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Arles in early April?

charrita

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April (2013)
#1
I'm thinking about starting on the Arles route around Auch in early April and walking to Santiago from there. Will I be able to easily find refugios that time of year? If the weather is foul would the pass through the Pyrenees be better this way or would I be safer just going the other route through St Jean?
Thanks!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#2
Very few pilgrims walk the Via Tolosana each year. According to Johnnie Walker's stats for 2012 the number of pilgrims who earned the Compostela last year was 192 400. The number of people starting in Arles was 158 (0,08%)

I haven't walked the Arles route but I think those who do are a hardy breed!! A friend who tried it last year gave up after a few days because there were so few pilgrim refuges (so it was costly) and he didn't meet any other pilgrims. Another also gave up because she doesn't speak French, accommodation was difficult to book ahead and she was often alone on the trail for days.

Early April can beautiful but on that route it could also be cold and snowing with heavy rains.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#3
The Somport Pass is an easier climb than the one to Roncesvalles. There is bus service between Oloron and Estacion Canfranc, so if the weather is bad, you can catch a bus many places along the Aspe River for the final Pyrenees crossing.

In France you generally call ahead for accommodations because many of the places are open only on demand. Places should be open in April. I am headed to Arles for my second round of the route (I enjoyed it the first time). Leave me some coffee and wine!
 

charrita

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April (2013)
#4
Thanks for the info! Walking alone doesn't bother me, but having trouble finding a shelter does. Do you think I could have each hostel call ahead for me? Language is 5x harder over the phone.

falcon269, did you find the refuges were costly, like sillydoll said?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#5
did you find the refuges were costly, like sillydoll said?
They are more than in Spain. I almost always took the demi-pension that included dinner and breakfast. I budget 10 Euro more per day in France than in Spain.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#6
Somport may not be as nasty as the Haute Languedoc. We found tough trails and cold winds up there.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#7
Falcon - Little John said that there were very few refuges for pilgrims and that with no cell phone (he never takes one) he couldn't book hotels ahead.

This was the email I received from my friend who has hiked most of the Camino Routes and parts of the VF:

i loved the walking in France - i did only 5 days - and i even loved walking in rain and wind - it is just so lovely in some parts of the countryside, but my lack of french eventually got to me. its impossible to get along in the little towns and with fellow walkers - not pilgrims but mostly hikers, who do not speak or understand a word of english or german. i cannot get a bed booked, i cannot find a meal or food to buy, i cannot find a person to try and book a bed for me - and you have to book as most places are full a day or two in advance, and there are only a few beds in private houses in a village - like a town will have 5 beds in one house, and 3 in another, and that's all. no pilgrim gites or big dormitories like in Spain or the Le Puy route in france which i did in 2008 and where i did not have such a problem with the language. you did one call and got a bed. now here you got an answering machine, my "speaker" will leave my phone number, they phone back, i dont understand, etc etc, .
My gat se deksel - the last straw - was when i had to get a taxi for 8 Euros to get to a room that i managed to book with the help of someone - it was miles from the route. i just felt that i am not able to do this anymore. people also show irritation with you when you ask them to phone for you -with my phone - and one guy said to me - if you want to be in france, you must learn to speak french. he is quite right, it is impossible without french.and there were a number of other things that i found hard to stomach - no internet anywhere, and when you find it, its an aserty keyboard and slow. i found places are dirty - bathrooms never seem to get cleaned,you sleep on the same sheets as many other hikers before the past weeks, and there is not a support system for pilgrims like in spain. its not that i want to be carried along but i also want to enjoy this experience. its also very expensive. my last day of walking ( of the only 5 days!) i got a fright, when i walked 30 kms to a town which i really wanted to see - a small medieval town in a gully with a lovely abbey - and as there was no bed available, i walked there anyway, and came back to the previous one to sleep, using 2 buses, which took 2 hours. when i was sitting in Montpellier bus station, miles out of town in the cold at 8 pm waiting for the last bus to take me back to Montarnaud where i was going to sleep, i thought : what happens if there are no more buses, what if i have to stay here with no more than about 40 euros in my pocket ( as I had left my big pack in the village i was returning to) and i just realised i cannot do this anymore.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#8
That sounds a lot like France! A cell phone is pretty handy. The public phones are always in the most direct sunlight, making them hard to use. It does take minimal French skills to book a room over the phone. If I get anything other than yes, no, or full, I am lost. Only the customs agent at the airport ever told me to learn and use French. I found that more friendly than the full testicle grope I got from the English folks! Everyone else was very friendly. I have had entire evening conversations with hosts who spoke no English and I spoke very little French. Some lodging is off the direct route. It takes the flexibility to use a taxi or bus on occasion, though I have used them less frequently than in Spain.

There are far fewer pilgrims on the Arles route; sometimes none in a day, once as many as four. Since the Germans have often been my translators both in France and Spain, your German friend must have been one of the ones as language-impaired as I am!!

France is different than Spain. As I have said several times, walking is France is a walk with the French. Walking in Spain is a walk with other pilgrims.
 

jirit

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
#9
charrita said:
Thanks for the info! Walking alone doesn't bother me, but having trouble finding a shelter does. Do you think I could have each hostel call ahead for me? Language is 5x harder over the phone.

falcon269, did you find the refuges were costly, like sillydoll said?
Hello charrita

My wife and I walked a small section of the Arles route this past spring in Junr, on our way to Lourdes. My brief comments about the route, accommodation and weather are the following:

There were so few people walking the route in June, I would not be surprised if you saw nobody on the trail in April. There are a number of longer sections between towns with affordable pilgrim style accommodation, is if you are comfortable with this, then you will should okay.

Accommodation generally averaged about 30-35 euros per day per person for demi pension or halfboard. There are a few religious places that provide more affordable accommodation like in Auch for example but I think for most the route I would stick to this daily budget.

I would consider either taking a mobile phone to call ahead or getting the place you are staying at to call ahead the night before to book a place for you. Even though there are lot less people walking this route, there is similarly equally less affordable accommodation. Booking ahead seems almost a requirement.

Weather wise at is been pointed out, means in April you should expect rain and cold weather and snow as you climb the Pyrenees mountains.

Also on side note, there are few cafes or bars like you see on the camino France route in Spain. So this means you should be prepared to carry some food for the day and having a sufficient amount of water. I think this is more of an issue the closer you get to Spain where is seems the route is more sparse and rural and less urban.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#10
i cannot get a bed booked, i cannot find a meal or food to buy, i cannot find a person to try and book a bed for me - and you have to book as most places are full a day or two in advance, ... people also show irritation with you when you ask them to phone for you -with my phone - and one guy said to me - if you want to be in france, you must learn to speak french..
Most towns have a tourist office, where someone will speak English, and they are very happy to phone for you. When we come into a town, it is the first place we look for.

We never had any trouble finding a place, but we can afford the Chambre dHote option. France is not set up very well for travelling as cheaply as the Camino Frances.

Personally, I find the places cleaner and friendlier than Spain. I am sure my horrible French skills have nothing to do with that.
 

dalston999

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Le Puy/Santiago/Fisterra/Murxia Sept/Oct 2012, Portugues march 2013, Arles April 2013
#11
I was hoping to set off on the Arles route in March, I can't wait to start another camino having completed le Puy to Santiago last October. However, as a woman of a certain age walking alone I am worried it will be too isolated and I should try and find others to walk with, at least from time to time.
Any ideas?

Also, I'm not sure which would be the best guide book to take. Miam Miam Dodo seems best if the way marking is ok, but if not maybe the Topo Guide would be better?

My French is quite good so I'm not worried about that and I loved walking in France last year.

Very grateful for any advice!
Thanks.
 

charrita

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April (2013)
#12
I am worried it will be too isolated and I should try and find others to walk with, at least from time to time.
Any ideas?
Very interesting, dalston999. I had basically given into walking part of the Le Puy route since the Arles sounded too isolated for me to walk without having much french. But maybe we should team up for a bit! I'm planning to spend 6 weeks walking to santiago, so I'll need to do some research about where i can start on Arles. And my schedule is looking like I won't be able to start walking until April 1 as I'm going to be in Marseille and visiting St. Baume around the end of March. And i may even be pushing everything back a week since I have a lot going on mid-March. Does this scheduling work for you? Of course I wouldn't be much help at the beginning of your trip.

I'm a 27 year old woman, in pretty good shape and I've just quit my job so I'm in no kind of rush. This trip is really about the process of the journey. I've done a lot of dayhiking and weekend camping but nothing as big as this. I'm from Vermont, usa.

Send me a message and maybe we can talk further via email if this sounds like a good option.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#13
Its a tricky time to walk the Tolosana.
Easter comes early this year. The winter 'Mistral' still rages in March and April so take warm, waterproof clothing. Many inns and chambres are closed until after easter when most French take 1 - 2 weeks vacation.
Miam-Miam dodo is the best book for this route.
 
#14
Hi there Dalston 999, My husband and I (from New Zealand) together with an Australian and a Frenchwoman plan to walk from Arles to Puente le Reine starting on April 1st. We may meet up along the way - though we are an older group who probably walk at a slower pace than you. I'm a bit nervous about snow - but hey it may not happen! It has been really helpful to read the comments of others re accommodation costs etc.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
#15
Hi Bev, would love to hear of your adventures, I will be walking the Swiss Route this year, but wonder whether I should have stuck with France....Gitti
 

karenhypes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (09), Chemin Le Puy (10/11), hospitaleros (11), Chemin Arles (Apr 13), Caminho Portuguese (15).
#16
Accommodation in Arles - Mid-April

Hi, We are walking from Arles mid April and need a hotel/gite in Arles for 2 nights near route and Arles centre. Any suggestions. Thanks... Karen and Dayton
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#17
Hope the attached are of help to those planning the Arles route.
 

Attachments

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#18
Association Accueil pelerins des Chemins d'Arles - 06-83-26-13-16. Accommodations in volunteers' homes.

Accueil pelerins au Presbytere, 12 rue du cloitre, Mon, Tue, Thu, and Fri1600-1800, Sat 1000-1200, July and August: Tue Thu 1600-1800, Sat 1000-1200.

Acceuil pelerins Eglise Saint Trophime, place de la Republique, 0800-1200 and 1400-1800.

Gite La Maison du Pelerin et du Routard, 26 Place Pomme, 06-99-71-11-89. 25 E demipension.

Auberge de Jeunesse, 04-90-96-18-25. 2 avenue Foch. 18.70E with petit dejeuner.

Hotel Le Paris, 8 rue de la Cavalerie, 33E. 04-90-96-05-88.

You need a credential for the first three. Call ahead for Association arrangements.
 

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