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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Monday, October 1, 2018

Étape 11: Port Lauragais - Toulouse, 28 kms, Sun, Cloud, Windy, 15 (6 below normal...brrrrrr!)

Walking & Talking

It was a cool, windy morning as we set off along the beautiful Canal du Midi. A much nicer walk into Toulouse than the standard route. 

I think this was the first time that we’ve had our advertising posted here in full walking gear. Kathy kindly took the photo for us.

So a last day to walk together. Clearly it was bitter sweet for all Le Trois Pelerins. We’ve had lots of fun, and one of the things we spoke about today was what’s next for us? Where will we travel to or what else can we do together to keep the fun going. Kathy has clearly enjoyed this experience, so we will have to think about next things. I think Annemarie is writing something about this, so I’ll leave those thoughts for now.

We did manage to catch part of the sunrise, though for me not quite as spectacular as yesterday. 

The Canal runs a very long way and is an active travel corridor complete with a series of locks and Roman bridges. So it was a real treat today with both hard surface and trail walking as we moved towards the city. I think my pal Dennis will experience a déjà vu as he looks at some of the photos after his barge ride in the UK this spring. When I get home he will likely tell me all the fine details of the lock functions as well...sigh. 

The walking and talking was in full force early on, and Annemarie is busy typing away opposite me in a small French cafe where we’ve found wifi and a very nice bar tender who saw us writing and asked what we were up to. We explained and showed her our shirts, and her response was very positive. Now we hope that the blog link will be distributed to a on few folks in France on social media. Very nice:)

The first Roman bridge. I liked it!

And now you pretty much have most of the walk! Repeat, repeat...

After walking for 5 stages and over 50 kms just look how confident Kathy looks. It’s wonderful to see! Today when I told her that she’d walked half the distance needed to earn a compostella, she said that she could probably walk the required 100 kms. Nice.

We extended her walk on the fly this morning, but all too soon it was over and Bob was waiting. We celebrated!

We walked on as Kathy and Bob headed off to drop the car off at the airport and to see a bit of Toulouse.

Another Roman bridge of the horizon?

No spring flowers, but I did find some fall beauty.

I think this is a very old route marker along the canal. It’s numbered.

And who doesn’t like to share a fish story?

Then there were the live aboard barges that were pretty cool. 

And some very nice taging on what turned out to be a bridge we had to cross. Got me thinking about the big green one by Astoria which I should cross in about 5 weeks from now. Remember it Rob?

Then we were at the end of the metro line which we road into the city centre to save a bit of time to have with Kathy and Bob. We quickly showered, went out to get our phone sorted out (couldn’t make calls) and picked up our stamp at the basilica.

A very, very pilgrim friendly welcome. Much of the basilica is dedicated to the Chemin. The ladies were very friendly and they told me that Jean-Philip has not yet checked in. Will email him tomorrow to try and reconnect. 

Conversations With Kathy

It’s a tradition when we near the end of a travel for us to take time to identify highlights and lowlights of the trip. I asked Kathy what she liked best about our time together here, as well as what she didn’t like. She told me she loved the walking part, especially the last two days. The scenery, being in nature, and the opportunity to just drink it in, were all important parts of the joy of the walks, and our conversations together were also a highlight for her (more about that later). We talked about how much she has always loved being in nature and how walking is a perfect activity for her. She then said she has liked “all of it”, which is the same answer she gave when I asked this question at the end of our trip to Greece last year. I then asked what she didn’t like, and she struggled for words, but said that it was when she knew what she needed to do but couldn’t get her brain to cooperate...we had a number of these times, as she sometimes struggled with her poles, or following a direction we gave her. As the walk progressed and she became more confident these moments reduced. I then shifted the question to ask what the positives and negatives of living with Alzheimer’s are for her. One obvious positive has been the travel she has done since being diagnosed...two trips to Hawaii, one to Greece and this one, as well as some more local holidays. These likely wouldn’t have happened in such a condensed time period (two years) were it not for her diagnosis. On the down side, she said it’s when people avoid her or avoid the subject of Alzheimer’s. She said she is very aware of what’s ahead for her, and while there’s nothing she can do about it, she can focus on making the most of the present, and it is helpful to talk about it. This is why she has enjoyed our conversations. She confirmed that I got it right yesterday when I said the past and future don’t hold as much importance for her as the present. While Kathy and I have always been able to talk about things, this opportunity to walk and talk, and for me to ask the tough questions, and get her honest answers has been beneficial to her, as well as to those of us who have benefitted from her wisdom. I told her about the comments we have received from some of you who are following us, admiring her courage and willingness to share her thoughts and experiences...and she said that its important to her to do so. Last year her catch phrase was “walking, walking, walking”. This year the catch phrase is “walking and talking”. These conversations have been truly special for both of us, and I’m inspired to continue to walk and talk with Kathy when we’re both back home. Tomorrow I plan to post some of my personal reflections from these conversations.

Tonight the four of us plan to enjoy the complexities of cassoulet together. There will be wine, there will be laughter and most of all...there will be love at the table.

Bon Chemin!


  1. Another special day together. Enjoy that cassoulet and the sense of sharing such a rich journey. Bon chemin, Neil and Sarah

  2. Yes, I remember the bridge in Astorga along with the chocolate and heat!

    1. Yup, it was very hot, but the chocolate was amazing and the beers we enjoyed that evening were ice cold!


  3. That was a moving post. Annemarie’s reflections on Kathy’s illness, what she has enjoyed and not enjoyed, are very powerful. I’m sorry that’s your last day walking with Kathy, but I’m happy you got to spend this time with her.

    Great light in the first photograph, the one Kathy took. You’ve got to love magic hour.

    Our snow melted, which is good, because it’s early in the fall to be saying “mispon anohc” (it is snowing today in Cree). I hear the rain falling outside this morning, which probably means I’ll get a lift into the school—I don’t want to teach soaking wet.

    Yesterday, Paul Salopek, who is walking out of Africa for the National Geographic, was interviewed on CBC’s The Current. I caught part of it in the car. You might be interested in finding the podcast and having a listen. He’s in Pakistan now and what a journey he’s had. Speaking of that word, I’m really enjoying following your journey. I look forward to the blog email every morning while I’m drinking coffee and thinking about the day.

    Have a great day of walking!


    1. Hey Ken, I’ll look for the podcast. I’ve been following his blog page as he walks this past year and he’s pretty amazing. I think it will take another 5 years to complete his journey! He has a very supportive spouse:)