For the first part of this walk, our aim was to follow the Allier, a grand but little-known French river, from Langeac, west of Le Puy, to its confluence with the Loire. This itinerary covered the lower three-quarters of its total distance.
It turned out to be a difficult river to follow, because the accommodation was often too far apart for walkers, at least for walkers of our sort, and there was a dearth of villages along the way for refreshments.
In consequence we made a lot of wide deviations, but always returned to the river after a few days.
When the Allier was swallowed up by the Loire near Nevers, we began the second phase of our walk, a reverse pilgrimage on the Way of Vézelay. When we walked this pilgrimage in 2010, we did not start from Vézelay, so it was a new path for us.
The last little section was along the Canal of Burgundy, which we had walked in stages on two earlier trips. It only took a couple of days to finish the whole canal, and then one extra day to double back to Auxerre, by which time we were ready to go home.
A quick visual summary of this walk can be seen in the yearly photo album. For the statistically inclined, there is also a spreadsheet that gives details of distances, costs etc.
We no longer use commercial maps – our home-made maps have much more detail than the Google Map below. We made them using the French IGN survey map, and our overall route can be seen here. The making of these maps is described here. For general information about Maps and Guides, see the page in our Beginner’s Guide.
Our route for this year
The diary has been broken up into the following sections:
Puy-Guillaume to St-Pourçain-sur-Sioule
St-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Sancoins
To see icons for each night’s accommodation on this map, press the full-screen symbol at the top right and then tick the accommodation icon box at the top left.
Zoom in on a particular icon to see its precise location. These accommodation icons are also shown on all section maps.
You can also see this map using Google Earth and take a virtual flight along our route.