La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Étape 1: Lodève - Lunas, 20 Kms, hot and sunny! 29

And So It Begins - World Alzheimer’s Day

A new beginning
Awareness for ourselves
And for others too

As you can see, Alzheimer’s is universal. This being World Alzheimer’s Day, even the local press carried an article which we found while having our petite déjeuner (breakfast) this morning. It’s estimated that 42 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s/dementia world wide, I believe . A staggering number expected to grow significantly as the boomer generation ages.

We were anticipating new beginnings, and found ourselves up just after 6:15 mostly in an effort to beat the expected heat. Funny thing, the cold water in the hotel tap came out quite warm so we actually purchased water with our breakfast to add as a coolant. It worked and was worth the additional cost. We found the trail head at 7:30...

...and so began our first étape. 

I was a bit worried about the injury I’d experienced the past month which had reduced my typical preparations, but after a slower start it felt like I’d pulled on a pair of favourite old jeans, and off we went. Tomorrow will tell the tale, but many thanks to Natasha and Kim for rehabing the injured parts! As we age, we need a little more support in order to enjoy the things we like to do.

Yesterday my friend Neil asked a good question concerning why we elected to begin our walk in Lodève. Two reasons. First it provides us with a week to enjoy the climbs through the southern reaches of the Central Massif before finding a more level area when Kathy and Bob join us for the walk to Toulouse next week. Secondly, I’d read that the earlier portion from Arles to Montpellier is considered much less desirable, and we’d visited Arles before. So Lodève made good sense with decent bus service from Montpellier. And climb we did! 

On the way up we met Mark, a colourful fellow from nearby Shannon, Ireland. He was excited to be missing the cold Irish weather and was visiting friends in the local area. We walked together for a time and he explained that he was an artist and journeyman. He was interested in our chemin and seemed to have considerable experience with Alzheimer’s through family and close friends. So we were definitely off to a good start! We told him about our almost son-in-law Paul and our recent visit with his family in Buncrannagh. He was quite familiar with their area and we chatted all things Irish before eventually parting ways.

We enjoyed a beautiful climb with quite marvellous views. Here are a few.

And of course there was an opportunity for a traditional classic:)

The gravel roads we’d been following soon changed to trails again and Annemarie caught me in the heather just as I was finding a piece to put on my hat.

Closing in on the top of the climb.

There was a nice breeze as we topped the summit and began the walk into Lunas. There were greetings to be had on the way in as well.

And even a very small road side church.

And then we arrived. 

Ètape one completed.

Followed by the traditional cold beer!

And an amazing lunch!

Loosing weight walking in France isn’t really too much of an issue! I’ll wait for Spain for that:)

Bon Chemin!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! It was beautiful and today the same. Wonderful weather!

  2. Hi Annemarie and Geoff, You're off an away! Thanks for the photos and commentary on le premier étape (and for explaining your starting point) - it looks like a great day in nice country. Mark from Shannon reminded us of 'Jack, from Ireland'! Glad you were able to walk freely. Enjoy the overnight rest and tomorrow's stage. Bon chemin. Neil and Sarah

    1. We had the exact same thoughts re., Mark and Jack! If you’d met him it would have been almost like watching the movie, particularly when they first met him. All over the map, but a very nice fellow.