.

I walked the Northern route through Bourges. There were enough Albergues, though some of the stages could be 30+km. I found no need to call ahead and did not stay in any private homes. Generally I encountered more deer than people.

I have also walked the Arles route in 2012 and enjoyed that too. I have not walked Le Puy.
Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I think we are going to start from Le Puy since it seems to be the most interesting with our very short walk to start off this leg of the pilgrimage. However, the next time I am in Paris, I am definitely going to visit Vezelay. I love Arles and wish I could start there, but the first few days of that walk seem a bit boring.

I am wondering though, if I am I crazy thinking we can get to St. Privat d'Allier on our first day (24 km), Saugues on our second (20 km), Les Faux on our third (28 km) and Aumont-Aubrac on our fourth (22km). That gives us a full day in Le Puy to start and to finish. I am picking these stops mainly for hotels and bigger places to stay.


several caminos- '03-'13
Hi Lisa, My experience with that part of Le Puy from April this year is that it's slower and harder in some ways than the Frances. In April it was very muddy and wet - hard to tell the path from the creek in some spots so that may account for some of it. The Camino Frances has become a very different path in the last ten years but the Le Puy route is not the same. The rocks on the path are bigger and more abundant and the path is not groomed like the Frances. Getting to St. Privat in a day is certainly possible and Saugues as well. The 28 km day might be a difficult one. It snowed for us in Aumont-Aubrac in April and could in May as well although most likely won't. Even in April some places were difficult without reservations so you will definitely have to reserve ahead in May. It's very beautiful but strenuous. And remember that wherever you start the first few days are always the hardest. Enjoy!
Good to know about the difficulty of the path compared to the Spanish route. We are going in September, so I have no idea what type of weather we will encounter. I am going to make reservations and really hope we don't have snow!! Since we have so few days on the route, we should be fine with a hard day to end the walk. I am most worried about the second day when we go down to Monistrol and back up again--that will be hard on my dad's knees.


no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
Go Le Puy to Montbonnet to Monistrol, then assault the climb with fresh legs!

Le Puy-en-Velay2R, 2G, A, C, H0 km-
Saint-Christophe-sur-DolaisonG, H8.8 km-
Montbonnet2G7.9 km16.7 km
Le ChierH4.8 km-
Saint-Privat-d'AllierG, C, H2.1 km-
Monistrol-d'Allier3G, C, H6.7 km13.6 km
Saugues3G, C, H11.7 km11.7 km


Active Member
I enjoyed the Le Puy route by taking it slow and starting earlier than the main mob. Copped some snow and sleet, but that just made it all the more memorable. (At the Capucins hostel in Le Puy I was very flattered to be made Pilgrim of the Week. Then they admitted I was the only pilgrim. Oh well.)

As so many here will tell you, the Le Puy route is wonderful. Expect great things and great people, along with some bumps.

Rob (Pilgrim of the Week)

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