Stage 09: From Golinhac to Conques

Conques is even more beautiful when the pilgrim gets there on foot

by Didier Heumann and Milena della Piazza

Today is Conques, the beautiful stage expected by all pilgrims, a bit like Santiago in Spain. The pilgrim guide of the XII century, written in Latin, already narrated the virtues in these words: “The very precious body of Blessed Foy, virgin and martyr, was buried here, in a valley called Conques. A beautiful basilica was built on her body in which, for the glory of God, the rule of St. Benedict was observed. Many graces are given to healthy people and the sick.” Today, tourists, hikers and pilgrims share Sainte Foy, in one of the most beautiful sites in France. Many French pilgrims go no further than Conques. At least, for a first glimpse of the way to Compostela.

We are still in Aveyron, along the valley of the Lot on the heights. The stage of the day crosses a country characterized above all by breeding. There are few cultures here. We arrive at the end of the first part of the trip. Tomorrow, we will go further in the center of France, direction Cahors. But still it is necessary to arrive at Conques, through paved roads and rocky pathways. GR track has finished going up to the north and is heading west. First you have to slope down a long way from Golinhac to Espeyrac. you know it after a few steps. The track always descends to the bottom of a dale to climb on the next ridge. Yet, from Espeyrac to Conques, it’s only 14 kilometers.

Slope variations today (+393 meters / -716 meters) are reasonable, especially uphill, but not light. At the beginning of the stage, they are only gentle undulations until you reach Campagnac where a rather boring descent on the paved road towards Espeyrac begins. Beyond Espeyrac, Conques has to be earned twice. First by a climbing of nearly 300 meters to Sénergues plateau, followed by prolonged ups and downs, then a very marked, often tough descent, to Conques.

Courses on pathways are little less to passages on the paved roads:

Paved road: 11.9 km
Pathways: 8.6 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

To help you recognize trees, refer to the Botanical Summary in the general introduction to the track (in the menu in French, to be developed in English).

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use. GPS watches, whether measuring barometric pressure or altimetry, are hardly more convincing than estimates based on mapped profiles.

There are very few sites on the Internet that can be used to estimate slopes from maps (up to 3). Since these programs are based on an approximation and an average around the desired point, there can be large variations from one software to another, depending on the state of the art or the variation between two points (for example a hole followed by a bump very close). Do you want an example? On the GR36 along the coast of Brittany, the altitude is rarely more than 50 meters above the sea. But the path only goes up and down. For a course of about twenty kilometres, a software will give you 800 meters of elevation gain, another 300 meters. Who says true? For having made the course several times, the legs say that the difference in altitude is closer to 800 meters! So how to proceed? We can rely on software, but, we must be careful, ignore slopes given, but only use altitudes. From there, it is only elementary mathematics to deduce the incline, considering the altitude and the distance travelled between two points whose altitude is known. It is this way of doing things that has been used in this site. Moreover, in retrospect, when one makes “in real” the course estimated on cartography, one notes that this way of doing is quite close to the truth of the ground. When one walks often, one has quite quickly the degree of slope in the eye.

We divided the course into sections to make it easier to follow. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the path and the state of the GR track. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live. For this stage, here is the link:


Click here to start with the first section of the route. Avant

I f you are not interested in the course, and you only require details information about lodging, you get enter this item.

Click here for details of housing. Avant