Introduction. La Voie Littorale/La Voie de Soulac/La Voie des Anglais runs from the mouth of the Gironde down the coast to Hendaye and the Spanish border.
The Route. The way pilgrims would have come from the north to cross the estuary from Royan, to Hendaye/Irún on the Spanish border. (Those who wish can therefore continue on from there to Santiago via one of the Caminos del Norte or go via the Tunnel Route to join the Camino Francés.) The footpath starts at the Pointe de Grave (the tip of the Médoc peninsula) and runs south, passing directly through the towns of Soulac, Montalivet-les-Bains, Hourtin Plage, Lacanau Océan, Arès, Biganos, Sanguinet, Parentis-en-Born, Mimizan, Moliets-et-Maa, Vieux Boucau, Hossegor, Bayonne, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and finally, Hendaye. The overall distance is approximately 375kms. The natural continuation is along the north coast of Spain, but from Bayonne there are also connections to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (Voie de la Nive) and Pamplona (Voie du Baztan)
Waymarking. In the Gironde this is in the form of posts bearing a yellow stylised scallop pointing the direction of travel, while further south small scallop markers are fastened to trees, walls, etc. This signing is excellent throughout the entire length of the footpath, with the exception of a short, unmarked section between Tarnos and Bayonne.
Terrain. For the most part the path is in forest, although there are some wonderfully attractive sections along lake shores in the départements of both the Gironde and the Landes. Almost all the resorts along the Atlantic coast are visited, and the stretch around the Bassin d’Arcachon is particularly beautiful. North of Bayonne this is all fairly flat walking (the highest dune is 39m), but paths can be very sandy underfoot. The Basque country between Bayonne and Hendaye is pleasantly undulating and much more populated.
When to go. Anytime, although many hotels and campsites are closed in winter. Also beware of July and August when all the accommodation is at a premium because of the holiday season.
Accommodation. Plenty of good campsites, an increasing number of which offer pilgrims the use of a tent or mobile home for the night. There are small hotels and chambres d’hôtes in most villages, but pre-booking is advisable. Details of all accommodation and appropriate websites are given in the route guides below.
Maps and guides.
Cyclists. Certain parts of the walkers’ route are accessible to cyclists but in other places alternatives need to be taken, as detailed in the CSJ PDF guide.
Thanks to Judy Smith
Confraternity of Saint James,
27 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NY, United Kingdom.
Tel: (+44) (0)20 7928 9988
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Founded in 1983 to promote the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela