Back at my Desk After Walking Le Puy to Conques

Conques FranceWe finished our short walk on the Le Puy Camino, Chemin de Saint Jacques, last Sunday evening – I was glad to get into Conques as my feet had been killing me the whole way.  This is not a route for walking shoes, boots should have been the choice, I know now.

Already the walk seems far away.  I think 10 days is not really enough, it is the first time that I have walked for such a short time, my previous trips on the Camino have been around 30 days each.  I was only really starting to get to know people other pilgrims after about 6 or 7 days.  I think this was how it was for me for previous pilgrimages.

This route was much harder than I expected, I had looked at some of the available elevation maps, but they were not detailed enough for me to understand how tough this was going to be.  I will be adding my own maps and elevations during the next week as I used GPS to map the route and have all but one day, that day my battery died after 8.5 hours and the day’s walk was 11 hours – really we had no idea it would be that long.

Anna speaks French so this made life considerably easier, without this it would have been much harder to talk to people and book Gites, (hostels in France) – which have to be done here, or take the risk of not having a bed for the night.

A lot of the route is walked above 1,000 meters and it is fairly remote.  The wild flowers on the top however were great, fields of them – I will have the photos up shortly.

Field of FlowersIn many ways it did not feel like a Camino to me.  I think this was a combination of things:  lack of integration with church organisations along the route, walking only for 10 days, very few English speakers – 99% of pilgrims were French, and my expectations.  Perhaps the last was the biggest issue.  When I first walked a Camino I had no idea what to expect, and I started walking this expecting a Camino more like Spain… I live and learn, expectations catch me out all the time in life.

As usual other pilgrims were very friendly and did their very best to communicate with me.  I was less out going than normal – the language barrier really hit me.  This problem has though inspired me to start taking Spanish lessons as I want to complete the Via de la Plata next year, all going well.

I realise while writing this I am a little down this morning.  Camino blues perhaps?

Anyway I have lots of information and will start organising and putting it on the site today.

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  1. Imelda Dyas on July 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    looks good so far…one of these days I may get there…

  2. Martin on June 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Leslie. Very interesting. Thanks for posting this and especially for being so honest.

    I’m going to walk from Le Puy in a month or so. Luckily I have some French and have been working on it the last few months.

    One question: you mention “the lack of integration with Church organisations along the way.” Having been on the Camino in Spain a fair few times I’m aware that the spiritual aspect is there for those who choose to respond to the invitation (special places of prayer, hostels run by volunteers of various churches, open churches to visit on the way, etc). But is there nothing on the Le Puy route? Ideally I’d love to learn of a book/leaflet/organisation with information on this but I haven’t seen anything so far.

    (PS How did you get to Le Puy?: I’m thinking of boat and rail just for the ‘journey’ side of things, and, like your French friend said, “slow down.”)(PPS Good luck with your Via de la Plata trip this year.)

    • admin on June 5, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Martin,

      Most of the places to stay were Gites rather than the hostels/ albergues that I have become used to in Spain – it was just a little impersonal at times for me, not really sure what I expected. There were two convents where we stayed and they were great – I find this all a bit funny as I am not the least bit religious – but I do like the feeling of community…

      There are a lots of churches along the way to stop at and enter. We used two books the Mien Mien Dodo this is the best and required really. It has all the Gites, hostels, pensions with telephone numbers – as you generally have to book ahead each day. This book is only in French but easy to follow. The one in English was quite a bit out of date, it happens.

      We flew into Lyon and got the train from there to Le Puy about 2 hrs I think it was. Getting back was by a mini bus – there are loads of them moving people and baggage around – so we went back to Le Puy, train again and then stayed in Lyon for a couple of days – nice city to wander around for a day.

  3. malachy o Raifeartaigh on May 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    when is the best time to walk the camino departing fro lyon i am from ireland and wish to do it this year after many yars of saying i will

    • Leslie on May 7, 2014 at 5:21 am

      I think anytime from the start of May to the end of Sep the weather looks okay. It can get very hot in the summer, but still bearable. It is good if you speak some French on this route as booking ahead is needed in high season – July & Aug.

  4. Joanne Tucker on April 19, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Hi just organising our walking trip from Le Puy. We are 4 middle aged walkers 2 of which are not so fit but we were wondering what is the name of a village about 10 to 15 kilometres out of Le Puy on or near the G65 as we are wanting to book accommodation for our first night out

    • Leslie on April 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      We walked for 17km on the first day out of Le Puy, but there is a village called Saint Christophe sur Dolaison after about 10km. The name of the place where we stopped is Montbonnet.

  5. Virginia Boniface on May 3, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Hi I have never done a Camino before but the friend I’m travelling with has so we thought we would do the Le Puy to StJean.Speak a few words of French( only a few can count to ten) We have allowed 26 days plus 2 rest days is this enough time? We are reasonably fit sixty year old females.My biggest concern is how rough are the tracks especially descending??
    Looking at Mid August this year
    Cheers Virginia

    • Leslie on May 4, 2015 at 9:17 am

      The first half can be quite hilly, but levels out after that. 26 days sounds doable.

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