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I should hike the Piemont Route. Change my mind!

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Malachiuri

CaminoTranquilo
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Burgos '17
St Jean to Fisterra '18
St Jean to Fisterra '20
Portuguese '20
Norte '21
I am considering attempting the Piemont in early Spring of 2020. My second attempt at the Frances was fun, a challenge and I had a blast, but Im looking for a more quiet experience next time. So far I have read through what I can find here and elsewhere and the Piemont looks darn good to me.

I am no stranger to France, I live there for a couple of months every year and am familiar with the culture. Unfortunately my french sucks since I spend most of my time in Brittany and everyone there wants to practice their English... sigh.

So, naturally I have a few questions and concerns.

1. How much of this route is paved vehicle road, how much is trail or rural farm road?

2. As of 2018 are there cheaper lodging options or do I need to plan on hotels? Im open to camping if I need to.

3. My French sucks, but I have 600 days to improve that. Will a smattering of tourist French be enough?

4. This is the hard bit. I want to start in Arles(a town I love) and end up in St Jean. Any planners or books recommendations? I have found many but not sure how to link up several of the routes that are outlined.

5. Do folks along the route know what the hell it is? I know of one church in Brittany where there is a camino shell marker in the sidewalk outside that the priest had no idea what it was or who put it there.

6. Can I please have a cookie?

Thanks all your your input and patience.
 

TMcA

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
Link below furnished to get you started...French study-wise.:) Not too difficult to follow in French and there is always google translate to assist you. This will help you from Narbonne on.

From Arles you would take the Chemin d'Arles westward. From either Montpellier or Saint Gervais sur Mare you would leave the Arles route and head south towards Narbonne. This is based on my Michelin map of the pilgrimage routes in France.

Disclaimer: I have no first hand experience about these routes.

https://www.pelerins-compostelle.org//pelerinage-compostelle-chemin-piemont-etape-itineraire/

Bon chemin.

Tom
 
Last edited:

Malachiuri

CaminoTranquilo
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Burgos '17
St Jean to Fisterra '18
St Jean to Fisterra '20
Portuguese '20
Norte '21
You folks are truly amazing.

Thanks very much!

M
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
I am considering attempting the Piemont in early Spring of 2020. My second attempt at the Frances was fun, a challenge and I had a blast, but Im looking for a more quiet experience next time. So far I have read through what I can find here and elsewhere and the Piemont looks darn good to me.
you can forego GR653 and from near saint-gilles-du-gard follow canal du sete-a-rhone to sete, then a coastal bike/hikelane to narbonne-plage. I've heard of french pilgrims doing that.

very useful accommmodation list: http://www.compostelle-paca-corse.info/sites/compostelle-paca-corse.info/files/page/331/hebergementspiemontpyreneen18-07-2017.pdf

a pdf I found: http://www.xacobeo.fr/ZE1.11.Pie_ACIR.pdf: relefant info on connecting montpellier with pyrenéen is from p. 6 onwards.

for some of this route you can see my wikiloc tracks from 2012:
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-069-saint-gilles-du-gard-aigues-mortes-21943012
from GR653 I followed a local PR route to the canal and then the canal to aigues-mortes. the cheapest hotel was escale just outside the fortified town.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-070-1-aigues-mortes-perols-21944615
I followed a canal then beaches as much as possible to carnon-plage where I went inland to the last tram stop in pérols and into montpellier to sleep in the pilgrim gîte. carnon was too expensive. the next day I took the tram back to pérols and walked on.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-071-perols-frontignan-21945542
there was only a hotel in frontignan at the time. I was invited to a home of a librarian there! but I asked in the pilgrim gîte in montpellier if I could train back to sleep there again if all else failed and they said it wouldn't be a problem.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-072-frontignan-sete-21945889
a short day along the canal to the only hostel on this stretch of the coast.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-outdoor/camino2012-073a-sete-somewhere-on-d13-25100384
along the beaches then inland to arles. that last part was on roads. I planned to walk through a natural reserve but it was forbidden. agde didn't appeal for a stay so I pushed on and got a lift to saint-thibéry. here I went to the mairie and they were kind to arrange an empty appartment with shower.
the more sensible way would be to follow canal du midi to béziers, but I wanted to see the medieval mill near saint-thibéry.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-074-saint-thibery-beziers-25102995
I dug out a site with a map of a future connection between montpellier and narbonne and made my description according to that. no waymarks. hotel confort offered a free breakfast to pilgrims.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-075-beziers-narbonne-25104489
the same connection continued to narbonne. very nice youth hostel smack in the centre of narbonne. after that I walked a mish-mash route to sentier cathare and then followed this one to foix.

other wikiloc tracks attempting to make the connection:
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/cuneo-santiago-12-montpellier-sete-19858218
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/cuneo-santiago-13-sete-portiragnes-19858605
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/cuneo-santiago-14-portiragnes-narbonne-19858639

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-33-palavas-les-flots-sete-15828763
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-34-sete-agde-15828764
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-35-agde-beziers-15828765
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-36-beziers-narbonne-15828766

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/54-etapa-roma-santiago-de-compostela-26202986 montpellier - villeveyrac
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/55-etapa-roma-santiago-de-compostela-26238704 villeveyrac - béziers
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
1. How much of this route is paved vehicle road, how much is trail or rural farm road?
I would say that the route tries very hard to follow paths and lanes and gravel roads, but there are still some road/asphalt stretches. they are probably all minor roads which are very quiet and traffic free in rural france.

2. As of 2018 are there cheaper lodging options or do I need to plan on hotels? Im open to camping if I need to.
see the above post. seems there are still a lot of pilgrim friendly accommodations.

3. My French sucks, but I have 600 days to improve that. Will a smattering of tourist French be enough?
I would recommend a brush up on french. it will greatly enrich your experience and the converstaions with the locals. it helps if you start a conversation with the apology that your french sucks. :p

4. This is the hard bit. I want to start in Arles(a town I love) and end up in St Jean. Any planners or books recommendations? I have found many but not sure how to link up several of the routes that are outlined.
also see the above post.

5. Do folks along the route know what the hell it is? I know of one church in Brittany where there is a camino shell marker in the sidewalk outside that the priest had no idea what it was or who put it there.
um, generally, it seemed to me in 2012 that they did. at least the tourist offices and people I interacted with.

6. Can I please have a cookie?
there you go. 'gives him a cookie.' :D
 

Malachiuri

CaminoTranquilo
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Burgos '17
St Jean to Fisterra '18
St Jean to Fisterra '20
Portuguese '20
Norte '21
Thank you so very much for posting all of this information! I am in the middle of getting things ready to head to France for a couple of months and haven't been stopping by to check on the forum.

The work fellow pilgrims are willing to put out for others is truly amazing.

M
 
Camino(s) past & future
Geneva to Irun then Norte to SDC 2015, Piemont Pyreneen 2018
Hello Malachiuri
I just returned home (Nov 1) from walking the route you are contemplating.
I) paved maybe 50% or less
2)there are many inexpensive lodgings. Get hold of the little booklet Guide des Hates Saint-Jacques. Voie du Piemont-Pyreneen de Narbonne et Carcassonne vers Lourdes et Saint-Jacques-de-Compostella.
I did not know about this little booklet when I started and a woman in a tourist office about 10 days in gave me a copy, which was a great help. I think you can find it on line as well.
3) learn a little French, it will help greatly
4)OK, so I started in Arles and followed the chemin as far as Montpellier where I decided, to switch my route to the GR 78 starting in Carcassonne. I walked down to Sete where I stayed in the youth hostel then I walked the beach to Agde where I stayed in a lovely old hotel. What I haven't said yet is that it was HOT. It was 35C the day I left Arles and was somewhere in the high twenties or thirties each day after for the next two weeks.
From Agde my route was simple - follow the Canal du Midi to Carcassonne and away I go. I got as far as Capestang where because most of the big trees along the canal have been cut due to cancar (?) there was no shade and the heat was un-relenting. So it was a difficult decision but I took a bus back to Beziers then the train to Carcassonne where even though it was less than 100 kms inland the temp was about 10 degrees cooler.
5) Yes the locals all know about the route. The marking for the most part is very good but occasionally you are left scratching your head - Is it left, right or straight ahead ?
I being an old fogey did not have a phone. That is something I would not go again without as many of the gites are locked without a resident hospitelero(a) and you have to phone to get some one to either come with a key or give you the number code to get in. I never had to sleep on a bench but I did have a few nervous moments about where I was going to sleep.
The route is a beautiful one, up hill and down dale on a daily basis with lovely views over to the Pyrenees with much walking through oak forest along old cattle tracks and Roman roads.. Most days I was alone, my preferred walking, and stayed about half the time at night by myself. I haven't tried to count the number of pilgrims I met between Sept 5th when I left Arles and Oct 14th when I arrived in SJPdP but I would say it was definitely less than 100. I stayed two nights in Oloron where there were 16 other pilgrims passing through and I was the only one not heading to the Somport pass!
bon chemin
I should add that all the info above from Caminka (who seems to have walked just about every path in Europe) is very helpful. Make lots of notes and prepare for an interesting time.
 

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Last edited:

mark connolly

Member
Camino(s) past & future
sept 2016 CF
sept 2017 Lourdes to SJPDP via Piemonte
SJPDP to SDC via CF
2019 CF (God willing)
Flew into Toulouse, then I took a train to Lourdes and visited the shrine, etc. Walked from Lourdes to St Jean via Piedmonte Route via GR65. I happen to walk with a couple of people along the way who spoke French. As far as I can decipher, it seems that you cannot converse in French, but it sounds like you can ask a couple of questions in French and that is more than I know. So you will be ok.

Bon Chemin

Mark
 

MethaV

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Camino Frances
2017 Le Puy en Velay-Cahors
2018 Cahors-SJPdP
Le Chemin Piemont Pyrénéen (2019)
I am considering attempting the Piemont in early Spring of 2020. My second attempt at the Frances was fun, a challenge and I had a blast, but Im looking for a more quiet experience next time. So far I have read through what I can find here and elsewhere and the Piemont looks darn good to me.

I am no stranger to France, I live there for a couple of months every year and am familiar with the culture. Unfortunately my french sucks since I spend most of my time in Brittany and everyone there wants to practice their English... sigh.

So, naturally I have a few questions and concerns.

1. How much of this route is paved vehicle road, how much is trail or rural farm road?

2. As of 2018 are there cheaper lodging options or do I need to plan on hotels? Im open to camping if I need to.

3. My French sucks, but I have 600 days to improve that. Will a smattering of tourist French be enough?

4. This is the hard bit. I want to start in Arles(a town I love) and end up in St Jean. Any planners or books recommendations? I have found many but not sure how to link up several of the routes that are outlined.

5. Do folks along the route know what the hell it is? I know of one church in Brittany where there is a camino shell marker in the sidewalk outside that the priest had no idea what it was or who put it there.

6. Can I please have a cookie?

Thanks all your your input and patience.
Hi Malachiuri (tricky name;-)
Tomorrow I will start on the Piemont Pyrénéen, but not from the very beginning. I will start in Beziers and walk to Mas d'Azil in eleven days if everything goes according to plans. From Mas d'Azil I will have to return to Sweden for a few days (on Interrail card) and then return to France to continue the Camino along the Pyrenées, hopefully to SJPP.
The route from Beziers to Carcassonne is not marked, or at least not well marked, and it doesn't seem to be well known. I will have to find my way, along the beautiful Canal du Midi to start with, maybe all the way to Carcassonne. I have the TopoGuides "Le Chemin du piémont pyrénéen" (FFRandonnée website) but it starts in Carcassonne and ends in Roncesvalles. I didn't find any guide book starting earlier.

If you want a quiet walk, I think this is the best! Not so many pilgrims here, but there are pilgrims hostels along the route, but not as many as on the Camino Frances. There are also some camp sites providing mobile homes if you don't bring a tent. In a couple of weeks I guess I can give some information about some of them. If I find my way back to this thread, that is... :-o

This very moment (10th of May) the weather is very pleasant in Beziers, not too hot for walking. Most people here speak some English but of course you will pass small villages and it may be very different. As long as you can talk just a little French, they will make a lot of effort to help you. I'm sure you're aware of that already.
So I'd say GO FOR IT!
Buen Camino!
 

O Peracha

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago (2014)
Annapurna Base, Nepal (2014)
GR 5 - Holland to Pompey, France (2015)
Lisbon to Finesterre (2016)
you can forego GR653 and from near saint-gilles-du-gard follow canal du sete-a-rhone to sete, then a coastal bike/hikelane to narbonne-plage. I've heard of french pilgrims doing that.

very useful accommmodation list: http://www.compostelle-paca-corse.info/sites/compostelle-paca-corse.info/files/page/331/hebergementspiemontpyreneen18-07-2017.pdf

a pdf I found: http://www.xacobeo.fr/ZE1.11.Pie_ACIR.pdf: relefant info on connecting montpellier with pyrenéen is from p. 6 onwards.

for some of this route you can see my wikiloc tracks from 2012:
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-069-saint-gilles-du-gard-aigues-mortes-21943012
from GR653 I followed a local PR route to the canal and then the canal to aigues-mortes. the cheapest hotel was escale just outside the fortified town.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-070-1-aigues-mortes-perols-21944615
I followed a canal then beaches as much as possible to carnon-plage where I went inland to the last tram stop in pérols and into montpellier to sleep in the pilgrim gîte. carnon was too expensive. the next day I took the tram back to pérols and walked on.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-071-perols-frontignan-21945542
there was only a hotel in frontignan at the time. I was invited to a home of a librarian there! but I asked in the pilgrim gîte in montpellier if I could train back to sleep there again if all else failed and they said it wouldn't be a problem.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-072-frontignan-sete-21945889
a short day along the canal to the only hostel on this stretch of the coast.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-outdoor/camino2012-073a-sete-somewhere-on-d13-25100384
along the beaches then inland to arles. that last part was on roads. I planned to walk through a natural reserve but it was forbidden. agde didn't appeal for a stay so I pushed on and got a lift to saint-thibéry. here I went to the mairie and they were kind to arrange an empty appartment with shower.
the more sensible way would be to follow canal du midi to béziers, but I wanted to see the medieval mill near saint-thibéry.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-074-saint-thibery-beziers-25102995
I dug out a site with a map of a future connection between montpellier and narbonne and made my description according to that. no waymarks. hotel confort offered a free breakfast to pilgrims.

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/camino2012-075-beziers-narbonne-25104489
the same connection continued to narbonne. very nice youth hostel smack in the centre of narbonne. after that I walked a mish-mash route to sentier cathare and then followed this one to foix.

other wikiloc tracks attempting to make the connection:
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/cuneo-santiago-12-montpellier-sete-19858218
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/cuneo-santiago-13-sete-portiragnes-19858605
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/cuneo-santiago-14-portiragnes-narbonne-19858639

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-33-palavas-les-flots-sete-15828763
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-34-sete-agde-15828764
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-35-agde-beziers-15828765
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/walk-fraubrunnen-barcelona-day-36-beziers-narbonne-15828766

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/54-etapa-roma-santiago-de-compostela-26202986 montpellier - villeveyrac
https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/55-etapa-roma-santiago-de-compostela-26238704 villeveyrac - béziers
I know this is an old post but holy cow! You're Batman aren't you?
 

Elsabe Beard

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis (Sept 2014)
Via Gebennensis (May 2016)
When is the best time of the year to walk the Piemont way? Least rain?
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (partial)
2021: ?
When is the best time of the year to walk the Piemont way? Least rain?
I've been searching for the same information. Most sites seem to focus on hiking in the high mountains, or on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The best I've found so far is that May-September are the best, and June-August would have the least rainfall.
 

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