Description – Via Podiensis – Espalion to Cajarc – Eco range

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CA12-ECO  Saint James way – Espalion to Cajarc   Via Podiensis is one of the four main pilgrimage routes to the Spanish sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela from Le Puy en Velay, a Marian sanctuary since the fifth century. Since the Middle Ages, millions of pilgrims have left from Le Puy to journey to the […]

CA12-ECO  Saint James way – Espalion to Cajarc


Via Podiensis is one of the four main pilgrimage routes to the Spanish sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela from Le Puy en Velay, a Marian sanctuary since the fifth century. Since the Middle Ages, millions of pilgrims have left from Le Puy to journey to the Spanish Galicia, at the extremity of the Iberian Peninsula, to venerate the relics of Saint James, one of Christ’s apostles. This pilgrimage is today registered on the World Heritage list of UNESCO. Walking along the heights of the Lot Valley, you will arrive in the lovely city of Conques, a treasure of Romanesque art nestled in a small, scallop-shell-shaped valley. You will cross through the Decazeville Basin, formerly a large coal field, and arrive in Figeac. You will head through the Cajarc Causse, arid area covered with a sparse vegetation to Cajarc, small town along the Lot river.



Day 1: Arrival at ESPALION. This little city, located in a beautiful spot in the heart of the Lot Valley, is an important stop on the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela. Weary pilgrims arrived in this city after a labored hike across the Aubrac River and the fearful heights of its plateaus. Here, they felt immediately embraced in the mildness of the Midi. Espalion holds an important cultural heritage that you will enjoy while strolling through its narrow streets. Admire the Pont-Vieux (Old Bridge) and the old palace reflecting in the sparkling waters of the Lot. Half-board accommodation in a 2-star hotel

Day 2: ESPALION – ESTAING (13 km – 3 and a half hour walk). This phase is short, allowing you to discover Espalion before crossing through the Lot Valley to Saint Pierre de Bussuejouls. Look around the 16th century rosesandstone church, then continue on to Estaing. You will enter Estaing by a Gothic bridge, and will enjoy visiting the city, built around a strange château topped by a keep and many times altered throughout the centuries. Half-board accommodation in a 2-star hotel

Day 3: ESTAING – ESPEYRAC (24 km – 7 hour walk). You will cross back over the river to exit Estaing and climb above the gorges of the Lot, crossing through dark forests and tiny, isolated villages. You will reach the village of Golinhac whose church, built on the remains of an ancient priory, welcomes pilgrims on their journey. Your trek will continue across the countryside, through several small hamlets and villages of Rouergue. You will finally arrive in Espeyrac, an old city once dependant on the Conques Abbey. During the middle Ages, the city held two châteaux, but today there remains only one building and a turret. Half-board accommodation in a 2-star hotel

Day 4: ESPEYRAC – CONQUES (13 km – 3 and a half hour walk). This is a short phase, passing through the charming village of Senergues before descending towards Conques for the discovery of this pearl of Romanesque art, lying quietly against a lush green backdrop. The abbey church houses more than 250 sculpted domes as well as, on the western facade, a gorgeous tympanum illustrating the Last Judgement. All around the serpentine basin lie the remains of the roman cloister that once stood there. Conques’ treasury holds numerous pieces of priceless statuary,
including La Majesté de Sainte Foy, a 10th century golden statue inlaid with jewels offered by pilgrims. The medieval village has preserved its old streets lined with wooden houses, its roman fountains, the city doors and a few remains of ancient fortified walls – Half-board accommodation in a 1-star hotel near the Pont romain

Day 5: CONQUES – DECAZEVILLE (18 km – 5 hour walk). After a final stroll through Conques, admiring once again the tympanum of the abbey church, you will pick up again your hike. You will follow Charlemagne Street through La Porte du Barry (Barry’s Gate) and will cross the medieval bridge dating to the 14th century and named “pont romain” (“romain” being an adaptation of the word “roumieu”, meaning “pilgrim”) on the Dourdou River. You will walk uphill to the Saint Roch Chapel, once a place of pilgrimage, and will make your way along the plateau. You will pass through Noailhac and Saint Roch Chapel, Laubarède to reach Decazeville, a city founded in the 19th century and named for Duke Decazes, who initiated the mining industry in this area – Half-board accommodation in a 2-star hotel

Day 6: DECAZEVILLE – FIGEAC (30 km – 8 hour walk). You will start out for Livinhac-le-Haut, situated in a curve of  the Lot River and continue to Montredon, built on a rounded hillock and overlooked by Saint Michel’s church. You will soon reach the hamlet of Guiranle and Sainte Marie Chapel. The path jogs windily through the countryside so to avoid the roads. You will cross through La Cyprière, Saint Félix and by the Sainte Radegonde Church (Romanesque church), and arrive in the village of Saint Jean Mirabel, whose church possesses a 13th century tympanum. Finally, you will begin your descent into the Le Célé Valley to arrive in Figeac, a city that still holds numerous testimonies of its rich medieval past. Lodging and breakfast in a 2-star hotel

Day 7: FIGEAC – CARJAC (31,5 km –8 and a half hour walk). Through the country you will head to Faycelles. This village will reward the traveller who takes time to stroll through its streets and admire the gorgeous view of the Lot Valley. After having absorbed the beauty of Faycelles, you will head to Beduer, whose castle still holds a 13th century keep. Beyond this village, the landscape changes and becomes arid: you are now on the Causse de Carjac, a large area sparcely covered with grass and stunted oak forests. The path, lined by low stone walls, will take you to Le Puy Clavel and Gréalou where you will admire the small Romanesque church, Notre Dame de l’Assomption. Dolmens spot the route, making for a fascinating journey. You will reach the Lot Valley and descend to Carjac, located along large limestone cliffs carved out by several grottos – Half-board accommodation in a small guesthouse

Day 8: CAJARC – Tour ends after breakfast.


From April to middle of October but be careful this trail is more and more popular and we recommend to reserve earlier to get (the best) rooms. Best time is May, June and September

What’s included?
  • 6 overnight stops in 1or 2 star hotel or guesthouse on a half-board accommodation.
  • 1 overnight stop in 2-star hotel, lodging and breakfast
  • Baggage transfer between hotels (except for STD option)
  • Route notes and maps
  • Emergency phone number (8:00am to 7:00pm every day)
Walk difficulty

Grade 3 – walks of between 5 and 8 hours a day with ascents up to 700 m. Some hiking experience is advisable. A reasonable level of fitness and some stamina are required for these walks. You may cover long distances in remote countryside and the terrain will be rough underfoot. In mountainous areas you will encounter some sustained ascents and descents.

Getting there and away

By train: Go to Rodez by train and take a bus to reach Espalion.
By car: from Paris follow the A10 motorway to Orleans, A71 to Clemont-Ferrand and A75 to La Canourgue. Then continue along the Lot river (D988 road) to Espalion
Where to park : several free unguarded car parks in Espalion