According to the pilgrims, the route that crosses Poitou, Saintonge and Guyenne is the richest route in religious sites and Romanesque churches. Some say that this route is the most suitable route for cyclists, because of the low relief and the more frequent stretches of asphalt Towards the South, near Poitiers, the classic pilgrims’ route and its variations cross Châtellerault Country from North to South.
From Dangé-Saint-Romain to Châtellerault the pilgrims’ route follows the course of the River Vienne. In Châtellerault just follow the bronze scallop studs on the ground that mark the streets leading to the Church of Saint James which houses a magnificent life-size statue of the Saint dressed as a pilgrim. To the South, near Poitiers and its religious heritage of international renown, two paths, that could not be more pleasant, are offered: one through Cenon-sur-Vienne and the site of “Old Poitiers” before following the remains of the old Roman road, the other over the Bridge of Henry IV and through the remarkable site of the weapons factory and Naintré.
Saint James "the Greater" was a contemporary of Jesus. Martyred and killed by a sword in Judea in AD 44, he was one of the first Christian martyrs. According to the legend, his followers then placed his remains on a mysterious stone boat, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, and, near the Atlantic coast, arrived at Cape Finisterre to bury James at the present location of Santiago de Compostela (at the Northeastern tip of Spain).
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela developed from the rediscovery in 813 of the alleged tomb of St. James. Today, Santiago de Compostela is one of the three largest Christian pilgrimage centres in the world. The Compostela pilgrims’ routes that led to it were also listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1993.
About thirty major routes lead to Compostela: they are regional routes or old so-called classic routes.
The charming Via Turonensis, from Paris to Compostela via Touraine, Grand Châtellerault ... as far as Compostela
Via Turonensis was for long the historic route to Compostela that was the least travelled, but today it is equivalent to the Vézelay route. Setting out from Paris, the route offers the choice between two paths going towards Chartres and Orleans. In the heart of Tours is the basilica (destroyed during the Revolution) and the tomb of its Bishop, Martin, who died in 397.