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, October 13, 2018

Étape 23: Urdos - Canfranc Estación, 22 kms, Sun, few clouds, 24

ESPAGNE!! I Love Spain!

The last couple of days we’ve been talking with other Pelerin, oops, pelegrinos ((Spain now) and we’ve compared the many routes as we addicted walkers will do. We have all been impressed with this route through the Pyrenees. All routes are excellent and have their special hilights, but this is one of those which takes 4 stages to cross, vs the 1 or 2 days on the Napoleon (Camino Frances). We found that it gives one a real sense of the Pyrenees as you tackle the ups and downs. And today was the up day except at the end when we descended steeply to the Estación.

We started fairly early and enjoyed the early morning cool for a short time before the climbing warmed us up and we removed our jackets after about 10 minutes. 

The higher inside mountains immediately made themselves known. We understand from others that the whole pass was covered in snow a week ago and advice was given then to bus across. It since warmed so we are feeling fortunate to be in a position to cross over on foot. It is suppose to cool off considerably the next few days on the French side with lots of rain, so it was all worth it to make it here before the weather window snaps closed tomorrow.

I took this photo for my sister in law, Lisa who I know loves all things horses. The horses up here are really sturdy.

We came back down from the western side of the river, across to the highway and up the eastern side where there wasn’t much of anything flat until we arrived at the top. It was splendid hiking!

It was better and better as the mountains revealed themselves. Really fun to see what was waiting around the next corner. Anticipation is a double edge sword. I know Annemarie was a bit concerned about the climb, and I know that for the past number of months that it’s been at the back of my mind from time to time. Really, it was a good hike, but not as difficult as several of the mountains we climbed in Japan on The 88...all those frickin stairs! So we arrived at the top in pretty good shape.

A little advertisement for those who still might like to consider donating at some point:)

It really was a wonderful hour that we spent up there. Taking silly photos and enjoying the moment.

The old frontier border station is still here, long gone for now.

The signs at the top suggest that it’s still almost 900 kms to Santiago. I’ve seen different distances posted and no two agree, so we will just walk on and not worry too much about those sorts of things. Living each day as it comes and taking it all in. Just happy to be here, healthy and able.

We felt especially welcomed when we stepped into Spain and saw this icon familiar to anyone whose walked Camino!

The new highway passes underneath the mountain range, but the old highway still goes over the top as the case in many parts of Europe. We saw both sides of it and it’s been used for the Tour de France and for the Spanish Grand Tour coming up from the Spanish side of course. At the top of the pass is a huge resort for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

The hike down had its moments, but the wifi here is really slow and I’ve been at this two hours and need a I’ll finish this up and we will go look around town...the end of the Spanish train line in this region of the country. 

One last thought about what you do when the trail you’re on is inhabited by 30 of  these with long pointy things on their heads and coming towards you.

We moved left rather quickly! 

Transition days: Today was a day that Geoff in particular has looked forward to for a long time; climbing over the Pyrenees in the sunshine on a pass that we are familiar with from the Tour de France, transitioning from France to Spain. That’s a lot in one day. We all have “big”days like his from time to time...weddings, new jobs, retirement...all of which result in some significant transition. One of the more significant transitions for a person with Alzheimer’s is when they are no longer able to drive. Whether they voluntarily surrender their licence or it is taken from them, it can be an abrupt transition, suddenly making them more dependent on others. For caregivers one of the more challenging transitions is when the person they are caring for enters a care facility. Sometimes this transition takes a long time, like our long awaited ascent today. Other times the transition is abrupt, triggered by a hospital admission or a crisis of some sort. However they come about, transition days are usually memorable and life changing in big or small ways.

We arrived into town to find out that we are in the midst of a Spainish long weekend holiday so the place is packed. We checked out a dorm accommodation, but Annemarie said a pretty clear “no” after seeing the room, and so we walked over to a three star place which is really nice. Sorry kids, there will be no inheritance! 

But we have a nice view from our window:)

Buen Camino! From Spain.


  1. What a great walk today! Just about everything clicked into place - the good trails - the better than expected weather pattern - the anticipation of what might show up around each bend of the trail plus arriving at your destination for the day and enjoying the better than first expected overnight, luxury (3 star rating) accommodation including a room with a view!! Totally spoiled but well earned. This will be a day you will long remember. A worthwhile day to say the least ............

    Keep trekking and look after each other.


    1. Hi Dad, Turned out to be a 4* hotel which in Spain simply means there is an elevator and something special this place also has a spa, but while that would have been nice, we didn’t have the time. However the restaurant was very good and I ate so much food! Breakfast here is very light and there was no town to stop at for lunch, so we carry some dried fruit and nuts plus a bit of dried sausage for energy as we walk. Dinner with some really good vino tinto was just what was required to replenish ourselves. I’ll post a photo of my meal after we walk today. Could never get away with this at home or I’d turn into an oversized marshmallow!

  2. Welcome to Spain!

    Great post about the climb and the crossing. Thanks for taking us along. Has the food changed since the crossing? The wine? Is where you are now considered Basque country or is that further north? So many questions.

    Anyway, great post. Have a great day tomorrow!


  3. What a stunning crossing. Feeling very envious as we look at these photos. Sounds like you had a ball - we get it!! Great to see those flechas. And now you can roll for a few days... BC. Neil and Sarah

    1. You would have loved it!! Excellent walking weather and stunning surroundings.