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Article: Via Podiensis with Léopold, 13 years old & Honoré 7 years old

La via Podiensis avec Léopold, 13 ans & Honoré 7 ans

Via Podiensis with Léopold, 13 years old & Honoré 7 years old

Most of our Sundays, as a child, were dedicated to walking in the high mountains, in the Southern Alps.
Truth be told, we hated it. It was long, the slopes were steep, we were hungry. Constantly.
With our children's stomachs, which are always hungry.

And then, when we reached adolescence, we began to like this taste for challenge, for overcoming, for silence, for effort and for the deserved picnic. We began to enjoy the freedom of the grand landscapes, the smell of the forest as we approached it, and the air from the open window invigorated us.

When we reached adulthood, the mountains and walking had become essential, as the only place where we could really recharge our batteries.

To thank our parents for this discreet gift, we decided that the children were old enough to start walking. And it is quite naturally that we chose the Via Podiensis, the G65, in other words, the Way of St Jacques de Compostela, starting from Puy en Velay to start.

We had already left alone, each on our own and without children on the Way, but we wanted the children to discover the "True" departure (knowing that there is no true departure strictly speaking, and that if is one, it is the door to your home).

It is a real place of sharing, and of universality, where hikers and pilgrims mingle, believers or not, for adventure, for discovery, for the quest. All reasons lead to St Jacques, and no one comes back quite the same.

Our preparation

How many kilometers with children?

Grégoire and I are good walkers. During our previous walks without children, we walked 30 km / day, which is more or less the number of kilometers that a good walking adult achieves per stage.

But then with the kids? It was pretty vague, I had a pretty vague idea of ​​what they would be able to do.

We assumed that they had a pace of 4/5 km per hour on average, and that doing 10 km per day would quickly be over, because that corresponded to 3 hours at most, i.e. an hour and a half in the morning and the same afternoon thing. easy.

We therefore built our hike by alternating a 10km day / a 15 / 18 km day.

No. Don't rely on a child's ability to walk around town.

"Mine he takes three steps and he rushes on the ground like a depressed manatee, so walking 15 kilometers a day, do you think".

If so, it will work.

Because the countryside is not the same, it's beautiful, it's silent, there are cows every ten meters. And especially because you will have made a big teaser:

"Nah but look at this, an opinel, just for you (there are round-ended opinels for the little ones ) and then you'll have your own walking stick, and then at each stage, you'll have a stamp on your creanciale ."

A march is a little eventful, all the same.

To remove all doubts: we met a family of five girls from 14 months to 10 years old. And it worked twenty terminals a day. And it slept in a tent. So good, there's a margin.


Concerning our equipment, having already gone twice on the Way, I had learned from my past mistakes (1st time: 15kg bag, yes but of course...).

The rule: no more than 7/8Kg, with the strict minimum (list attached) We wash the clothes of the day, in the evening on arrival.

We have decided not to have the children carry a bag; they had a small bag with water and the picnic.


Experienced, we had booked all our lodgings in advance, with the children, we left no room for improvisation.

A yum yum dodo and a michelin guide for cutting out the stages (details at the end of the article) and off you go.
After hesitating to sleep in a tent, we preferred to sleep in a gite for this first experience, and half board for the most part, so as not to be burdened.
Everyone had a sleeping bag, however, to avoid renting sheets at each stage.


After big cold sweats the previous nights (I couldn't have done otherwise, and we had an incompressible 18 km stage) "but they'll never last" (<- you speak Charles) here we are up at 5 am towards the station from Lyon.

We didn't have too many doubts about our 7 year old, but more about our 13 year old. Will he get caught up in the game? How were we going to tell him that his cell phone might not pick up 95% of the time (surrrrprrrrissse)

We arrive at Puy en Velay, we have to go up to the major seminary where we sleep the first night, before leaving. We wanted the children to experience the departure in the rules of the art.
At the end of the 7 am mass, it is the great blessing of the pilgrims who take the Way, believing or not, it is part of the great tradition of departure!

Everyone is invited to take a prayer intention, if they wish, to accompany them on the Way and conversely, we are invited to submit one for the following.

In the center of the Cathedral, on the floor, two large trapdoors have opened, kept closed until then, revealing a wide staircase.

It is the beginning of the Path.


My doubts about the ability of the children flew away very quickly. Honoré is often left behind, not out of fatigue or lassitude, but to watch a fly, a spider, the cows, of course.
Lots of cows. And very very often.

In the evening, when we arrive at the lodge, the boys still have a lot of energy to play. We have just done our first 10km very easily and I am very relieved.

Between Le Rouget and Aumont-Aubrac, we came across walkers who recommended a variant, with a waterfall at the end. Our 18 km stage turned into 21 km. In the end, happy children. And always so full of energy in the evening. Disappointing.

We live with the rhythm of the sun. Everyone goes to bed at 9 p.m. and gets up at 6 a.m.

We start walking around 7:30 am, after a very rustic breakfast.
Each evening, we discover a new village, a new lodge, the children are excited to discover a new place each time.

And we, to measure even more as France is beautiful, and rich.
Sometimes you don't have to look far.
I feel like saying that the graces of simplicity are endless.
And the older you get, the greater the scope of this feeling.
And the more the desire to pass it on to his children grows.

Our advice / feedback (tadammmm)

- Drink & eat: when hiking, and especially with children, do not wait to be thirsty to drink, nor to be hungry to eat. Offer water very regularly, and a dried fruit, a piece of bread, a bit of chocolate also regularly. One bite is enough, but it takes regularity.

- The game: putting the children systematically in the game saves weariness.
My luck => Grégoire. This man's ability to create game out of...nothing, in fact, is quite stunning.
He managed one afternoon, to make Olympics in a forest which occupied the children 2 hours; the resources of nature and the imagination are limitless.

- Take your time / take breaks: we had a game of 7 families and a dice game.

And no, a child doesn't have such a predisposition to get bored, even at the 153rd game. Another idea: push the vice, and choose the game of 7 families "The kings of France", just to not let them come out unscathed from the multiplicity of these games.

- Maintaining the joy / training the children: quite frankly, we haven't had many complaints, but there have been, of course.
The joy and sweetness, taking by the hand, with a "oh my little coco, he's tired, let's play a game / sing a song / tell a joke" is so very effective.

Parents, preserve yourselves, make your children laugh, keep them happy.

It's silly to say, but it's our best technique.

- Pouches: 4 hikers / 4 pouches, the A4 format is more than enough. The bags are unpacked and repacked twice a day, and grouping everyone's belongings into small individual bags really makes things easier.

We had prepared our two bags as follows:

- sleeping bag x 2

- pouch x 2
- gourd on the sides
- card holder / opinel / handkerchief / Créanciale at the top of the bag.

- The hunt for the tiniest gram: Really, you won't need almost anything. Don't charge yourself. And then there is everything you need in the villages crossed; it is still necessary to check the water points to be sure to be able to fill the water bottles.

- Gourds: a 1L gourd / person, no more. It is possible to refill regularly (it is necessary to drink at least double / day)

- Introspection, silence: everything we like about hiking, with the kids: FORGET
If the need arises, organize yourselves in turns, one leaves to walk in front of 1h or 2, the other stays with the kids, and vice versa.

- Letting go: whether it's on the rhythm, and on those little things that we straddle on a daily basis, it has to remain a moment of pleasure (well, that's my opinion). Eg we fell in love with chips with an improbable taste, strictly forbidden at home, of course.
Me first in the grocery stores, in the evening, preparing the picnics for the next day:

- well, come and see guys, I found goat cheese chips with Espelette pepper.

- don't you prefer terryaki skewer?

- Ok... go for chips with teryaki sauce. But tomorrow, it's chilli goat, okay?

The following

We are actively preparing it at the moment. We are continuing this year, no doubt for 100 or 120 km and at this rate, we expect to finish the Way... let's say, within 12 years!

A great stage awaits us, since we will cross the sublime village of Conques, and its majestic abbey , dedicated to Ste Foy (stained glass windows by Pierre Soulages) which is supported by a community of Brothers, with a sharp sense of humor.


Nota Bene : Concerning our roadmap, why advance 70 km by taxi, at the beginning? We had already done this part of the Chemin Grégoire and I (already twice for my part) but we wanted to make the children experience all the ceremonial departure, as explained above.

However, we chose not to redo the first 3 stages and to start with the Sauvage, to arrive immediately in this so pretty part, and get to the heart of the matter.

Our course can be downloaded here
The list of our backpack


Je recommande de ne prendre que des sacs à viande en soie : moins lourds à porter que des duvets – ca tient bien chaud et il y a des couvertures dans les gîtes. On fait comme ça chaque année (contrairement à la 1ere année où on était obligé d’avoir des duvets car on campait – pire idée de notre vie. On a cru mourrir de froid plusieurs fois sur le plateau de l’Aubrac)


Très très bon article ! Merci beaucoup pour cette mine d’infos ! J’ai tant envie de sauter le pas !

Thebault Elise

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