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Start in Montpellier or Toulouse?

2020 Camino Guides

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
It's winter and that means it's time to consider our options for next year. My husband likes to join me for at least one walk each year but he's working full-time so about 16 days walking is his limit.

This year we walked the Primitivo and he loved it... last year part of the Norte and likewise we loved the scenery. He says next year he's interested in one of the French routes. I thought perhaps the Arles route?

We live in France and both speak French so language isn't a problem. I've looked at the route and read lots but I'm not sure where to start, given our time constraints? I was thinking Montpellier to Toulouse? Would this be a good idea? Or is the route from Toulouse onwards better?

I'm planning to walk Le Puy-Santiago (via the Invierno) in 2021 and we live a few kilometres from the Vezeley... so these are not in the choice-pot this time around. What are your thoughts? All ideas and recommendations are welcome :cool:
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
I loved crossing the camargue from Arles to Montpellier, with the Pic Saint Loup the only bump on the flat horizon, and happy memories of my gap year working in the vines of a mas near Lunel in 1979.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
I loved crossing the camargue from Arles to Montpellier, with the Pic Saint Loup the only bump on the flat horizon, and happy memories of my gap year working in the vines of a mas near Lunel in 1979.
We had a family holiday in the Camrague a few years back... loved it. One of the little cottages in Aigues-Mortes beside the canals would suit me very well :D

Adding Arles to the route is adding to the confusion 🤭 😂 Do you think it's best to start from Arles?
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
The section from Montpellier takes you through the Haut-Languedoc nature reserve. It is absolutely gorgeous, but you need to be prepared for long, physically challenging days, with very few (or no) villages or stops in between. I don't think I saw a single pilgrim during the day when I did it in June this year, and I often stayed alone, or maybe with a couple of other pilgrims maximum in the municipal gîtes. (FYI, the municipal gîtes are run by the Mairie, so you need to get keys from them during their opening hours - which, as you can imagine, are somewhat random - and they often close over the weekend!)

I LOVED this stretch of the Arles route, but you need to be prepared for the fact that services are few and far between. I think Miam Miam Dodo has done a good job of listing the opening times of the boulangeries etc in the small villages, but don't be surprised if there's a "fermé" sign on the door when you arrive. For me, the spectacular natural beauty of the walk made up for these frustrations and inconveniences.

I only got as far as Castres, as it was too hot to go further (over 40°C). I was told that things "pick up" from Toulouse, in terms of pilgrim numbers and services, but I have no idea. I have, however, walked down from Pau to join the Aragones, and really enjoy it. There were quite a few other pilgrims from Oloron-Sainte-Marie onwards, and the scenery as you cross the Pyrenées over into Aragon is just stunning.
 
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LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
@Jan_D thanks for this. You confirm what we’re reading and discovering... beautiful but isolated? I still can’t decide if maybe we should start from Toulouse. I do like the sound of spectacular natural beauty though 😊 we are happy with our own company but it’s always nice to see a couple of other folks.

In October the weather should be easier at least. Thanks for the reply... mmmm... still not sure 😁 lots to consider and research... but the landscape sounds amazing and very appealing
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
Yes, "beautiful but isolated" sums it up perfectly. I actually posted a report of my walk through the Haut-Languedoc the day after I got back (you can find it here!)

I was sad I couldn't continue past Castres, as the next stage takes you to a Benedictine Abby (which provides pilgrim accommodation), and I'd heard good things about some of the gîtes on the stages after that, when the path starts following the Canal (some people have said this section is tedious, as the Canal snakes up and down so it can take ages to get from A to B; others have loved walking next to the water... to each their own!)

Anyway I'm really looking forward to hearing what people have to say about the section from Toulouse onwards, as I'll definitely be continuing with the Arles next year!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés : Sarria-Santiago (2013)
Via Podiensis : (2014-17)
Via Tolosana : Arles-Toulouse-(2018-19)
It's winter and that means it's time to consider our options for next year. My husband likes to join me for at least one walk each year but he's working full-time so about 16 days walking is his limit.

This year we walked the Primitivo and he loved it... last year part of the Norte and likewise we loved the scenery. He says next year he's interested in one of the French routes. I thought perhaps the Arles route?

We live in France and both speak French so language isn't a problem. I've looked at the route and read lots but I'm not sure where to start, given our time constraints? I was thinking Montpellier to Toulouse? Would this be a good idea? Or is the route from Toulouse onwards better?

I'm planning to walk Le Puy-Santiago (via the Invierno) in 2021 and we live a few kilometres from the Vezeley... so these are not in the choice-pot this time around. What are your thoughts? All ideas and recommendations are welcome :cool:
Well I've only walked from Arles to Toulouse, so I can't really speak for the second half of the route, but I loved the part from Grabels onward [taking the tram/bus out of Montpellier there to avoid at least 10 km of unnecessary suburban asphalt walking]. Places like Aniane, St. Guilhem-le-Désert and the Pont du Diable should not be missed. The Parc National Régional du Haut-Languedoc was difficult in places but stunningly beautiful in the late summer/early fall when I walked, and walking along the canals La Rigole and the Canal du Midi quite pleasant.
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
Do visit the webpage of ACIR Compostelle, here. This is a Toulouse based organization that brings together municipalities, tourism agencies and local pilgrim associations. Besides useful info, they usually have recent news about condition of routes and albergues.
You can visit its office at rue Clémence Isaure 4 (metro Esquirol).
This association is not related to the volunteers that receive pilgrims and stamp credentials at Saint Sernin.
 
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Isca-camigo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
I walked from Grabels to Castre then went to Toulouse and restarted there going via Lourdes and the Ossau valley on to Sanguesa.
The Montpellier ( Grabels) start for me, there is nothing wrong or lacking after Toulouse but it doesn't hit the height's, solitude or beauty of walking in the Haut- Languedoc until you get to the Pyrenees.
It's not guaranteed to be empty, I started between national holidays in May 2014 so there was people around. The stages don't have to be long and arduous I took small steps not walking further than 18-20 km a day, it does take some looking at, the FFRANDONEE maps can help you divert off route to Departmental Gites, usually no more than 1 or 2 km and so on.
I started my chemin after arriving in Grabels by bus, I very reluctantly left the garden of the Presbetere where I had gone to look for my 1st Stamp, it is an Oasis of peace, I had booked the next 8 nights in advance, my French was next to non existent so could not without help cancel those nights. They have built a gite nearby in the last few years so it could be the place to stay at instead of Montpellier after arriving. http://www.ville-grabels.fr/2070-gite-d-etape-communal.htm
 
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