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 28, 2018

Étape 8: Castres - Cahuzac, 31 kms Hot, Sunny & Wonderful! 30

Happy Feet, Happy Pelerin!

The crew was up and ready to head off to the square for a quick breakfast, partially found in  the food market that was just setting up Then it was so long to Bob and Le Trois Pelerin were off and away, eager for a new day. We followed the river out of town which a nice way to depart before the busy early morning roads.

After a bit of a harried time walking along a busy highway we found quieter ways and met the first of many new friends today. This group happily enjoyed all the handfuls of grass that we could give them!

Then back along a river for a time to a peaceful place.

There were definitely some hills to cross today, but we are heading towards an ancient lake bed where it’s more suitable for Kathy to walk. 

Walking with Kathy
Looking for the positives
Our time together

Using a tracker on Kathy’s cell phone, Bob caught up to us and took a game, but tired Kathy back to Castres for a shower and a nap while we carried on for the next 5 hours.

And then there were two. We arrived into the village of Viviers where we stopped at the city hall and had our credentials stamped and they were really pleased to see us. A very nice reception and a very Chemin oriented stamp, as have been many on this way. We’d read that often this wasn’t the case, but so far it seems to be the norm. 

Then off down country roads...

...and surprisingly we passed by this very old former windmill, now part of a farming complex.

We walked onwards, all the while my boots were getting more and more comfortable. My crushed toes slowly stopped hurting, even the small one Ken. Nice shiny boots that will look slightly different at the end of this adventure. Funnily enough, Annemarie and I have ended up in the same boots! Never saw that one coming.

We stopped at Dourgne at a posh restaurant for a cold drink and were seated at a plastic table away from the dinning British folks. Can’t say I blame them. It was hot and no doubt we were probably not at our best:) We were just happy to sit a while and enjoy a cold beverage, on ice no less! We then retired to a bench in the square where we shared our baguette chicken sandwich we’d purchased this morning. So good!! 

After our all to brief rest we headed back out into the heat. How hot was it? Look at what happened to these sunflowers,

Annemarie’s 2nd Conversation with Kathy

We had just met a woman on the road who wished us well. Although our French is poor, and her English appeared non-existent, we understood each other well enough to learn that her mother had died of Alzheimer’s. This triggered my next conversation with Kathy...I asked her what reactions and responses she gets when she tells people she has Alzheimer’s. She kind of shrugged, and I told her about the range of reactions we’ve experienced (see following piece - Responses and reactions). Yes, she said, that was what she has experienced as well. She said that when people shut down, they just need more time. And then we talked about those who respond with “I’m sorry to hear that” and she said that’s another way of ending the conversation, and those people need more time too. She talked briefly about losing contact with some family and friends because they don’t know how to respond to her, especially since she has lost the art of conversation...more on that tomorrow.

Responses and Reactions: When we have told people about our Camino for Alzheimer’s Awareness, we typically get one of three responses; a) people are excited or inspired, b) they indicate that someone close to them has Alzheimer’s and we have a discussion about our experiences, or c) people shut down completely. We had the latter experience a few nights ago over dinner when we were chatting with a walker who finished his walk in Lunas. We proudly pointed out the Camino for Alzheimer’s Awareness on our shirts, and he immediately shut down and turned away. I have heard from members of my support group that this reaction is not uncommon, adding to the feelings of loneliness that people with Alzheimer’s and their families experience. It was a good reminder to us, and reinforced the importance of building awareness.

I want to add that Kathy and Bob did meet us in Cahuzac, both napping in the car:)

Lastly, we also want to say a particularly special hello to my cousin Gord and his wife Karen up in Prince George, BC. They were to have met the four of us in Castres to walk onwards to Toulouse, but fate intervened as it often does. About two months ago Gord experienced a stroke which changed everything in their lives for a time and has impacted the whole family. The support and response from family and friends has been wonderful, clearly indicating the high regard they are held in. I’m delighted to hear from their daughter Melanie that Gord has worked very hard and behaved well enough to earn weekend passes! We speak of you both often as we walk, knowing that you will, in time, find your way back to your passion for walking. As the French say to us when we pass by, “Courage!”.

Bon Chemin


  1. Greetings to 'les trois pèlerins'. It was another great day by the looks. Loved the shot of the river and of the road lined with London plane trees. It seems timely as 'Pat', the plane tree we planted after our first camino five years ago(G and A you sat with Pat when you visited) has put forth his first leaf today - Spring has sprung in Canberra! Bob looks like he is doing a great job in the support vehicle - nice car too! Have a great evening. BC, NM

    1. Hey Neil, yes we thought you would like the plane trees with the Canadian maple leaves! Very nice that spring has arrived for you as we hope for summer/fall holds on here for as long as possible. Time be up for another day of walking pleasur. Thanks for checking in!

  2. Nice to see the three of you striding along today. Wonderful countryside - great pictures. Particularly liked the picture of the bridge spanning the river and the reflection of the bridge in the water below which would make a great center piece for another series of wall pictures in your house (me thinks)- but best to check with Annemarie first ...........

    Glad to know that the new boots are breaking in well Geoff - and that your little toe is happy too! Very impressed Kathy that you have been able to walk such long distances each day. And Bob, your GPS locating instruments are obviously doing what they were meant to do but it still takes some direction on your part to press the right buttons and speak in the right languages to get the correct reaction from the little critter!!

    Informative conversations that you and Kathy have been having Annemarie. Very interesting.

    Keep trekking. Look after each other. MOM and DAD

    1. Thanks Dad. Just to clarify, except for the first day, Kathy has been walking about 8-10 kms each stage at which point a Bob collects her and Annemarie and I walk on. Very impressed with her desire to walk each day. It’s been wonderful to have this special time together.


  3. I almost tried on those boots in Toronto at MEC, but they only had a size 14, no 13s! Happy to hear they’re working well. By the end of your journey, they’ll be toast, I’d expect. Although here in Regina, the heels can be rebuilt for $40 (including taxes). The replacement heels are Vibram, a little hard and slippery for climbing mountains, but just fine for walking on paths or roads. I expect the guy in Victoria who fixes boots does something similar.

    You’re doing a good thing, raising awareness of Alzheimer’s and spending time with Kathy.

    I like the haiku as well. They capture the emotions of the walk.
    Anyway, enjoy today’s walk! Ultreya!