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Via Podiensis April 2023 Itinerary Advice

Leigh Lorayne

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino del Norte Irun to Ribadasella (2016)
Camino Primitivo Oviedo to Santiago (2016)
I begin my Camino April 24. I am concerned about accommodation during the month of May because of the many French holidays. Should I book ahead? I have made a tentative schedule to Conques and would really appreciate comments and gite suggestions for those communities. I am 70 yrs, have walked 2 Caminos 7-8 years ago and am reasonable fit. I usually like to walk around 20 km/day. I realize this schedule has many shorter days. I am not in a hurry. I would welcome any suggestions where I might lengthen the days a little when the gradient isn't too demanding, and any stops where there are gites that pilgrims have enjoyed. Booking this far ahead is not my preference, but I am wondering if it might be wise in May?

Le Puy ------ Montbonnet
Montbonnet ------ Monistrol-d'Allier
Monistrol d'Allier ------ Saugues
Saugues ----- Le Sauvage
Le Sauvage ------ St. Alban sur Limagnole
St. Alban ------ Aumont - Aubrac ( ? La Ferme du Barry)
Aumont-Aubrac ------ Nasbinals ( a long day but 'green' gradient?)
Nasbinals------St. Chely-d'Aubrac
St. Chely-d'Aubrac ------ St. Come d'Olt
St. Come d'Olt ----- Estaing ( ?the terrain gradients look more demanding on this day)
Estaing ----- Golinhac ( ?Gite d'etape a la ferme l'Oree du Chemin)
Golinhac ----- Conques ( ? stay at the Abbey)

I am appreciative of any and all comments. I am so glad for this forum and the guidance it gives. Thanks so much!
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
I begin my Camino April 24. I am concerned about accommodation during the month of May because of the many French holidays. Should I book ahead? I have made a tentative schedule to Conques and would really appreciate comments and gite suggestions for those communities. I am 70 yrs, have walked 2 Caminos 7-8 years ago and am reasonable fit. I usually like to walk around 20 km/day. I realize this schedule has many shorter days. I am not in a hurry. I would welcome any suggestions where I might lengthen the days a little when the gradient isn't too demanding, and any stops where there are gites that pilgrims have enjoyed. Booking this far ahead is not my preference, but I am wondering if it might be wise in May?

Le Puy ------ Montbonnet
Montbonnet ------ Monistrol-d'Allier
Monistrol d'Allier ------ Saugues
Saugues ----- Le Sauvage
Le Sauvage ------ St. Alban sur Limagnole
St. Alban ------ Aumont - Aubrac ( ? La Ferme du Barry)
Aumont-Aubrac ------ Nasbinals ( a long day but 'green' gradient?)
Nasbinals------St. Chely-d'Aubrac
St. Chely-d'Aubrac ------ St. Come d'Olt
St. Come d'Olt ----- Estaing ( ?the terrain gradients look more demanding on this day)
Estaing ----- Golinhac ( ?Gite d'etape a la ferme l'Oree du Chemin)
Golinhac ----- Conques ( ? stay at the Abbey)

I am appreciative of any and all comments. I am so glad for this forum and the guidance it gives. Thanks so much!
I walked 8 years ago so in terms of booking I think others who have walked more recently would have better advice. I was 60 when I walked and I found it to be the toughest camino I ever walked, especially the first 10-14 days. I am soon to be 69 and even though I am in good shape it gets a little tougher as the years go on. When I walked I had no French, no telephone and only a really poor Michelin guide book that was nearly worthless to me. I had to rely on the gite owners to arrange a reservation for the next night. I did this every day. It worked out well but I had days that I walked that were really long. Days that I didn't see one shop or cafe open. A few days I ate nothing between breakfast and dinner. Take supplies every day. Hope you can speak French. Listen to your body and shorter is better for sure. You have time. Check Gronze.com get that Miam Miam Do Do guidebook. The lady in the pilgrim office in Paris begged me to buy it and I was an idiot. It is easy to follow even without knowing a word of French. You have to book ahead on the Le Puy Camino. How far out others would know much better than I. Also be careful to follow those GR markings. It is so beautiful and tranquil that I missed more than a few and added kilometers to my day on some occasions. I got lost on that camino way more than any of my other caminos put together.
Also I just noticed another thread like this one:
Check out what @jouffroy47 has written. She has walked this route many times. I am sure she has some excellent information.
 
Last edited:

kayagee66

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
Le Puy - Roncesvalles (2016)
Figeac - Cahors (2017)
Stevenson Trail (2018
Your stages look good to me. I’ve walked longer stages from Le Puy, but next time (probably later this year) i expect i’ll walk the same as you or very similar. Sauvage is very popular so be prepared to book elsewhere. Ferme du Barry also, but there other good options in town. There are also good options before Nasbinals so you could make the day a bit shorter.
Yes May is busy. You may well be ok not booking, but it’s probably prudent to do so.
I’ve walked on the via Podiensis a few times in September which is also a busy month. I book the first 3 days, then book ahead for 2 or 3 days normally. But if i was walking in May i think i’d try book them all ahead.
You don’t need to speak French, i don’t and have managed just fine, with bookings and with communal meals.
Most places have email addresses. I booked most of mine that way last year. i used Google translate. And included the French (top of email) and English so the hosts would get that i’m an English speaker.
When i rang places to stay i’d have my request written down in French.
Hello, do you have a bed for this evening (or tomorrow evening). With demi pension.
My name is …
My phone number is …
I have found that quite a few hosts speak enough English to at least take a booking.
And often if i try speaking French they realise that i’m an English speaker and start talking in English to help me😀
 

Vagabonder

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to SJPP (2019/21)
Camino Primitivo (2022)
I begin my Camino April 24. I am concerned about accommodation during the month of May because of the many French holidays. Should I book ahead? I have made a tentative schedule to Conques and would really appreciate comments and gite suggestions for those communities. I am 70 yrs, have walked 2 Caminos 7-8 years ago and am reasonable fit. I usually like to walk around 20 km/day. I realize this schedule has many shorter days. I am not in a hurry. I would welcome any suggestions where I might lengthen the days a little when the gradient isn't too demanding, and any stops where there are gites that pilgrims have enjoyed. Booking this far ahead is not my preference, but I am wondering if it might be wise in May?

Le Puy ------ Montbonnet
Montbonnet ------ Monistrol-d'Allier
Monistrol d'Allier ------ Saugues
Saugues ----- Le Sauvage
Le Sauvage ------ St. Alban sur Limagnole
St. Alban ------ Aumont - Aubrac ( ? La Ferme du Barry)
Aumont-Aubrac ------ Nasbinals ( a long day but 'green' gradient?)
Nasbinals------St. Chely-d'Aubrac
St. Chely-d'Aubrac ------ St. Come d'Olt
St. Come d'Olt ----- Estaing ( ?the terrain gradients look more demanding on this day)
Estaing ----- Golinhac ( ?Gite d'etape a la ferme l'Oree du Chemin)
Golinhac ----- Conques ( ? stay at the Abbey)

I am appreciative of any and all comments. I am so glad for this forum and the guidance it gives. Thanks so much!
This is very similar to the schedule my husband and I walked in September 2019. We were in our late 60s. Instead of stopping in Saugues we walked on for another two hours or so and spent the night on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Then spent the night in St Alban.
La Ferme du Barry is great. So is gîte Saint -André in St Chély.
When I called the Abbey in Conques I was told that it was a first-come basis and we didn’t want to feel rushed so stayed elsewhere, that may have changed.
I called ahead to reserve every day, but I feel like the trail has gotten much busier now, so I would definitely recommend reserving ahead. We plan to do the walk again, starting in mid April, and will do so.
If you stay in larger gîtes d’étapes I don’t think you’ll have trouble with not speaking French, if you don’t. We do speak French, and stayed at a couple of places in the countryside where the farmers did not speak English. But I think more English-speakers are walking in France now.
 

Buz Radican

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May / Jun 2015
Camino Frances Oct / Nov 2016
Camino Frances May-Jun 2018
CF 2020?
I begin my Camino April 24. I am concerned about accommodation during the month of May because of the many French holidays. Should I book ahead? I have made a tentative schedule to Conques and would really appreciate comments and gite suggestions for those communities. I am 70 yrs, have walked 2 Caminos 7-8 years ago and am reasonable fit. I usually like to walk around 20 km/day. I realize this schedule has many shorter days. I am not in a hurry. I would welcome any suggestions where I might lengthen the days a little when the gradient isn't too demanding, and any stops where there are gites that pilgrims have enjoyed. Booking this far ahead is not my preference, but I am wondering if it might be wise in May?

Le Puy ------ Montbonnet
Montbonnet ------ Monistrol-d'Allier
Monistrol d'Allier ------ Saugues
Saugues ----- Le Sauvage
Le Sauvage ------ St. Alban sur Limagnole
St. Alban ------ Aumont - Aubrac ( ? La Ferme du Barry)
Aumont-Aubrac ------ Nasbinals ( a long day but 'green' gradient?)
Nasbinals------St. Chely-d'Aubrac
St. Chely-d'Aubrac ------ St. Come d'Olt
St. Come d'Olt ----- Estaing ( ?the terrain gradients look more demanding on this day)
Estaing ----- Golinhac ( ?Gite d'etape a la ferme l'Oree du Chemin)
Golinhac ----- Conques ( ? stay at the Abbey)

I am appreciative of any and all comments. I am so glad for this forum and the guidance it gives. Thanks so much!
I am 78 and starting from Le Puy on 13 April. As an old guy I have scheduled my stops as close to 20km a day as possible. I have booked all of my accommodations. I learned on my first Camino, 2015, the advantage of booking ahead. Buen Camino.
 
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biloute

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Chemin du Puy & Camino Francés (summer 2014), Chemin du Puy & Camino Francés (possible summer 2019)
Your itinerary looks almost the same as what I did back in 2014. I didn’t book ahead or even call ahead until after Le Sauvage, and you may not need to either unless you plan to have your meal at the gîte, in which case you need to at least call the morning of your planned stay to make sure they have room and so they know how much food to prepare. You should have an advanced reservation at Le Sauvage, however, because they are the only place around for several kilometers and they book up fast. I discovered that when I arrived and they had no room, so I had to call around to B&Bs and found a place. After that I starting calling in the morning to make sure I would have a bed, unless it was a municipal gîte or campground. The abbey at Conques also was not a problem.
 

Pafayac

On the way...
Time of past OR future Camino
2021: Le Puy-Cahors. 2022: Cahors-Burgos.
I do not think you need to book ahead, but the day before your arrival.
Regarding your schedule, here are my comments:
Le Puy ------ Montbonnet: it is a short day, quite wise for a first day (starting from Le Puy, you will climb a bit).
Montbonnet ------ Monistrol-d'Allier: again a short day, with arrival close to the river.
Monistrol d'Allier ------ Saugues: Saugues is worth being seen.
Saugues ----- Le Sauvage: This is harder because nearly 20km climbing. For Le Sauvage, perhaps you should book two days before. The dinner is nice, and the building is a former templar farm, a nice curiosity. But I suggest not to buy the food bag they sell for the picnic: it is overrated.
Le Sauvage ------ St. Alban sur Limagnole: again a short journey.
St. Alban ------ Aumont - Aubrac ( ? La Ferme du Barry): la Ferme du Barry is a good idea, especially if you want to try "aligot", a speciality of the area. Take care: it can be a bit hard to digest !
Aumont-Aubrac ------ Nasbinals ( a long day but 'green' gradient?): yes, it is a long day, but I do not see where you can stop between... Some people used to sleep in "Les Gentianes", but it is lost in nature... Nasbinals is nice.
Nasbinals------St. Chely-d'Aubrac: classical step. St Chely disappointed me a bit but probably it's me.
St. Chely-d'Aubrac ------ St. Come d'Olt: St Come d'Olt is a nice village: do not miss the bell tower !
St. Come d'Olt ----- Estaing ( ?the terrain gradients look more demanding on this day): you can follow the river if you want a flatter itinerary. Take care when leaving St Come d'Olt: 2 GR separate here, do not forget to turn right after the bridge in order to follow the GR65.
Estaing ----- Golinhac ( ?Gite d'etape a la ferme l'Oree du Chemin): stopping before Golinhac, at l'Oree du Chemin might be a good idea. Otherwise in Golinhac there is now a gite with nice dinner.
Golinhac ----- Conques ( ? stay at the Abbey): classical step again. Choose the Abbey (Ste Foy) only if you do not fear the crowd... but the advantage is that it is very close to the beautiful church (do not miss the portal illumination).
 

Leigh Lorayne

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino del Norte Irun to Ribadasella (2016)
Camino Primitivo Oviedo to Santiago (2016)
Thank you all so much for the helpful advice! Last night when I was writing and researching I was feeling discouraged and worried about accommodation in May and wondering if I should choose a different CAMINO. You have renewed my hope and even though there may be obstacles I will begin booking. If I run into some roadblocks I may be back for more suggestions! I am so grateful to everyone for taking time to respond.
 

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