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Best book for Le Puy to St Jean Camino?

Discussion in 'Le Puy en Velay to Santiago de Compostela' started by Leslie, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    Hi,

    me and my other half are looking at walking for two weeks from Le Puy at the start of June. I have started looking around for a book and can only find one by Alison Raju - is this the only one?

    And does anyone know where the best place is to get a list of gites.

    Thanks
     
  2. grayland

    grayland Member

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    I am leaving Le Puy on 30 or 31 March and have done as much research as I can. It is a bit sketchy compared to the CF.
    The 2012 Miam Miam Dodo seems to be the "go to" guide. It does list all of the Gites along the way...in French...but I can muddle it out.
    It also has maps but I really don't care much for the maps as they are to a fairly large scale and it is hard for me to keep turning and going back pages.
    I also have the 2006 Raju guide from the CSJ which gives a step by step guide...but is dated and has no accommodation info. I just downloaded "The Way of Saint James LePuy to the Pyrenees" Alison Raju 2010 2nd Addition to the Kindle App on my iPhone.
    Not sure if I did that on Amazon or from CSJ. It may be available in print from CSJ which would work out for you.
    It seems to be a pretty good guide. Won't know, of course, until on the way.
    As I said, the MMDD guide has all of the accommodations (and prices) listed in the 2012 addition. The problem I seem to have is to try to get a feel for which are the "best" or recommended by other Pilgrims. I have looked thru a lot of blogs but find that the name of the Gite or much about them is often left out.
    I am also having a problem with getting comfortable with daily "stages" as it seems to change with each walker and there is not a "normal" stage listing similiar to the CF (Brierley and others). This is compounded by the strongly expressed advice to book ahead several nights. It takes the spontaneity out of it if you have a fixed stopping point each night. In my case I also have the problem of starting at the start of Holy Week with lots of French walkers on the Le Puy route including (I understand) some large groups who book up the gites and other accommodations ahead of time.
    I am looking forward to it.
     
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  3. jsteiner

    jsteiner Guest

    Hi,

    Miam Miam Dodo is a comprehensive reference for the practical points of food and lodging on the trail, but it doesn't provide information on points of interest or anything near the trail. I preferred the guide books from FFR (Le catalogue des Topo-guides® - Search for GR65) which provide all the practical info, better maps + other interesting information, such as culinary highlights. They are in French, of course, but you can consider them as a useful French lesson. There are 3 books to cover the distance from Le Puy to Roncevaux, and each weighs about the same as Miam Miam Dodo. For 2 weeks of walking, you might only need the first book to Figeac. No ratings on the Gites, but that's part of the adventure :)

    Bon chemin!
     
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  4. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    Thanks - I have ordered the Mian Mian and Alison R books - my other half speaks French so ok on that level.
     
  5. grayland

    grayland Member

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    The FFR books would not do me much good as I have no French. I can get by in the MMDD..but beyond that would be a waste of effort. Maybe Leslie is better prepared with the French language.
    I get by pretty well in Spanish, but would not want to rely on a Spanish language guide book. I think you should be pretty fluent in a language to get much good out of a guide book. Maps are a quite different thing, of course.
    Ed
     
  6. Bill Walker

    Bill Walker New Member

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    I'm landing in Madrid on July 4th, and planning to make it by ground transportation to Le Puy. Before I've taken the bus from Madrid to Pamplona. Any idea how to make it by bus or train to Le Puy from either Madrid or Pamplona? Thanks.
     
  7. Aibrean82

    Aibrean82 New Member

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    My other half and I are dreaming of doing this, and I have also been looking for books. We have no French, but I still got some ideas here. I am glad I saw this post!
     
  8. Green Tortuga

    Green Tortuga New Member

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    It's the only one I ever saw that was actually written in English. There just aren't very many native-English speakers on this route, and the lack of English-language guidebooks is just proof of that. =) I never really did warm up to that book, though. You know how you sometimes get a new guidebook and you have to get used to its layout, icons, and such? Usually, I never have a problem with this--I've used all sorts of guidebooks on all sorts of trails, but this was my least favorite one ever. But I kept it anyway because it's the only one I could ever find in English!

    It's better than nothing, I suppose, but the Miam Miam Dodo guide was always my main go-to guide. I wound up liking it so much, I bought it for the Camino Frances when I reached Saint Jean. (It's also the best list of gites you'll likely find on the Le Puy route.) The maps are.... I'm not sure what the word I'm looking for is. In towns, they're absolutely worthless. Between towns, it's a bit funky, but eventually I grew used to it. They seem a little simplistic at first, but it actually has a lot more detail than I thought when I first looked at them.

    Not that maps are critical for this route. It's extremely well marked--even better marked than the Camino Frances. I really like the red-and-white X's they put at intersections to tell you were NOT to go. It's amazing how useful those can be! Just be careful you don't wind up walking in the wrong direction! The trail isn't directionally marked--either direction can be the correct one (or the wrong one!) And be careful around towns where other GR routes intersect with it--they use the same red-and-white markers as GR65 so it's easy to leave town following the wrong trail if you aren't careful! There aren't a lot of these kinds of intersections, but there were two of them that had me going in the wrong direction for a little while. One I caught almost immediately, but the other one took me a good hour in the wrong direction!

    -- Ryan
     
  9. martinstuart

    martinstuart New Member

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    Just back from walking 250km from Le Puy to Figeac.

    Before I went I bought two books, mainly as a result of the helpful advice of this forum.

    1. The Miam-Miam-Dodo one, expensive at about €20 online and in shops in France, which lists 95% of the options to stay (there's one I came across that doesn't want to be listed so that it can take in those who really have no option; and two or three others that weren't listed because they're only in their first or second year of operation). The Miam-Miam-Dodo lists more accommodation options than all the other books, by far. It's updated annually. But it's heavy-ish (300-350 grams?) and the maps were relatively poor.
    2. The Michelin "Chemins de Compostelle". It's brilliant. It's lightweight (50-60 grams?). It's cheap (5/6 euro). It's very simple: For each recommended daily stage, it gives two maps: (1) a detailed map of the surrounding area (at a scale of 1cm = 1.5km) so you can always have a good sense of nearby mountains, villages, towns, rivers, roads, and the general direction; and (2) a drawing of the topography of the daily stage, along with markers of rivers, villages etc, so as to make it easy to know how long you'll be cursing the *&^£%$£ climbs. No other book I saw offered the topography so professionally or so clearly done. For each stage it typically lists 3 or 4 accommodation options. This is the book you take out of your pocket and refer to a fair few times each day as you are walking or as you are having your café (espresso) along the way.

    If I was going again, I'd definitely bring/buy the Michelin book, no question. Not so sure about the Miam-Miam-Dodo: loads of people carry it and you could possibly, in friendship, take notes if/as needed?

    There's other good sources of places to stay:
    • the regional tourism offices gave me a long list of places for free (I think I saw it also on their websites before I left); it's WELL worth your time looking for and at those websites. The regions are big into promoting the Chemin, the Camino. They realise that it doesn't attract just walkers but also many others to their areas.
    • there's also an organisation that wishes to support those who'd like to explore the trail as a pilgrimage rather than just a beautiful, challenging hiking route by providing a list of specifically Christian hostels (they provide their list in booklet format, which you can get in France in many of the churches [for example the Cathedral in Le Puy, whose bookshop is open all day] and some of the hostels/bookshops, for about €3, or you can get online [search for le guide des Haltes de Prière sur la route du Puy en Velay]
      (note: I've just seen that for each of the different routes, not just the Le Puy route, you can get such a listing posted to you:
      http://www.webcompostella.com/Haltes-chretiennes_r11.html ; make sure you make a donation)
      (note: while these all welcome everyone of every faith and none, they are all differently run; my impression is they are specifically run with the intention of hoping to aid people with their pilgrimages, typically by supporting people to take the opportunity to pray, to give time to their relationship, however it be, with God. They typically (but not always) say grace at meals and offer some other prayer option, so, now you know, please don't be like one lovely French atheist woman I kept meeting who went to a few of these places [honestly I think because of a combination of the warmth of the welcomes and the fact that many were donativo's and she wanted to spend as little as possible] and later told me that at one of them she became offended at being offered to join others in prayer and told me she resented the pressure she felt from being invited [she admitted it was just an invitation, no more] because nearly everyone else staying in that hostel that night went to join in the 15-minute evening prayer. I wasn't there that night so I can't say exactly what happened but my experience in the convents and other self-labelled Christian places was that there was a great mix of all sorts of people enjoying a peaceful, relaxed, fun atmosphere, and, while people were expected to respect the fact that many people wished to pray a little, maybe in a different room after dinner or whatever, there was no pressure put on anyone to join in.)
    • Other walkers.
    • Signs up along the way.
    • Signs up at hostels.
    • Talking with the hostel/gite owners.
    • ...

    The great news is that plenty of shops sell lots of guide books. I'm guessing here but I reckon some of the shops sell maybe 8 or 9 different guides? The Miam-Miam-Dodo is a top-seller, the Michelin not far behind. I didn't see any in English (though someone above says there is one, one they didn't like). Many of the French guide books devote 60-70-80% of their text to descriptions of the path, the route to follow: "take a left at the farmhouse; walk along the stone path for 150m before turning right and going uphill" sort of thing pointless, in my opinion. The trail is 99.8% very well marked (I twice missed a sign; others didn't, so it must have been my fault: you soon get yourself back on track and all is well again).

    Enjoy!
     
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  10. charlied

    charlied Guest

    Hello everyone. I haven't done this route but am planing to do so next year. I came across a book by John higgisson published by cicerone which sets out cycling the route and looks comprehensive - for what it's worth.
    charlie d
     
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  11. IrishGurrrl

    IrishGurrrl Member

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    Hi Folks - not long now before I depart for Le Puy en Velay in April... guide book wise I've the Alison Raju book, the Miam Miam Dodo and Michelin Chemin de Compostelle set of maps.... Obviously I can't bring them all with me (weight wise) so my preference is to bring the Chemins de Compostelle set of maps and then maybe some sort of synopsis of accommodation from the Miam Miam Dodo... I had planned to bring my old Nokia phone rather than my smart phone but now I'm wondering if I would be better off getting the electronic version of the MMD and then I don't have to carry it... decisions decisions...
     
  12. Katie W

    Katie W New Member

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  13. Katie W

    Katie W New Member

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    Hi Martin,
    Does the Michelin "Chemins de Compostelle guide come in English? When I googled it, there only seemed to be a French book. We're leaving for the Le Puy camino at the end go August so are in the research stage.
    Thanks for your help.
     
  14. martinstuart

    martinstuart New Member

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    Hi Katie, God! I had forgotten I had written that entry... pretty detailed!

    As for your question, whewwww... I'm not certain, but I don't think it's in English. I don't remember seeing or hearing about it in English. Just in French. And while I can't recall it exactly, my guess is that it's wise to buy the Michelin even if you have no French at all... the value is in the maps, not the words. You'll manage fine with it.

    Hope you have a great trip. It's such a refreshing, hard but good journey. Buen Camino! Bon Chemin!
     
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  15. Katie W

    Katie W New Member

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    Thank you Martin. I really appreciated the information and all the detail. My husband has some French so I think we would manage with The Chemin de Compostella. We've ordered the MMDD book and also have the Cicerone book. We were quite dependent on the the John Brierley book when we walked the Camino Francis and so are looking for a comparable guide. The next step is to get in shape for all those mountains. Thanks again.
    Bon Chemin!
     
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  16. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    The MMDD is in French. However the bits you need, maps and where to stay, are easy to understand.

    Booking each night ahead is a must. I walked this in 2012, great and very different to the Camino Frances.
     
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  17. Katie W

    Katie W New Member

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    Thanks Leslie. You have mentioned booking ahead. So is booking 1 night ahead enough or do we need 2 or 3 nights or a week in advance? I like the idea of booking ahead as it means we can walk without worrying about whether we'll find a place to stay. We will start our walk Aug 28 and will walk to St Jean and plan on walking 25 km per day on average - so should be done in 31 days or so.

    Really appreciate this forum!
    Katie
     
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  18. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    You only need to book one night ahead. At that time of the year it shouldn't be busy or hot.
     
  19. martinstuart

    martinstuart New Member

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    That's the truth! Just in case I didn't say it earlier, this route is definitely harder than the route from St. Jean de Pied. It is more tiring. You need to prepare--your feet, your legs, your back. You won't be able to cover as many km/day as you did on the Camino in Spain, at least I wasn't. My average went down from 25km/day to maybe 20km/day, and that was fine with me: As you know well (from your experiences on the Camino before) it's all about the journey, not the destination. And this journey is mighty fine.
     
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  20. IrishGurrrl

    IrishGurrrl Member

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    Hi, the Michelin book I essentially a set of route maps, elevations for each stage and also has a few options accommodation wise listed. Its the one I use on the Chemin along with the Miam Miam Dodo. So although its technically in French there is so little text you won't have any issues! :) By the way, I've bought Alison Raju books for a couple of routes and find them cumbersome to read personally. I wont be buying any more of them.

    PS. The route is very well marked. I suggest short sections each day especially until you get as far as Saugues but generally for the first week. Its common for people to do:

    Day 1: Le Puy en Velay to Montbonnet
    Day 2: Montbonnet to Monistrol d'Allier
    Day 3: Monistrol d'Allier to Saugues

    Bon Chemin!
     
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  21. David Moores

    David Moores New Member

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    This thread has the best information I've gotten about the Le Puy route. Thanks all!
     
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  22. Katie W

    Katie W New Member

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    David - you reminded me that I had not written here since we finished our Chemin on September 26 2015. I had meant to follow-up and thank everyone in this thread for their advice. It was much appreciated and very useful! Here is my 2 cents worth of info on the Le Puy route.

    We used a combination of MMDD and the Michelin guide and frequently wished John Brierly would have written a Le Puy guide. When ordering the Micheline guide, be sure to request the latest version. We made the assumption, the latest would be sent and found out we had an older version that had some wrong distances which was frustrating. It was a hard 30 days of walking (and climbing) but another wonderful experience. As one pilgrim said to me before we walked "be sure to be open to new experiences". Good advice because it's hard to repeat an experience like your first Camino (Francis).

    Yes we needed to book ahead (up to 3 days) especially as we were booking for 4 people. Singles we met had an easier time with 1 day booking. I liked knowing I had a place to stay. Overall the accommodation was nicer but more expensive. In general, this walk cost us twice as much per day compared to the Spanish walk but we did stay in nicer places and had our own rooms and bathrooms on a number of days often because the Gites were full. I felt it was good value for what we received.

    This walk is harder because the accumulated elevation gain is significantly more. One pilgrim wearing a fit bit calculated 46,000 feet gained between Le Puy and SJPP. I'm from the prairies so cardio training is essential. I struggled on a few days and opted to use the backpack transfer service on 3 occasions for 6 E per day. That decision gave me the respite I needed. Just ask your Gite owner if you want to use it.

    The best thing I brought with me, not on any packing lists, was stretchy "physio-tape". I have weird feet and had some arch issues and had pre cut pieces ready to go to help support my arches. In the end it was my husband who needed it for tendon issues on his outside ankle. He could not have completed the day, never mind the walk without it. You can buy something similar in some of the pharmacies on the route but not all.

    I also appreciated the accommodation lists obtained elsewhere on the forum and used them. I wrote a blog meant mostly for family but included some accommodation info. Here is the site info if interested: KatieandTim'scamino2.wordpress.com

    If I walked this route again in September, I'd only carry a silk sleep liner and forget about my sleeping bag as all places we stayed had blankets.

    I regret not learning some French before I went, thinking my husband could speak French and I would not need it. Even a little bit would have been nice and would have enhanced the experience.

    Once again I am very thankful for this forum,
    Bon Chemin, Buen Camino, have a good walk,
    Katie
     
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