The two paths from Figeac to Cahors offer quite different experiences.
The more northerly path, along the GR 651 and GR 36-46 routes, passes through several villages that are firmly ensconced on the tourist trail.
One of these, the ‘most beautiful village’ of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, will always be busy with holiday-makers but an overnight stay will allow you to enjoy the atmosphere after the day-trippers have headed home. For me, the painted caves at Pech Merle are a must-see, but they will require an advance booking to ensure you are not turned away (if you are taking each day as it comes, a booking the day before should suffice). Marcilhac-sur-Célé was very quiet when I visited, which allowed me to explore the ruins of the abbey in silence, but I suspect I was just lucky!
The southerly route along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques offers a glimpse into life in rural France as the locals experience it. Aside from other walkers, tourists are not as common in the towns along this path and English is less likely to be spoken. If you choose this route, keep your Useful French Phrases page handy (from the I Love Walking in France travel guide), smile a lot and give it your best shot. I have always found that any attempt to speak French is most appreciated and the locals are more than happy to help.
If I had to finish my walk in Cahors, I would walk the northerly GR 651 and GR 36-46 route—only a dedicated pilgrim could be this close to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and not call in.
Ideally though, I would walk a loop and start and finish in Figeac.
The suggested itinerary is a mixture of long and short days and allows plenty of time to visit all the sights. I suggest leaving Figeac on a Saturday afternoon after visiting the morning market. This will also bring you to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in time for the Wednesday afternoon market and to Cabrerets for the Friday morning market.
Day 1 Arrive in Figeac. Stock up on provisions and explore the town.
Day 2 Figeac to Faycelles (8 km/5 mi along the GR 65-651).
Day 3 Faycelles to Cajarc (22.5 km/14.1 mi along the GR 65).
Day 4 Cajarc to Limogne-en-Quercy (18 km/11.3 mi along the GR 65).
Day 5 Limogne-en-Quercy to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (28.5 km/17.8 mi along the GR 65, switching to the GR 36-46 at Varaire).
Day 6 Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Take a well earned rest day in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
Day 7 Saint-Cirq-Lapopie to Cabrerets (11 km/6.9 mi along the GR 36-46, switching to the GR 651 at Bouziès). Pre-book a visit to la Pech Merle for the afternoon.
Day 8 Cabrerets to Marcilhac-sur-Célé (19 km/11.9 mi along the GR 651).
Day 9 Marcilhac-sur-Célé to Sainte-Eulalie (18.5 km/11.6 mi along the GR 651).
Day 10 Sainte-Eulalie to Figeac (21.5 km/13.4 mi along the GR 651).
Of course, if you are walking from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (perhaps over several holidays), then a loop is of no use to you! If you are continuing through, my suggested itinerary follows the northerly GR 651 and GR 36-46—
Day 1 Figeac to Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie (25 km/15.6 mi).
Day 2 Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie to Marcilhac-sur-Célé (15 km/9.4 mi).
Day 3 Marcilhac-sur-Célé to Cabrerets (19 km/11.9 mi). Pre-book a visit to la Pech Merle for tomorrow morning.
Day 4 Cabrerets to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (11 km/6.9 mi).
Day 5 Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Take a well earned rest day in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
Day 6 Saint-Cirq-Lapopie to Vers (20 km/12.5 mi).
Day 7 Vers to Cahors (18 km/11.3 mi).
Are you ready to start planning a long-distance walk…
…along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques from Figeac to Cahors?
Learn more about what you’ll find in an I Love Walking in France PDF guidebook or download the updated 2017 edition now and start planning.
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Le-Puy-en-Velay to Aumont-Aubrac on the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy
Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac on the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy
Figeac to Cahors on the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy
Cahors to Eauze on the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy