Isabelle and Alejandro’s Maison des Pèlerins
You need to have walked the Camino to really understand the emotions a pilgrim experiences. That’s what Alejandro suggested to me when we decided to change our lifestyles and open our hostel. And that was also when we found the Maison des Pèlerins, in Aire-sur-l'Adour. We’re right on the Way of Puy-en-Velay, the most popular section of the Camino in France. Near Gers and not for from Béarn, walkers are treated to a landscape that’s typical of South-West France.
Aire-sur-l'Adour, the gateway to Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Most of the time, pilgrims only walk the Camino once, and a lot of them walk it in sections. Near the main connections to the railway stations and just a few kilometres from Spain, Aire-sur-l'Adour serves as a gateway to Nouvelle-Aquitaine and pilgrims often visit it twice: they end their walk here one year, and pick it up again the next one. This means we have the pleasure of seeing them come back. Then you have what we call the “Camino addicts”, people for who the Camino is a passion that verges on obsession. What drives them to repeat the experience one year after another? The well-being it brings. They need it, it’s their breath of fresh air.
Pilgrims tend to stay for just a night, unless they are nursing an injury or really need a rest. But they can nevertheless take advantage of their stopover to visit Aire-sur-Ardour, which has no shortage of points of interest. We can start with Sainte-Quitterie church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient cathedral of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the corn exchange are also worth checking out. A bit further away, but still a walkable distance, the banks of the Ardour are a lovely place for a stroll or just a nice rest.
Back on their way, and just before they cross into Spain, pilgrims will also have the pleasure of discovering the village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Basque Country. It’s a fortified town and a popular starting point on the Camino de Santiago. Have we walked the Way? Two years ago we set off to repeat the Spanish part of the Camino. This year, we’ll be taking another path, one that we haven’t walked yet.
We’re 50m from the GR65 trail, the Camino de Santiago which connects Puy-en-Velay with Conques.
Places to go
La Maison des Pèlerins: 4, rue du Général Labat, 40800 Aire-sur-l'Adour