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, October 7, 2018

Étape 17: Marsiac - Moubourguet, 18 kms, rain, wind, 14

Rain, Rain, Rain

Well, I guess it had to finally happen. It’s been forecast for the past 5 days to arrive today, Sunday, but it arrived Saturday evening as we were about to walk into town to find our dinner. So on came our wet gear, out came our small lights and we set off into the centre to look for a restaurant. We found a popular looking pizza restaurant,but it was packed and we had no reservation so we moved on across the square to a restaurant we’d seen earlier. “No, we have no reservation” I told the waiter, but this time he found us a nice table and we were set. It continued to rain outside quite heavily at times.

Meanwhile inside, it was warm and we decided to have the Formula...three courses, usually a choice of two salads, mains and desserts. We chose the same thing and then the most amazing food started to arrive. 

I’d have taken a photo of the main duck course, but the couple beside us opened up a dialogue that ran through the entire meal. They were celebrating his birthday and told us that we were fortunate to get into the best restaurant in town. I told them that we knew people. They went on to tell us that each summer a world famous jazz festival is held in Marsiac with all the greats having attended over time. We had no idea, except that that I’d read about it in our guide, but basically ignored it as the warning to Pelerins was about not being able to get a bed very easily at that time. Our host at the gîte confirmed with us this morning that it is a big deal and that he hosts 200 people on his property while the festival is on the first two weeks of August. We told him that we weren’t big jazz folks, and his reply was that Canadians seldom come:). Perhaps my friend Karen would like to show up for this, if she’s following our blog. 

In any event, our nouveau friends at the next table went on to tell us that Marsiac was one of the first places in France to be designed with a street grid plan and that the church has the highest spire in Gers. I had done my reading and was aware, but they told us things so much better with their nice French accent. They also told us about the local and federal politics, always of keen interest when I’m travelling. Seems it’s the same everywhere, new politicians making old mistakes. It turns out that they also knew Edna! She’s famous!! 

About now dessert arrived..we are both loosing weight, but it’s not from lack of eating:) Peter and Dave, this would fit right in with your Michelin Guide Camino tour!  I think you should plan another one and we will meet you! 

Our neighbours wanted to show us their dessert too. We were after all having a birthday party! 

We went back out into the pouring rain and walked back to our gîte where we were actually quite pleased to have it to ourselves. Sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of space! 

This morning we woke to find the rain had slowed and after breakfast we headed off with most of our rain gear on or within easy access. Good thing too as we hit the first squall just out of town. We hiked the first hill and as we descended the other side we had our concerns about the heavy mud confirmed. Fortunately our host had told us about a road route to follow which would keep us out of the worst of the mud. Hey and guess what? He knows Edna too!! 

Leaving town.

When we arrived at the deviation the rain again to pour so we waited it out in a small bus shelter. 

We felt pretty fortunate that we decided not to take a rest day in Auch otherwise we would have had to walk the 32 kms that we walked yesterday today. Yup, we both felt better then. 

Out into the rain we went and finally we reached Moubourguet and surprisingly found a bread store and a small grocery still open at 12:00, on a Sunday no less?! We picked up groceries for the next two days as we will be pretty isolated tomorrow night at a Gite Communal and without wifi. Will post the stage the next day. Here’s a photo of all the food I’ve been carrying. Must be well over a kilo there. Can’t wait to eat it all and get my pack weight down further!

The locals in town seemed to find our wet gear and us a bit amusing, 

but they quickly directed us to a small pizza restaurant that was open where we were able to share a really good pizza and rest ourselves. One lady even stopped her car to direct us and then greeted us at the restaurant. The whole restaurant crowd then became involved in directing us towards our gîte a couple of kms out of town. Endless confusion and fun. 

Finally understanding the directions and turning down the offer of a ride, we headed off to find our home for tonight. 

Tomorrow we understand that it will warm to 18 and be a bit better weather wise with temperatures moving back up into the high 20’s again through the week. Looking ahead it seems that tentatively next Saturday will be a good window to cross the Pyrenees, but Sunday is looking wet again on the French side, so we plan to push through in order to enjoy the beauty of the mountains as we cross. The pass is quite a bit higher than the Napoleon on the Camino Frances, so I’m excited for what lies ahead. Fingers crossed for fair weather and smooth sailing.

When “easy” is a little bit harder: Today was a short, and mostly flat stage, an easy day. Our host last night even gave us a shortcut. We arrived into town just around noon, before closures due to Sunday hours. We were even able to get a hot lunch (pizza)...generally an easy day. But is was complicated by the rain...extra layers to wear, making it difficult to access the guidebook, and of course the discomfort of being wet, despite our high quality rain gear (actually Geoff was dry). When we arrived at our home for the night, there was no place to hang our wet gear to dry. Our hosts weren’t home when we got here, and we didn’t know the wifi code. When they arrived, the wifi code didn’t work, and it took about 45 minutes to resolve the problem. We had expected to use our extra time today to be able to sort out accommodations and make connections we weren’t able to make yesterday, but none of this is possible without wifi. For people in the early stage of Alzheimer’s (and their caregivers) this is an everyday experience; what was once easy is now a little more complicated. Experiences and events they could previously easily accomplish are now in some way more difficult. These are the early indicators, and as the disease progresses so does the difficulty of every day tasks.

Lastly, a few personal comments:

We just received a donation in honour of an old friend of mine who I used to play soccer with. We learned yesterday that Russ lost his wife this past week to early onset Alzheimer’s. Age 57. Our sincere condolences to you, your family and friends. Thanks for the heads up June.

On a more positive note we are delighted to hear that my cousin Gord has been given permission to return home permanently after his severe stroke in July. That will have been a very satisfying moment. Our thoughts are with you and your family as you settle in.
Also a shout out to my pal Louise. Really pleased to hear that your chemo is finished and that you are beginning the process to rebuild your strength. While we walk for Alzheimer’s Awareness we are thinking of you as you walk your own difficult journey through cancer. Our thoughts are with you too. 


  1. Looks really wet there!! You aren't missing anything - its drizzly and gloomy here too.

  2. Glad you had a good day. As someone once said to me after a wet day or two on the road, some people walk in the rain and some just get wet. We'd love some of that moisture over here in Australia - we're in drought and the farmers are struggling to feed animals and grow crops. Bon chemin.

  3. Here in Victoria the fall colours are stunning! Trees look like they are on fire starting off as yellow on the bottom layer and moving up to bright vibrant reds - almost as red as your coats!