Big Walk Itinerary

by Annalise on May 12, 2010

Robin had to submit an activity log as a part of his Phys. Ed. course and so he submitted the distance details of the walk. We are actually hoping this walk should satisfy his school Phys. Ed requirements for the balance of this year. Not that he’s not active now but geez, that should be enough, not?! I thought I would expand on this as reference to the photos I’m about to upload as well. Or for anyone thinking they might do this walk and sitting with a glass of French wine while looking over a map…. this is one way of doing it.

Oh and slight clarification, I’d estimated we did about 700 km but actually the math brings us just over 640… it felt like enough all the same. Enough confessions, back to that glass of wine… If you’re not intersted in the details, feel welcome to turn off the computer and just enjoy the wine. Otherwise there are more photos going up.

Start by finding Le Puy en Valey (sometimes found as Le Puy en Velez) just south of Leon in central southern France.

From there our resting spots were as follows:
Mar 24 St. Privat d’Allier – 22 km – most extraordinary welcome at La Cabourne Gite d’etape and wonderful hotel dinner in this small town. The lady working at the Gite was actually Dutch from Breda, the small city nearest my family’s location in Holland.
Mar 25 Saugues – 19 km – great community run gite and wild night of wind, rain and snow
Mar 26 St. Alban sur Limagnole – 32 km – missed a detour due to the snow and so walked about 4 km more than anticipated. To our amazement and delight our hotel had an elevator which was good because every step was painful now. Local beer Aubrac Blonde is absolutely fantastic and felt almost medicinal.
Mar 27 (Dave’s birthday) Amount-Aubrac -16.5 km – our first aligot (mashed potato with local cheese which becomes extremely creamy and elastic); impressive to see and eat!
Mar 28 Nasbinal – 26.5 km – dorm room gite with snoring performances… Robin has aligot again for dinner.
Mar 29 St. Chely d’Aubrac – 16.5 – lovely small town with another spectacular community run gite and pub night dinner; Robin becoming addicted to Orangina and Aligot; Dave to Aubrac Blonde beer.
Mar 30 Espallion – 23 km – Spectacularly beautiful town on the River Lot with, lovely community gite and dinner at Mainson chez Daniella, dining with our two Norwegian friends.
Mar 31 Estaing – 23 km – another beautiful medieval town with pilgrim accueil gite (run by volunteers, pilgrims stay and eat for donation rather than fee); lovely reception and most hospitable, family like meal.
Apr 1 Esperynac – 23 km – extended day to avoid large group, reasonable community gite with only us and our friend Christian, the retired Parisian banker.
Apr 2 Conques – 14 km – Good Friday – extraordinary cathedral and abbey which accommodates up to 70 pilgrims in high season. A most beautiful town.
Apr 3 Livinhac Le Haut – 24 km – lots of rain today, David buys alternate shoes to alleviate foot pain and it helps!
Apr 4 Figeac – 25 km – walked into this lovely large centre and stayed in a beautiful small gite with two Parisians just starting their one week walk.
Apr 5 Robin’s Birthday – Cohars – 0 km walked, 90 km by bus – a very fun tourist day involving a long ride, much ice cream and a break. I’ll come back to plug this walking hole one year just to see what we’ve missed but no regrets on this advance.
Apr 6 Lascabanes – 23 km – back at it, dryer, rockier landscape, hot day. New walking companions and a nice gite with a meal in a small restaurant. Lovely day!
Apr 7 Lauzerte – 27 km – long lunch break with too much food slowed us down and uphill end of the walk to the gite but we made it and unlike many others, didn’t slip on the steep slippery trails. A lovely gite to arrive at where the hostess simply asked us for all our dirty laundry and proceeded to completely look after it free of charge! And then a gorgeous meal Exhausted!
Apr 8 Moissac – 25 km – gorgeous cathedral and absolutely lovely private gite run by an Irish couple. Robin really enjoyed Bono their Fox Terrier.
Apr 9 St. Antoine – 26.5 km – beautiful small family run gite with attached church where they actually hold mass for the pilgrims daily! Extraordinary stay.
Apr 10 Lectoure -24.5 km – Another Pilgrim Accueil gite in a huge old building opposite Hotel de Bastard (truly!). We enjoyed touring the town and a warmer late afternoon before dinner where we toasted my nephew Aaron and his bride Kristie on their wedding in Calgary.
Apr 11 Condom (really) – 30 km – staying in a winery / gite. Happy that! Lovely large building and went into town to have Pizza with Francois and Laurent, our French walking mates as well as Herbert the Swiss gentleman.
Apr 12 Lamothe – 25 km – great walk today with sun and another fantastic gite with exquisite meal and wine
Apr 13 L’Arbradoise – 30 km – long but nice day finished by staying in Fritz’s gite. Odd but generous welcome with beer and all the 70 music you wish but also a tremendous meal. Fritz is German and has himself completed the Camino almost 3 times; ironically he stayed in his tent for almost all of his walks….
Apr 14 Aire-sur-L’Adour – 22 km – tired little gite but lots of character and no sign of bugs.. we enjoyed a meal with all of our walking companions and Lisa, the young German lady from our first days of the walk caught up and we’re deliihted to have her join us again. She played beautifully on the gite’s newly tuned piano for everyone’s enjoyment.
Apr 15 Arzaq – Arraziquet – 28.5 km – we stay in a huge gite after a hot day; the gite also being used by a group of about 30. We all dine together and visit with a 74 year old Grandmother who’s doing a part of the chemin each year. She’s a character and although she’s all of about 4′10″, she’s a walker!
Apr 16 Arthez de Bearn – 28 km – fast walking today to a private gite, another piano for Lisa to play and the most fantastic breakfast in the patisserie also run by the gite owner. Also our last 10 km we were accompanied by a dog that wouldn’t go home and he somehow got into the gite that night and ate a few shoe insoles. Yikes!
Apr 17 Navarenx – 32 km – Robin catches ride along with Francois and his brother Dennis just for the break while Dave and I enjoy the last third of this hilly day together. We all go to the church for the pilgrim’s blessing and wine tasting (of course!) only to find the blessing becomes detailed information about recommended shortcuts for the day to follow before Suzanne and Daniella, the two little French ladies hosting the wine tasting generously share with us the region’s finest wines and stories!
Apr 18 Uhart-Mixe – 28 km – extraordinarily this is our second last day of walking. We finished at a beautiful room in a gite reserved for us by our friend Francois and enjoyed a beautiful Basque feast and the most wonderful hosts.
Apr 19 Saint Jean Pied-du-Port – 28 km – the last day and it was perfect walking temperature. We are alternately quiet and very excited, not quite believing this was coming to an end.
Apr 20 – Just one more day…. In anticipation of perhaps one day doing the remainder of this pilgrimage from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostella, I decided to join some of our walking friends on the crossing of the pass at the Pyrenees to Roncesvalle which is the first day of the Spanish Camino. Dave and Robin were happily resting in Saint Jean Pied-du-Port and making arrangements for our travel to Bordeau and ultimately Paris and then Holland. The day’s walk was 26 km, 16 of which was up, 7 relatively flat and then 3 km down. It was a spectacularly sunny day and the pass was gorgeous to see.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ria May 12, 2010 at 3:57 am

Wow! Great pictures, Annalise! What a walk that was, hey! Talk about hiking! You have had some awsome experiences on your trip. Keep on and we’ll soon be seeing you all again!

Love, Ria

carla May 12, 2010 at 5:44 am

Thanks for sharing your experience A! It sounds like you enjoyed every minute of it..
Looking forward to seeing you all soon..

LeeAnne May 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Annalise, the photos are fabulous, thanks for sharing. It’s nice to see the interesting places and people that you met along the way. Thanks for taking us along on your journey with the stories and photos!

Bronwyn September 6, 2010 at 9:59 am

Hi. We are heading off in 2 weeks and will be walking from Le Puy to Conques. I was wondering if you would part with the names of the recommended gites that you stayed at.


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