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Italy to Arles GR 653A

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
There is a new, route, GR 653A which will connect the French/Italian border to Arles. Has anyone done this route? As I understand it, it has yet to be made official by the French FFRP, but I stumbled across some scallop stickers on signs while mountain biking last year.

I'll be back in the area this fall and will check out more of it.

A decent set of maps can be found here:

http://www.compostelle-paca-corse.info/ ... esami.html
 

alspacas

New Member
Hi newfydog,
I am planning to walk this en route from Assisi to Santaigo next year.
I have obtained a copy of the route notes from the Amis (in French).
Glad to hear there are at least some markings.
Will post further on return
Alan
 

newfydog

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i just returned from the south of France and found the proposed GR653A to have new detailed marking. I looked at it several places. and I transposed the trail from the website map to a 1:25000 scale topo map and found the details in the website to be quite good. I biked the trail from Lorgues to Bras....top notch chemin! I'll write some emails and see if a guidebook or map is in the works.

I think we'll start in Menton, on the Italian border and go through to Puente Reina sometime in the next few years.
 
I walked the easternmost section of this, in the days when it was the GR51, long before any GR653a was ever thought of. It's pretty strenuous, as it avoids the coastal strip and keeps up in the hills which rise steeply up from the coast.

For the France-Italy connection, historically the Via Domitia via Montgenevre was far more important than the coastal route, which is not easy walking and so was mainly done by boat. For that there is now an official FFRP topoguide http://www.ffrandonnee.fr/topos/topoGui ... x?ref=6531
 

herman

New Member
Hello,

this summer I walked from Rome to Compostella (and Muxia - Finisterra) past the coastal road and GR 653A (which is very badly signed in my opinion, but it makes the walk more beautiful). I am currently building an information page at my weblog. It will take me some time to finish it, at this time I can only recommand the walk, for it is beautiful!
http://herecomesherman.wordpress.com
The blog is in dutch, but I am building a page in English about the pilgrimage.
 

newfydog

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Hi Herman!

I just traveled from Lorgues to Bras on GR 653A, and it looked as though someone had recently gone through with a coquille template and some yellow paint and marked that section fairly well.

Having done the whole route, how do you think it would be for a mountain bike? The section I did was quite good with the exception of a tough decent down towards Bras.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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Just ordered the new Topo guide for this route planned for mid next year.Anyone else?
 

herman

New Member
Well, when I was passing some of the way was marked with stickers (blue with yellow star) but I kept losing track because the indication of the star (left, right, straight on) was not always correct. Also the track gets you up onto almost every hill that you meet, so it is quite heavy. I remember climbing quite a lot of stairs too, but I didn't follow the GR 653A all along, I made my own way on many parts.
 

newfydog

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omar504

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I ordered it direct from http://www.ffrandonnee.fr for 14.40 euro + 5.50 euro postage to australia.You need to use the french version to order. If you use the translate to english option the ability to go to 'checkout' seems to diasappear. Lepere publications has a guide from arles-see http://www.chemin-compostelle.fr
 

newfydog

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Are you sure you found a guide to GR 653A there? I can find GR653D, which is a route to the north, but not 653A. I was looking in the French website under the Topo guides by route number list.
 

omar504

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Sorry I thought that was the route you were after. It's reference is 6531 and the route is GR 653D but as you say it's not the gr653A.I'll probably have a go at the 653d as the there is a guide book for it and its just been released.
 

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:
In 2006 Ann Milner walked from Santiago to Rome. Perhaps you will find some interesting info on the route she took on her website?
http://www.walk2rome.me.uk/
 

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newfydog

Veteran Member
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Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Here' what is on the website of the local Amis St. Jacques. I wrote to ask for a guide....I'll let you know if I succeed.

TOPO GUIDE (Montgenèvre-Arles ou Menton-Arles) - Tarifs 2009 :

TOPO GUIDE Menton-Arles :
> Remise directe : 6 €
> Envoi en France métropolitaine : 1 exemplaire 8 € / 2 exemplaires 14 €
> Envoi à l’étranger : 1 exemplaire 10 € / 2 exemplaires 16 €

S’adresser à Alain LE STIR

Pour les envois à l’étranger, règlement par virement exclusivement. Pas de chèque.
 

omar504

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The Topo guide I've mentioned (GR653D) is from Montgenevre-is that where you wish to start from?
 

newfydog

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No, I'll be starting in Nice most likely. I might go back to Menton, but I really hate to go so close to Monte Carlo!
 

omar504

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Yes Nice would be nice (sorry couldn't resist) as I'm not keen on the cold and Montgenevre sounds ominous.
 

newfydog

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Incidentally, in googling GR 653 a and d, I found a beautiful set of google maps and airphotos with GR 653 overlain in great detail. It is in four pieces, labeled gr652 a,b,c,and d.....not to be confused with the routes of the same name! Great stuff though for the route from Arles on.

http://maps.google.fr/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&s ... 9e82114030
 

herman

New Member
newfydog said:
No, I'll be starting in Nice most likely. I might go back to Menton, but I really hate to go so close to Monte Carlo!

Just go up in the hills, there's a GR running up with a beautiful panorama on Monte Carlo / Monaco.
 

omar504

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I'm currently wading through the GR653D guide-seems quite comprehensive. My question is does anyone have any experience with the Arles-Puenta La Reina section as far as guide books go? The Lapere edition seems reasonable-what about the CSJ guide?
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
I walked Arles-Puenta La Reina with Rando Editions' ''Le Chemin d'Arles vers Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle''

Description is excellent, list of accommodations is good, maps are so-so (very sketchy).

Available at Amazon.fr

Have a safe trip,
Jean-Marc
 

newfydog

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OK, I'm making progress on this route.

Thr official Topo Guide will not be available for 2-4 years. I have a preliminary guide coming from the Friends of St James, Provence-Cote d'Azur. If you go to:

http://santiago.via.arles.free.fr/montg ... jstmax.htm

and click on "Topoguides" at the bottom you will find:

TOPO GUIDE (Montgenèvre-Arles ou Menton-Arles) - Tarifs 2009 :

TOPO GUIDE Menton-Arles :
> Remise directe : 6 €
> Envoi en France métropolitaine : 1 exemplaire 8 € / 2 exemplaires 14 €
> Envoi à l’étranger : 1 exemplaire 10 € / 2 exemplaires 16 €

S’adresser à Alain LE STIR

Pour les envois à l’étranger, règlement par virement exclusivement. Pas de chèque.


There is a link to the email of Alain LE STIR, and he was very helpful. I am just sending him some cash rather than setting up a 10 Euro bank transfer, and he is mailing the preliminary guide to the USA. His email can be found on the website. If you want his mailing address, send me a PM
 

newfydog

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Ok, I now have the preliminary guide, I have transferred most of the route to the
Google Earth and my GPS, and we will head out April 24th. We're going by mountain bike, and plan on riding as far as Toulouse, about 900 km in three weeks.

The preliminary guide from the Amis de Chemins de Compostelle is a 45 page photocopy of route descriptions and hand drawn maps. It is not easy to read or follow, but I've transposed it to the Top 25 maps fairly well. Many of the maps say "Balisage en project", but I received a note saying it should be mostly marked by mid 2010. A guidebook will note be out until 2012 or later. It looks like about 430 km from Menton, on the Italian border, to Arles.

The route looks to be a mix of what I call authentic, and historical. Historical routes go where the original pilgrims walked. There may be an Autoroute up the valley now, but that is where they went. Authentic routes go on remote trails which resemble what the pilgrims walked on, but often are out in the hills where no sane person trying to get from point A to B would have traveled.

This route runs through some tough hills in the early part, but it does tie together many hilltop medeval villages, even if the route is not historically accurate. Out towards Arles, it takes some old Roman roads, which undoubtedly were used 1000 years ago.

If anyone wants some of my route information, I'd be happy to email some .kml or .gpx files. The preliminary guidebook can be purchased from the Amis website, as I posted above.
 

ACTpilgrim

New Member
Hullo
We are two reasonably fit 50 somethings planning to walk from Arles to the via Francigina. There seem to be two choices the GR 653A and the GR653 D, heading east in either case. I'd be very grateful for comparative info on the two routes - the 'D' looks much more difficult as best one can tell.
Thanks in anticipation!
 

newfydog

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Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
What a great trip!

I think either route would be a good way to get to the Italian border. The GR 653 d will take you to the Col de Mont Genevre. From there, there is a 110 km gap to join the via Francigina near Torino. It looks quite easy to put together that link though.

GR 653a will leave you on the border in Liguria. From there it is quite a long way along the coast to join the trail, and the description Alan Steele gave me was "truck traffic to the north, sea cliff to the south, barely room for the walker."

The GR 653d route has an official FFRP guide, while the guide for GR653a is several years away.

I'd go north. Bon Chemin!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
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One more note---you thought from the maps that the GR653d looks much harder, but actually, the eastern part of 653a is as tough a GR as I have ever seen. Scenic though!
 
newfydog said:
One more note---you thought from the maps that the GR653d looks much harder, but actually, the eastern part of 653a is as tough a GR as I have ever seen. Scenic though!
and it gets tougher on the Italian side. If you go by train La Spezia-Nice thinking you'll get nice scenic sea views, you'll be disappointed, as the train spends most of the time in a tunnel. The GR653a was officially opened a couple of weeks ago, and the route in Imperia province is also open, but apart from that, there is currently no route, though I understand some reconnaissance is currently taking place.

You're much better off with the Via Domitia via Montgenevre, where there is now a fully supported route with guides for both sides. Historically speaking, the Via Domitia was by far the more used in medieval times, as it's a much easier route. The only medieval account I've come across along the coast is in the Bruges Itineraries - and that takes a boat from Genova to Pisa.

http://pilgrim.peterrobins.co.uk/routes ... ena_i.html for the Italian side.
 

ACTpilgrim

New Member
Thank you both for this advice - it's very helpful. Would definitely prefer to avoid the trucks! I have ordered the map of the GR 653D - and also found a useful list of accommodations with height changes along the way on the web at http://camino-medieval.webs.com/accommodationlists.htm I recently received the via Francigina maps and it looks like it links directly at Montgenevre - if that's the same as Col de Montgenevre.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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oh! very glad that my hard work is helping someone else on via domitia! :) good luck with the accommodation list, ACTpilgrim! in the end I decided they were too much to carry along, though, because I had the PACA (working) description and superb drawn maps that really saved me a couple of times.

the route is definitely beautiful and not that hard, although it runs more or less along the slopes above the valleys. the hardest part for me was a lot of tarmac.

for the part from montgenevre to torino there is a wonderful organization from piemonte that helped me immensely: http://www.moncalieriincammino.it/. I believe that by now this part of the route must be fully waymarked.

caminka
 

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