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Via Turonensis: a game of two halves



Now I have reached Dax, on this marathon stage of the journey from Worcester, I am finally within three days walk of SJPP and it is really exciting to know that I am so close.

However, I have been finding the Via Turonensis really frustrating for the last week or so, ever since leaving behind the well-marked chemin in the Department de Charente Maritime, where there was excellent way-marking, and also the GR655 balisage all the way from Tours. After that, there is nothing for three days beyond Mirambeau. After Blaye the roads get completely mad, without even any normal roadsigns giving minor road numbers or village names, throughout the Medoc.

Then the crazy exit from Bordeaux begins, with no way-marking at all from Gradignan, and only a fragile bit of chipboard arrow with yellow paint peeling from it - somewhere in a forest - half a day's walk into Les Landes, a great flat expanse of nothing, and pine trees in rows, and more nothing, and more pine trees in rows. Then, inexplicably, regular way-marking suddenly starts again, goes well for a while, then disappears again; or on occasion sends you in a mad direction that cannot possibly be right.

I've met up with another pilgrim in the last forty-eight hours and we've battled through it together, trying to interpret the mysteries... We finally made it to Dax without going crazy. Surely the Amis de St Jacques locally could have a go at renewing the way-marking here? It is quite useless. Their refuges are excellent in Bordeaux - both north and south of the city - but there is no point in encouraging people to use this route if the experience turns out to be so difficult. Everyone I have spoken to so far has had similar experiences.

On the bright side, it is three days to go and I shall be in SJPP. Hooray! Really looking forward to it, and a well-marked route too!



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:
Bonjour Gareth,
Your blog is an inspiration - a lesson in perseverance even when you think that you can't go on. I am so pleased you found a fellow pilgrim to share the last few days with. I know that all the Whizz-Kids must be rooting for you and are SO proud of you!
This is a picture of fields of flowers just outside Labouheyre, taken on a grey day with a very muddy path running through it. (That is our South African planted in the mud.) To me it represents a typical pilgrimage day - beauty found in even the most difficult situation.


  • 86 Labouheyre Flowers.JPG
    86 Labouheyre Flowers.JPG
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NB Kevin

A great lesson, Gareth. In the face of great frustration you have taught us that perseverance, perspective and humility save the day!

Thanks for your postings here, and for your blog!

Bon Chemin/Buen Camino


Having arrived in SJPP, I'm reflecting on the whole French stage and I'll put something on the blog. My initial feeling on reaching the point where the routes join (after St Palais at Gibraltar) was great relief; at last I am on a walkers' route and away from all those crazy trucks!




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