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Chemin de St-Jacques, France


The Chemin de St-Jacques is a walk with outstanding historical significance. The scenery is also pleasantly varied as well. Historically, there were four important pilgrim routes through France, from the Pyrenees to the Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the martyr St-Jacques is said to be buried. The most famous route runs from Le Puy-en-Velay through Figeac, Cahors, Moissac, Montreal, to St-Jean Pied de Port. The Chemin de St-Jacques has now been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The walk described below takes 6 days, covering a 159km portion of the total 1500km walk. It has a medium difficulty rating. You will start in Figeac and end in Moissac, though it's up to you if you wish to extend the route in either direction! This route will take you through Cele and Lot Valleys, across the Causses plateau, in a region known as Quercy.

September and October are the most ideal months. You should bring a sleeping bag for this journey.

A useful address to contact is the Confraternity of Saint James, 27 Blackfriars Rd, London, UK, to obtain information on conducting a pilgrimage.

In Figeac, the tourist office is located at place Vival. Options for sleeping include Camping les Rives du Cele, La Domaine du Surgie; Gite d'etape Mme Faivre-Pierret, 26 chemin de Bataille; Le Champ des Etoiles, 5 place Louis-Lacombe; Hotel le Foirail, place du Foirail; and Hotel Courte Paille, 12 place Carnot.

To get to Figeac, you board SNCF trains from Rodez, or take the Clermont-Ferrand-Toulouse Line. There are also SNCF buses from Cahors to Capendac through Figeac.

Moissac is a town noted for its magnificent abbey. The tourist office is located at 6 place Durand de Bredon. You may stay at Camping de l'Ile de Bidounet, St-Benoit; Centre International d'Acceuil et de Sejour, 5 sentier du Calvaire; Hotel des Recollets, place des Recollets; Hotel-Restaurant Le Luxembourg, av Pierre Chabrie; or Hotel Le Chapon Fin, place des Recollets.

A typical itinerary on this truncated version of the Chemin de St-Jacques would look like this:

Day 1: Figeac to Cajarc, 7 hours, 31km

Day 2: Cajarc to Limogne-en-Quercy, 4 hours, 20km

Day 3: Limogne-en-Quercy to Cahors, 8 hours, 39km

Day 4: Cahors to Montcuq, 6 hours, 31km

Day 5: Montcuq to Lauzerte, 3 hours, 14km


There is not much elevation gain on this route, but there are short steep sections that may nonetheless quickly tire you.

The three other routes of the Chemin de St-Jacques pass through Paris, Tours, and Bourdeaux; from Namur, Belgium, through Reims, Vezelay and Limoges; and from Arles, Provence, Toulouse, through Puente-la-Reina.

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