The Arles Way, or Via Tolosana, begins in Arles on the River Rhone heads west to Toulouse, then turns south to cross the Somport Pass in the Pyrenees where it meets the Camino Aragon in Spain - with Santiago de Compostela its final destination.
Walking the Arles Way in the south of France is particularly enjoyable due to the climate, sublime landscapes, charming villages and towns and excellent cuisine.
This is not a busy path in terms of numbers of walkers, but you will encounter many remarkable places and traditions, such as the St-Trophime and Roman monuments at Arles. Gellone Abbey is located in the quaint medieval village of St-Guilhem-le-Désert; the Grands-Causses and Haut-Languedoc natural parks are fragrant with Mediterranean plants and aromatics and finally, the walk along the Canal du Midi into Toulouse is enchanting, ending close to your destination of the Basilica of St-Sernin.
If you continue from Toulouse, there are more memorable landscapes and stopping places ahead of you - both town and country - Morlaas, Lescar, Oloron St Marie. From the castle terraces at Pau, you feast your eyes on that great frontier with Spain - the Pyrennees. The turn due south to the Apse Valley, climbing steadily to the Col de Somport.
And you can still keep going, crossing the border into Spain where the Arles Way joins the Camino Aragon. From here you have another 88 miles / 140 km until the Camino Aragon meets the Camino Frances at Puente de la Reina.
Arles to St Guilhelm le Desert makes a very nice weeklong itinerary.
Arles to Toulouse is a 25-night itinerary if you include the recommended two rest days.
Arles to Urdos is 40-night itinerary if you include the recommended three rest days.
We will tailor any part of the route to suit your requirements.
- WEEK ONE
- Arles to St Gilles 13 miles / 21 km
- St Gillies to Vaivert 11 miles / 18 km
- Valvert to Saturagues 15 miles / 24 km
- Saturagues to Vendargues 11 miles / 18 km
- Vendargues to Montpellier 9 miles / 15 km
- Montpellier to Montarnaud 12.5 miles / 20 km
- Montarnaud to Saint Guilhem Le Desert . 13 miles / 21 km
- WEEK TWO
- Saint Guilhem Le Desert to Saint Jean de la Blaquiere 14.5 miles / 23 km
- Saint Jean de la Blaquiere to Lodeve 9 miles / 14 km
- Lodeve to Lunas 16.5 miles / 26..5 km
- Lunas to St Gervais Sur Mere 17.5 miles / 28 km
- Saint Gervais Sur Mare to Murat 14 miles / 22.5 km
- Murat Sur Vebre to La Salvetat 13.5 miles / 21.5 km
- La Salvetat to Angles 12 miles / 19 km
- WEEK THREE
- Angles to Boissezon 14.5 miles / 23.5 km
- Boissezon to Castres 8 miles / 13 km
- Castres to Dourgne 14 miles / 22 km
- Dourgne to Revel 11 miles / 17 km
- Revel to Le Casses 11 miles / 17 km
- Le Casses to Montferrand 11 miles / 17 km
- Montferrand to Villenouvelle 16 miles / 25.5 km
- WEEK FOUR
- Villenouvelle to Donneville 11 miles / 17.5 km
- Donneville to Toulouse
- Gimont to Montegut 12 miles / 19 km
- Montegut to Auch 10 miles / 16.5 km
- Auch to L'Isle de Noe 5 miles / 24 km
- L'Isle de Noe to Montesquiou 7 miles / 10.5 km
- Montesquiou to Marciac 14 miles / 22 km
- WEEK FIVE
- Marciac to Maubourguet 10.5 miles / 17 km
- Maubourguet to Vidouze 8 miles / 13 km
- Vidouze to Morlaas 16 miles / 26 km
- Morlaas to Pau 9 miles / 14 km
- Pau to Monein 12 miles / 19 km
- Monein to Oloron Sainte Marie 13 miles / 21 km
- Oloron Sainte Marie to Sarrance 13 miles / 21 km
- WEEK SIX
- Sarrance to Accous 8 miles / 13 km
- Accous to Urdos 10 miles / 16 km
- FROM URDOS THE TRAIL CONTINUES OVER THE COL SOMPORT INTO SPAIN AND MERGES ONTO THE CAMINO ARAGON
Week One Description
From Arles, the Chemin crosses the River Rhone, heading west. This is your warm-up day - passing farms, vineyards and some lovely hamlets. Soon you'll leave the built-up markers of the city behind you as you cross the northern reaches of the Camargue National Park towards St Gilles, set on the banks of the canal.
The park is home to the famous white horses. The Camargue Horse is an ancient breed indigenous to this area of southern France and lives wild in the wetlands of the Rhone delta. Keep a lookout for water birds on the marshes - flamingoes in summer are here in great numbers.
Saint-Gilles-du-Gard was one of the great Benedictine monasteries, founded in the 8th century by the hermit St. Gilles. This ensured the enormous prosperity of the town, which was a port of embarkation to the Holy Land in the Middle Ages.
The route takes you past fields & vineyards, cut with canals and irrigation channels - orchards and groves of oak are scattered along the route. Vauvert is the capital of the Gard Camargue, its name meaning "green valley", is located at the edge of the Costieres de Nimes vineyard zone. In the Middle Ages, it was one of the most notable places of pilgrimage in France.
The path crosses more vineyards and the Bas Rhone Canal. Passing through Gallargues-le-Montueux, located between Montpellier, Nimes, the sea and the Camargue. Its location has marked many of its traditions, industry such as dyeing and weaving and games such as bullfighting. On towards Saturagues past vineyards, irrigation canals and dykes through an attractive landscape.
Gallargues-le-Montueux, which was called Grand-Gallargues until 1969, (pop. 3,000) is located near Montpellier, Nimes, the sea, and the Camargue - all of which marks its traditions, its games such as bullfighting. Dyes of madder and the lucrative weaving of "Indian" (Hermes squares of the time) that made the reputation and fortune of the Gallarguois. In the Middle Ages, Saint-Géniès-des-Mourgues possessed a Benedictine abbey. It was built in stone from local quarries. Sold during the Revolution, it was restored between 1965 and 1980.
In the Middle Ages, Montpellier was an important centre of commerce thanks to its situation on three tracks (Domitia, Silk and Compostela), as well as of medical knowledge having a school of
medicine. Its botanical garden was created in 1593. As Capital of Languedoc under Louis XIV,
luxurious mansions testify to the richness of the city in the 17th century. The way of Arles is also called "Via Aegidiana" (road of Saint-Gilles), "Via Arelatensis", or "Via Tolosana".
Montarnaud is an 11th-century Castral village, (i.e. A military encampment) with a 16th-century castle and the chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Fort (12th-13th century).
The medieval village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is set along the meandering Verdus stream. The
houses are arranged along ancient alleyways with ancient roof tiles, baked by the Languedoc sun for twelve centuries. It is built around the Abbey of Gellone, which is registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The 1000-year-old Pont du Diable is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Arles - Roman & Artistic Heritage
Arles, in the Provence region of southern France, is located on the banks of the River Rhone. This area famed for inspiring many artists including Picasso and most famously Vincent Van Gogh. There is a walking tour around the many Arlesian places Van Gogh painted, including the Quai du Rhone Starry Night and the Langlois Bridge - also known as the Pont Van Gogh. Arles was once a provincial capital of ancient Rome and many impressive traces survive to this day - not least the Arles Amphitheatre which is now a venue for theatre, music and bullfights.
Food & Drink
The gastronomy of the south of France is wonderful - featuring local produce and traditional home-cooked recipes, often with a twist. And of course, French wines are world famous. You will be passing through areas where local wines are available to enjoy in bars and restaurants.
Many of our accommodations are small guest houses or Chambres d'Hotes, where they take pride in serving home cooked menus to their guests. We prefer to book our itineraries on bed and breakfast, however, you are often obliged to dine in-house in the Chambres d'Hotes as part of the overall service, paying the host direct for dinner.
In the larger centres, B&B board is in your best interests as there are many dining options to suit all pockets and tastes. You will find an enticing range of eateries at all times of the day. For example, the town of Oloron Saint Marie is famed for its patisseries. These sophisticated specialist cake shops are gourmet palaces for anyone with a sweet tooth.
The Arles Way is a quiet route and you will not encounter very many walkers. This means that there are not a lot of services on the trail itself, outside of the many villages you pass through. This means it's a good plan to take a picnic lunch with you. Some lodgings will make a picnic for you, otherwise, you can visit the local stores for picnic items each morning. French bakeries - boulangerie - are very good and open early for business, pretty much everywhere.
Comfortable, small establishments with high levels of personal service.
We choose comfortable, small, family-run establishments on the Arles Way. All rooms have en-suite facilities. Our high level of personal service and customer care strives to offer the best in the local food, culture and history.
If you wish to upgrade your accommodation there are some opportunities to do so - usually in the bigger towns and cities.
In the larger centres, we offer all accommodation on a Bed and Breakfast basis to allow you the chance to try local eateries in the immediate vicinity of your hotel. This allows you the widest range of French cuisine and the chance to soak up the local atmosphere.
Some of our locations are very rural and the lodgings are Chambres d'Hotes, which are family-owned guest house establishments, offering lodgings and half board. Table d'hote menus are famously delicious and good value - as one would expect of rustic French cuisine.
On the rare occasion, we may have to accommodate you in lodgings slightly off the route, due to availability. Under these circumstances we would arrange a shuttle transfer from a convenient place.
Montpellier and Marseille are the closest airports if starting your walking tour in Arles.
Internal flights from Paris to the southern airports of Montpellier and Marseille are just over an hour flight time.
You can also fly into Toulouse, Lyon or Paris and connect by train.
Trains from Paris take around 3.5 hours to reach Arles.
Toulouse to Arles by train is 3 hours.
Marseille to Arles by train is 50 minutes.
We can book your train tickets for you as part of your tour package.
Listed below are some reviews from other customers who have already undertaken this tour with Walk the Camino.
- Review by Duncan & MargNeedless to say, we loved the Arles Way - thanks for the arrangements and support when called upon. The Table de Vaches near Angles was very good - great hosts, former restaurateurs from Beziers - Antoine is a wonderful chef. Also, stand out lodgings at Maison Escampe - the place is awesome and the host cooks your dinner for you. The end of the walk in late June had a short heatwave - it got quite hot (mid-30s c), so we were glad of the Canal du Midi towpath which gave us two days of shade all the way into Toulouse city centre.