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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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Montpellier, France: Sun, blue, blue Mediterranean sky, 29. Deux jolie Pèlerins!

Sunny Days, Sunny Ways!

Where have I heard that saying before? Well, for once it’s quite appropriate in sunny Montpellier. After some 30 hours we finally arrived last night in time to drop our gear and head out to find dinner. Both exhausted but so very excited and in the moment, though with slightly less focus than usual. Jet lag isn’t heaven, but if we want these experiences then it comes with the territory. 

There is just something special about dinning out in France and lingering over a meal in the warm evening air. A good glass of French wine as the lights show themselves with people sauntering past in no particular hurry. There’s just something so very special.

I tried to pay with my Euro card, but my brain was so far behind me that I couldn’t remember the PIN number so I paid with cash. Returning to our rather decent hotel I emailed Rob with some sort of vague explanation and as usual he sent me the answers needed to fix the problem with a simple phone call. Thanks buddy! 

This experience made us consider our first parallel of our walk and it came along sooner than expected. Often people with Alzheimer’s forget simple things that would typically be unforgettable for them in the past. This little example was way out of character for me. Since reseting my pin and with some rest, my mind has recovered the former PIN number, something logical and meaningful to me. While I’m on the subject of Alzheimer’s, a little story from our flights over. In Vancouver our flight to Calgary was quite delayed and Annemarie went over to the front desk and was offered a seat upgrade to the emergency exit row. More leg room which was perfect! When it came time to board they called for the pre-boards and those in the emergency exit seats. Instead of the usual line up and rush to board, we were able to get on the plane in peace and we were comfortably settled before everyone rushed on to find a place for their bags and their seats. People with Alzheimer’s and dementia are accorded the same boarding courtesy, and one simply needs to advise the front desk that the person they are travelling with has this condition. The airline folks are all trained for this and they help to make a potentially difficult situation so much simpler. Very low keyed as we discovered when travelling with Kathy to Greece last September. 

A fitful, but long night of sleep found us both feeling much better this morning. We set off late to first take care of business and then we planned to enjoy some of the pleasures of the French experience. However we somehow found a pleasure first and decided not to fight it. Good decision, and they even gave us biscuits with our coffee and tea!! 

There was a fellow playing some mellow music on his sax and we again lingered and took it all in. Time passed and we finally had to get on with things. We went in search of a cellular provider and we ended up using Orange who we’ve used in the past. €40 later and we were out the door with a new SIM card and 10G’s of data. Still cheap at the price compared to Canada, but I won’t get on my soap box about that one here:) Suffice it to say that my iPhone has a phone number and I’ll be able to call ahead each day to confirm a couple of beds and our meals as is the custom when staying in French gîtes. It’s called demi-pension and no doubt I’ll make reference to this in future posts.

We wandered over to Église Saint-Roch to get the first stamp in our credentials, but found that it wasn’t going to open until 15:00, so we will return this evening for that often special formality. 
Being like all other pèlerin types we began to look for evidence of the Camino that we are soon to undertake. It didn’t take too long. Across the street in front of the church we found a painted wall which featured Saint Jacque and a scallop shell...can you see both? 

Having few if any plans we decided to walk the chemin route through old town Montpellier to help us generate a little excitement. Because you know we aren’t very excited. Nope, not at all:) 

We walked as far as the aqueduct. Who doesn’t like a nice aqueduct? Exactly! 

Retracing our steps we passed under a 17thC Arc de Triomphe,

and onwards to the Cathedral St. Pierre which had a rather cool wagon cover protecting the entrance. I guess in those days you quite never knew when a Louie was going to drop in for a visit. 

The noon bells started ringing about this moment so we wandered onwards into the old town which was quite nice. There were some good markets and Annemarie spent a few moments enjoying one of her passions. 

I spent a bit of time in front of one of my favourite spots too.

We wandered some more, stopping at a bank to confirm my pin reset before finding a bit of lunch. Gotta keep up our strength. 

Then we wandered back to our somewhat decent hotel, a bit rare for us so I’ve restated this point twice. 

Nice wall art.

Shortly we will venture out hoping that the heat has begun to reduce a bit. We have that stamp to get at the cathedral and then there will be a happy hour that apparently runs until 20:00 if you can imagine...and somewhere in there will happily be more food and maybe another drop of wine:)

Tomorrow we will stay here until late in the day and then catch our bus to Lodève where we will begin our Camino on Friday. Be sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages as we will try to post there most days. Also if you want an email notification of our posts there is a spot on the right of this blog to put in your email address and you will be notified. 

Ok. Time to get our credential stamped. Did I say that we’re pretty excited? 

Geoff & Annemarie 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks David. We are both laying here wide awake in the middle of the night. Really enjoying the jet lag!