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Way of Saint-Jacques: a royal tourist route for the Tarn-et-Garonne

the essential
A survey carried out in 2021 on the public of the Caminos de Compostela delivers its results. The section which crosses the Tarn-et-Garonne is more and more frequented and very well equipped.

If you are a 56-year-old woman, senior executive or exercising a liberal profession, you have the typical profile of a walker on the paths of Santiago de Compostela. This is the result of an in-depth study carried out over six months in 2021 by the Agence française des chemins de Compostelle. A survey that the department’s tourism professionals were impatiently awaiting to better identify an ever-increasing public of walkers between Lauzerte, Moissac and Auvillar (Grands sites Occitanie).

“This study had not been redone for almost ten years and we needed to gauge the accommodation offer, get feedback on the facilities, markings along the 61 km of the GR 65, explains Catherine Terset, in charge of mission Outdoor activities at Tarn-et-Garonne Tourisme. The Department has a green brigade which maintains the route and monitors the state of the markings throughout the year. Interpretation panels were installed last year throughout the Tarn-et-Garonne portion to provide historical and geographical information to walkers. »

If hikers want to spend a night in the department, the study considers the sleeping capacity “good” bringing together stopover lodges, guest rooms or hotels (68 hosts). The average price for one night is €26.

The bar of 20,000 walkers exceeded in 2022?

To make your choice to land and visit, signs inform these tourists about the essential stops in the department, starting with the listed towns Lauzerte, Moissac and Auvillar.

The study presents the Puy route (GR 65 which passes through the Tarn-et-Garonne) as the route to Santiago de Compostela most frequented by walkers: it attracts more than half of walkers each year ( 55%) far ahead of the thirteen other routes such as the Arles route and its GR 653 (13%) or the Vézelay route (12%).

Two eco-meters placed in Sainte-Juliette and Bardigues have been measuring the entrances and exits of the department of walkers on the GR 65 for 10 years.

A few lessons are learned: “In 2019, we counted 17,396 walkers on the route. Even if the covid has reduced this attendance in 2020 and 2021, we expect in this Saint Saint year to exceed 20,000, estimates Catherine Terset. In 2021, we counted 16,627 walkers in Lauzerte and there were only 11,000 in Bardigues. This suggests that many walkers make Auvillar or Moissac an important stopover town to visit the town and also cut their route. The Moissac SNCF station, very well served, allows them to leave by train. It is these same walkers who will resume the following year their journey to Saint-Jacques where they left off. »
Rare are the walkers who undertake to cover the 1,515 km between Le Puy and Saint-Jacques over two months. The average daily distance is estimated according to the study at 25.7 km. The average walker completes a journey of 27.8 days.

Anne Ius, President of Tarn-et-Garonne Tourisme: “An itinerary for tourists and locals”

Anne Ius, President of Tarn-et-Garonne Tourism.

How important is the GR 65 in the tourist development of Tarn-et-Garonne?

It is the oldest and most famous route, source of legends and fascination for centuries. It contributes to the reputation of our destination internationally. It is one of the most famous routes in the world, and its most sacred route, the via Podiensis, crosses essential stages of our territory.

Is this itinerary aimed solely at customers from outside Tarn-et-Garonne?

It attracts many pilgrims and walkers from all over the world, but the French are also present all along the way to Compostela, Puy-en-Velay being the starting point. Today, the challenge is to make it known as a hiking route that can be taken by tourists and locals throughout the year, developing 4-season tourism.

What points would still need to be worked on on this itinerary?

We care about the perpetual evolution of tourism in Tarn-et-Garonne, and we support the upscaling of services. The GR 65 is a route whose reputation is well established, but which is maintained throughout the year by the Green Brigade of the Departmental Council. The markup of the GR 65 is perfectly deployed. In 2021, the Department contributed financially to the customer survey, and set up interpretation panels to help walkers.

What is the goal this year?

During 2022, the Department wishes to join the Agence française des Chemins de Compostelle, and will continue to qualify its offer thanks to the deployment of the Accueil label on the Compostela paths. This label is intended for accommodation structures that have set up suitable services to accommodate hikers located less than 2 km from the GR65 from Sainte-Juliette to Bardigues. A walker’s guide already lists all the offer to be found along this route, published by Tarn-et-Garonne Tourisme and distributed in the tourist offices concerned by the route.

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