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Following the Declaration presented in Santiago de Compostela on 23 October 1987, the Council of Europe initiated the identification of the ways. This work was undertaken under the auspices of a group of specialists coming from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, themselves working in connection with experts and specialised agencies from various countries.

Professor René de Lacoste-Messelière insisted as soon as during the first meetings on the importance of secondary places, as well as on the importance of harbours and maritime ways. He emphasised the fact that we should not forget that the French ways are not isolated but – at the contrary - are linked with other European Regions, pathways coming from Central or Northern Europe or maritime routes coming from extreme North, England or Ireland. To quote José Maria Ballester : "The tracks, as a whole, find their meaning in a globality, the European values. »

research and tourism

Saint-Amant-de-Boixe, France. Photo MTP

The website of the European Institute of Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe proposes an account on the first Cultural Route of the Council of Europe which received the certification « Major Route » (Atlas of Cultural Routes) in 2004. We asked the David Parou Foundation to present fresh views on « Europe of pilgrimages », to take stock of false comments and base their pages on living scholars’ discoveries. This work is going on and is regularly published and updated on the Foundation’s website.

Denise Péricard-Méa writes : « Professor René de La Coste "knows well that research, in their main parts, dated from XIXth century and 1930-1960. He was aware of a lot of documents which remained unexploited and that could give new fields of research, the « Guide du pèlerin » is only one example. After the work of Jeanne Vielliard, the two last thesis about the subject were written in 1970 and 1975 : André Georges in Art History (Belgium and North of France) and Gérard Jugnot in Law History as regards the "chemin du Puy" opened new tracks, but nobody really followed.

Sunset over St. Michael's Mount, 2000. Photo GMW

Among these new perspectives, some are really challenging.: The courses of the travellers on the ways, who were not all – far from that - pilgrims, in order to offer a true human « reading » of the ways. It seemed also important to emphasise local legends which gathered many pilgrims in the faith of Saint Jacques, far from Galician sanctuaries.

These directions are too often in contradiction with the logic of territorial planning, which seeks for immediate profit on major routes in the traditional strategies of mass tourism. We cannot say that these routes are not well established and comfortable, but they sometimes sound like caricatures and offer poor heritage interpretation. The Council of Europe has to take care of this phenomenon and to insist on the implementation of a message which seems partly lost in front of rather strange products linked to a fashionable and recent trend which gave rise to comments which are far from authenticity and European interpretation of heritage .

Abbey of Longpont-sur-Orge, France. Photo Longpont-sur-Orge

We agree with Madeleine Griselin conclusions: "Confronted to the success, Santiago pilgrim ways (and at most the Camino francès) suffer of a too large amount of people during the “traditional” months of pilgrimage or vacation (July-August). Most of the guidebooks are published to help the pilgrims only during these periods.

In 2004, and espacially on 25 July, a majority of pilgrims and ramblers who came to Galicia got the impression to be part of a show in which the message of the Council of Europe was lost behind tourists’ amusements.


Highway station in Hastingues, France. Photo MTP

Specialists have to work in order to study sources and discover new facts on pilgrimages’ history. The Associations of pilgrims should help them for local sources and give pilgrims good advices for their travel. The role of the European Institute of the Council of Europe is certainly to analyse, make choices and propose to those who want to ramble some alternatives, innovations, initiatives which will give to those who say – as in the Middle Age pilgrim’s vow - « I’ll go someday» and spend some years to mature their decision, to come back with no disappointment.

Pilgrim’s passport.

Who knows that the Cornwall County Council developed and opened to the public a trail, "The St Michael's which runs from the north coast of Cornwall, starting at the Church of St Uny in Lelant, to the south coast at St Michael's Mount?

How to make better known the efforts of Poitou-Charentes Region, the new German routes, the ways around the Baltic Sea?

Which way to recommend and to advise against ?

These are some issues this heading of « Discovering Europe » want to answer and « Enable the encounter of people coming from various European horizons and make them discover a way uniting past and future. »

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 more infos ...
 editorial content
 The santiago pilgrim routes
 Pilgrimage, a present phenomenon
  A seminar on cultural routes.
 Santiago de Compostela ways
 Santiago ways in Belgium
 Declaration of Santiago 1987
 media library
 Cultura = Unión en Europa
 Saint James's book
 Agenda des chemins de Compostelle
 Carnet de route pour Compostelle
 Les routes de Compostelle


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