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Duration
12 days
Activities
  • guided walk
Accommodation
  • UTracks France
Meals
  • 10 Dinners
  • 4 Lunches
  • 11 Breakfasts

Price

$5999USD

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Overview

Trip Code: CCF

Trip highlights


  • Taste the culinary specialties along the Way of St James
  • Experience the best walks along the route
  • Discover the most beautiful villages and towns whose history is linked to the trail
  • Stay in atmospheric hotels specially chosen for their local flavour

This guided 'Food Lover's' walk along the Camino in France is destined to appeal to a wide range of palates. Accompanied by Australian author Mary Moody, whose love affair with the cuisine and landscapes of south west France has seen her make her second home directly on the Camino trail, this exquisitely crafted and zesty itinerary captures the essence of the Way of St James pilgrimage and the many culinary delights to be found along the way. Beginning in Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne, the journey on foot is a rich sensory experience taking in the best sections of the Camino between Le Puy and St Jean Pied de Port, including time in the historic and beautiful towns of Conques, Rocamadour, Saint Come d'Olt and Saint-Cirque-Lapopie. The foodie highlights are endless, with tastings of delectable cheeses, wines and truffles, interspersed with the rustic cooking style for which the region is renowned. From lunch at a small 100 year old family restaurant, which is featured in Mary's book 'Lunch with Madame Murat', to wine and Armagnac tasting, market visits, truffle hunting demonstrations and fine dining, this is a full-bodied experience. Most days include walks for 10-15kms and each night you'll stay in atmospheric accommodations ranging from restored convents to countryside inns and family run hotels.

Trip Grading

introductory to moderate

More info about grading system

Traveller Rating

 

On arrival in Le Puy en Velay by train*, it is a short walk to your first hotel on the edge of the historic town centre. In the mid-afternoon, Mary will meet with the group and provide a brief introduction to the tour before heading out for a guided tour of the city, the cathedral and a tasting of the lentils AOP and the verveine du Velay (local liqueur). You have the option to ascend high up to the iron statue behind the cathedral, the Notre-Dame de France (The Virgin Mary). From here there is a wonderful view of the town and surrounding old volcanic countryside. This afternoon you can also visit the cathedral sacristy to obtain a pilgrim passport and your first stamp. *optional transfer from Lyon Airport available - ask our office for details.

Meals:  D

Every morning the cathedral conducts mass at 7am followed by a pilgrim blessing and the option to attend before breakfast is the first activity for today. Following breakfast, we'll gather lunch supplies before commencing our food pilgrimage from the steps of the cathedral. Following the bronze shells through the old town, outside the gates and into the countryside evokes a sense of the journey to come. Following a well worn path passing small chapels and sweeping vistas, the pace is relaxed. At St-Christophe-sur Dolaison. From here, we'll transfer to St-Privat-d'Allierhave for our picnic lunch. Set high above the gorges of Allier, the next stage of the walk begins from this small town with a small ascent to one of the many Hundred Years War watch towers which dot the surrounding valleys. The GR65 leads us down to the valley floor and the town of Monistrol d'Allier. Our driver will pick us up here and drive us to Rognac from where we can walk the last stage into Saugues. The town is rich in historic houses and dominated by La Tour des Anglais, a square tower dating back to the 13th Century. The tower takes its name from an episode during the Hundred Years War when a troupe of English soldiers beseiged the town. Tonight we are accommodated in a simple hotel with a gastronomic restaurant; a favourite with pilgrims and locals alike. Transfers: 31.5km, 35 minutes Walk: 18.2km +325m, -475m

Meals:  B,D

This morning we take time out to discover the laguiole museum, where the famous knives are made. Later we head to Aubrac, whose gothic church bell tower holds the great bell, the bell of the lost ones, which in the Middle Ages was rung in stormy weather to help lost pilgrims find their way. This is one of the most sparsely populated regions of France. From here we walk on the Aubrac Plateau to discover this vast volcanic granite landscape, a source of building materials for the local villages. Walking through small villages we descend to Saint-Chely d'Aubrac and on to Les Cambrassats before we transfer to Cinqpeyre. We continue for a further 1km on foot to Saint Come d'Olt, one of the 'plus beaux villages de France'. The village is situated in the Lot valley, between the granite dome of the Aubrac and the Causses (limestone plateau). Transfers: 103km, 2hrs Walk: 11.5km / 3hrs / -497m, +128m

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we transfer to Espeyrac on the GR65 and enjoy a stage of the Way into Conques. The route we follow is largely on quiet country roads (tarmac) with some sections on paths and the last steep descent into Conques on a stony track. However the rewards are great as we make our way into one of the most beautiful towns in France, brimming over with history and with a wonderfully preserved medieval heart. We have a short guided tour of Conques later in the afternoon and the remainder of the day will be at leisure to explore the town and Abbey or relax at one of the many cafe's. Transfer: 50km, 1hr Walk: 12km / 3hrs / -350m, +265m

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning is all about the truffle, a key ingredient in the regions cuisine. Following a transfer we arrive at a truffle orchard with its oaks, hazel bushes, vines and hedges. We learn about this mysterious mushroom; its history, cultivation, soils required and ageing. A truffle hound will give a demonstration of 'cavage' or truffle hunting. Lunch follows, with an opportunity to sample the truffle, before we continue by vehicle to Rocamadour. For over 1000 years, the town set high on a cliff about the Alzou River, has been an important pilgrimage destination as it was built on the site of a shrine to Madonna. The healing powers associated with this have drawn pilgrims and the town flourished as a result. We spend the afternoon walking around this UNESCO World Heritage village, marvelling at the well preserved buildings and dramatic cliff top position. Transfers: 150km, 3hrs

Meals:  B,D

From Rocamadour we transfer to Montcléra with its 16th Century fortification, before continuing on foot to Frayssinet-le-Gelat (about 7 km), a tiny village which Mary calls her second home. The centre of the village is a crossroad dominated by an imposing Romanesque church with a memorial to the villagers who lost their lives in both World Wars and Mary will offer some insights into some of their stories. Then transfer to Pomarède, where we will enjoy a special lunch. The history of this restaurant is well documented in Mary’s book ‘Lunch at Madame Murat’s’ and through her television series. Following lunch, we will walk back to Frayssinet-le-Gélat after our plentiful lunch, before continuing to Cahors on the Lot River with its lovely 14th Century bridge, “Pont Valentré”, where your hotel is located! Since Celtic times, the town has had a rich history. It is known as the centre of AOC ‘black’ wine which has been produced since the Middle Ages and exported via Bordeaux, long before that famous region developed its own viticulture industry. The choice is yours as to where you wish to dine this evening. Transfers: 85km, 2hrs Walks: 9.5km / 3hrs

Meals:  B,L

This morning we spend time at the Cahors markets and purchase our lunch supplies. Cahors local produce market is centred around the cathedral on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is well attended by locals. Selling anything from flowers to local cheeses, freshly baked bread, colourful spices spilling out of hessian sacks and dried sausages and much more, the markets are a thoroughly enjoyable sensory experience. Armed with our fresh goodies for our picnic lunch we transfer to Grotte de Pech-Merle and work up our appetite during our walk to Saint Cirque Lapopie, another of the 'plus beaux village de France'. Returning to Cahors we prepare for our evening wine tasting and gourmet dining experience. Transfers: 58km, 1hr 20mins Walks: 9.7km / 3hrs

Meals:  B,D

Leaving Cahors, we have a transfer before continuing along the Way of St James route walking a section of the trail between Lauzerte and Moissac. For those interested in architecture and engineering, in Moissac you can take a walk along the canal to the 'Canal Bridge' which enables the barges travelling along the Canal de Garonne to cross the Tarn River (356m below). The aqueduct is one of the largest canal bridges in France and was built in 1846. Later this afternoon, we have a guided tour of the abbey of Saint-Pierre which with its Romanesque cloister and ornately carved Tympanum, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The abbey is home to an array of remarkable sculptures. This evening we have a typical dinner. Transfer: 55km, 1hr Walk: 5.6km / 1.5hrs

Meals:  B,L,D

A short drive this morning brings us to Auvillar, another picturesque village. Situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Garonne river, the town dates back to the Romans. It is surrounded by ancient fortified walls with gateways granting access to the centre. One of the gateways passes under a 17th Century clock tower whose alternating levels of white stone with the typical red-brick of the region gives it a distinctive character. After a short guided tour of the historic heart we continue to the impressive village of Larressingle in the Gers. The fortified walls of the village date back to the 13th Century and it was the home of the bishops from Condom in the Middle Ages. From here we walk to the Roman Pont d’Artigue which is 1000 km from Santiago and UNESCO classified, and have a picnic lunch. We then walk on to Montreal, passing by the Château Lassalle Baqué. Continue by vehicle to Eauze, a historic market town in the Midi Pyrenees where we can have some free time before we head to an Armagnac producing estate to visit the distillery and the ageing cellars. Continue to Aire-sur Adour where we check in to our hotel before heading out for a dinner with local products. Transfers: 135km, 3hrs Walking: 11.5km / 3hrs

Meals:  B,D

This morning we transfer to the start of our last stage on the camino. One of the most scenically beautiful sections of the route through the Basque countryside, passing through forest to reach the Pyrenean foothills and the town of St Jean Pied de Port. Many pilgrims begin their journey here, travelling on foot, by bike or with a donkey to cross northern Spain to reach Santiago de Compostela. As a result the town will be full of pilgrims. On arriving at the gate we enter the old town with time to relax and absorb the atmosphere before we take an orientation walk to view the towns attractions. Later we transfer to our hotel in the countryside. Transfers: 128km, 2hrs Walking: 15.5km / 5hrs

Meals:  B,D

This morning we travel to Espelette, famous for the Piment d’Espelette (“Espelette pepper”) and its typical Basque houses. Here we will take a walk around the town, visit the markets where we can purchase our lunch supplies including the Espelette pepper and have lunch. Next we head to the coast and the city of Biarritz. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the historic town, take a swim in the Atlantic and do some last minute shopping. Later we will meet for our farewell dinner at a typical Basque style restaurant. Drive: 65km, 1 hour

Meals:  B,D

A group transfer will be organised to Biarritz Airport at 9am after breakfast.

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches (includes 1 picnic lunch) and 10 dinners, 1 of which is Michelin-star
  • 11 nights at specially selected hotels from 2-4 star on a twinshare basis with private facilities
  • Tour escort throughout
  • private vehicle and driver for transfers including luggage during walking sections
  • 6 guided visits - Le Puy en Velay on day 1, Conques on day 4, truffle orchard on day 5, guided tour of the abbey of Moissac on day 8, Auvillar on day 8 and St Jean Pied de Port on day 10
  • 2 wine tasting sessions - AOC Cahors Malbec on day 7 and Armagnac on day 9
  • detailed program and general cultural information booklet
  • group departure transfer to Biarritz Airport on day 12

  • lunch (except on days 3, 4, 6 & 8) and one dinner (day 6)
  • all beverages except at wine tastings, breakfast and with dinner on day 7
  • transport to start and from end point, arrival transfer (airport transfer from Lyon to Le Puy En Velay can be booked at extra cost), private departure transfer
  • personal expenses including picnic lunch supplies, laundry, phone calls etc.
  • travel insurance
  • transfers not part of group arrangements
  • entrance fees not noted as included

About Your Leader

Author Mary Moody, Food Lover's French Way of St James trip escort

Author and gardening writer/television presenter Mary Moody ran away to France to celebrate her 50th birthday and ended up falling in love with the culture and history of the rural southwest region, where she subsequently bought a small village house. Mary has written four books about her adventures living part-time in this delightful corner of the world; and she also produced a documentary (for SBS television) and written a book about a traditional family restaurant which has been operating for more than 115 years in the next village (both titled Lunch with Madame Murat). Mary has lead more than a dozen tours to this region. Her village is Frayssinet-le-Gelat in the Département du Lot.


Grading

introductory to moderate  

INTRODUCTORY TO MODERATE – GRADE 2 This trip involves walking between 2 to 5 hours during 7 days over undulating terrain, on a mixture of asphalt, dirt and rocky paths, with some short steep ascents and descents. Walking distances range from 7-12km except on day 2 which is 18.2km. As there is a support vehicle in the vicinity, there are options to shorten some stages. The trip is graded introductory to moderate and is considered suitable for active people who have a reasonable level of fitness.


Departure dates


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Total Priceper person from

$5999USD

Options & Supplements*
  • single supplementUSD$1050
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Making Europe Affordable

We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

Self-Guided Specialists

Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

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With close to 400 trips in almost 50 countries, including the largest range of bike & boat holidays in Europe, we're confident that we can organise an Alps walk, Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena experience, Food Lovers' trip or a tour in a lesser-known pocket of Europe that you will love. 

Videos

Walking the French Way of St James Camino with UTracks

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