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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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Étape 2: Lunas - St. Gervais sur-Mare, 27 kms, sunny, 28

Walking Our Own Way

Before I get into today’s stage I thought you might enjoy seeing a few photos from Lunas. A sparkling little village with much to offer a walker. Neil and Sarah we thought of you as we strolled through this town knowing that you’d love it. Small bridges over a brisk water way;

Beautiful character homes homes running along side the river;

Even a chateau!

The 12th C church is tucked into the trees and while simple, it’s a delight in this simplicity. 

As  we walked today we discussed who might be virtually following along with us on our Camino this time and realized that there would likely be more than a few folks who haven’t followed us before and might be curious about the process. Where we stay and our basic routine each day. To our usual followers, this is your moment to refresh your coffee:)

In France we will usually stay in gîtes which are typically family run or tied to a bar/restaurant establishment. We phone to make reservations a day or two ahead, as is the polite custom. In this way our soon to be hosts can ensure there is sufficient food avialable and a menu planned. When we reserve we advise the operator that we either want just a bed or a bed with breakfast and dinner (demi-pension) which typically costs about €30-35 each.  Usually there are a series of bunk beds in a couple of rooms and sometimes like last night we might get lucky and have a room to ourselves. Toilet and shower services are shared, but private. Usually a blanket and pillow are provided and we carry our own sleeping gear. Here’s my bed from last night. Not the finest example, but I managed a few hours of sleep. And yes, a very colourful experience!

We begin each day at around 6:30 and quickly stretch out, get dressed, put away our last bits of gear then head off to find breakfast, either in the gîte or at a patisserie where we can get tea/coffee and pain de chocolate, bread or similar. Then it’s on with our packs that contain most everything we will need for our weeks of walking, and off we go. At the end of the stage we arrive at our next gîte where we are often enthusiastically welcomed and shown our beds. We then have a shower, put on fresher clothes, wash our walking clothes and go in search of a cold beverage which we enjoy while writing blogs (I don’t have one presently) reviewing photos and posting photos on various social media for folks to hopefully enjoy. After that we wander the village we are staying in and pick up any groceries we might need for the next day. Dinner is usually at 20:00 and is often wonderful complete with local wines, and if we are not taking demi-pension we go out to a bistro or small restaurant. The French being the French, meals seldom disappoint:)  Usually we are in bed by 22:00. And we do it all over again the next day, and the next day, and the next day... it’s a really very simple way to live in a very uncluttered manner. After every Camino I always return home and give more things away and try to simplify my life. Let go. If you have any questions about our process or anything else, please just leave a comment at the bottom of our posts and I’ll make sure to answer.

Ok, the seasoned walkers/followers are back with a fresh coffee, so I’ll pick up our story from today. The  GR653 étape today winds up through the hills and every where...except where we wanted to go. We have walked endless, beautiful climbs with views to the horizon on many of our caminos, but we are here in part to see more of the French culture and to interact with locals where possible. Also keeping in mind that we are trying very hard not to trigger Annemarie’s unusual heat/activity induced allergy while she establishes herself on this walk, I looked at the maps and figured out an alternate way that would take us through a number of small towns and along roads which often run adjacent to water ways. There were climbs too, but often with shading trees to keep us both a bit cooler. Fortunately there was a nice wind as we progressed deeper into our journey which helped a bit as well. I looked for places to enjoy a beverage, but this being Saturday everything was shut down early. As a matter of fact, we deviated into St. Gervais for lunch at 13:00 and the town was completely shut down. We found a park bench sat down and ate some of the cured lean pork sausage and cookies I carry for just such a time. In France it always makes sense to carry some high energy food, because if you miss lunch then it’s a long time until dinner. These walks burn 3 times the calories our active lives at home so, so the food intake has to increase accordingly. Here are some photos from today.

Geoff amusing himself while Annemarie takes a nature break.

Yes, there are still some grapes in the south to be harvested.

Small country church.

A village where nothing was open for coffee time, so we turned here and climbed for about an hour.

Then after we descended we ended up walking along side a series of small stream which were very pleasant, but we had to keep an ear out for the cars and trucks.

Another small village along the way with a really nice old steeple.

And small villages were quite pleasant to walk through with bonjours to everyone!

Neil, some really nice bridges along the route!

And then we were in St. Gervais...briefly, as nothing open, but...

...we enjoyed this, and laughter at the maker of the sausage! You have to be a Camino geek to get this one:)

And tonight we are this!

Cute huh?! Sort of like a sail boat Dennis. You have to be careful moving around, but no sails to play with:(

A nice walk ahead tomorrow with options, but getting food along the way will be more difficult if that’s possible...nothing will be open. Such is France for the walker, but we love it. Dinner tonight...ravioli and weeners and beans in cans, all we could ge5 at the camp office! But we have wonderful Belgium beers to wash it down, and we are very grateful for that!

Kathy and Bob fly in our direction tomorrow. Looking forward to reconnecting this week!

Bon Chemin!

Annemarie has also written a short piece.
Fleeting memories: As we walk along we have both experienced moments when memories of similar experiences on other walks emerge. Feelings of having been here before or of familiarity even when we’ve never been here before. These memories are fleeting, and it takes a moment to place them in our current context. last night we were asked about the route when we cycled from Paris to Bruges two years ago, and neither of could remember the names of ost of the towns...they do seem to blend together. We expect these are not uncommon experiences for people with Alzheimer’s...memories surface, but it’s difficult to place them in context.


  1. Thanks for the bridge photos, El Ramon! It would be good if 'fermé' were excised from the French language - especially as far as cafés, partisseries and boulangeries are concerned. Love your digs. It reminds me of Toad's caravan in 'Wind in the Willows'. Enjoy.

  2. Such picturesque villages & delightful sleeping accommodation. Enjoyed your descriptions of a more simple yet equally as meaningful life & the inspirations for decluttering our lives, so much easer to retrieve that which holds value & meaning for us. Jo-Ann