The way from Puy-en-Velay to Santiago,
the wide open spaces to Compostela.
The Via Podiensis, which starts from Puy-en-Velay, remains undoubtedly the most beautiful route to discover everything that makes the Santiago routes so wonderful: a fine diversity of landscapes, architectural treasures, authentic villages and great encounters.
Here, you’re in “sweet France”, rural and unspoiled, where pretty villages follow natural expanses, where churches are often Romanesque and where, in addition, you can eat so well! The charm of this trail, which remains the most widely used and famous French route to Santiago (it was marked in its current form as early as 1970), is truly unique.
The first stages mark us out as a pilgrim by plunging us into the vast expanses of Velay, where the mind already wanders between contemplation and introspection.
The highlands of Velay and then Margeride follow one another. The walking here is easy, the gaze fixed on an infinite horizon or whatever catches the eye in these immense tracts: a grove, more likely a herd, an isolated shepherd’s hut, a cross that’s defied the weather for centuries, the wind blowing unhindered.
Some sections have become mythical places along the way and again and again bring rare, unforgettable moments. Thus, Domaine du Sauvage, a place which more than aptly bears its name, is reached, three days after Puy-en-Velay, on the ridges of the Margeride. Its inn and lodge, nestled on the plateau, are a welcome refuge when the elements are against you, or just for a simple break in the middle of a long day’s walking in the sun.
The memory of the beast of Gévaudan still roams these vast wild plateaux, even if it’s now just a pleasant effigy on village sculptures, like the one that seems to watch over Saugues, the historic capital of Gévaudan, where you can admire the old houses dominated by the Tour des Anglais, a 13th-century square keep.
Further on, you reach Aubrac, a real steppe in the heart of France where the cows have pretty eyes and the flowers in spring put on a real fireworks display to celebrate your passing!
Some information about the GR®65:
- 210 km between Puy-en-Velay and Conques
- The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region offers lots of other routes to Santiago: the Geneva Route (Via Gebennensis), Lyon Route (Cluny-Lyon-Le Puy), Via Arverna from Clermont-Ferrand … wonderful less known options are yours to discover!
- Recommended period: April to October