The Pilgrimage on the steps of Saint James of Compostela was born in 1800, follwing the rediscovery of the history of the apostle. According to manuscripts dating back to the XII Century, Saint James left the Middle East with the goal of preaching the Gospel iin the Iberian peninsula. Saint James was then killed in Palestine, but his body is said to have been found years later in Spain, on the Galician shores. For centuries, this trail has been used by pilgrims and walkers. Now you too have the chance to immerse yourself in this timeless landscape, in these medieval towns, in these immaculate forests.
The first part of the Compostela trail leads from the town of Puy en Velay to Aumont Aubrac: it offers a pleasant walking experience with views on the Auvergne volcanoes natural reserve. The route is well marked and you will encounter several fountains and springs on the way.
Perched between the Auvergne volcanoes and the Rhône Alpes basin, the city of Puy-en-Velay offers an incredible view of the horizons. The Puy cathedral has one of the most beautiful Romanesque cloisters in Europe, famous for its polychrome arcades and its remarkable capitals, listed as World Heritage by Unesco.
Your first walk starts from the steps of the cathedral of Le Puy-en-velay. Today, you take the way of Velay massif. The particularity lies in its landscape alternating rock, greenery and rural landscapes typical of this region that you can admire throughout the walk. Arriving in Saint-Privat-d’Allier, you will overlook the impressive gorges of Allier and its river, still wild.
Passing by the chapel of Rochegude and its promotory, enjoy the stunning view on the gorges of Allier. You will cross this river, which is still wild, in Monistrol-d’Allier before going back on the other bank and reach Saugues, at the doors of the Margeride. It’s a pretty difficult stage with a strong uphill slope. On your way, you will be able to see the rustic villages and hamlets typical of the region, before finishing your stage in Saugues.
After breakfast, your walk continues to Le Sauvage, an agricultural hilltop area dating from the Templar period. You reach the Saint-Roch chapel, and enter the department of La Lozère, before reaching your destination of Saint-Alban, known for its Romanesque church.
From Saint-Alban, you begin your ascent towards Grazières-Mages before beginning your descent towards Les Estrets, through silent forests and agricultural lands, to finish at Aumont-Aubrac. Between Lozère, Cantal and Aveyron, you will be charmed by these green deserted landscapes. Arrival in Aumont-Aubrac, end of your walking trip.
Note: this itinerary can easily be combined with the next section of the Way of St James - Aumont to Conques