Day 3: Monistrol-d’Allier to Le Falzet (22 kilometres, 13.8 miles)
Today’s walk starts with another strenuous climb—up and out of the gorge. The walking may be tough but the views are spectacular and offer a welcome excuse to stop for a few minutes.
Half an hour after climbing out of Monistrol-d’Allier, the GR 65 passed by this small chapel—la Madeleine—built under an overhang in the cliff face.
The door was locked so the only way to see inside was to shuffle along a narrow ledge. Since I have limited balancing abilities, I decided to take the word of a fellow walker, younger and more nimble than me, who assured me it was indeed beautiful and worth a look!
A few kilometres further along, the Chemin de Saint-Jacques leaves the gorges behind and follows a gentler path, mostly along quiet country roads.
Just before reaching Saugues, the rolling green hills and red rooftops provide the perfect backdrop for a series of unusual carved wood sculptures.
It’s a steep descent into town (thank goodness we are not going in the opposite direction!) and since we’ve been walking for almost four hours, it’s a good time to stop for lunch.
Saugues is the only town for the next day or so with any services so it’s also a good idea to visit the supermarket and the ATM.
The GR 65 path follows the main road through Saugues but one block across to the right is the church and Tour des Anglais. The tower is all that remains of an ancient château after a fire swept through the centre of town in 1788, destroying all the houses and displacing more than one hundred families.
Although I didn’t have time this trip, it is possible to climb to the top where I imagine the views over the countryside are quite spectacular.
On the far side of the square is the parish church. Although the outside was lovely, inside was an effigy of a dead saint in a glass coffin—looking a little too realistic for me! (Sometimes the things you find inside a church are just a little too disturbing to sit beside during Mass!)
Between 1764 and 1767, an enormous wolf (the size of a cow according to a painting in the café) roamed the countryside between Saugues and Aumont-Aubrac, killing and eating more than one hundred women and children. And although the king sent his best hunters to find and slay the creature, it was a local farmer who finally brought the carnage to an end, killing the beast not far from here.
There is a museum in Saugues dedicated to the Beast of Gévaudan (Musée Fantastique de la Bête du Gévaudan) which would have made for a fascinating hour or two (opening hours are every morning in July and August and every afternoon from mid-June until mid-September).
Ten kilometres (six miles) after leaving Saugues, you’ll reach le Falzet. There are no services in this tiny hamlet aside from the chambre d’hôte which is right on the GR 65 path.
In the garden of the chambre d’hôte, the hosts have set out picnic tables where walkers are welcome to stop for lunch and perhaps enjoy the coffee, cold drinks and range of homemade snacks and local produce that are available.
Le Falzet is my suggested overnight stop after the third day of walking, but if there are no beds available at the chambre d’hôte, an equally good option is the gîte at Villeret-d’Apchier—fifteen minutes walk further along the GR 65 (and where I spent my third night).
(NOTE: Cafés in France are often closed—on a Monday (or at least one day each week), because it’s not lunch time, or when the owner goes on vacation. Always carry plenty of trail mix and water.)
Enjoy a walk from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Aumont-Aubrac along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy from the comfort of your armchair 🙂
Day 3: Monistrol-d’Allier to Le Falzet