Back to where it all began – Chemin d´Arles / La Voie de Piemont (April – May 2018)

Our April / May, 2018 Chemin from Montpellier to St. Jean Pied de Port (682km) through Castres, Toulouse, Auch, Maubourguet and Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

We followed the Chemin d’Arles trail westward from Montpellier until Oloron-Sainte-Marie.  At that point, we joined the Voie de Piemont to St. Jean Pied de Port, where we started our first Camino to Santiago. We started this Camino in Montpellier, rather than in Arles because the plan was to return later and walk from Vercelli, Italy through Arles to Montpellier. Making Montpellier the connecting point would make both walks about the same distance.  Previously we had walked from Vercelli to Rome so the plan was to connect our walks from Lisbon to Rome.  But after this walk, I may have changed my mind.

…click on the links below to see the blog posts.

An interactive map of our intended route

After the walk
Melanie’s thoughts after the walk

Day by day on the walk
Day 0 – Montpellier Cathedral to Euromédecine, 6.9km, 2.0hrs, 13 April
Day 1 – Euromédecine (Montpellier) to Montarnaud, 14.4km, 4.5hrs, 14 April
Day 2 – Montarnaud to St.-Guilhem-le-Desert, 22.6km, 8.0hrs, 15 April
Day 3 – St.-Guilhem-le-Desert to Arboras, 14.8km, 7.75hrs, 16 April
Day 4 – Arboras to St.-Jean-de-la-Blaquiére, 10.4km, 3hrs, 17 April
Day 5 – St.-Jean-de-la-Blaquiére to Lodève, 16.7km, 6.25hrs, 18 April
Day 6 – Lodève to Lunas, 26.9km, 7.5hrs, 19 April
Day 7 – Lunas to St.-Gervais-sur-Mare, 28.4km, 10.0hrs, 20 April
Day 8 – St.-Gervais-sur-Mare to Murat-sur-Vebre, 23.5km, 8.25hrs, 21 April
Day 9 – Murat-sur-Vebre to La-Salvetat-sur-Agaût, 22.2km, 8.5hrs, 22 April
Day 10 – La-Salvetat-sur-Agoût to Anglès, 19.0km, 5.75hrs, 23 April
Day 11 – Anglès to Noailhac, 23.6km, 7.0hrs, 24 April
Day 12 – Noailhac to Castres, 13.3km, 3.0hrs, 25 April
Day 13 – Castres to St. Amancet, 27.1km, 7.75hrs, 26 April
Day 14 – St. Amancet to La Barraque (Saint-Félix-Lauragais), 27.2km, 7.25hrs, 27 April
Day 15 – La Barraque to Villefranchie-de-Lauragais, 24.0km, 7.0hrs, 28 April
Day 16 – Villefranche-de-Lauragais to Donneville, 24.0km, 6.0hrs, 29 April
Day 17 – Donneville to Toulouse, 21.3km, 5.0hrs, 30 April
Jerry’s comments after his first Camino
Day 18 – Toulouse to Léguevin, 24km, 6.25hrs, 1 May
Day 19 – Léguevin to L’Isle-Jourdain, 15.7km, 5.5hrs, 2 May
Day 20 – L’Isle-Jourdain to Gimont, 19.7km, 4.25hrs, 3 May
Day 21 – Gimont to Auch, 28.9km, 7.5hrs, 4 May
Day 22 – Auch to L’Isle de Noé, 23.0km, 5.5hrs, 5 May
Day 23 – L’Isle de Noé to Lamouet (Monlezun), 23.6km, 8.0hrs, 6 May
Day 24 – Lamouet (Monlezun) to Maubourguet, 21.0km, 6.0hrs, 7 May
Day 25 – Maubourguet to La Lande de Haut (Morlaàs), 26.2km, 6.75hrs, 8 May
Day 26 – Morlaàs to Artiguelouve, 27.0km, 9.0hrs, 9 May
Day 27 – Artiguelouve to Oloron-Sainte-Marie, 26.5km, 7.75hrs, 10 May
Day 28 – Oloron-Sainte-Marie to L’Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, 24.6km, 7.75hrs, 11 May
Day 29 – L’Hôpital-Saint-Blaise to Mauléon-Licharre, 13.3km, 3.25hrs, 12 May
Day 30 – Mauléon-Licharre to Saint-Just-Ibarre, 20.7km, 6.5hrs, 13 May
Day 31 – Saint-Just-Ibarre to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, 21.7km, 5.5hrs, 14 May

Before the walk
Why this route?
How to prepare?
My gear list and comments
Six weeks to go. Should we get ready?
And then there were three
I should have packed earlier

7 thoughts on “Back to where it all began – Chemin d´Arles / La Voie de Piemont (April – May 2018)

  1. Hi Michael,
    Bon chemin! I just learned that 🙂
    I’ll be following your blog on this adventure.
    You may recall a month or so ago I posted a question about walking the Voie de Piemont in reverse from SJPdP to Lourdes, and you provided me with some valuable information regarding the GR routes and offline GPS apps. My plans are still very vague, but I hope to be able to pull something together for next year. Would love to hear whether you encounter any “backward pilgrims” on your journey. Best wishes!


  2. Michael, This looks like it will be a wonderful blog and I will be back to read more soon – Just one question, if you don’t mind – Why did you decide to jig west from Oleron Saint Marie to saint Jean Pied de Port instead of continuing on over The Cold De Somport on The Camino Aragones and picking up The Camino Frances in Obanos?? – Thanks in advance
    Best Regards

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie and Michael, We walked the Chemin Arles in 2017 and plan for the Via Francigena in September 2018. Can you compare the two for me in terms of difficulty (in your opinion). I have read your blogs, and wonder if you have any direct comparisons to make? Thanks.


    • Hi Charles & Andrea,

      We walked the Via Francigena only from Vercelli to Rome but that section, compared to the Chemin d’Arles, is quite different. Here are my rambling thoughts.

      I would say that the Via Francigena is a bit more difficult physically as, after our first 9 days or so, the mountains I recall being higher than the ones at the beginning of the Arles route. Once in Tuscany, it is HILLY! I always imagined “rolling hills” but these are big hills and we didn’t have wheels to roll. That said, if you walked the whole Arles, particularly over the Pyrenees, I am pretty certain that you can walk from Vercelli to Rome.

      Another thought… we saw more pilgrims on the Francigena, particularly closer to Rome. We had days that we could walk with others if we wanted to but this was pretty rare on the Arles. That said, don’t expect hordes – we probably saw less than a hundred different pilgrims the whole walk in Italy.

      It is also a lot cheaper in Italy. We tend to stay in cheap hotels or other accommodations with infrequent hostels. I think beds were half the costs in Italy. We loved the food in Italy a lot more that France. French food tasted great but it wasn’t the best kind of food for walkers. A plate of pasta, a shared main course with gelato for dessert can’t be beaten.

      The biggest difference between the two walks was logistics. I found it very difficult in France to try to plan the days around a 22-28km per day schedule. I could not find a reasonable way to walk on the Arles the few days before Toulouse so we walked in along the Canal du Midi alternative. Public holidays in France also meant that everything including restaurants and hotels are closed. We begged too many times for food and beds this year. We always found a place to sleep and although breakfasts are minimal and lunches rare, we always had something for dinner although macaroni and jam, or dried fruit or a few slices of sausage really should not count as dinner. Four times in France we were the only people in the hotel and I don’t just mean the only guests. The hosts left after collecting the money and asked us to lock up the place when we left.

      We also enjoyed interacting with the Italians more than the French. They just seemed more interested in the pilgrimage and helping if they could. Everyone in Italy wants to chat with pilgrims.

      In summary, while we don’t expect to ever repeat one of our walks, I would much more likely re-walk the Francigena than I would the Arles. We enjoyed the Arles, at least most of it but the logistics That’s all I can think of at the moment but if I can think of more, I’ll add it later. Buen Camino! (or Bon Chemin!) (or Buon Cammino!), Michael


      • Thank you so much. I thought I had replied to your lengthy post, but I guess it was only in my mind.
        We are leaving in less than 2 weeks for the Francigena. I’m really excited although it does look a little difficult hillwise. I’m hoping we’ll have some time to visit some of the wonderful sights along the way. Buen camino!


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