Twenty to thirty thousand walkers set out from Puy-en-Velay every year to do the pilgrimage along the Way of St. James. Discover the Way of St. James by doing the first stage by foot. You can return to Puy-en-Velay in the evening in a special coach.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Set out from the cathedral steps and walk down Rue des Tables. There are direction markers on the ground. Just after Choriste fountain, take Rue Raphaëlle on your left and keep going until you reach Place du Plot with its fountain in the town centre (1). From this square, take Rue Saint-Jacques, then Rue des Capucins, and finally Rue de Compostelle. From Rue des Capucins, the tarmacked road climbs slowly uphill.
After the entrance to the Fontanille factory (2), turn left at the corner down the wide track. Keep going straight on past the Pouvignac Cross. At the next bend (3), ignore the track on the left leading down the Sentier des Chibottes footpath, and instead continue along the same stony track. Go past a farm building and stay on this track until you reach the D589 (4). Cross the road and take the stony path opposite you.
The route is marked with the red and white waymarks of the GR65. The path takes a 90° turn to the left, crosses the D589, and then continues on to La Roche. Walk through the hamlet and then on your way out, near a table picnic (5), turn left. At the next crossing (6), turn left and ignore the alternative path to the right, which also has red and white waymarks.
Keep going until you reach the village of Saint-Christophe-sur-Dolaison, where you can have a look around the church and discover its remarkable bell gable. Continue out of the village, turn right past some picnic tables and keep going until you come out the other side of the D906 via a small tunnel (7). Facing the cross, turn left. Successively cross the hamlets of Tallode, Liac, and Lic.
Keep going until you reach the village of Ramourouscle, taking the road to the right to reach the village. In the village centre (8), turn left and follow the road to Chapel Saint-Roch (9). Walk through Monbonnet to reach the D589 (10), which you then follow to the left for 150m, before crossing the road to take a path to between the houses on the right (11). Cross the plateau. The path splits into two (12). Take the left-hand path, which climbs up through the dark fir trees to the summit. You will reach a fork. Bear left to reach Lac de l’Oeuf lake, and then walk around the edge of the lake on the left.
You will come out onto a road (13). Follow the road to the left for 150m, before taking a path down to the right (signposted) (14). Keep going straight on, staying on this path through the woods. It continues onto a small open road with arable fields on either side.
Cross the D589 (15) and take the road opposite you to the village of Chier. Go straight through the village, past the town hall, and across the main square. Then continue down a grassy track, followed by a stony path, and finally cross the stream near the mill (16).
You will come out onto a tarmacked road at the entrance of the village of Saint-Privat-d'Allier (17). Continue towards the village centre until you reach a bus stop opposite the Vieille Auberge (after Le Kompost'l on the other side of the road).
D : km 0 - alt. 671m
1 : km 0.35 - alt. 643m - Place du Plot. Fountain.
2 : km 1.8 - alt. 765m - Entrance to the Fontanille factory
3 : km 3.21 - alt. 788m - Start of the Sentier des Chibottes footpath.
4 : km 4.62 - alt. 855m - Junction with the D589.
5 : km 6.28 - alt. 863m - Exit of the hamlet of La Roche. Picnic table.
6 : km 7.06 - alt. 878m - Crossing with a variant of the GR65.
7 : km 9.31 - alt. 903m - Small tunnel under the D906.
8 : km 14.31 - alt. 1037m - Junction in the centre of Ramourouscle. Turn left.
9 : km 15.76 - alt. 1075m - Saint-Roch chapel.
10 : km 16.69 - alt. 1109m - Junction with the D589.
11 : km 16.85 - alt. 1116m - Path leading off between the houses.
12 : km 18.56 - alt. 1192m - Fork. Turn left.
13 : km 19.33 - alt. 1213m - Junction with a small road.
14 : km 19.48 - alt. 1207m - Fork with the GR65.
15 : km 21.23 - alt. 1056m - Junction with the D589.
16 : km 23.07 - alt. 886m - Cross the stream. Mill.
17 : km 23.38 - alt. 881m - Junction with the D589. Entrance of St Privat sur
A : km 23.6 - alt. 874m
To get back to the departure point, you can take the special shuttle bus service "Compostel'Bus" (cost of return journey: €10/pers – bus stop outside the Vieille Auberge). For more information and to book your ticket online (5% discount), visit the website: http://www.bus-chemin-compostelle.com or http://www.ot-lepuyenvelay.fr/capitale-e... It’s very quick and easy.
The route is very well marked and maintained, so you should have no problems finding your way.
The route out of Puy is quite steep for 4.6 km (230 m vertical gain) but the rest is very easy. The following 13.8 kms are uphill, but you don’t notice it (270 m vertical gain) as the gradient is so low. Then comes the climb up to Lac de l’Oeuf, the final difficult part of the route, which involves 100 m vertical gain over 1.3 km. The rest of the route is a steep downhill as far as Saint-Privat (350 m vertical drop over 4.7 km).
You will need appropriate footwear and sufficient water. There are cafes along the way in Saint-Christophe-sur-Dolaison, Montbonnet, and Saint-Privat.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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Beautiful views, first over the Loire and, on the return journey, over the Meygal massif.
This trail goes around and climbs up the Gerbier de Jonc whose summit offers a view over the Ardèche mountains.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.