Discover Camino Le Puy Way
Camino Le Puy and it's natural beauty
Many people experience walking the Camino de Santiago since it is the most famous of the European pilgrimages and has been profusely written about and film made about it many times. Whilst walking in Spain is glorious and you will experience the camaraderie of fellow pilgrims and travellers, here at Macs, we also love Le Puy Camino as an alternative pilgrimage due to its remoteness and tranquility as expressed by one of our guests who stated "we saw more tractors than cars!" Some days you will see no-one else on trails, just the odd farmer or villager, but this is its allure. You can really get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and embrace the beautiful landscapes and serenity of this area of south western France.
Volcanic Landscapes of the Massif Centrale
The Le Puy Camino begins in the unique town of Le Puy en Velay set in volcanic landscapes of the Massif Centrale. In this town there is even a chapel set on one of the volcanic pinnacles!
This region stretches from the north of Clermont Ferrand and to Le Puy en Velay to the south where this pilgrimage begins. It's mountainous here, nothing like the Alps, but also stunning. As you walk you will find this region dotted with pastures
High Plateau of the Aubrec
This is an area that straddles three regions, the Auvergnem Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon and is also in the Massif Centrale. It has 4 glacial lakes and is a wide expanse of pastures, barns, drystone walls and swathes of wildflowers. Sounds beautiful doesn't it and it is!
Valley of the Lot
Part of this valley are relatively undiscovered with a landscape which offers limestone cliffs, canyons, and undulating hills with forest, fields and vines. You will be staying in Cahors, its capital on your journey (Full, Stages 3 and 4). You will cross the Parc Regional des Causses du Quercy, a walkers paradise with its valleys, rivers and dolmens.
Foothills of the Pyrenees
If you walk the complete trail or Stage 6 you will walk in the foothills of the Pyrenees, an area of deciduous forests and farmland. The amazing aspect is that you can see the snow-capped Pyrenees Mountains in the distance beckoning you towards the town of St Jean Pied de Port, your final destination
Why Walk the Camino Le Puy?
It's Connection to the Past
Imagine, in the Middle Ages, thousands upon thousands of pilgrims walked the same routes all the way to Santiago de Compostela. This Le Puy route (sometimes known as the Via Podiensis) finishes in St Jean Pied de Port, the beginning of the classic Camino Frances. As you walk you can almost feel the embedded history here especially as you pass a succession of churches and abbey's mostly associated with this pilgrimage.
Pass through some of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France"
Conques - A medieval town that will enchat you with its Abbey Church of Sainte Foy, narrow streets and alleys, all surrounded by green hills and mountains.
Estaing - This town is equally as lovely with its castle, keep and old Gothic bridge. It has also been classified as one of the "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" and has picturesque streets and architectural wonders galore to explore.
Saint Come d'Olt - nestled in the Lot Valley with it's ramparts, three fortified entrance gates and its characterful church with a rare twsited spire. It also has a chateau called Castelnau which dates from the 13th century and formerly a hospice for pilgrims. It is another "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" and well-deserved too.
Other Compelling Reasons:
- It's quieter than Spain Caminos and provides a sense of tranquillity and inner peace
- Meet the locals and you don't feel like a tourist
- You will see more tractors than cars!
- Its immersion in South West France's natural beauty
- Avoids road walking
- The walking is not easy, but its not too challenging either and you will get ultra fit
Food and Wine on the Camino Le Puy Way
It's amazing what you can discover about the typical food and wine once you start looking!
Did you know that the there is local produce that can only be grown on the Causses de Quercy because of its unique environment?
- Quercy Walnuts: A part of the history and landscape of this region, walnut trees are planted in ordered groves which help speed up picking process. Fresh or dried, Dried or fresh, in oil or baked into bread, they have many uses.
- Quercy Lamb: This succulent lamb comes from the Caussenarde breed of sheep which are fed high on the plateau. They have an interesting look and it looks like they are wearing sunglasses with the dark rings around their eyes.
- Quercy Saffron: Grown from a special kind of orchid and revived by local enthusiasts a number of years ago, all the work is done by hand from picking the flowers and carefully selecting the stamens to packaging it. Maybe this is why it is so expensive to buy. But you can discover the delights of this great spice by adding it to both sweet and savoury recipes. An example of it used locally is in a dish called Quercy fig profiteroles with saffron sauce.
- Quercy Truffles:The black truffle grown here is extraordinarily fragant and harvested by dogs or pigs. It holds a specially high status in the gastronomy of this area.
Wine and Brandy
There are many great wines cultivated in the south west region of France. Did you know for example that Malbec originated in the Lot Valley. Here are a few different types of this region:
- Many of the vineyards that you see en route are the Armagnac variety which of course produce the famous of brandies and the oldest in France. It is created from white grapes and distilled in oak barrels.
- Cahors wine. As noted above it produces an excellent Malbec. These wines have been adored for centuries and are espciall famous for showing "fabulous notes of plum and a touch of green apple. Try a glass (or a bottle!) with a dinner of Quercy lamb.
- The Plus Beau Village of Estaing produces dry delicate wines and is produced on the steep terraced vineyards. A good example is Entraygues.
- Rocquefort: Nicknamed the "King of Cheese” by an 18th-Century French philosopher Denis Diderot, Roquefort is a unique blue cheese made from raw sheep’s milk
- P'tit Basque: This cheese has a subtle floral flavour, which somehow seems wrong considering how strong some french cheeses are!
- Bethmale Chevre: This cheese is a washed goat’s milk cheese that is made seasonally. It has a sweet, nutty flavour.
- Cantal: A bit like cheddar and made in the Auvergne Mountains
- Saint Agur: A blue creamy d'Auvergne cheese made in the Velay Hills according to traditional methods