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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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Étape 3: St. Gervais - Murat, 22 kms; sunny, windy and warm. 28

Walking Our Own Way, Part Duex!

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but what the heck. It was. After breakfast this morning in our Wind In The Willows wagon (thanks Neil) we walked out a back route that the owner of the camp ground told us about. Seems that it was an old rail bed, and it kept us off the road which was perfect. We caught the quasi sunrise as we set out.

We crossed over streams and weirs as we went with the early morning light making for a very pleasant start. 
The fun began when we arrived at the small village of Andabre where we had planned to pick up the GR as it came in from St Gervais now 4 kms behind us. Problem was that there were a series of roads joining at this point and we headed off  on what we thought was the D22E12 highway looking for the point where it bisected the GR. As we climbed higher it became obvious that something was amiss and it turned out that we were on the busier D12...climbing. After a brief and productive discussion we agreed that neither was prepared to retrace steps, so we decided to press on in the generally correct direction, knowing from our map book that we would eventually end up where we were meant to be. The day turned into a climb. Almost all of it, but the views were well worth the effort. On the way up I took this photo for our friend Ken who is sending us daily supportive emails as for some reason he is having a problem posting directly to our blog. Ken likes cats.

I counted 6 cats lounging on the outside dinning set. I’m sure there were many more, but they all seemed content and well cared for. Perhaps you can see a few? 

And then we climbed onwards into a pretty stiff wind, something the Arles route is known for.

As Ken warned us in his last email, the highway was busy with Sunday morning church goers, motorcycle crazies with throttles wide open and day trippers. We have a technique that we use for walking very windy roads and it served us well today. 

This being Sunday we expected to find nothing open, but when we passed through this small village, 

the cafe at the local petrol station was open.

A tiny old white haired lady served us. Annemarie had asked for cokes, we received these...

Ice cold chocolate milk! I liked this much better and it took me back to the chocolate milk I sometimes found in the kombini shops while walking in Japan. Yet another example of the communication barrier, or maybe this was a hearing issue:) By chance the subject of our Alzheimer’s parallel at the end of this post! 

Milk break over, we resumed our unscheduled climb. Lovely views almost back to the Med which is now some 110 kms in our rear view mirror. 

We found a few annoying false summits and then the plateau at the top which is basically a series of recurring hills. Pretty farm land with cows to talk to and some beautiful horses. Also loads of cheerful dogs who all greeted us as we passed, thankfully all behind fences or in kennels. Hunting is big in these parts and we heard the dogs in the hills yesterday morning, and as usual on Saturday there were plenty of hunters around waiting for a boar to appear. But I carry my trustee Japanese Henro bell on my pack that warns the boars that we are around. Dogs seeming like it too! 

And then we were there, um here. 

Then the third surprise of the day. The village grocery was open. Miracles of miracles! No cliff bar and dried out sausage for us to lunch on today. We dined in fine style! 

Then off we went to find our gîte through this pretty little town.

As we walked down the drive there was a nice group of French walkers around the table in front of the gîte and we were offered cookies and coffee as is the custom. There was some English spoken so we enjoyed the usual banter about the various walking routes each had experienced. It was nice to be welcomed in such a manner and we were able to explain our Alzheimer’s Awareness Camino, which was well received. A sharing of blogs and emails followed then the usual process of showers and laundry. This is a much better gîte than the previous one.

Nice kitchen where we will enjoy our demi-pension meals.

And this is where we sit presently, writing. Soon it will be time to stretch our legs before an early 19:30 dinner.

Communication Challenges

She says “quell pays?”

And 54 is what we proudly say

She looks confused and changes the subject

You see, our answer wasn’t even close to correct

She had asked what country we are from

We answered with the number of walking days, the total sum

We told the bus driver we wanted to go to Lo-de-vey

He gently corrected, Lo-Dave is the correct way to say

We engage in dinner conversation, getting lost in the flow

Even though we’ve asked each other to talk very slow

When we order food, we have an idea but are not totally sure what we will get

Secure in the knowledge that in France what arrives will be tasty  - it’s a safe bet

When our ability to communicate is impacted or impaired

It can pose challenges, maybe even make us scared

We have to be brave, willing to look a little less intelligent

It does no good to raise our voices or become belligerent 

We knew it would be like this, it was a conscious choice

But for some with Alzheimer’s, it’s what happens whenever they use their voice


  1. A nice day by the sounds, albeit a tad windy in places. Were you mostly on sealed roads?

  2. beautiful stories to match beautiful photos. A poignant poem that captures the heart of the walk & the Alzheimer's talk. j.