All my suggestions are genuine and I received no incentives of any kind for these recommendations. There were a lot of great hostels to chose from, but these truly went above and beyond.
My Favourite Spots
Town: Saint-Chély d’Aubrac
Gîte d’étape Saint André
This private gîte is located to the left of the trail just as you enter Saint Chély. The interior decor is a hodge-podge of unique memorabelia from the hosts’ personal adventures. A cozy living area, dining room and comfortable single beds (no bunks!) in shared rooms of 3-4 people made my stay here very relaxing. The hosts were friendly and I would highly recommend staying in for their delicious home-cooked communal pilgrim dinner.
Gîte Communal del Roumiou
Run by a couple of ex-Montrealers, del Roumiou holds a special place in my heart for its exceptionally generous owners. When my blisters got terribly infected, they booked me in to see a doctor and the next morning drove me to another town for the appointment and prescriptions. The home-cooked communal dinner was delicious and the breakfast spread included a lot more than the custom jam-on-toast-with-tea.
Abbaye Sainte Foy
I highly recommend spending a night in the Abbaye Sainte Foy. The Abbaye is staffed by volunteers from all over the world and the monks are extremely friendly. You’ll likely run into pilgrims you haven’t seen in many days at this major stop along the route. Don’t miss the nightly Mass in the cathedral or the explanation of the tympanum afterwards!
This gîte isn’t quite in the heart of the action, but its vantage point over the city gives spectacular views of the surrounding area. A beautiful courtyard garden makes for a nice retreat and a perfect spot to eat dinner. I spent several days here with a debilitating tendonitis that required a hospital consultation. The staff was very helpful in making those arrangements and driving me into town.
La Petite Lumiere
I didn’t book a bed in this gîte during my time in Moissac, but I did eat a delicious dinner there on my last night. The owner cooked a wonderful meal for our small group and we ate together on their cozy porch. We spoke well into the night over wine and I left feeling grateful and extremely full!
Le Par Chemin
This gîte is well worth an early stop and overnight on your way to Auvillar. Not only is the decor extremely cool, the spirit of the Camino and communal living is embodied completely by the proprietor, Vincent. I ended up staying here for three days. The first night Vincent was booked to capacity, but still managed to find room for three stray pilgrims. My second night the gîte was empty except for me and one other woman. We cooked and ate together, discussing the Camino and other subjects until very late. I cannot recommend this spot more highly!
Roadstop: between Nogaro and Aire sur l’Adour
La Pause Rebiscoula
I was three weeks into my Camino when I first considered giving up. On a cobbled road outside an organic snack shop, La Pause Rebiscoula, I pulled out a rickety iron chair set out for patrons and started taking off my shoes. The proprietor, Edwidge, came out and took one look at my toes before calling her neighbour to look after the shop while she drove me to the hospital. I ended up needing emergency surgery on my feet. If Edwidge hadn’t helped me, I would have lost my two big toes! Give her a big hug from me if you stop by her store between Nogaro and Aire sur l’Adour.
Town: Aire sur l’Adour
Hotel de la Paix
I was stuck in Aire sur l’Adour for 10 days after my toe surgery. I was extremely lucky to have found Hotel de la Paix, where I had to spend nearly every day indoors. The hotel is located beside and above a café/bar run by the same owners, and the building is right at the heart of the city. Pharmacies, groceries, the local market and church are all within a block. The hotel staff was personable and welcoming, especially considering how long I spent there during the daytime. The beds are comfortable and the vintage decor made me feel like I was in someone’s home and not in a hotel. There is a desktop computer in the shared space and high speed WIFI for guests.