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SAINT-LEON-SUR-VEZERE

The favourite of Vélo Silex

SAINT-LEON-SUR-VEZERE

VTT

Jaune

Nature (faune, flore)

Starting from Saint Léon sur Vézère, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, this walk will take you to some superb viewpoints: "La cote de Jor", where you can see the peaks of the Massif Central (if the weather is clear), the exotic "Fleur de vie" hammam, the Thot cave art centre, and the leaning tower of Vermondie. For those with a little energy left over, don't miss a trip to the village's little "courrédoux", well worth the diversions!

The favourite of Vélo Silex

Distance : 20.5 km

Your itinerary

Step 1

Departure from the town centre near the "i" sign.
Watch out, we're off to a great start! Head north, after 500m of tarmac on a slight climb towards the "4 routes" crossroads (D706), and you'll immediately begin the first big difficulty: the climb up Côte de Jor, 160m of D+ in 1.5km! Halfway up, you'll come to a Y-shaped crossroads, so turn right and prepare to suffer! The steepest part is also narrow, steep and wet! One last "ass-whupping" between the wooden houses at La Péchardie, and you're at the summit.
Cross the road and continue along the path opposite, which is actually the boundary between Thonac and Plazac. If the weather is clear, you'll get some great views.

Step 2

After the exotic "Fleur de vie" Hammam, take the first path on the left, the one that goes uphill (again!). Cross the D45 to take the path opposite to the Argiller water reservoirs. This is the highest point on this walk, at an altitude of 260m. If the weather is clear, you can see the summits of the Massif Central to the east (snow-capped in winter). Take the road down to the hamlet of Argiller, and head for the bottom of the valley. Be careful on the last part, there are some sharp bends and not much grip. At the crossroads below, turn right into the Fongran valley. Once you reach the ponds, you can walk around them (path on the left, after the first pond), fill up with water at the spring (between the two buildings), have a picnic in the shelter or even use real toilets!
Once back on the road, head downhill for around 500m to take the first path marked with a yellow post on the left as you round the bend. Follow the Thonac valley, a small stream that flows into the Vézère at the village of the same name, for 2km.

Step 3

At the end of the path you always follow the route marked with the yellow posts, i.e. right on the road, then left, then right again. You can see straight away that it's a steep climb, and it will be for 1.5km, but it's on tarmac... easy! When you get to the top, take the path straight ahead, beside the old vineyards, and always follow the path marked with the yellow posts. At the highest point you come to a large, open crossroads called Les Quatre Chemins. This is the furthest point from St Léon and you are very close to Montignac and the Lascaux caves. Turn right onto the "white" path (crushed limestone) that runs along the crest of the hill, slightly downhill to the Thot cave art centre, where you'll probably see some "prehistoric" animals. In fact, you follow the G.R. with its white and red markings all the way to St Léon.

Step 4

From the Thot car park, take the path on the right towards Maillol, and once you've passed the hamlet, you'll see a small castle with a strange square tower on the hill opposite: it's the leaning tower of Vermondie. This is also going to be the most difficult part of the route! First of all, it's downhill, on tarmac, then on the first track on the right, a beautiful stony descent to a lovely little valley. Turn left, then straight ahead and at the crossroads, go straight ahead again. Once you've passed the beautiful St Chabran water mill with its Lauzes roof, turn right onto the tarmac road, then take the first track on the left. And then it's 1.5km of stones, rocks and steep gradients, so you'll be suffering on the bike... or walking. Take a look at the chateau grounds in passing, they're well worth a visit! When you reach the D45, cross the road and take the path opposite to finish this steep climb, but more gently. At the end of the path, turn left onto the large white ridge path that you will follow as far as Hauteclair farm. As the name suggests, from up there you'll have a great view all around, especially of the southern Vézère valley.

Step 5

Once past the farm, take the white path that descends steeply and let go of everything - it's safe. Once you've passed the few houses in Les Tuilières, take the first path on the right as you round a bend in the tarmac road. Be careful, there are rocks and it's a bumpy ride! When you get to the bottom, at the rubbish bins, watch out for the D706. Take the first small road on the left and go down to the cemetery. From here, leave the GR and cross the D66 to take the small road opposite the football stadium. Follow the stadium signs. Finally, at a bend in the road, take the first path on the right, where you will also see an old stone barn. Follow the yellow posts to the right along the banks of the Vézère, below the Château de Clérans, then past the 12th-century Romanesque church and the village of St Léon. After a short stretch under the Eiffel bridge, you'll reach the "i" point in the village, and that's the end of your enjoyable outing.
If you've still got a bit of energy left, take a stroll through the little "courrédoux" (narrow streets) of the village. St Léon is a member of the association of the most beautiful villages in France, and it's well worth the diversions!

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