05 : Roche-de-Glun to Ponsoye Pass/Cerisier

Here, do not get lost on the way






We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:


It is obviously not the case for all pilgrims to be comfortable with reading GPS and routes on a laptop, and there are still many places in France without an Internet connection. Therefore, you’ll find soon a book on Amazon that deals with this course.

If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page.

The department of Ardèche owes its name to the river which crosses it. Ardèche is the former province of Vivarais. For many tourists, the Ardèche boils down to villages of character lost in the scrubland, in the middle of boxwood, thyme and heather, near the magnificent gorges of the Ardèche River. All this is the Bas Vivarais, in the south of the department. It is not this part of the Ardèche that you will visit. No one can deny that there is a flagrant difference between the Ardèche in the north and that in the south, whose dividing line passes near Gerbier du Jonc and Mont Mezenc, the Ardèche volcanoes that you will see in the coming days taking shape in the horizon above the hills. A GR, the GR420, runs through the entire Haut Vivarais here. Today, you will only touch on it at the end of the stage.


You will therefore stay in the Haut Vivarais, near the Ardèche mountains, in lands of silence and solitude. It is the country of chestnut trees, even if here, production is in decline, due to the massive exodus of peasants. In many regions, spruce and beech have taken over chestnut, or will do so in time. It is apparently a foregone conclusion.

Today, Via Adresca gradually rises from the plain to the high Ardèche plateau. Today, the stage seems to end on a cul-de-sac, near a mid-altitude Pass, the Ponsoye Pass, with no major localities around. Sometimes you have to “deal with it”, as it is said. But you can still spend the night there.

Difficulty of the course:
Slope variations of the day (+713 meters/-232 meters) are significant, especially uphill. They are all the more marked as they only consider the second part of the stage, the first being only a health walk along the Rhône River. Beyond St Péray, the slope is quite steep and continues until the end of the stage. Sometimes the course takes breaks, even descends a little. Most of the time, the slope does not exceed 15%, but there are many sections where the slope is even more pronounced.


Today, the course is to the detriment of pathways:

  • Paved roads: 16.5 km
  • Dirt roads: 8.3 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For “real slopes”, reread the mileage manual on the home page.


Section 1: Along the Old Rhône.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

We said it in the previous step. Via Adresca does not go to the center of La Roche-de-Glun, but you have to find accommodation somewhere. So, it leaves the borough in the direction of the dam.

The dam here has been in operation since 1968, allowing the production of electricity, and the improvement of navigation, which now happens on the Canal. The game is regulated by a system of 6 valves which make it possible to regulate water levels, control floods and navigation on the Canal.

On your left, you see the course of the old Rhone which descends towards the south.
On your right, stretches the lake closed by the Rhône canal in which Roche-de-Glun soaks. Here, the water is literally bubbling in the valves, a sign of the strength of the water. Cormorants watch with envy the fish that spring there.
At the exit of the dam, you leave the Drôme department for that of Ardèche.
Via Adresca then leaves the road to follow it on a wide sandy pathway that runs along the water’s edge towards the village of Glun.
Glun is home to 700 inhabitants between the Rhône and its small church. It is the place of birth and early childhood of Frédéric Dard, the writer, father of San Antonio. Opposite is Roche-de-Glun, its church and its turrets.
Beyond the church, Via Adresca makes a few bends around the village and emerges on the outskirts on the D222A which bypasses the village and comes from the dam. This is the axis that connects to the famous D86, the Côtes-du-Rhône wine route, from Cornas to Vienne.
Shortly after, it then crosses a bridge thrown over the Rioutard stream, completely dry when we passed, and heads through the fruit trees towards the railway line, which runs parallel to the D86 departmental road.

Soon, a choice is necessary, either to pass by St Péray, or to choose the variant of St Romain de Lerps. The latter climbs directly on the hills of Ardèche, the other variant first follows the Old Rhône to St Péray, before climbing in turn on the hills of Ardèche. The two tracks meet near Alboussière. For our part, we opted for the variant of St Péray.

On the St Péray variant, a wide pathway then runs into the undergrowth, along the Rhône River.
The vegetation here is overflowing with vigor, amidst gall oaks, holm oaks, maples, ashes and chestnut trees.
Everywhere, signs warn not to get too close to the river. Because, the old Rhone which comes out of the dam can be sometimes tumultuous, sometimes peaceful. Many branches of the river pass through here. But, sometimes, you seethe river almost miserable, amputated as it was of a large part of its water to inflate the Canal.
The pathway is very pleasant, except for the noise of the engines on the main departmental road a stone’s throw from here. The train, you will hardly hear it. It’s just a freight route. Here, tall alders and locusts play with the other hardwoods to see who will be the tallest.
Under the dense vegetation, the freshness is for you. Sometimes a few gaps make it possible to reach the river, sometimes calm as an image, sometimes a little more tumultuous, but never severe.
Further on, the carpet of sand fades and the pebbles come back in force. Upstream, you can still see the Roche-de-Glun dam from here.

Section 2: Along the Blue Lane.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

When the pathway leaves the forest and the pebbles vanish as if by a miracle, when you turn around, you can still see the La Roche-sur-Glun dam. Here, the old Rhône flows peacefully through the moor.
Further afield, the pathway moves away from the river, crosses an area between steppe and undergrowth. A few more undulations of no magnitude between undergrowth, short moor, tall ash trees and holm oaks…
……and the pathway goes out into the fruit trees. On the hills of Ardèche, the first vines are already appearing, clinging to the slope so as not to fall into the void, undoubtedly already belonging to the Cornas appellation. Among the crops, there are only the vines and the olive trees that open horizons of such mysterious dreams.
Shortly after, the tar returns and in front of you appears the phantasmagorical castle of Chateaubourg.
The village is magnificent, all in stone, with winding alleys leading up to the church and the castle. The castle dates from the XIth century, belonging to a trilogy of castles of a man named Rogier, highwayman. Louis IX, passing through here, besieged the castle of Roche-de-Glun, killed the man, and would have spent the night in Châteaubourg. The castle remained for many years in the hands of local potentates, then, in the XVIth century, during the Wars of Religion, it passed into the hands of Protestants. The castle was restored in the XXth century.
Via Adresca leaves the village on the heights, towards the cemetery, under the castle.

The passage through St Péray is not clearly specified. And it is already here that doubt will settle in your mind about the direction to take. There are two shells with two different directions!!!! Which one to choose ? And to complicate it all, there is the Blue Way. You have to follow the one that goes in the direction of Guilherand-Granges, but which also passes through La Mûre. It is for the moment this one that must be taken and which is common with the Blue Way. It should be understood that there are also two routes to Compostela here: the Gillonay variant which goes to Puy-en-Velay and the real Via Adresca, which does not go there, but goes towards Arles. It is shortly before St Péray that the two tracks separate.

The Voie Bleue is a path used especially by cyclists, which runs along the Rhône River. It passes near Guilherand-Granges, and descends even lower than Valence. You can clearly see the route of this track, and you understand that you will have to go down from the Rhône via Guilherand-Granges, if you have to go to St Péray, which is your case. On the other hand, if you decide on the Camino de Compostela to Arles, you can also take part of the Voie Bleue, because the Voie d’Arles passes through Guilherand-Granges when leaving St Péray. Obvious, my dear Watson!

On leaving the village, beyond the cemetery, the route flattens on the Voie Bleue, through the orchards. Here, farmers do not encourage marauding.
Here, they cultivate a little vine, a little corn, but especially the apricot tree.
Further on, the road gets a little closer to the railway line and the RN86 which follows, parallel to the train. This line has been closed to passenger traffic since 1972, and only freight trains pass through here, and still not all. So, now this part of Ardèche is deprived of any train for travelers. But how do you get around without your own car? On foot, no doubt. Like you.
The road then gradually approaches between fruit trees and corn, an undergrowth and something that must once have been a small station.
You are still walking on the Voie Bleue and a dirt road smooth as a whistle then runs through quite a dense deciduous undergrowth for quite a long time.
Further on, the dirt road again approaches the Rhône River. Here, an instrument for measuring river levels.

When you get here, to a parking spot with a picnic spot set under the trees, pay close attention. The Voie Bleue continues straight through the park, Via Adresca which goes to St Péray, absolutely not. The problem here is not only with the organizers of the Camino de Santiago, but with the signpost of the tourist offices, because the sign is not visible, but hidden behind a clump of trees. So, spontaneously you will go straight, and cross the parking lot, which you should not do. Why? Because here, there are two routes to Compostela, the one that follows the Voie Bleue along the Rhône River and passes through Guilherand-Granges, to continue on the route that leads to Arles. The other, yours, goes towards Cornas, passing through the hamlet of La Mure.

And in fact, to make it even simpler, there are even two trackss flanked by the shell for St Péray, one of 3.1 km, the other of 1.6 km, both passing through the Chemin des Mulets!!!!! Abundance of overnight goods. We can only warmly thank all the volunteers of the Friends of Compostela who trace the paths. But admit here that we could have made it clearer, right?

We therefore opted for the 1.4 km path, towards Cornas. But was it really a good idea? Here you see the sign hidden behind the trees. Via Adresca for St Péray via Cornas leaves the place just before the railway line.
A small chapel is located at La Mure, just above the railway. Via Adresca follows the Chemin des Mulets, and will do so until St Péray.

Section 3: Passing through St Péray.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

The road progresses between the orchards and the railway line. In front of you stands on the hill Crussol Castle which dominates St Péray. This castle is your compass to go to St Péray.
Further on, the road passes a potentially flood-prone area and heads towards Cornas.
Shortly after, you’ll arrive at the entrance to Cornas, or at least its suburbs, because Cornas is a very large borough, one of the jewels of the Côtes du Rhône Nord wine appellations. But now the road sign indicates that Via Adresca does not continue straight on the Chemin des Mulets. But then where is it going? We explored all the possibilities around. No more signs of the Camino de Santiago. So, mistake or not, we will never know until the organizers of the Chemins de Compostelle in Rhône-Alpes solve this enigma for us. Because here is what they say: “At La Mure, leave the Voie Bleue to take the direction of Cornas, by a small road facing south, the Chemin des Molets”, which we did, specifying here that the Chemin des Molets does not exist. You have to read Chemin des Mulets. Then, they add again: “At the crossroads of the streets going to the village, always go straight”. Yes, but where, since the sign of Compostela is crossed out with a cross? By reading the Wikiloc maps available on the Web, all the routes show that you have to follow the Chemin des Mulets to the end. Maybe we should have taken the other track for St Péray. Who knows?
But, by the way, it does not matter, except to cast doubt in your mind. Besides, there is no risk of getting lost. The Chemin des Mulets runs along the outskirts of Cornas. The compass is still pointing south, towards Crussol Castle, ahead of you. Life is easier when you know where you are going.
Further on, it gets even more complicated. Here, the organizers specify: “Crossroads of the road to Arles. Turn right, go around the stadium. Cross the railway tracks and via Rue de la République reach the town hall of St Péray”. Yes, okay, but there are no more signs of the Camino de Compostela here, either the route to Le Puy or the route to Arles. In one way the Camino de Santiago signage on the Via Adresca is good, but here it seems slightly lacking. Anyway, here there is no risk of getting lost, with this information. So, we turned right at the end of the stadium. This is what your compass suggests to you, the castle in front of you.
At the end of the road, it is the disused station for travelers, and you then enter the town.
Shortly after, Via Adresca runs along the Mialan River, a tributary of the Rhône River and arrives in the city center.
St Péray is a small town with 7,500 inhabitants. The castle of Crussol, a fortress from the beginning of the XIIth century dominates the town. From this part of the city, you can only see a ruin and some remnants of ramparts. But on the back, there is a tower and almost a village, in the middle of the ramparts. Moreover, until the XVth century, people lived up there, 200 meters higher, before moving to the plain. In June, a medieval festival takes place on the site with concerts, entertainment and historical re-enactments. In July, a modern music festival attracts many visitors. St Péray is also a wine festival. St Péray is a sparkling white wine, made from Marsanne and Roussanne, like all the white wines of the region. But it is also drunk as a still white wine. St Péray is the southernmost appellation of the Côtes-du-Rhône Nord.
The road then arrives at the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, near the Protestant temple. Here, too, you have to be very attentive, because it is often in the cities that you get lost. One cannot slip signs of the route everywhere in the middle of the roads, only to please pilgrims and walkers. Don’t go straight on the road…
…because Via Adresca climbs on stairs, behind the temple, at the corner of the square. So far, in terms of effort, it has been more like vacation. Since here, you have to think about sweating a little more. Already stairs, it’s steep, everyone knows it.
The stairs lead to a housing estate of fairly recent houses above the city.

Section 4: Steady uphill on the high plateau on the Chemin de Gachet.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course all uphill, with 320 meters of elevation and some slopes wandering between 15% and 25%.

The road then leaves to visit part of the beautiful vineyard, which extends all around the village on the hills.
At the end of the small road is the departmental D533 road, the main road that connects Valence to Puy-en-Velay, a very busy road. Go one more rant, just for displeasure. You should know that by committing yourself to this route, when you are in Le Puy and want to return, it is better to do it by taxi (180 Euros) or on foot. Macron buses do not travel on unprofitable routes, the taxi driver told us. They are in fact only present to compete with the trains. But, there is no train between the two cities. So, to return, count about 8 hours by train for a journey of 100 kilometers as the crow flies. You will have to go back to Lyon, find a connection that goes down to Valence, then find a vehicle to return to St Péray. How do the French cope with such a quagmire?
Here, Via Adresca then climbs following the very busy departmental road. You know why. This is the only way to go from Valence to Le Puy-en-Velay. There are even some reminiscences of train passages here, probably dating back to the early Middle Ages!!
Further up, the road climbs until you find the Chemin de Gachet.
The Chemin de Gachet has to be earned. You will still gain 300 meters in altitude in a short time. The slopes are most often between 10% and 15%, rarely more. At first, the road bends in the La Tour district.
Beautiful residences inhabit these places. It sometimes seems almost in the south, because of the vegetation. Only the crickets are missing. On the hillside, the vines climb almost to the top of the hill.
A little further up, the road passes through the localities Ferraton and Dusserre. Here, the bus service must circulate occasionally.
Below is the great plain of Isère. Beyond the plain, we have already climbed more than 150 meters.
Further ahead, the road still climbs, but more gently. You may see junipers appear. It looks like the Midi here.

Further up, the road then reaches the place called Grand Gachet. The direction is Alboussière, 9.5 km from here. Today, you are not walking on a GR track (the GR42/GR420 track, you will join it later), but on country routes, where Via Adresca also passes.

Further on, the houses become rare in the middle of the junipers.

The road soon passes at the top of the St Péray vineyard, under the forest. You are here around 350 meters above sea level.

The road slopes up a little more and ends in a dead end.
Further up, you finally leave the road for a narrow and very stony pathway that climbs in a sort of scrubland dominated by holly and junipers, under the stunted holm oaks.
It’s amazing how tall the holly can get here. They are real trees several meters high. Common holly can grow up to 20 meters in height. You are far from the garden shrub.
Stones, they are also present in Ardèche, even if they are no longer the pebbles of Isère. Here, they are lustrous, compact shales. The chestnut trees, so present in the rest of the country, have almost disappeared from the forest here. It is also that chestnut trees do not like altitude.

A little further up, the pathway gets to a place called Petit Gachet.

The pathway climbs a little further in the holly forest, but the undergrowth becomes scarce.
Further up, the pathway comes out into the clearing, but the climb is not yet complete.
The pathway then passes through a kind of grassy moor in the middle of the bushes. The holly is still there, but here you can even see mastic trees, as you can find in the Mediterranean scrubland. All around meadows, crops, with even vines.
Still up, the pathway continues to climb in the moor, avoiding the crops, preferring the bushes of the scrubland, the junipers, the holm oaks and the broom.

It must be said that pilgrims are always comforted and reassured to find the sign of the shell.

Further on, the pathway comes out of the scrubland. The landscape soon becomes more classic, between meadows and wheat fields, as you approach hamlets.
The pathway soon arrives on a small paved road towards the top of the hill.

Section 5: Large undulations of the track under the departmental road.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: leg-breaking course, with sometimes very marked slopes, both uphill and downhill.

In the ash trees and holm oaks, Via Adresca will then follow a road for quite a long time which leads to isolated hamlets in the countryside, but Via Adresca ignores them.
Apparently, fortunately, in this region of Ardèche, the ash trees are not sick, suffering from chalarose, this fungus originating in Japan which has spread at high speed throughout Europe and caused considerable damage. At present, there are no measures to treat diseased trees, but we hear that some trees themselves develop ways to resist. Above, you can see the Plateau du Pin.
The road then rises gently towards the Pin crossroads. Here you can find almost all the main hardwood species, some broom too. Even the chestnut trees are attempting a timid comeback.
Shortly after, the road joins the departmental D533 road and its dense traffic.
The departmental road passes here at a place called Le Pin. Here, you are 6 kilometers to Alboussière.

There is always, for the happiness of the pilgrims, the shell of Compostela which shows them the way.

As the traffic on the axis is quite dense, Via Adresca quickly finds an alternative. You understand very well that here, it would have been risky to let walkers wander in the middle of the traffic. Then, a small narrow path runs into the forest under the secondary road.
A fairly stony pathway will then undulate for quite a long time in the undergrowth of holly and holm oaks.

Here, nature is wild at will. Small dales fit into each other in the chlorophyll. A stream that you never see in dry weather, the Sorbier, extends its meanders, from one dale to another. It sloes up and down constantly, from one bend to the other of the invisible stream.

Holly dominates the landscape for a long time, but you gradually see the reappearance of maples, oaks and small chestnut trees.
Further on, the pathway climbs a little more. So, pines and spruces are more present in the middle of the broom. It is also that you have reached a higher altitude, but you are still less than 500 meters above sea level.
Here, you may sometimes have the feeling of treading the dense forests of wild Canada. It is an incredible feeling of savagery, even of worry. For the happiness of the worried, the pathway will soon emerge from the forest.
Shortly after, the pathway leaves the forest at a place called Pierre Blanche, where it joins a small road.

Section 6: From one Pass to another.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: easier route here, but sometimes still with some marked slopes.

The road joins, under the spruce trees, the few houses of the Combe des Rioux, where the departmental D533 road passes again.
Here, Via Adresca follows the departmental road to Le Fringuet. A grassy strip makes it possible to avoid the vehicles very present on this obligatory axis.
At Le Fringuet, a pilgrim hitchhikes to go to Le Puy. For him, the Way of Compostela only begins at Le Puy. What about the Internet and the often-limited generalities that are told on the way?

At Le Fringuet, you can find something to eat. Truckers often stop here in the main square.

Via Adresca then finds a small pathway under the road to avoid the road.
The pathway then crosses the undergrowth, below the road…
… before finding a small road that goes up towards the departmental road.
Via Adresca then arrives at the Col de Leyrisse, at nearly 600 meters above sea level. Here, you leave the axis of the large D533 departmental road, which leads to Le Puy, 100 kilometers from here. You are now heading on the axis of the D14 road, which heads towards Vernoux-en-Vivarais, where you will pass tomorrow.

This is also where you will arrive, if you have taken the track that avoids St Péray and goes through St Romain-de-Lerps. So, as the GR43/420 is the track where the variant of St Romain-de-Lerps passes, from here, you will be entitled either to the red and white bands of the GR or to the shell of the Via Adresca.

The two tracks then take a small road towards Rosières. The road climbs quite steeply in meadows and some vague cereal crops.
Further up, the slope eases a little in the meadows and small groves of holm oaks. The road swings at the top of the hill and back down the side on the other side.
Further on, the road then arrives at the Rosières junction. There are many tracks here and you have to choose the right one. The best solution is to continue on Via Adresca, direction Boffres/Le Cerisier or the GR42/420, which is the same track, where you can find accommodation. This track leads directly to the Pensoye Pass.


To help you, here is a summary of the tracks that pass through the region. The GR42A goes to Alboussière, but there is no reason to take this route. In Alboussière, only the campsite is available, and still not always open, near the river, but you can also eat in the village. Beyond Alboussière, you can also continue on the GR42A which also leads to Pensoye Pass, where you find the track back.


On Via Adresca and the GR42/420 tracks, a stony pathway then climbs very sharply, but briefly, in the meadows towards a small plateau, where the Protestants had a fight with the Catholics. Ardèche was for a very long time a great field for War of Religion and Protestants are still present here.
Further up, a pleasant pathway, where you can walk on the grass or the dirt will then undulate for quite a long time on the high plateau.
In a pleasant and relaxing landscape, the pathway alternates between meadows and cereals before approaching a spruce forest.
Further on, the pathway plunges again into undergrowth amidst ash trees, hollies, rowan trees, holm oaks, small chestnut trees and spruces.
Shortly after, the pathway, which has become a little stonier, begins the descent towards Pensoye Pass. All around, the hills are covered with forests. Throughout this region, holm oaks clearly dominate other oak species.
Soon, the pathway joins the departmental D42 road at a place called Bouchard. The traffic is much less hectic on this road which goes to Boffres, then to Vernoux. It is not the main road for Le Puy, which passes through Alboussière.
A few hundred meters up the road reaches Pensoye Pass.

Today, the stage apparently ends on a cul-de-sac, with no locality nearby. Vernoux-en-Vivarais is still far from here. So, here, you must imperatively leave the Chemin de Compostelle/GR420 which rises above the road, if you wish to stop here today. Following the road from the pass, you will find, less than a kilometer away, two guest houses just below the road in a place called Cerisier. These accommodations are very nice and pleasant. It goes without saying, book if you don’t want to spend the night under the stars.