Stage 4 (Via Gebennensis/Podiensis) Chavanay – Aumont Aubrac – Mountain bike the Camino Santiago


July 2014, Chavanay (France). The voyage proceeds.

This stage has a length of about 210 Km in 5 1/2 days. It starts in Chavanay in the beautiful Rhone valley, south of Lyon. It climbs from about 150m up to 1300m where it more or less swings up and down heading south west. Somehow this stage is so far the most beautiful one on the Camino. Grandiose, lonesome landscape, cute old villages, great food, wilderness and also for mountain biker juicy ways and single trails. Up to now, the condensate of the Camino...

This time, all accommodations are reserved, to avoid the disaster of the last stage.

Map by (c)

Day 1.Starting at 11 am in Les Roches de Condrieu where we leave the car at the train station. This is only a short 15Km stage to Véranne, but up to 500m. First along the river for a while,

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Gebennensis View back into the Rhone valley

View back into the Rhone valley

but then steeply up into the hills.

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Gebennensis Steep Uphill


In Véranne we are in a very nice bed and breakfast with own garden and very nice and kind owners. The lady made the Camino already from her home, impressive! We have dinner in a small restaurant (the only open...) When we enter the room, we are personally acclaimed by the owner: "You are the two mountain bikers from Germany riding the Camino on the bike!" "Yes, .... how do you know that?" "You know, this is a small village...". Her daughter was for one year in Germany, she speaks a decent German, and translates for us all the meals. Very nice people here!

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Gebennensis Véranne Restaurant

The only open restaurant here...

Day 2, the good weather is gone. Todays target is Montfaucon-en-Velay about 50 Km away, but also 2 climbs up to 1300m.

Camino Santiago Mtb steep uphill


Steep uphills, partially in the rain.

Camino Santiago Mtb Tight


Gîte d'étape on the Camino Rainy


But in the afternoon it becomes better and better.

For a while we cycle on a old abandoned railway line, before the Camino climbs again to its max altitude of about 1300 m.

Camino Santiago Mtb Lonesome wilderness

Lonesome wilderness

This stage is really challenging!

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Gebennensis afternoon sun

After the final climb in the afternoon sun

Day 3, today we want to reach Le Puy-en-Velay, again a stage of about 60 Km through the heard of the Auvergne, also well known for its rainy weather. The landscape is dominated by lots of old volcanic cones.

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Gebennensis Tence Auvergne

Tence Auvergne

Partially we have strong rain and disappear for a while into a barn, but this is also the chance for great photo shots:

Volcano cones and heavy clouds in the Auvergne

Volcano cones and heavy clouds in the Auvergne

The Camino climbs again up to 1300m before it drops down to Le Puy-en-Velay on some nice single trails. Here the Via Gebennensis ends, and the Camino continues as Via Podiensis.

Le Puy is the start point for many pilgrims, and a must have seen city. The Dome is build on one volcano cone, and a chapel on another.

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Day 4, perfect summer weather. All the other stages before, we met only a few pilgrims per day. This changes here. The pilgrims are sent out of the dome with a mass early in the morning. Over the next 2-3 hours we catch up many of them with the bicycle, but there are not so many that we disturb each other.

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Podiensis Behind Le Puy en Velay

Behind Le Puy en Velay

In contrast, it starts to have a very interesting social component. We pass the hiking pilgrims carefully, but in steep or tough trails they sometimes overtake us again. Then it is time to talk...

In the afternoon we reach Saint-Privat-d'Allier a lovely village at the river Allier canyon. The Camino falls down from 1100m to about 800m, and at the other side it climbs again to 1100m.

Saint-Privat-d'Allier Camino mtb


The downhill into the Allier valley is 😎 great.

The climb is hard   😳   . Pushing the bikes in the heat of the afternoon, sometimes carrying over stairs. As a bonus, the landscape is a beauty and there is a small chapel in the cliff. During the uphill we talk with some hiking pilgrims. Over the next morning we will see them again. Nice.

Saugues on the Camino

Saugues on the Camino

Once we reach the plateau at 1000m we speed up to Saugues where we have a bed and breakfast reservation. The mother of the landlord is the cook: "A dinner like God in France..." together with other pilgrims.

Day 5, final destination for this stage is Aumont Aubrac, again about 50 Km to ride. After we bought the food for the day in a supermarket, we overtake many Camino hikers, but there is enough space and time for us to pass. Some we already know from the dinner, or we overtook them in the afternoon of the previous day.

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Podiensis Single trails

Single trails...

Again beautiful scenery, villages, forests. Challenging single trails...

Camino Santiago Mtb Via Podiensis Silence


In the afternoon we reach Aumont Aubrac, the journeys end for this year, and check in into the hotel "Chez Camillou". We ask for the train connections here, but the receptionist is strongly unmotivated to help somehow. We decide to have the dinner on the other side of the street "Nature et Terroir d'Aubrac" where they even help us with the train connections:

There are only 2 per day: One from Clermont Ferrand and one to Clermont Ferrand 😕

To make a long story short: The train starts at about 11 am, and stops at every milk can up to Clermont Ferrand. At 10 pm we are finally back in Les Roches de Condrieu where the car still is. Then the way back home by car. Uffz.

All in all the best stage on the Camino up to now! Since traveling to the start point takes already 20 hours, we decide to make the next stage in August 2015 longer (2 weeks). This will be enough time to reach the end of the Via Podiensis in Saint Jean Pied de Port in the french Pyrenees.

The Video:

Useful Links:

Via Podiensis Outdoor/Hiking map and gps track

Free Citymaps

Next: Stage 5 (Podiensis) Aumont Aubrac – Bayonne

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