This 163 kilometre (102 mile) section of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques (also known as the Way of Saint James) starts in the Languedoc-Roussillon region at Aumont-Aubrac and heads south-west into the Midi-Pyrénées. Before arriving at Figeac, the path passes through three of the ‘most beautiful villages’ in France—Estaing, Saint-Côme-d’Olt and Conques.
Who decided these villages are three of the ‘most beautiful’ in France? Good question—and don’t take my word for it! To qualify as one of France’s most beautiful villages or plus beaux villages a strict set of criteria must be met. This includes a rural setting, a population of less than two thousand and at least two historical monuments or sites that the town commits to protecting and preserving.
In addition to these picturesque villages, you can visit fresh food markets at Aumont-Aubrac, Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, Saint-Côme-d’Olt, Espalion, Estaing, Conques, Decazeville or Figeac; explore the remains of a fortified castle and soak up a thousand years of history in the tiny village of Aubrac.
If you have time to linger in Figeac at the end of your walk, you can discover several more local highlights including Rocamadour, the underground lakes and caves at Gouffre de Padirac, the painted caves at Pech Merle, the remains of the abbey at Marcilhac-sur-Célé and the ‘most beautiful village’ of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
The best time to walk this path is between April and October. During the winter months, many local hotels are closed, and much of this area is under snow, making it unsuitable for walking.