Centuries ago, religious pilgrims walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, or “The Way of St. James”, as a spiritual journey or as penance, decreed by the Catholic Church, for certain crimes. While The Way of St. James still attracts religious Christians and Catholics, today’s "pilgrims” are more likely to walk this historic hiking trail in France as a spiritual retreat, seeking a respite from the hubbub of modern life. The Camino de Santiago also attracts history buffs, those who love views of the charming French countryside and those who want to experience and learn about the traditional culture and cuisine of Southern France.
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987 and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pilgrimage route forms part of a network of walking tour trails across Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, where St. James, the apostle, is said to be buried.
We begin our walking tour in France in the town of Le Puy en Velay. This is one of the original medieval starting points of the Camino de Santiago route. Here we each obtain “le credencial”, or pilgrim’s passport, and receive a blessing at the cathedral in Le Puy. We also visit UNESCO World Heritage monuments. Although we will walk only a small part of the Camino de Santiago, from Le Puy to Conques, our hiking route — the ‘Via Podensis’ portion — is one of the oldest and most well-preserved parts of this pilgrimage trail. And it winds through one of the most beautiful parts of France in the Midi-Pyrennes region. Heading south towards the Pyrenees, we walk through French villages and hike across high plateaus where herds of sheep and cattle graze in the French countryside. We pass the 12th-century Knights Templar grange of Le Sauvage, and stay in small rural hotels or “auberges”. Our pilgrimage hike ends in Conques, hosting one of the most evocative Romanesque pilgrimage monasteries in France.
Pilgrims have been taking the Camino de Santiago route since 950, although its use declined during times of war and disease epidemics. During the last two decades, interest in walking the Camino route has increased as people from around the world seek a journey of spiritual significance. Most religious pilgrims make the journey on foot, although some travel by bicycle, horseback, or on a donkey.
Authentic and exceptional French cuisine, charming rural villages, magnificent cathedrals, and walks through the spectacular landscapes and countryside of southern France combine to make this pilgrimage hike along the Camino de Santiago in France, an unforgettable, must-do experience!
Hike the "Via Podensis", one of the oldest and most historic parts of the network of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, which begins in France and crosses the Auvergne towards the Pyrenees.
Get a pilgrim’s passport and receive a blessing from the cathedral in Le Puy en Velay before we depart for a hike on the most authentic and most well-preserved part of the pilgrim route, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Camino de Santiago trail.
Hike in France’s unspoiled, breathtaking landscapes without the crowds, through charming rural French villages with magnificent cathedrals, across high plateaus and past herds of grazing sheep and cattle.
Learn about the amazing history of this area in the Midi-Pyrenees, where thousands of people have undertaken a religious pilgrimage on their way to the place where St. James, the Apostle, is said to be buried.
Feast on superb and authentic French cuisine and sample the region's wonderful wines as you remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of modern life with this "retreat for modern pilgrims.”
Enjoy camaraderie and share experiences with other AdventureWomen participants during this delightful, custom-designed hike for women in the countryside of Southern France.