Day 3: Monistrol-d’Allier to Villeret-d’Apchier (23 kilometres, 14.4 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 Chemin de Saint-Jacques 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, the GR 65 path passes through the tiny hamlet of le Falzet. Here, at Ferme Delcros, you’ll find picnic tables set out in the grounds, and walkers are welcome to take some time to rest, and perhaps enjoy the coffee, cold drinks and range of homemade snacks and local produce that are available.
If you have read earlier editions of the guidebook or postings on this website, you’ll have noticed that I previously suggested spending the third night of this walk in le Falzet. Unfortunately, Ferme Delcros no longer offers accommodation, but I have no hesitation in recommending that you walk an additional kilometre to the equally tiny village of Villeret-d’Apchier.
I spent a most enjoyable evening at Auberge des Deux Pèlerins, where I shared a delicious meal with more than a dozen other walkers, and had a fun night singing the pilgrims song and learning about the pilgrims’ motto Ultreïa (Onward).
The only accommodation in Villeret-d’Apchier is at –
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 Villeret-d’Apchier