The Via Tolosana, or the pilgrim route, crosses the Hérault valley on the way from Arles to St Jacques de Compostelle. It meanders between scrubland and forest from Montpellier to Aniane, then crosses the Hérault gorges at the Pont du Diable before arriving at the Gellone Abbey. From here, the route continues to cross the Causse du Larzac foothills before reaching St Jean de la Blaquière.
If you wish to continue discovering the area, try the 3.30 hour walk detailed below. Starting in St-Guilhem-le-Désert, it loops around the village and returns. Start on the St Jacques de Compostelle route, then go to the banks of the Hérault river before returning to the village.
1) In the village, go up the vaulted street on the left of the Gellone Abbey as far as the rue Cor-de-Nostra-Dama. Follow this road to the left as far as the rue du Bout-du-Monde, then follow the GR 74 on your right and walk straight on along the GR until you reach a crossroads 250 m away on the outskirts of the village.
2) Cross the Verdus stream and follow the GR 74 on your left for 1.2 km uphill, then follow the base of the cliffs as far as the next crossroad.
3) Climb the winding pathway on your left for 1.3 km and admire the Fenestrelles and the Cirque de l’Infernet (also called the Cirque du Bout du Monde) from the viewpoints, then after you have crossed the pass you will come across a crossroad with a pathway 400m further along.
4) Follow the PR right for 200m through the scrubland as far as the Bissone viewpoint.
5) Return to the crossroad, then follow the hillside pathway on your right (GR) for 800m until you reach another crossroad.
6) Turn left (on to the GR), cross two coombes and walk 400m to a large crossroad.
7) 7) Walk down the GR which cuts across the DFCI (vehicular access to fight forest fires) for 2.3 km until you reach the Plos forest house.
8) Turn left and walk the length of the cyprus hedge to the entrance of the property, then follow the blue path on your right that takes you through the woods before crossing a red path and taking you to a crossroads 500m away.
9) Turn left and continue until you reach the monts de St Guilhem viewpoint.
10) Follow the botanical pathway (marked in blue) for 300m until you reach a crossroad in the woods.
11) 11) Keep bearing left and walk along a panoramic pathway (indicated in blue) from which you have a commanding view of the Cirque de Banan, then walk along the edge of the plateau for 700m and down to a dry stone wall. Here you can admire the view as far as the plain of Aniane.
12) Walk 50m down to the scrubland then follow the blue path that takes you down to a scree slope then through the forest for 500m to an olive orchard.
13) 13) Go straight down to the bottom on the valley, then cross the stream bed (usually dry), turn right, and go past a chicane and a car park before getting to the road 100 metres away. Cross the road and walk straight on for 100m until you reach the mills of the Hérault Valley.
14) Walk along the maintained pathway (yellow markings) along the river for 1.5 km until you reach the village.