To start in St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles?

Saint Jean Pied de Port

The question was:

I notice on the Camino Forum that some people prefer to start their Camino walk from Roncesvalles, as opposed to starting from St. Jean Pied de Port. What is the main reason for this? The pilgrim’s guidebook I am reading recommends starting from St. Jean Pied de Port.

Read this conversation on Starting in St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles in our Camino forum.

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10 comments on “To start in St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles?
  1. Riccardo says:

    I started in Roncesvalles. Why? I don’t know…… In my mind, my Camino starts in Roncesvalles and so I did. I know that in all the guides the Camino starts in SJPDP….. but I love the Idea of starting in a such important Medieval town, while SJPDP meens nothing to me.

  2. for me i started at Bayonne, and went by the pas de roland to SJPDP and then the traditional camino. I would recommend to everybody to start at SJPDP because you have a magnificent part of Camino between SJPDP and Roncesvalles. but at the same time it is a verry difficult part, so you can afterwards say allready, it’s smooth sailing from now on, the hardest part is over. It works motivating. Furthermore we have to look at tradition. It is the traditional starting point for the modern pilgrim, aculmination point for pilgrims.a place where all the roads of life of these pilgrims comes together, and travel together for a short time to Santiago. off course it also depends on the time you have, and your own choice; next time if i have the time i want to start in Bruges, my home town, and then continue to Rome and possibly Jeruzalem. But that’s the retirement plan.

  3. tgapcg says:

    I think some people want to avoid crossing the Pyrenees which is a
    difficult first day (or two if you split it up and stay in Orisson). I
    started in Le Puy so by the time I got to SJPP I was very ready to cross
    the Pyrenees. It’s a beautiful walk but it’s also a difficult walk if
    you’re not accustomed to hiking with a backpack.

  4. Severin says:

    Es ist schon ein Stück Arbeit über die Pyrenäen. Untrainiert oder mit keiner Erfahrung nicht zu empfehlen.

  5. new2this says:

    I am most definitely not a hiker. But started in sjpdp. So glad I did although we took the easier route via valcarlos. It was amazing and a real challange to set up for the Camino

  6. Claudia Hartwell Sundman says:

    I “started” in SJPP as in “I went to SJPP to soak up the amazing medieval town”. I had had a bout of food poisoning there that prevented me from walking to Roncesvalles… although I was never entirely sure that I would chose to do the hike across the Pyrenees. I took the bus to Roncesvalles. It is YOUR Camino, you get to make the rules.

  7. Hal Humphreys says:

    SJPDP is beautiful. The passage across the Pyrenees is not anywhere near as difficult as people make it out to be. It’s not easy, but it is doable. Take one day, take two. There’s something about starting your camino in France and walking all the way across Spain. EIther way you choose, always remember it’s Your Camino. Take advice, ask the questions, but walk Your Camino.

  8. Cathy McE says:

    I started in SJPP and am so glad I did. I wouldn’t trade crossing the Pyrenees for anything. In fact, when we ended in Santiago, I wished I could go back and do that first day over again, it was so beautiful. If one is anxious about the distance, plan to spend the night at Orisson.

  9. Teresa Bochenek says:

    all is depend on your personal shape, will and time you have…There are no rules, but if you want to make all route Camino Frances should start in SJPdP. Buen Camino !

  10. Erich22 says:

    I just finished in November and I would say definitely try starting in St. Jean Pied de Port if you’re physically able. It is such a beautiful walk (if you can see) and it is one of the most beautiful on the entire trek in my opinion. It also builds your confidence for the rest of the Camino I think but definitely listen to your body and break it up if need be…you don’t want to burn out the first week…

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