Two years after we walked the Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied de Port, on the French side of the Pyrenees, to Santiago de Compstela, we also walked from Lisbon to Santiago on the Caminho Portugues. The following year, we walked the Camino Ignaciano from Loyola in the Basque Country, through Logroño to Manresa, near Barcelona. That was enough of the Iberian Peninsula for us for a while so in 2016, we walked the Via Francigena from Vercelli (a small town near Milan) to Rome.
When I looked at our walks on a map, the trails spanned a lot of the south of Europe. The next logical step was to connect some of the routes so that we will have effectively walked from Lisbon to Rome. There were several options to do this but we mainly looked at walking from Vercelli to Manresa or to St. Jean Pied de Port. Either way, it would take us two of our long walks because we can’t afford to walk for 60-some days straight.
In 2017, we took a break from our plan in order to walk the Camino del Norte from Hendaye, France to Oviedo, then the Camino Primitivo to Santiago. As far as our pan-European walk plans went, this particular Camino did nothing for us. It duplicated our east to west distance that we had already done, paralleling the Camino Frances. It was a great walk anyway.
Back to our plan, in 2018, we have decided to walk from Montpellier to St. Jean Pied de Port, along the Chemin d’Arles as far as Oloron-Sainte-Marie, then along the Voie du Piémont to St. Jean. This is about the same distance as the walk from Vercelli to Montpellier which we will likely attempt in 2019.
We considered other routes such as using the Voie du Piémont the whole way to St. Jean or walking more along the Mediterranean coast through Narbonne to the Camino Girona then to Manresa but we just liked the terrain on the more northerly Chemin as well as the better chance to meet other walkers. Also, I have enough trouble with languages. The thought of trying to learn French again for two weeks of the walk before switching to Spanish, had my head spinning.
The orange trail on this map is our planned route in 2018. We hope to walk the green trail through Turin on the following walk. We are still debating detouring down to Lourdes to join the Voie du Piémont or continue further to join it in Orolon-Sainte-Marie. That is the reason for that little loop you see on the map in the southwest of France. If we don’t walk through Lourdes, we will return after the Chemin to visit there. Let me know if you need some prayers.