GR 3 The way of Loire and its variant (GR 3F)

The way of Loire GR 3 will lead you to its source located in the Gerbier-de-Jonc Mountain to its estuary in Saint-Nazaire.

Between Ardèche and Haute-Loire, the way of Loire GR 3 is an itinerary which remained wild, especially in the upstream part of Le Puy-en-Velay. Little accommodation and service providers have settled there…for now! Its distance is of 150 km and it can be travelled in 6 to 8 days of hike, depending on the length of your stages.

There is a variant of the way of Loire, the GR 3F. It’s of a distance of 130 km and it starts not far away from the village of Lafarre, in Haute-Loire. This variant allows to alternately hike on both banks of this wild river.

Your stages on the way of Loire GR 3 and its variant

Below, some ideas of stopovers to follow the way of Loire GR 3, or its variant, in Ardèche and Haute-Loire. Of course, you can shorten or extend these ones and even juggle with the two itineraries!

Stages on the way of Loire GR 3 from the Gerbier-de-Jonc Mountain

  • Day 1 from the Gerbier-de-Jonc to Lafarre: 30 km (7h30 of hike)
  • Day 2 from Lafarre to Goudet: 13.5 km (3h20 of hike)
  • Day 3 from Goudet to Le Puy-en-Velay: 27 km (6h45 of hike)
  • Day 4 from Le Puy-en-Velay to Vorey-sur-Arzon: 26 km (6h30 of hike)
  • Day 5 from Vorey to Retournac: 21 km (5h15 of hike)
  • Day 6 from Retournac to Valprivas: 16 km (4h of hike)
  • Day 7 from Valprivas to Apinac: 13 km (3h15 of hike)

Stages on the variant of the way of Loire (GR 3F) starting from Lafarre

  • Day 1 from Lafarre to Goudet: 10 km (2h30 of hike)
  • Day 2 from Goudet to Solignac-sur-Loire: 19 km (4h45 of hike)
  • Day 3 from Solignac-sur-Loire to Brives-Charensac: 13 km (3h15 of hike)
  • Day 4 from Brives-Charensac to Lavoûte-sur-Loire: 14 km (3h30 of hike)
  • Day 5 from Lavoûte-sur-Loire to Chamalières-sur-Loire: 21 km (5h15 of hike)
  • Day 6 from Chamalières-sur-Loire to Retournac: 13 km (3h15 of hike)
  • Day 7 from Retournac to Saint-André-de-Chalencon : 17 km (4h15 of hike)
  • Day 8 from Saint-André-de-Chalencon to Apinac: 20 km (5h of hike)

Preparing your hike on the way of Loire

Warning!! Due to some sever weather conditions, this itinerary can be difficult in some places. See our article about it.

Itinerary and IGN maps

There isn’t any Topoguide for the ways of Loire GR 3 and GR 3F, for our territory. One then has to square either with the IGN maps or other TopoGuides which contain portions of the route.

TopoGuides which partly include the track:

The IGN maps:

The IGN maps, scale 1: 25 000 (advised for hiking) matching the area crossed by the GR 3 are the following ones:

  • 2836 OT Mézenc – Gerbier-de-Jonc
  • 2735 E Le Puy-en-Velay
  • 2734 E Craponne-sur-Arzon
  • 2834 O Retournac

The IGN map, scale 1: 100 000 will give you an overall view of the route. Its reference is 156 Le Puy-en-Velay – Privas PNR des Monts d’Ardèche.

Where to sleep on the way of Loire GR 3?

On some sections of the way, the choice of accommodation on the GR 3 is sometimes limited, which can forced the hiker to do shorter or longer stopovers, according to these ones.

Nevertheless, do not hesitate to contact our service providers, they’ll certainly be able to help you find the right solution for your hikes! By example, some can offer you a transport service. Consult our guidebook of accommodation opposite or the interactive map of the itinerary.

Where is the way of Loir GR 3?

Starting from the Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc, source of Loire, the way of Loire GR 3 quickly arrives in Haute-Loire and crosses it from South to North before reaching the region of Loire.

To reach the start of the hike, you will need a vehicle. If you’re coming by public transportation to Le Puy-en-Velay, we advise you to contact our transporters partners to drive you to the Gerbier-de-Jonc.

When can you walk on the way of Loire GR 3?

At the bottom of the Gerbier-de-Jonc, the height is above 1400 meters… It is then advice to walk this long-distance hike during spring, starting from April or May, after snow melt.

Markings and maintenance

The way of Loire GR 3 and its variant are two routes certified “Gande Randonnée” by the Hiking French Federation: the GR 3 and GR 3F. They are then marked in white and red by the Walking Committees of the regions they cross.

On aside note, the Gr 3 is the most ancient walking itinerary ever marked by the FFRandonnée!

If you wish to support the work of markings made by the Walking Committees’ teams you can subscribe to:

  • A membership card in one of our hiking clubs
  • A “Randocarte”, membership card of the Walking Committee, directly from our online shop, section Randocarte.

Go back up to the source of Loire

Hiking on the GR 3 it’s to meet with a great diversity of territories. From the estuary to the huge river which stand alongside the castles of Loire, then the vineyards of Loire Valley, this GR runs along the wooded countryside of Bourgogne and the Bourbonnais. Moving away from the river’s flow, the GR goes up on the high stubble-fields to finally, in Haute-Loire, go back near the valley.

The last wild river of Europe

This long-distance hike will gradually lead you towards the plateaus of the Velay to the hollows of the valley while running along the river, sometimes on the right bank and sometimes on the left one. On the plateaus, the view stretches over the mountains and plunge into this wild valley. The Loire is viewed as the “last wild river of Europe”.

Passing by Le Puy-en-Velay, the town will amaze you with the chapel of Saint-Michel-d’Aiguilhe, perched at the summit of its volcanic chimney, with the cathedral partially built on the hollow, with its remarkable architecture or still, with the imposing statue Notre-Dame de France which, from the top of its Rocher Corneille, overlooks the city.

Go back up to the source of Loire

Progressing towards the Gerbier-de-Jonc, the GR® 3 is the entry in the most steep-sided and wild part of the river, at times on the plateaus where we cultivate the green lentil of Le Puy (AOP) and at times on the steep slopes, climbing back up the valley. Some castles, as the one of Beaufort or, further, the one of Arlempdes dominate the valley. Of this Arlempdes’ castle, of Renaissance architecture, only remains ruins and a restored chapel.

Far further, while coming in the region of Ardèche, the path will join the lake of Issarlès and then, the source of Loire.

Vos avis !

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  • Sorry, this entry is only available in French.

  • Sorry, this entry is only available in French.

  • Sorry, this entry is only available in French.

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