To open the map, click in the rectangle at the top right. It is an interactive map that allows you to visualize this route in the context of France. The circles correspond to the end of each stage. By clicking on these circles, you will have access to the information that Google gives for these places (images, some accommodations, routes, etc.). It could also help you sometimes, even if this information is more for guys who drive around, not on foot, like you …
The Ways of Compostela in Rhône-Alpes
There are several routes from Germany, Switzerland or the countries of Eastern Europe to reach Puy-en-Velay, which many people mistakenly consider as the start of the Camino de Santiago, although it is the most traditional gathering place for pilgrims to Compostela in France. As Switzerland is a kind of hub in Europe, the majority of pilgrims, especially from German-speaking countries, generally arrive in Geneva, at the end of the Via Jacobi. To them there are then several avenues:
• Via Gebennensis, from Geneva to Puy, passing through Gillonay
• The Via Adresca, from Gillonay to Puy
• Via Lugdunum, from Geneva to Puy, via Lyon
In addition to these three routes, there are routes which pass through Alsace, Franche Comté and Burgundy and Cluny. From these routes, you can also reach Le Puy. From Switzerland, track starts from Basel to join these tracks. The Friends of the Chemins de Compostelle en Rhône-Alpes have published very useful little guides, essential for finding accommodation, perhaps less useful for the routes, on these various paths. Without them, you would be lost, and you would walk on these tracks with great difficulty.
Therefore, this guide provides additional information that we hope will be useful for any pilgrim, who would like to have additional information to prepare or make the trip. And it’s written in French and English.
For German-speaking pilgrims, the Via Gebennensis remains the reference route. There is an obvious reason for this state of affairs. There is a very well documented brochure in the Outdoor collection called: Frankreich, Jakobsweg, Via Gebennensis. This brochure contains a description of the routes, in itself not very useful, but the maps are well done and the information on the accommodation validated. But here it is in German. Since 80-90% of the pilgrims who take this route speak or understand German, being Austrians, Germans or Swiss Germans, this is not a problem. The French-speaking Swiss would be supposed to understand it too! A landlord on the way confirms that his clientele is 80% German-speaking, even if he does not speak a word of German. French speakers, and even Germanic (some names are translated into German), can also acquire in the collection “Chemins de Compostelle en Rhône-Alpes”, the little yellow booklet entitled “Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Genève au Puy-en- Velay, by the GR65, Yenne and Chavanay ”. This collection, as we said in the general introduction, is the most complete on the often-rare dwellings along the way.
Rarely more than 10 people walk per day on Via Gebennnesis, but it remains the most used route to reach Le Puy. On the other routes, you will no doubt find yourself alone, or you will find people leaving from their region, in France, to reach Le Puy. Will the other routes that leave from Switzerland one day, including Via Adresca (variant of Gillonay) or Via Lugdunum, also be covered? Yes, but only then if German-speaking pilgrims will have guides written in German for these routes in the future.
The Via Gebennensis follows the course of the Rhône River for quite a long time, more or less closely. In the first part, it is the hills and forests dominating the river. It is especially the department of Haute-Savoie that the route crosses, marginally Savoie and Ain. Beyond Yenne, when the track passes through Tournier Pass, the route switches for several stages in the department of Isère. It then walks on the hills shaped by the Rhone glacier and the Isère glacier which, by advancing and retreating, have created here wide valleys and moraines where pebbles emerge. When the route further joins the Rhône River, which in the meantime has gone to bathe in Lyon, near Chavanay, then the landscape changes dramatically. You definitely leave the Isère, the plain and the Rhône River for the Loire, then the Haute-Loire with its high hills, its forests, even small mountains and you head gradually towards the small puys which make the charm of Velay. From Geneva to Puy, count almost 15 days of walking.