2012: This list has been edited with places I stayed in 2012, when I re-walked part of the route. In France that includes some places from Le Puy to Conques. In Spain, it contains places from Pamplona to Santo Domingo, and from Hospital de Orbigo to Santiago.
(Where I talk about a meal, I took the demi-pension option which was common in private gites in France.)
Le-Puy-en-Velay: (2012) Gite Relais du Pelerin Saint Jacques. Run by the Velay group of the Amis of St Jacques. I was in need of a rest when I finished the Cluny route, and the hospitaleros here were very welcoming. Very friendly environment.
Montbonnet: l'Escole. The welcome here was very warm, very much appreciated after my first day walking (that had included the surprise of walking in an isolated area in some snow.) Lovely facilities and wholesome walker's meal. Very friendly atmosphere created in communal area downstairs.
La Grange Bar- Le Saint-Jacques. (2012) I arrived here looking like a drowned rat after being caught in a huge thunderstorm. Owner took me next door to the gite to shower etc before he checked me in. Very welcoming, and superbly laid out interior with large lounge/dining area. Picture window looks out over the local landscape. Could have stayed here another day just to enjoy the view!
Saugues: Gite a la ferme - Martins. Very good facilities, warm welcome, wonderful meal.
La Clauze: (2012) Le Refuge Des Pelerins de Margeride. Very welcoming rural gite in a tiny village. Very comfortable.
Chanaleilles: Gite d'etape, Mme Richard. Arrived on very cold day, and Mme Richard instantly lit the fire in the communal lounge to warm everyone up. Very cosy. Wonderful meal included at cafe down the road. Salad included mountain greens that her husband had collected that day.
Les Faux: L'oustal de Parent. Beds altogether in one room in dormitory (unusual for France) - but well spread out, single beds, very clean. Highlight here was the wonderful meal in the restaurant attached to the hotel.
Le Rouget: (2012) La Croix du Plô. Gite upstairs in a converted part of a barn on a working farm. Very welcoming.
Aumont-Aubrac: La Ferme du Barry. Owner takes a real pride in serving up regional food that he cooks himself.
Nasbinals: (2012) Gite communal, Maison Richard. Very comfortable, well laid out, with good kitchen.
Saint Come d'Olt: Gite d-etape communal del Romiou. If you want to stay in a real historic building, this is it. Simple facilities, but I was put on the top floor with a view straight out over the 'twisted' church steeple.
Estaing: Hospitalite Saint-Jacques. Warm welcome. Christian place where you can join prayers if you wish. (Optional). They will do some washing for you and dry it overnight. Communal meal. Donation. Lovely garden area up the back to relax in if you manage to be there on a sunny afternoon.
Golinhac: Camping Bellevue. The woman here made me especially welcome as a solo woman traveller, and even put me in chalet a so I didn't have to share the gite building with a lot of snoring men that night! Fantastic view from Golinhac over plains below.
Conques: Gite d'etape communal. Most people want to stay in the abbey guest house, but if it is full, as it was the weekend I was there, the communal gite was fine. Good showers and kitchen facilities. And I made some good friends that I saw over the next few days. (Note: The abbey accommodation apparently hold a few beds each day for pilgrims with backpacks. So if you are told on the phone it is full, you might still want to knock on the door when you arrive, just in case....
Abbaye Sainte Foy (2012). I couldn't get a phone booking here, but arrived early, and there were still bunks available, kept for walking pilgrims.... Special shared meal with all the pilgrims.
OK I realise I am getting verbose again.... shorter from here on!!!
Livinhac-le-Haut: La Magnanerie. Lady here pulled out all the stops to help everyone dry off their wet clothing after an awfully wet day's walking.
Mas de Vergnes: Camping Pech Ibert- caravans and chalets for very reasonable price if you want to break up the walking distance to Cajarc.
Cajarc: Gite d'etape Le Pelerin. Very warm welcome, lovely clean facilities and beautiful grounds to relax in.
Vaylats: Monastere des Filles de Jesus. As a solo woman I was given a wonderful single room to myself here!
5.5km past Cahors: Domaine des Mathieux- Wonderful facilities and great atmosphere at shared evening meal.
Montcuq: Le Souleillou- Very well organised gite, excellent facilities, friendly welcome, good meal.
Lauzerte: Les Figuiers- Very popular and welcoming gite. Superb meal. Very helpful hosts. Keen to help with any issues like accommodation bookings etc. (Avoid gite communal in Lauzerte - notorious for ongoing bedbug problem over several years. )
Moissac: Ultreia. A stand-out favourite. Owned by an Irish couple. I felt very 'at home' here, almost like one of the family. Close to Cathedral if you want to listen to nuns singing vespers etc. (heavenly.)
Lectoure: L'etoile Occitaine- owned by very gentle, youngish, kind, former pilgrim. - not sure if this gite is still here, or if it has been renamed, or has different owner- can't see it in more recent MMDD.
La Romieu: Le couvent de La Romieu. Make the detour here - lovely town. Dormitory in this gite has been remodelled from former convent building. Lovely light and airy.
Lelin-Lapujolle: Gite Dubarry. Very welcoming host, who remembers past guests even from other years. Sculptor. Relaxing rural atmosphere. Delicious wholesome meal.
Aire-sur-l'Adour: Hospitalet Saint Jacques- newly renovated building. Very welcoming hosts are former pilgrims who are genuinely keen to help with any issues worrying pilgrims.
Miramont-Sensacq: gite communal. This gite has hospitaleros from the Landes region Jacquarian group - one showed very informative video about St Jacques' traces in the region. Communal meal- donation.
Cambarrat: Isabelle and Nicolas give a very warm welcome to their rural home. Artistic, talented people, who manage to welcome guests while being busy with their family. Very much a highlight staying here.
Aroue: gite communal. Great view of the Pyrenees when the rainclouds cleared! Relaxing rural atmosphere. You could buy food at the gite.
SJPP: L'Esprit du Chemin- Lots of people have recommended it for good reason. Very welcoming. Great meal. They keep aside a quota of beds for those walking from Ostabat, so that it doesn't just get booked out by those starting in SJPP.
Orisson: Great position to break the journey over the Pyrenees. Superb views. Make sure you reconfirm your reservation the night before!!
For those of us who had walked from France, there was a bit of a transition to make in Spain. Suddenly there were huge dormitories... the facilities were often more limited.... Listed here are the places I liked the best in Spain. Sometimes they were quite crowded, but welcoming hospitaleros in some places often made all the difference.
Roncesvalles: collegiate albergue. One big dorm. Amazing stone building - I liked lying in bed looking at the roof. Special atmosphere created by welcoming Dutch hospitaleros. Silful use of music to lull you to sleep and then wake you up at 6am!!
Los Arcos: Municipal albergue. This time it was welcoming Belgian hospitaleros. Big outdoors area to relax and meet others in. Able to book for a foot/leg massage- I needed this and it was wonderful!!!
Navarrete: Municipal albergue. Lovely building with smaller rooms - more like in a French gite. Good kitchen/dining area.
Azofra: municipal albergue. Modern, purpose-built, with two person cubicles that had single beds, not bunks!
Granon: Parish albergue, San Juan. A special place, one of my favourites in Spain. Simple facilities, eg mattresses on floor, but incredibly welcoming. We had lovely hospitalero from Leon. Communal meal for donation.
Itero de la Vega: private albergue in the middle of the village on main street. Family run place. Genuine Spanish feel to the hospitality.
Carrion de los Condes - (parish?) albergue run by Augustinian sisters. Very welcoming. They had a 'sing along' session in the evening in the foyer/up the stairs for anyone who wanted to join in.
Moratinos: Peaceable Kingdom - with Rebekah Scott and her husband Paddy. Very welcoming. Real bed with real sheets! Felt very 'at home'.
El Burgo Ranero. Municipal albergue, purpose built, with good communal area. Welcoming hospitalero. Restaurants right over the road!
Mansilla de las Mulas: municipal albergue. Lovely welcoming hospitaleros here. Older man has nurtured geraniums that cover the walls of inner courtyard - great place to sit and talk to others in the evening when the sun goes down. Younger woman hospitalero was helping people with foot/leg problems.
Rabanal: Gaucelmo - hostel run by UK Confraternity. Very welcoming hospitaleros. Purpose built building. Lots of outdoor space to relax in. A real highlight staying here. Could go to Vespers in church just across the courtyard.
Trabadelo: municipal albergue. Smaller rooms instead of big dorm. Kept scrupulously clean. Big shower area. There are good reasons for choosing the smaller villages to stay in: not so many seem to stay here, and I had a room to myself.
O'Cebreiro: Xunta albergue. Newly refurbished, in superb position with views from the mountaintop. (I struck it lucky with the weather here!)
Sarria: Don Alvaro albergue. Another special favourite. Very welcoming, and had all sorts of 'extras' like sunloungers, free internet, foot spa pool, fountain in the garden. Very special atmosphere.
Lestedo: (soon after Eirexe). Small private rural albergue. Enjoyed rural relaxation and friendly company here.
Monte de Gozo. Xunta complex. Was expecting some kind of army barracks, but this was a great place to stay. Very friendly hospitalero, Manuel. Can stay up to three nights. Place is divided up into rooms with places for 8 in each. So glad we stayed here. It meant we walked into Santiago early next morning feeling fresh, and able to totally enjoy our arrival there. (We left our large packs here, took day packs to Santiago, then came back later in the day, our pilgrimage over, by bus!)
Santiago: Seminario Menor- Not everyone likes this place, so maybe it depends on how rowdy your company is. But I liked the two nights I spent here. Single beds, with individual lockable locker next to it, big enough for all your gear easily. (Lots of dining room tables etc when I was there.... but perhaps some of this space becomes bed space in high summer.) Great views back to city. Walking distance to train station.