General Description: The Arles Route is one of the four medieval pilgrim routes described in the Codex Calixtinus in the 12th century. 905 km (745 km in France and 160 km in Spain). From Arles (Provence) through Montpellier and Toulouse then southward, crossing the Pyrenees into Spain by the Col du Somport. In Spain the route is also known as the Camino aragonés and continues from Somport through Jaca then westward to join the Camino francés just east of Puente la Reina.
Waymarking: Well marked. In France it is waymarked with the red and white bars of the Sentiers de Grande Randonnée as GR 653. In Spain it is waymarked with yellow arrows but also with red and white bars as GR 653 as part of the network of Senderos de Gran Recorrido.
Terrain: Described as tough and extremely varied. From the camargue (drained marshlands of the Rhône delta) through the steep hills of the Haut Languedoc and then vast areas of commercial forest to the crossing of the Pyrenees at Col du Somport.
When to go: Weather on t he Vía Tolosana is strongly affected by the Pyrenees, meaning extremely variable from day to day. Languedoc and Aragón can be very hot in the summer in the lower areas but very cold in the higher reaches. The Col du Somport crossing the French-Spanish border will be snow-covered in the winter. Spring and autumn are the best times to walk. Summer brings crowds of tourists. Crossing the Col du Somport in the winter is not advised. Climate tables for Toulouse and Arles.
Accommodation: The concept of the pilgrim albergue or refuge does not exist on the French portion of the route but does in Spain. The hotels, gites and chambers d’hôte used by tourists are available and are generally expensive. Sometimes a pilgrim discount is offered.
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