09: Revel-Tourdan to Auberives-sur-Varèze

Another day on the pebbles and “feytas” of Bièvre-Valloire





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.

Today’s stage is interesting from different points of view. First, it’s the last day on the pebbles and “feytaz” of Bièvre-Valloire. Your shoes will have finished slipping on the pebbles of the moraines. It gets boring in the end, three days! Soon, you will have crossed the Rhone River and reachedthe hills which direct you towards Puy-en-Velay. And then, in this stage, there are three really charming sites. Xou’ll first find the chapel of La Salette, nestled in the corner of the woods. Further on, you’ll take the time to linger at Romain-de-Surieu on the very beautiful hill of Carmel and further down in the valley where the source of the St Lazare flows. Amid mosses, ferns, hazelnuts, elderberries, brambles and hardwoods, the dale exudes an unparalleled freshness.

Further, it will be necessary to cross this interminable and monotonous plain of Valloire. There is no other choice, if you want to find back the Rhône River in the next stage, which you have lost sight of for several days.

Difficulty of the courses: Slope variations today (+423 meters/-619 meters) are very reasonable for a stage of nearly 30 kilometers. You can stop before, in St Romain-de-Surieu or Assieu, but the possibilities of accommodation are scarce in the region. Of course, you’ll walk up and down all day, on round hills, but the highest point does not exceed 450 meters above sea level. The slopes hardly exceed 10%, but there are steeper slopes, even above 15-20%, all along the route. The difficulty of this stage, if we dare say so, is sometimes the state of the pathways, on the pebbles of the Bièvre.

Today, paved road routes slightly outnumber pathways:

  • Paved roads: 16.5 km
  • Dirt roads: 14.8 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: The track heads back to the high plateau.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: undulating without great difficulty, with very reasonable slopes.

GR path leaves Revel-Tourdan near the cemetery and descends onto the road towards the plain.
A little further down, it leaves the main road, Chemin Neuf, for Chemin du Moulin Coquaz, a small road that descends into the undergrowth.
When it reaches the plain, it crosses the Dolon brook.
Then, it quickly finds the D51 road, where it stays little, to leave on a dirt road towards the undergrowth, at a place called Les Falconettes.
Here, the pathway flattens along hedges and cereals towards the undergrowth.

Nearby, a pond nestles at the foot of the undergrowth. We must say the renewed pleasure of finding these refreshing places on the way.

Further ahead, the pathway, which has become grassier, runs along the undergrowth, crosses it at the margin, in the oaks and hornbeam shoots. In the fields, farmers like rapeseed in the region.
The pathway soon joins the departmental D538 road, a very busy artery that goes towards Primarette. It only crosses it and continues on the tarmac along the Chemin de Saint Jacques.
The road then climbs for a long time on a hill where poplars grow, in the middle of meadows and crops, where corn clearly dominates.

The higher you walk, the more the meadows take over and the hill sometimes seems bare.

From the top of the hill, the road slopes down to the place called La Garenne, at the edge of the wood.

Further on, a pathway made of dirt and grass reaches the undergrowth, passing in front of a beautiful adobe house.

Section 2: In the footsteps of the TGV Lyon-Valence, climbing up to the high plateau.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: route a little steeper as you approach the high plateau.

Nature is thick here. Looks like the south. Quickly, youe approach the protective barriers of the TGV. Here passes the LGV Rhône-Alpes, also called new line 4 (LN4), put into service in 1994, which bypasses Lyon and goes to Valence, where it continues with the LGV Méditerranée.
Then, the pathway runs along the protective parapets of the TGV line for a long time, sloping up in a kind of moor, on a pathway that becomes more and more stony as you go up. It is always the morainic pebbles of the Bièvre that you have been facing for days.
On the hill sits an antenna.
Further up, the pathway crosses the railway line on the Chemin des Sources. If you pass here when the train passes, you will feel the ground vibrate.
The stony pathway slopes up to the place called Maison Reynaz, on the other side of the railway line.
Shortly after, the pathway descends until it joins a paved road.
GR path then descends under the deciduous trees on the Route des Brosses…
…until you cross a small tributary of the Dolon stream.

Attention! Be mindful here, the direction is understated. You must at all costs find the Rue des Fontaines, otherwise you will get lost, which makes a right angle with the route des Brosses, which you came down from.

Here, the road climbs quite steeply between sunflowers and meadows towards the first houses of Hospital hamlet.
The road then twists steeply to reach the last houses of the hamlet under the forest.
Further up, a dirt road then slopes gently between clearings and groves towards a water tower at the top of the hill.

Beyond the water tower, the pathway arrives at the Maison Forestière du Grand Bois de Taravas. This stage is full of traps for the hiker, and it is very easy to get lost. So, watch out here! There is a shorter variant, which starts to the right of the hut and joins GR path near Assieu. It is marked with shells, which will attract you. But, they are larger than the current shells. Do not take this variant, even if it is shorter, but less interesting than the conventional GR65. This is the old road to Compostela. For example, you will miss the beautiful sites of the Carmel of Surieu. Yet, GR path goes straight ahead, in front of the cabin.

Here, a wide dirt road flattens into the forest of Petites Bruyères, where the small beeches, maples, chestnuts and oaks are lined up, quite close together. Here again, the pebbles of the Bièvre are present, sometimes in masses. Further on, the pathway enters into a clearing that it will follow for a while.
Along the hedges, the dirt road runs along the meadows, corn and cereal crops. In the region, oilseed crops are rare, apart from rapeseed. You hardly ever see the graceful sunflowers appear.

Section 3: On the way to the Chapel of La Salette.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: undulating without great difficulty, except in the valley of La Salette, where the slope is severe, both downhill and uphill.

Then, the asphalt replaces the dirt.
Here, farmers practice the breeding of beef cows, more than milk cows. The beautiful Blondes d’Aquitaine and the Charolaises seem to be popular. At the edge of the road stands one of those charming houses, where adobe blends with pebbles, in a more than graceful anarchy.
The road soon passes through a place called Grandes Bruyères. Nearby nestles a small pond, hidden in the willows and oaks.
There are a few farms scattered along the road. Behind the cereals and the groves of oaks, below the gaze is on the great plain of Bièvre-Valloire.
Further on, the road slopes down a little more in the country, heads to a park where deer are having fun.
There, GR path leaves the paved road for a pathway that runs towards the woods.
Further ahead, the pathway will descend into the Combe du Rival. The slope is severe, a moment clearly greater than 15%. The vegetation is exuberant amid grass, brush, oaks and weeds. Even if you only perceive diffusely guess the murmur of a stream, you guess that here sometimes, the passage can be wet.

Fortunately, the stones are rather rare on the way, with exceptions of course. You are still on the morainic foothills of the plain of Bièvre.

At the bottom of the descent, the pathway runs in the outskirts of the village of Bellegarde-Poissieu.
However, the course does not flatten for long. Immediately, it slopes up the Combe de Rival, on the other side, on a pathway that hesitates between grass and stones.
Further up, between meadows, small crops and deciduous undergrowth, the pathway heads towards the chapel of La Salette.

La Salette chapel is the former parish church of Bellegarde. Built in the Middle Ages on a rocky block, it is mentioned from the XIth century. It is remarkable for its comb bell tower. Located in a charming site, it is now only a cemetery chapel. It underwent many transformations during the XVIIIth century. It would only be open on Sundays.

The pathway climbs a little further above the chapel in the woods, where a small dirt road runs.

From up there, the chapel disappears into the dense foliage.

Further afield, the wide dirt road emerges fairly quickly from the undergrowth, crosses a piece of countryside with fruit trees.
It passes a little further at a place called Le Château, but no matter how wide your eyes, you can’t see a dungeon here. Are these the ruins of a so-called castle of the Ogress, of which a legend runs in the region?
And yet you walk on the path of the Castle, which feeds the small hamlets of the region.
A little later, GR path passes close to an orientation table which describes the “hot spots of the Bièvre-Valloire”, in the middle of the large white oaks. But, there is not much to get under the ward here.
Here, the dirt road is wide, slightly rocky. You are actually walking on a “feytaz”, these ridge lines which flatten over the high plateaus of the Bièvre, separating two plains. Here, which is rare, grow spruces, which have been planted.

Section 4: Light undulations on the “feytaz”.


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

Near the tiny cemetery that marks the entrance to the hamlet of Les Brosses, and its recent housing estates, GR path finds the paved road back.
In a large part of the stage, the pathway will hesitate between the countryside and the groves, sometimes real forests. Here, on leaving Les Brosses, there are first meadows and cereals, before finding a small wood on the tarmac road. In this region, you don’t see a lot of cattle in the meadows. Is this the wrong season for us?
Between meadows, corn, rapeseed and sunflowers, but also often in the undergrowth, the paved country road dozes on the “feytaz”.
As usual, the peasants have planted many ash trees here on the sides of the road. This use once made it possible to supplement livestock in winter. In the forests, it is always the oaks which dominate the deciduous trees, especially chestnut trees and field maples. Below still stretches the immense plain of Bièvre-Valloire.
You said “feytaz”, here a hamlet bears the same name.
A stone’s throw away, the road heads to a place called Les Mouilles. Here, GR path leaves the tarmac to reach the Bois d’Arche, then the Bois de Surieu, where it will walk for nearly 2 kilometers.
You are still on the “feytaz”. And yet, the pathway is now smooth, almost like a new penny, which is curious in the region. The deciduous forest is quite dense, rich in chestnut trees, but the pathway mostly runs along the edge of the forest.
Further ahead, the pathway heads to a reservoir. Along the way, GR65 path crosses GR422 path, which we cannot say where it is heading.
On GR path, now it’s almost sand.

Shortly after, Pierafay’s sober cross is hidden in the foliage.

Further ahead, the pathway runs along the crops along the wood, before entering the wood of Surieu. The soil must be not very permeable, and water retentions are numerous, even in dry weather. Here, people like to hunt wood pigeons. Never believe that these structures are there for bird watching for birdwatchers.

Section 5: Passing through the jewels of the hill of Surieu and St Lazare.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: leg-breaking section.

Here, the pathway flattens, sometimes in the dense forest where small chestnut trees and oaks abound, sometimes in bare spaces, by cutting down trees. The dirt here is clay.
Then, the pathway abandons the “feytaz” and begins the descent to Surieu, initially gentle on a section that hesitates between clay and asphalt.
Further down, GR path comes out of the woods.
So, it decides on tar. The road descends, on a steeper slope, between countryside and undergrowth to Surieu Castle.
The road then arrives at the very beautiful site of Surieu. On the outskirts of the site stands a large residence, called the castle, which has been up for sale in recent years. A Belgian might have bought it, they say around here.
The site is perched on a small promontory above the Sanne valley. Of a XIIth century castle, only the keep erected towards the sky remains. The origin of the chapel remains mysterious. A place of worship is mentioned here, in the Xth century, but it is not known if it is the chapel and the chapel of that time. Maybe it was related to the castle. It remains inside medieval remains, although most of the building was subject to restoration until the XIXth century. Next to the chapel, Carmelites have settled for about thirty years.
At the exit of the Surieu site, GR path heads to a park equipped for picnickers and descends, between ash trees, oaks and maples, into a narrow dale where a trickle of water flows.
This is where the source of the St Lazare flows. Amid mosses, ferns, hazelnuts, elderberries, brambles and hardwoods, the dale exudes an unparalleled freshness. You will probably never tire of drinking and cooling off at the fountain. Legend has it that the bones of St Lazare passed through Surieu before reaching Autun. The site has long been an object of pilgrimage and people came there to drink from the spring, which like all springs, was beneficial for many illnesses, especially children’s illnesses. Then, the site was gradually abandoned. It was only a few decades ago that the site was rehabilitated. During our last visit, volunteers were still improving the geography of the place.
Small stairs lead down the road to the bottom of the site.
GR path then descends on the road to cross the Sanne, a river lost in the foliage, the hornbeam and the alders, which bathes the valley.
It does not go to the village of St Romain-de-Sirieu. It runs along the football field and crosses the small departmental D 134 road.
Then, it takes the climb of Dorier on the tarmac, towards the church of St Romain and Limones.
The road climbs quite gently along the villas.
It passes near the Xth-XIth century church of Surieu, listed as a historical monument, and its small cemetery. If you go there, you might be lucky enough to find an open door. Not us. The road climbs further along the villas until it reaches the last houses of St Romain-de-Surieu on the hill.
Further up, GR path first finds the countryside, then the undergrowth.

Section 6: In the great wood of Limone.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: fairly leg-breaking section in the forest.

The road descends a little to cross the Limone stream, then a pathway slopes up first in the thickets and brushwood towards the Bois de la Limone.
Further up, the pathway crosses dense copses where broom and wild laurels flourish.
The pathway will wander for a long time in the wood, in the oak grove, the hornbeam and the wild chestnut trees. Here, moraines from the Quaternary Era must have spared the region. Have the stones fortunately disappeared? But the ground is very impermeable, and everywhere the waters of the last rains stagnate in the ruts shaped by the loggers’ tractors.
We thought the stones of the pathway had vanished forever. Nay! Here they are back in force. You are still on the Bièvre moraines. The pathway sometimes runs through dense forest, sometimes through clearings where brush and weeds proliferate.
Let’s face it, the Bois de Limone is a very pleasant forest. Further up, the pathway flattens under the large white oaks, which have grown in size. You are still walking on GR65 path and not on GR422 path, which we are crossing for the second time, and of which we will never know where it comes from or where it is going.
Shortly after, the path leaves the beautiful forest.
Behind the rapeseed, you can then see the houses of Assieu under the ash trees below and you can see the webs of market gardeners stretching out over the large plain of Bièvre-Valloire.
But, you are still quite far from the plain. The dirt road continues along the undergrowth and joins a country road.
Here, GR path follows the road for a moment then runs back on dirt in the undergrowth.
And then, long live the pebbles of the Bièvre, which will continue to delight pilgrims for many centuries to come!
Further down, it is then the end of the great forests for today. At the exit of the wood, the path crosses an august residence set in a park at a place called Le Cuzin.
The path then becomes tarred and descends to Assieu between fruit and chestnut trees. Here, these are grown and result in chubby chestnuts. This is in contrast to the smaller, wild chestnuts that abound in these forests. There was a time, before the potato, that the wild chestnut was the daily bread of central France. Rest assured, in the region, we still pick them up. But less.
You then reach a small departmental road at the entrance to the village of Assieu. GR path does not go to the center of the village. But many pilgrims stop there at the inn.

It is then the striking contact with this great plain that seems endless.

The road follows the suburbs of the village, where you’ll find again these pebble walls, which are, in a way, the visible heritage of the region.
So, at the exit of the village, you start for a walk in the cultivated plain of the Bièvre. It’s a drastic landscape change. You have the feeling of having changed countries. Of course, these are not the great plains of the Midwest, of rural America, which descend from Canada to Texas and are several hundred miles wide. Here it is smaller, shall we say. The Bièvre is 6 kilometers wide, but it is big in Europe. And when you go there on foot, it’s even bigger!

Section 7: On the immense Bièvre plain.


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

A little further on, the dirt road takes over and the pathway runs between corn and wheat under the large line of high voltage pylons. The plain stretches as far as the eye can see.
Here is GR422 path again looming over here. To see the height of the grass along the track, it should not be used every day.
You then gradually approach a few houses lost in the vastness of the fields.
And the pathway continues like this until you reach the place called Les Meuilles. In the past, GR path passed here straight, to go towards Condrieu. Apparently, this variant is no longer in use, there is no longer a direction sign in this direction. But who knows?
A little further, GR path leaves the cultures of the plain, runs on a road which reaches the village of Les Meuilles, which belongs to the commune of Cheyssieu, as indicated by the entrance sign of the village.
At the exit of the village, the road crosses the Beson brook.
Further ahead, a wide dirt road runs into the plain to visit the fruit trees and the canvases of the market gardeners. Here, when it comes to intensive production, nets are everywhere.
A little further, the pathway leaves the fruit trees for some shade in the undergrowth.
But, it comes out to visit other cultures. The peasants have undoubtedly removed the stones from the pathway for their tractors. Here, there is more sand, and asparagus is grown. But, there are also sometimes vacant lots.
Then, the noise of the engines gets louder from meter to meter. Under these conditions, there is no doubt for the walker. You are approaching a highway. So here, the beautiful apples not only sip liters of pesticides, but also the miasma of road traffic. Wheat, too.
A small road then runs alongside the highway and then crosses it over a bridge. Here, it is no less than the A7, the Autoroute du Soleil.
The road then quickly arrives at the outskirts of Auberives-sur-Varèze.
GR path does not immediately enter Auberives-sur-Varèze. It embarks on a signposted and tortuous course in the village, which has no real center. It goes around it by following the Chemin des Vignes.
Then, still in the small pavilions, it takes the Rue des Sables, to find at the end RN7 road, the main artery that goes from Paris to the south of France. Auberives-sur-Varèze is quite extensive, but sparsely populated (1,500 inhabitants). There are not many accommodation options here. Also, many pilgrims often continue the route to Clonas-sur-Varèze, but there, the possibilities are hardly more numerous.


Feel free to add comments. This is often how you move up the Google hierarchy, and how more pilgrims will have access to the site.
Next stage : Stage 10: From Auberives-sur-Varèze to St Julien Molin-Molette
Back to menu