The 163-kilometre (102-mile) section of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques from Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac is perhaps my favourite, featuring many highlights and special moments along the way.
This section of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy—which passes through Saint-Côme-d’Olt, Estaing and Conques (three of France’s most beautiful villages) and the tiny, historic village of Aubrac—was my introduction to long-distance walking and was such a memorable experience that I’ve returned many times.
(Published June 2013, last updated April 2023)
Where is the Chemin de Saint-Jacques in France?
Map of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques from Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
Accommodation along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques from Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
Accommodation is available in the following villages (click on each link for a comprehensive list).
Distances are given from the starting point of Le Puy-en-Velay.
88.5 km (55.3 mi) Aumont-Aubrac
93 km (58.1 mi) La Chaze-de-Peyre
95 km (59.4 mi) Lasbros
99 km (61.9 mi) Les Quatre Chemins
104.5 km (65.3 mi) Finieyrols
110.5 km (69.1 mi) La Grange des Enfants (400m from the path)
112 km (70 mi) Montgros
115 km (71.9 mi) Nasbinals
124 km (77.5 mi) Aubrac
131.5 km (82.2 mi) Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac
138.5 km (86.6 mi) Lestrade
148 km (92.5 mi) Saint-Côme-d’Olt
156 km (97.5 mi) Espalion
159 km (99.4 mi) Bessuéjouls
165 km (103.1 mi) Verrieres
168 km (105 mi) Estaing
176 km (110 mi) Fonteilles (150m from the path)
180.5 km (112.8 mi) Massip
182.5 km (114.1 mi) Golinhac
187.5 km (117.2 mi) Campagnac
191 km (119.4 mi) Espeyrac
194.5 km (121.6 mi) Sénergues
203.5 km (127.2 mi) Conques
210.5 km (131.6 mi) Noailhac
222 km (138.8 mi) Decazeville
226 km (141.3 mi) Livinhac-le-Haut
232 km (145 mi) Montredon
235.5 km (147.2 mi) Lacoste
239 km (149.4 mi) Terly
243.5 km (152.2 mi) Saint-Jean-Mirabel
251.5 km (157.2 mi) Figeac
Chemin de Saint-Jacques itinerary from Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
Many walkers, especially those who have started in Le Puy-en-Velay and are settling into a rhythm of 20—25 kilometres (12—15 miles) each day, complete this section of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques in seven days. But this is a breath-takingly beautiful part of the world, filled with glorious landscapes and gorgeous villages—and it would be a shame to rush through!
My suggested itinerary allows time for a couple of free afternoons to explore the ‘most beautiful villages’ of Estaing and Conques. Both villages are impossibly gorgeous and even if you do nothing more than find a shady table in a café and put your feet up for the afternoon, these two slower days will provide a welcome chance to restore your energy.
When I did this walk again in 2022, I allowed myself the luxury of several spare hours to explore Espalion and discovered a town filled with hidden delights and stunningly beautiful buildings.
My suggested itinerary spreads the walk from Aumont-Aubrac to Conques over seven days, before picking up the pace a little to arrive in Figeac two days later.
Nine-day itinerary for Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
Day 1 Aumont-Aubrac to Montgros (23.5 km/14.7 mi)
Day 2 Montgros to Aubrac (12 km/7.5 mi)
Day 3 Aubrac to Saint-Côme-d’Olt (24 km/15 mi)
Day 4 Saint-Côme-d’Olt to Espalion (8 km/5 mi)
Day 5 Espalion to Estaing (12 km/7.5 mi)
Day 6 Estaing to Espeyrac (24.5 km/15.3 mi)
Day 7 Espeyrac to Conques (12.5 km/7.8 mi)
Day 8 Conques to Livinhac-le-Haut (22.5 km/14.1 mi)
Day 9 Livinhac-le-Haut to Figeac (25.5 km/15.9 mi)
Eight-day itinerary for Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
Day 1 Aumont-Aubrac to Montgros (23.5 km/14.7 mi)
Day 2 Montgros to Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac (19.5 km/12.2 mi)
Day 3 Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac to Espalion (24.5 km/15.3 mi)
Day 4 Espalion to Estaing (12 km/7.5 mi)
Day 5 Estaing to Espeyrac (23 km/14.4 mi)
Day 6 Espeyrac to Conques (12.5 km/7.8 mi)
Day 7 Conques to Livinhac-le-Haut (22.5 km/14.1 mi)
Day 8 Livinhac-le-Haut to Figeac (25.5 km/15.9 mi)
HIGHLIGHTS OF STAGE 2: AUMONT-AUBRAC TO FIGEAC
Indulge your taste buds with a Michelin-starred meal in Aumont-Aubrac
This section of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques between Aumont-Aubrac and Figeac is blessed with two Michelin-starred restaurants. I’d like to tell you I’ve eaten at both (maybe I will one day) but I can tell you that the meal I enjoyed at Cyril Attrazic (attached to Hôtel Chez Camillou) was one of the most memorable meals I’ve had anywhere in France. (Prices range from €48 to €118 depending on whether you visit for lunch or dinner. Our dinner included five courses and wine for around €65 per head.)
Not far beyond the intersection at Les Quatre Chemins, the remants of the forest fade away revealing the wide-open spaces of the Aubrac Plains. For the next thirty-odd kilometres (twenty miles), you’ll wander over vast, gently rolling hills, punctuated by babbling streams and the occasional herd of cows. On a sunny day with the breeze in my hair and the ground covered in summer wildflowers, there is nowhere I would rather be! (If cows are not your thing, there is an alternative path for walkers with dogs or other animals which avoids the cows.)
When I feel I’m getting too old to walk, this is where I’ll return—basing myself in the village of Aubrac and roaming the countryside each day.
There’s something about the cluster of ancient stone houses nestled in a dip of the rolling green hills (pictured at the top of this post) that always has me longing to strap on my boots and get walking again. I can still taste the French onion soup we enjoyed for lunch in Chez Germain and see the mouth-watering array of tarts laid out for dessert.
The picturesque village of Aubrac was built in the twelfth century by the pilgrim Adalard, who had been attacked by bandits when he passed through in 1120. He returned and built a monastery, church and hospital where up to 500 pilgrims could be fed and cared for each night. Many of the medieval buildings have long disappeared, but those that remain offer a glimpse into a world from centuries past.
Take a closer look around Aubrac and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
If your walk along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques brings you to the Aubrac region in late May, you’ll need to book your accommodation well in advance. On the Sunday closest to 25 May, the Transhumance—the annual migration of cattle to summer pastures—begins. Cattle are decorated with flowers and flags before the procession sets off along the road (not the GR 65) from Aubrac to Saint-Côme-d’Olt.
Rooms are booked many months, sometimes a year, in advance—be prepared to detour well off the path if you don’t have a bed secured.
On day 3, you’ll pass through Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac—a quintessential rural French village, boasting a school, a café and several options for an overnight stay if you are following my shorter eight-day itinerary. Although it feels quite modern after the medieval charm of Aubrac, the church dates from the fourteenth century and the turrets and towers are a reminder that village life has been going on here for many centuries.
Take a closer look around Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
Between Le Puy-en-Velay and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the Chemin de Saint-Jacques passes through eleven of France’s ‘most beautiful villages’. (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.)
The first of the ‘most beautiful villages’ is Saint-Côme-d’Olt, dotted with interesting historical monuments which are mostly located a block or two from the GR 65 path. Ask for a map at the Tourist Office so you don’t miss any! As you follow the map, you’ll visit the twelfth-century Chapelle des Pénitents, l’Oradou—a small monument honouring victims of the 1586 plague that claimed the lives of three-quarters of the population, and pass through the old gates which guarded entrance to the town.
(If you are following my nine-day itinerary, tomorrow is a short eight-kilometre (five mile) walk to Espalion which allows time to explore Saint-Côme-d’Olt before leaving town in the morning.)
Take a closer look around Saint-Côme-d’Olt and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
Église de Perse
Between Saint-Côme-d’Olt and Espalion, the GR 65 path is quite hilly. These inclines can be avoided by following an unmarked path which more or less follows the southern bank of the River Lot. No matter which path you choose to take, they meet again shortly before reaching Espalion near Église de Perse.
This beautiful church was built during the eleventh and twelfth centuries and holds the relics of a local saint, Hilarian, who was decapitated by the Sarrazins in the eighth century. Inside you’ll find beautifully decorated ceilings and walls of deep red stone.
Spend an hour or two wandering the streets of this beautiful town with its fairy-tale turrets, medieval bridge and ancient tanneries lining the river. If you are following my suggested itinerary, you’ll arrive in Espalion on day 4, with the afternoon free and plenty of time to wander the streets, visit the museum honouring Auguste Denayrouze and Benoît Rouquayrol who lived nearby and invented the first modern diving equipment, and admire the richly decorated baroque interior of Chapelle des Pénitents.
Take a closer look around Espalion and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
Château Fort de Calmont d’Olt
Perched on a hill overlooking Espalion is Château Fort de Calmont d’Olt—a fortified castle dating from the Middle Ages. Guided tours are available or you can explore on your own.
I’ll admit a visit to the château required climbing one hill too many as I walked the Chemin de Saint-Jacques but I had visited the previous year. If you’d like to see it, take a taxi up the hill from Espalion and continue your walk from the château (or perhaps ask the driver to return in an hour or two and take you on to Bessuéjouls).
Église Saint-Pierre in Bessuéjouls
Venture inside Église Saint-Pierre in the hamlet of Bessuéjouls. Although the church was renovated in the sixteenth century, the adjoining twelfth-century bell tower was left intact. Stairs at the rear of the church will take you up to the ancient chapel honouring Saint-Michel. The views are lovely but the history oozing from the stone walls is almost palpable.
Take a closer look inside Église Saint-Pierre and find a comprehensive list of accommodation nearby.
A short day’s walk on day 5 will bring you to the second ‘most beautiful village’ of Estaing in time for lunch. Located on the far side of the river from the GR 65 path and dominated by an imposing eleventh-century château, the village begs to be explored.
Allow an hour or two to explore the château which has been owned by the family of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (President of France from 1974 to 1981) since 2005. Some of the rooms that are open to the public display an exhibition dedicated to his life and career, while others provide information about the room’s original use. Leave time later in the afternoon to relax in one of the many cafés, visit the church and wander through the maze of narrow streets.
Take a closer look around Estaing and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
Day 6 brings you to the tiny village of Espeyrac with its narrow, crooked laneways. There’s almost nothing here other than the church, the hotel and a few dozen houses so be sure to take a half hour and explore them all.
Take a closer look around Espeyrac and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
Another short day of walking on day 7 brings you to the third ‘most beautiful village’ of Conques. Many walkers finish their journey here, and Conques is considered, quite deservedly, one of the highlights of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du Puy. An astonishingly beautiful jumble of medieval stone-and-timber houses set in a maze of steep cobbled streets, the village is a delight to wander through.
Each evening at 08:30 pm, a pilgrims’ blessing is held in the abbey. After the service, everyone gathers outside where a priest tells the story of Sainte-Foy and Saint-Matthew, depicted in the twelfth-century tympanum above the entrance. At 09:30, the rich sounds of the pipe organ fill the abbey and, for a small fee, visitors are able to enjoy the music while wandering the dim corridors of the upper level of the church. At 10:15, it’s time to head outside for the lighting of the tympanum—a slow, magical light display where the intricate carvings are lit in jewel colours.
Five hundred metres along the river at the bottom of the village, you’ll find le Moulin de Camblong, the second Michelin-starred restaurant on this stage of the chemin. Here, Hervé Busset serves dinner every night except Monday (Prices range from €40 to €110. Check the website for the full menu and opening hours.)
Take a closer look around Conques and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
As you walk between Lacoste and Terly on the last day of this stage, you’ll pass by a small chapel dedicated to Sainte-Madeleine. The doors are open every day between 10 am and 5 pm. Take a few minutes to step inside where you’ll find the walls and ceiling decorated with beautiful fourteenth-century frescoes depicting Christ with Sainte-Madeleine and the saints John and Matthew.
This stage of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du Puy finishes in Figeac, a beautiful town of almost 10,000 people spanning the River Lot. Classified a ville d’art et d’histoire and filled with medieval stone and timbered houses, the backstreets and crooked alleys are a delight to wander through.
Figeac was the birthplace of Jean-François Champollion, the nineteenth-century French scholar who spent more than a decade deciphering the hieroglyphics of the Rosetta Stone. His home is now a museum where you can explore the history of writing.
If you have been walking since Le Puy-en-Velay and have not yet stopped for a rest day, Figeac is the perfect place to take a break. The town boasts a full range of services—dozens of cafés, patisseries, chocolaterie as well as the ever-useful banks, doctors, dentists and ATMs!
Take a closer look around Figeac and find a comprehensive list of accommodation.
If you have a day or two to spare, you’ll find plenty to do in the area around Figeac. Within an hour’s drive (also accessible by bus or train) is the village of Rocamadour whose ancient buildings cling to the side of the cliff above the River Lot.
Venture north for a further one-hour drive and stop to explore one of six of France’s ‘most beautiful villages’. My pick would be Collonges-la-Rouge but you can discover them all between Martel and Rocamadour.
For something completely different, visit the underground lakes and caves, 103 metres below the surface at Gouffre de Padirac.
Stock up on trail mix at the local markets
Several villages along the way host a fresh food market once or twice a week providing the perfect opportunity to pack restock your trail mix supplies or pack a picnic lunch.
Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac—Wednesday morning all year, Thursday evening in summer
Saint-Côme-d’Olt—Sunday morning all year, Sunday evening from mid-July until mid-August
Espalion—Friday morning all year, Wednesday evening in July and August
Estaing—Friday evening in July and August
Conques—Thursday evening in late July and August
Decazeville—Tuesday and Friday mornings
Between Le Puy-en-Velay and Aumont-Aubrac, the bus stops at Montbonnet, Saint-Privat-d’Allier, Monistrol-d’Allier, Saugues, Villeret-d’Apchier, La Roche, Les Faux and Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole.
Explore each stage of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du Puy in more depth:
Stage 1: Le Puy-en-Velay to Aumont-Aubrac
Stage 2: Aumont-Aubrac to Figeac
Stage 3: Figeac to Cahors
Stage 4: Cahors to Eauze
Stage 5: Eauze to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Ready to plan your walk along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy?
Purchase the 2023 editions of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques (PDF) guidebooks
Purchase five guidebooks covering Le Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port