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Route suggestion for 1 week on Arles (or Pièmont)

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Tiran

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2013)
Hi!

(I originally posted this in the Pièmont forum, but for advice about Arles I guess it is better to post it here)

This may seem very last minute and spontaneous, and it is, but also not. I've been thinking about it for some time, but then I twisted my ankle a few weeks back and thought it wouldn't be possible. But now I've decided that I will do it anyway. I want to walk a week on a camino in France, starting in just a few days. And I need help finding a route.

Six years ago a walked the last part of Via Gebennensis from Clonas-sur-Varèze to Le Puy-en-Velay, and I really liked it. I'm looking for something similar. I don't mind meeting people along the way (that was one of the things I loved with Via Gebennensis, the hospitality and friendliness of the French I stayed with or met on my walk), but I don't want a crowded camino. I've been looking at The Piémont Route, The Arles Route or (the first part of) Via Gebennensis. My problem is finding an accessible and suitable part for a week (or maybe six days) of walking. Here are some things to consider:

- My ankle is still not fully recovered, so I need to keep it at around 15-20 km/day, depending on the difficulty level off course.

- Because of my ankle I also want to carry as little as possible. So I'm not bringing a tent. I need to find accomodation for every night.

- The starting point and the end point need to be accessible by train or bus. For the Arles Route I guess the possible choices would be Castres-Toulouse or Toulouse-Auch or Auch-Pau or Pau-Somport. Any recommendations or thoughts about these stretches? :)

- Any advice on which route I should choose to best avoid the possibilities of a heat wave?

- Since I would be leaving in just a few days, I don't have time to order a guidebook or anything online, I wouldn't get it delivered in time. I've read that Miam-Miam-Dodo is recommended, maybe I can buy that in some french town? But if not?? When I walked Via Gebennensis I just printed good maps (from Peter Robins, but his page seems to be down?) and had a list of pilgrim accomodations to call a day ahead. This worked good enough for me then. But I need to be able to find at least this, somewhere. Any advices?

I would be so grateful if someone could help me find a route to walk! Quickly, if possible. I've been searching and reading but the there are still too many question marks in my head...

Thank you!
Maria
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
We walked Jaca (Spain) to Marie St Oloron (France) over the Pyrenees this past spring and found it to be a spectacular route! It’s a higher elevation, so not as hot as the rest of the area and there are pilgrim accommodations in most of the villages you pass. Depending upon your speed, it takes 4-6 days. Although it’s a lot of uphill and then downhill, the path is generally good so perhaps it is fine for your ankle.

Plenty of bus and train service at each end, depending upon where you are coming from.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
Hi Maria,

You can find a summary of the Chemin d'Arles here. From Somport onwards it becomes the Aragones.

I have just walked the Arles route to Castres, and the Gronze site was very up-to-date with information. You really don't need more than their maps and accommodation list. I had planned to walk further to Toulouse, but it was too hot (this was during the 45 degree heatwave last month, think it's a bit better now! *edit - although I see they're anticipating temperatures of 40 degrees in Toulouse next week, yikes!*) Also, I was finding services on the Arles very sparse - one often has to walk 20km to get to the next water point, not to mention access to pilgrim accommodation or groceries. I think there are still quite long distances between accommodation after Castres, and the walk into Toulouse is along the Canal du Midi, which I've heard can be very tedious (the canal snakes up and down across the landscape, so progress takes ages). Things might get better after Toulouse, I have no idea - best check Gronze for info. The site is in Spanish but you can get lots of information about stages, accommodation, maps, profiles, etc. Easy enough to translate the detailed "recorrido" with Google. Also, there are lots of photos for each stage, so you can get an idea of what the landscape might be like!

p.s. I've also walked from Oloron-Sainte-Marie over the Pyrenees, and really loved it. I don't remember it being particularly difficult, but it's obviously different if you've got an injury...
 
Last edited:

sharon w

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007
Camino Portugues 2009
Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre 2012
Cammino di Assisi 2014
Via Podiensis, Camino del Norte, Camino Frances(Astorga to Santiago) 2015
Aussie Camino 2016
The part from Auch to Pau is lovely. Or depending on your ankle, from Pau to Somport. Use the Gronze site. I also had a French app that I didn’t use much. You may be able to pick up a guidebook along the way. The German guidebook looked great. I took some photos of relevant pages at one of the gites.
 

Tiran

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2013)
Hi!

Sorry for getting back to you so late. I really appreciate your help! Just had some really busy days so I couldn't find the time to write. After researching possible parts regarding transportation to/from, I have found to the following routes:

On the Pièmont Route:

Start: Pamiers
End: Razecueillé (with a last walking day of walking from Razecueillé to the train station in Saint Gaudens)

Start: Saint-Pé-d'Ardet or Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges (found a bus to the vicinity)
End: Lourdes

Start: Lourdes
End: Somport (or earlier if my ankle protests)

On the Arles Route:

Start: Pau
End: Somport (or earlier if my ankle protests)

On Via Gebennensis:

Start: Geneva
End: Les Abrets (or actually to Le-Pont-de-Beauvoisin, to take the train from there)


Any recommendations regarding this? Which one is the... best? Most scenic, rewarding, friendliest accomodations, whatever qualifies "best". :)

My problem for Piémont is still an uppdated accomodation list. Now I have looked at this, last updated 2 years ago. Don't know if it is accurate. For Arles I hope Gronze is enough. For Via Gebennensis I hope to pick up the yellow guide in Geneva.

And I want to find good maps that I can print! :/
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
If you walk Lourdes to Somport, the pilgrim office in Lourdes will have maps, directions, and accommodation listings. It’s all in French, but still very useful for us English-speaking folks.

BTW, if you head to Somport, definitely walk the extra two days to Jaca - it’s beautiful, you pass an historic train station, and your transportation options from Jaca are much better.
 

Mikey D

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 - St Jean Pied du Port - Pamplona
2019 - Ponferrada - Santiago
We walked Jaca (Spain) to Marie St Oloron (France) over the Pyrenees this past spring and found it to be a spectacular route! It’s a higher elevation, so not as hot as the rest of the area and there are pilgrim accommodations in most of the villages you pass. Depending upon your speed, it takes 4-6 days. Although it’s a lot of uphill and then downhill, the path is generally good so perhaps it is fine for your ankle.

Plenty of bus and train service at each end, depending upon where you are coming from.
Hi Vacajoe,

I read your post above with interest, as I am considering doing this route across the Pyrenees at short notice, for a week or so next week. How did you guys get to Jaca - by train? And did you fly to Pau or Pamplona? I'd be coming from London so I guess researching best/cheapest options would be a start, but any tips you have for this would be appreciated? Also would you recommend this way round Jaca - Marie St oloron for any particular reason ?

Thanks,
Michael
 

Mikey D

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 - St Jean Pied du Port - Pamplona
2019 - Ponferrada - Santiago
Hi Maria,

You can find a summary of the Chemin d'Arles here. From Somport onwards it becomes the Aragones.

I have just walked the Arles route to Castres, and the Gronze site was very up-to-date with information. You really don't need more than their maps and accommodation list. I had planned to walk further to Toulouse, but it was too hot (this was during the 45 degree heatwave last month, think it's a bit better now! *edit - although I see they're anticipating temperatures of 40 degrees in Toulouse next week, yikes!*) Also, I was finding services on the Arles very sparse - one often has to walk 20km to get to the next water point, not to mention access to pilgrim accommodation or groceries. I think there are still quite long distances between accommodation after Castres, and the walk into Toulouse is along the Canal du Midi, which I've heard can be very tedious (the canal snakes up and down across the landscape, so progress takes ages). Things might get better after Toulouse, I have no idea - best check Gronze for info. The site is in Spanish but you can get lots of information about stages, accommodation, maps, profiles, etc. Easy enough to translate the detailed "recorrido" with Google. Also, there are lots of photos for each stage, so you can get an idea of what the landscape might be like!

p.s. I've also walked from Oloron-Sainte-Marie over the Pyrenees, and really loved it. I don't remember it being particularly difficult, but it's obviously different if you've got an injury...

Hello Jan D,

Im considering walking from Oloron Sainte-marie to Jaca next week for 4-6 days. Can you advise on travel options to get to Oloron sainte marie, i.e nearest airport /train stations? Also did you find accommodation easy enough to find or should i pre-book? Im open to taking tent but would prefer i think to stay in Albergues
 

Mikey D

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 - St Jean Pied du Port - Pamplona
2019 - Ponferrada - Santiago
Hello Jan D,

Im considering walking from Oloron Sainte-marie to Jaca next week for 4-6 days. Can you advise on travel options to get to Oloron sainte marie, i.e nearest airport /train stations? Also did you find accommodation easy enough to find or should i pre-book? Im open to taking tent but would prefer i think to stay in Albergues
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Jaca has regular bus service from multiple areas in Spain (Pamplona and Barcelona, definitely) as well as daily trains. Oloron also has transit options, including a bus between Jaca and Oloron! Www.rome2rio.com provides great route info.

In short, easy to start in either city to cross over the Pyrenees to the other. It’s a 4-5 day walk and easy in the summer, though you should prebook your albergues/gites due to summer mountain hikers and youth groups.

I found the route incredibly beautiful, but we did it in the rain and snow, NOT a hot/dry summer. I’d avoid the Aragon Valley past Jaca if the weather is hot: not a lot of services (water/food/shelter).

Nearest large airports would be in Pamplona, Pau, or Tarbes/Lourdes.
 

Mikey D

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 - St Jean Pied du Port - Pamplona
2019 - Ponferrada - Santiago
Thanks Vacajoe and Ivar for your replies!

I just returned from 4 day walk from Oloron to Jaca. What an illuminating experience that was! Beautiful scenery to admire once walking - I got lucky with the weather which was sun for 4 days with temperatures around 22-25, perfect for walking, with just the one heavy downpour on the final day about 6km walk from Jaca. Couple of things that stood out and worth mentioning to others considering this route. The monastery in Sarrance was a delight - I was able to meet interesting folk there who were on longer term retreats, religious or otherwise. Also recommend the Gite in Borce run by the lovely Sebastian, who welcomed me into the fold with open arms.
Signage along the camino is noticeably better on the Spanish side for the Camino Arles; on several occasions i deviated from the path as i didn;t notice the small and sparsely located red/white stripe sign in France. Fortunately tho, there is always a friendly Camino angel who is looking out for you to redirect you back to the path!
The only accommodation I found a little disappointing (and overpriced at a whopping 35 euros p/night - breakfast not included!) was in Jaca. Tho this might've been infalted due t oa chess tournament on the night i was staying (25th Aug), I couldn't help give the mhonest feedback on the customer service form in the room, epecially when a towel wasn't privided.

Anyway, this minor blemish far from tainted what was an enthralling experience along the Camino Arles. V much recommend to other pilgrims!

Buen camino
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Excellent! Thanks for the post-trip report; happy you enjoyed that route as much as I did. For others on this path, I found the municipal albuergue in Jaca to be very clean, airy, full of light, centrally-located and well-run — my stay there last year was €10.
 

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