The Route:
The Tours route from Paris to Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port passes through either Chartres or Orleans, then Tours and Poitiers, before continuing through Saintes and Bordeaux to Ostabat, where many French routes join before going via Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port and onward into Spain. A further variant branches off at Châtellerault, which is northeast of Poitiers, and continues via Saint-Savin sur Gartempe and Angoulême to Saint Aulaye in the Dordogne.

Beyond Saint Aulaye and as far as Montpon-Menestrol there is no waymarking by any Pilgrim Association, but the direct route to a crossing of the Pyrenees known to have been used by Pilgrims is via Mont-de-Marsan and Pau, and then the Col de Somport, on the Arles route. This route uses sections of the Vézelay, Le Puy, and Arles routes. Once in Spain the route is via Jaca to where it joins the Camino Francés at Puente La Reina. The overall distance from Châtellerault to the Spanish border is approximately 520km.

It is possible to join the Le Puy or Vézelay routes rather than continuing via Somport, or to take a waymarked route from Lescar, near Pau, to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

eastern variant of chemin de tours

Waymarking: There is waymarking of variable quality on the sections adopted by local associations, but none on the links between these sections. GPX files are available for the entire route, as a download.

Terrain : There are no significant hills before reaching the Pyrenees, and most of the route is suitable for a hybrid or gravel bike if following the GPX route. The waymarked parts of the route may not all be suitable for cycles.

When to go : Any time that you consider suitable for a climate that is cold and wet between November and March. It never gets very hot, but August can sometimes be stormy.

eastern variant of voie de tours

Accommodation:  There is not much budget accommodation, and most campsites close in the winter, usually re-opening at Easter. Distances can be long between towns but there is some pilgrim accommodation available. This route is probably more suited to cyclists or to walkers with a support vehicle.

Maps and guides : There is a fully tested version of an interactive guide with a link from here. There are overview maps in this guide, as well as GPX files giving full routing.

Cyclists : The route in the interactive guide is primarily aimed at cyclists.

Videos of the route narrated in French and English, as well as how to use the guide are available here!

- Page, resources and maps created by Barbara Reed