The Cluny / Le Puy-en-Velay secondary route allows the most famous of the hiking trails to cross the Roannais. Indeed, over a distance of 90 kilometers, walkers can take the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle route from Cergne to Pommiers-en-Forez. The Roanne route is not very technical, which makes it accessible to as many people as possible. All along the route, a rich built heritage and grandiose natural spaces are available to hikers.

1 - Le Cergne

After having crossed the green Beaujolais, Le Cergne is the starting point of the road to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, in the Roannais.

Rivers and forests line your route, beech groves, fir trees and pastures are never far away. At Cergne, you can contemplate a chapel erected by a member of the Destre family and on your way down you admire the charming village of Arcinges. 

Shell of Saint Jacques de Compostela in Charlieu in the Loire department

2 - Charlieu

Charlieu, classified “Village of character in the Loire” and “Most beautiful detours of France”, is an essential village to visit in the Roannais. Its rich heritage leaves no one indifferent. During the visit, Charlieu unveils his treasures: the Cluniac abbey, Saint-Philibert church, mansions or even medieval streets. Let yourself be seduced by the small town of character and make a detour to the Pralus boutique to buy the famous Pralulin

On the Via Sancti Martini at the Benedictine abbey at Charlieu in the Loire department
© Luc Olivier

3 - Saint Nizier sous Charlieu: The Cordeliers convent

Stop off at Cordeliers Convent, in particular to discover its cloister built with stones from the region, of a magnificent golden color. The visit continues with the church which will also reserve you some surprises with its wooden frame which gives the illusion of a boat hull. 

Discovery of the Cordeliers convent in Saint Nizier sous Charlieu on the way to via Sancti Martini
© Luc Olivier

4 - Briennon: Marina

Besides the village of Briennon which is to be discovered for its history, the marina seduces with its peaceful charm and its softness. The place is ideal for a picnic or a nap in the shade of a tree. On a human scale, the Briennon marina crossed by the Roanne / Digoin Canal is also on the course of the Véloire, greenway of the Loire.

The Briennon marina on Via Sancti Martini in the Loire department
© Luc Olivier

5 - Bénisson-Dieu abbey

Located in the green valley of the Teyssonne, a few kilometers from the Loire river, the imposing Bénisson-Dieu abbey surprises all visitors. You will love the majesty of its bell tower, its glazed tiles, the elegance of its architecture and the beauty of its ocher stone. 

Take the time to go through the door of the church to observe the chapel of Nérestang. It houses many beautiful paintings.

The Bénisson Dieu Abbey is on the way to Via Sancti Martini
© Luc Olivier

6 - Saint-Haon-le-Châtel

Saint-Haon-le-Chatel, its ramparts and half-timbered houses welcome you and seduce you in the blink of an eye. Labeled “Village of character in the Loire”, this heritage gem is perched on a rocky outcrop and offers a remarkable view of the mounts of the Madeleine.

If you are curious, take a detour through the medieval garden and discover a hundred varieties of plants. You can also stop at the tea room, the Estaminet, and taste a pastry or even spend a night at the stopover lodge. 

Saint Haon le Châtel, village of character, on Via Sancti Martini
© Luc Olivier

7 - Renaison: The Vineyard of the Côte Roannaise

The Côte Roannaise stretches over 20 kilometers in length and over an area of ​​200 hectares. Recognized AOC since 1994, the Roanne vineyard today has around thirty wine growers. What a pleasure to cross the vineyards on foot! Do not hesitate to take the time to stop by a winemaker for a tasting.

Since 2020, the vineyard has been labeled Vineyards & Discoveries. A landmark and a guarantee of welcome and sharing for visitors fond of wine tourism. 

The Côte Roannaise in the Loire department, crossed by the Via Sancti Martini
© Luc Olivier

8 - Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire

Last village of character in Loire to cross in Roannais, Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire overlooks the Loire and offers exceptional views. You will like to stroll through the alleys and discover the cultural and heritage riches of the place. Cross the many steps of the keep to admire the longest river in France, the Loire. The village is also famous for its many craftsmen.

Hiking in Saint Jean Saint Maurice sur Loire on the Via Sancti Martini
© Luc Olivier

9 - Priory of Pommiers-en-Forez

This imposing Cluniac priory has survived the tests of time. A thousand years of history and architecture are revealed throughout the visit. The cloister invites calm and tranquility. The visit continues with the refectory, the chapter house and the lounges. The beautiful renovated framework is also accessible to the public, but only by guided tour.
Rich in stories, the visit is moving, you will find the testimony of each era crossed and each occupant: monks, bourgeois or retired religious. 

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End of Via Sancti Martini on the Roannais in Pommiers en Forez
© Luc Olivier