The Via Podiensis, also known as Chemin le Puy or the Le Puy Route, represents one of the foremost popular pilgrimage routes in France, offering an unforgettable journey through the picturesque landscapes en-route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwest Spain.
The origins of this esteemed pilgrimage can be traced back to the year 950 or 951 when Godescalc, the bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay, embarked on a momentous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. As the first non-Hispanic to undertake this sacred journey, Godescalc led a large entourage comprising clergymen, their attendants and servants, as well as distinguished nobles and gentlemen.
Today, the tradition of this pilgrimage on the Le Puy Route endures, commencing in the beautiful Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy in Le Puy-en-Velay. Pilgrims have the opportunity to receive blessings each morning before embarking on their expedition to Santiago de Compostela. Many consider this starting point as the "true beginning" of the Camino Francés, and the French leg of the pilgrimage concludes approximately 750 kilometres further at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, just prior to crossing the Pyrenees and entering Spain.
The Le Puy Route offers an awe-inspiring experience, boasting breathtaking views of volcanic landscapes and captivating countryside. Nature enthusiasts, in particular, will appreciate the route's remarkable scenery, as it is renowned for its diverse and captivating natural wonders.
Secondly, the more widely recognized starting point of the Camino Francés is situated in St Jean Pied de Port, France. This route traverses the majestic Pyrenees and extends across northern Spain, spanning nearly 800 kilometres before reaching the sacred destination and Km Nil in Santiago de Compostela. Given the substantial distance involved, many pilgrims prefer to undertake this journey in stages, allowing for a more manageable time and pace.
Join our Group Journey
I invite you to join us on the extraordinary Camino journey, aptly named "The Two Beginnings." Embark on the Via Podiensis as well as the Camino Francés, and embrace the enriching adventure that awaits me and fellow pilgrim Marina Loubser. We will traverse remarkable landscapes, connect with fellow pilgrims, and forge a profound connection with history and spirituality.
Le Puy en Velay
As the starting point for the Le Puy Camino in France, this small city has much to offer. Two unique sites are the Cathedral and Hermitage that are perched atop ancient volcanoes and only accessible by climbing the many steps up. The Cathedral of Notre Dame, dates from the 12th Century and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most distinctive Romanesque cathedrals in France. Be sure to also save some energy to wander the small streets flanked by tall pastel buildings of the old city. Here you will find many shops and cafes as well as the famed lace makers of Le Puy.
Sauges has served as a popular stopping point on the Le Puy Camino for many centuries, situated between the mountains of Margeride and the Allier Valley. Although a small town there is much to see and do here. From visiting the Fantastic Museum of the Beast of Gevaudan to the Romanesque Church of St Ménard and the Tower of the English that dates from Medieval times all within a short walk of each other. Whilst here take the opportunity also to try the traditional dish of Aligot – mashed potato mixed with butter, garlic cream and the local cheese Tomme.
Aumont-Aubrac was built around the crossroads of the ancient routes between Lyon – Toulouse and Auvergne. Relax in this typical French town, wander the old streets and come across its Statue of the Beast of Gevaudan above the fountain, or visit the Tourist Information Centre situated in the House of the Priory that was restored in the ’90s has a beautiful vaulted cellar in the basement. A must-visit also for pilgrims is the Church of Saint-Etienne which sits on the site of a priory from 106. Over the centuries it has undergone many restorations and today you can see clearly the Romanesque and Baroque influences. A peculiarity of the church is its eccentric belfry rebuilt in 1839 with stones from the cemetery. Inside you can witness the glimmers of coloured light from the 12 stained glass windows.