The road to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle - GR®78 is one of the most important pilgrimage routes in the world. There are 4 main paths in France, which lead to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain: La Voie du Puy en Velay, Voie d'Arles, Voie de Vezelay and Voie de Tours. And also many ways like that of the coast or that of the Piedmont Pyrenees, which passes through Ariège!

The path of the foothills of St. Jacques de Compostela in a few words

  • Total distance: 534km
  • 21 steps:
  • Estimated time: about 64 days of walking
  • Departure: Carcassonne / Arrival: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
  • Markings: White and Red
  • Difficulties: 3/5. You are in good physical condition and are prepared for the multi-day hike. No particular difficulties for knowledgeable and suitably equipped hikers.

The section of trail between Montpellier and Carcassonne is currently in the process of GR® homologation. From Carcassonne, GR®78, the trail is signposted and developed to Saint-Jean Pied de Port. 

To prepare your stay:

Favorable period

Considering the weather, it is advisable to do this trek between June and October.

The Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle aims to reach the tomb attributed to the apostle Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur, located in the crypt of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain (Galicia).

The first traces of the pilgrimage date from July 25, 813. On this date, the hermit Pelagius, guided by a mysterious star, would have discovered, in an old cemetery, the apostle's burial. This is how the pilgrims began to come to honor these relics.

The pilgrimage reached its peak in the XNUMXth century. It is also from this period that the codex calixtinus, collection of recipes dedicated to Saint-Jacques the Major and his pilgrimage, of which the fifth book, the Guide of the pilgrim of St Jacques de Compostelle will be considered as the ancestor of the travel guides.

In 1492, after the capture of Granada, Pope Alexander VI officially declares Santiago de Compostela the place of one of the "three great pilgrimages of Christendom", with those of Jerusalem and Rome.

The ways of Saint-Jacques are strewn with many demonstrations of fervor, penance, hospitality, art and culture.

The Piedmont way, GR78

This route connects Montpellier to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in 700 kilometers. At the foot of the Montagne Noire, between Hérault and Aude, the old cadastres tell us about the pilgrims who gave their name to the route: the Camin de Sanct Jaume or the Camin Romieu, unique in France. The Codex Calixtinus even refers to it by recommending honoring Tiberius, Modeste and Florence in Saint-Thibéry.

The way of Piedmont still little known, enchants by the serenity of its landscapes and beauty of its churches, abbeys, small villages and his tranquility away from the crowds of other lanes.

From the city of Carcassonne, the route connects the towns of Fanjeaux and Montreal in Aude, the city ​​of Saint-Lizier in Ariège, Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges and the basilica of Valcabrère, the world-famous sanctuary of Lourdes and leads to Oloron en Béarn and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port by serving the valleys and passes of the Pyrenees.

Cloître de Saint Lizier Ariège Pyrénées
Cloister of Saint Lizier © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / S.Meurisse

Marked by the presence of sumptuous Romanesque buildings like in Rieux-Minervois, Vals or Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, the Piedmont route is a path full of character that enchants with the serenity of its landscapes on the balcony of the mountain range. Its moderate attendance makes it a path of intimacy that can promote reflection and introspection.

Notre-Dame-de-la Sède vue de l'extérieur à Saint-Lizier
Notre-Dame-de-la Sède seen from the outside © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / S.Meurisse

The most beautiful corners of the Piedmont route in Ariège