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Am Confused! Best place to start walking over the Somport Pass - Urdos or Somport?

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
Am planning to start walking on May 18th/22 having overnighted in Oloron St.-Marie and taking the early morning bus to Urdos. Is this the best place to start to minimize the km walked or to Somport itself? Thanks for your help.
 
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ranthr

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
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I would ask at the touristoffice in Oloron. When I walked from Oloron in May many years ago, the weather was bad and you were warned to avoid the path in some parts, so I walked the road in most parts of the route in rain and heavy traffic. i took the bus the last stage through the tunnel up to Somport and walked down to Canfranc.
At Somport beautyful weather, had to adda photo.
 

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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
I’ve walked in May and found the path lovely, safe, and fairly easy to follow. If it’s very stormy, you could bus to avoid the wettest part.

I do not understand your question about minimizing your kms walked - obviously, the farther up you take transit, the less kms you will have to walk. You will miss out on that beautiful walk up the valley to Somport, though, and some nice pilgrim accommodations. I would encourage you to walk from Oloron.
 

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I’ve walked in May and found the path lovely, safe, and fairly easy to follow. If it’s very stormy, you could bus to avoid the wettest part.

I do not understand your question about minimizing your kms walked - obviously, the farther up you take transit, the less kms you will have to walk. You will miss out on that beautiful walk up the valley to Somport, though, and some nice pilgrim accommodations. I would encourage you to walk from Oloron.
Not sure about the first bit - parts of the path were narrow and slippery, but thoroughly endorse the second part: the walk from Oloron Ste Marie was magical. As for the path/road up to Somport, we walked along the road as it peeing down with rain most of the time. Yes, you are walking along the edge of a road, but that's not the only place you'll have to do this on the camino and there is a space at the side. It gets much better after the tunnel. i.e. less traffic. The Chemin D' Arles is a lovely route and you'll be missing a worthwhile experience if you miss any of it, so I'm with Vacajoe, start in Oloron. After that, you've got the Aragonés to look forward to and that is also a beautiful walk (see the umpteen threads and posts on this very forum). Buen Camino.
 

jenny@zen

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Via De la Plata
The Chemin D' Arles is a lovely route and you'll be missing a worthwhile experience if you miss any of it,

After that, you've got the Aragonés to look forward to and that is also a beautiful walk

I agree with both. The Aragones seems to be a little more popular now - but I’ve never understood why the Arles Way doesn’t attract more pèlerins (French or other). Not complaining though - we love a quiet path. And Arles is a fabulous starting point.

On second thoughts - best to keep both on the ‘hush hush’ 😎
 
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Sirage

Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago (2005), Porto to Santiago (2007), Vezelay for 200 kms (2009), From Seville, May (2015), Le Puy to Sangüesa (2016), Norte-Primitivo (Sep-Oct 2016)
Going over Somport Pass is a wonderful experience, but you don't want to start anywhere near it.

I remember a Frenchman sharing a French walking proverb - it takes about 3 weeks to get track-tough.

Translating that: after 3 weeks your mind and body have adjusted to walking, the gite / albergue routines, the chance of not finding food or a bed, etc, and you get into a state of physical and mental flow and you can connect with whatever it is you have in mind - the scenery the culture, the people, your religion, whatever.... (read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).

To experience Somport Pass and the preceding days climbing the French side would mean starting about 4 weeks before. That is why Arles was built by the Romans or someone as a starting point, and similarly Le Puy has become popular, so you could enjoy flowing over the Pyrenees. (There is also a route from Le Puy over Somport if you wish)

That is my experience.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
Not sure about the first bit - parts of the path were narrow and slippery
The rain had stopped prior to us reaching the narrow parts, so it was not slippery on May 2019 - wet, for sure, but in a nice way! Improvements have been made since I walked it, so I assume it’s only become better. The few pilgrims I have spoken with who made it over the summit in the last few weeks also reported no issues with the trail.

As others have said, though, the roadway is always there if you are uncomfortable with a section. To skip the entire route, however, would really be a shame (especially the monastery stay with mass and dinner).

Also, definitely stay at the new donativo albergue in Canfranc Pueblo - it’s spectacular! Plus all the usual recommendations: Arres, Ruesta, Lumbier…
 

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
The rain had stopped prior to us reaching the narrow parts, so it was not slippery on May 2019 - wet, for sure, but in a nice way! Improvements have been made since I walked it, so I assume it’s only become better. The few pilgrims I have spoken with who made it over the summit in the last few weeks also reported no issues with the trail.

As others have said, though, the roadway is always there if you are uncomfortable with a section. To skip the entire route, however, would really be a shame (especially the monastery stay with mass and dinner).

Also, definitely stay at the new donativo albergue in Canfranc Pueblo - it’s spectacular! Plus all the usual recommendations: Arres, Ruesta, Lumbier…
Absolutely, and if the path has been upgraded (they were talking about it in 2018) so much the better. But to get a bus from Oloron to shorten the walk over the pass defies logic, why not just go straight to Canfranc? Here's some of what you'd miss out on if you did that.

DSC05735.JPG DSC05736.JPG DSC05737.JPG DSC05757.JPG
 

filly

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022 Mid-May Almería to Córdoba
If you have the time and the inclination, I second the opinion to begin in Arles.

Whatever you do, please make the effort to visit San Juan de la Pena, absolutely magical with a great inn in the village at base.

A day later or so you then have Eunate at your disposal, opening times permitting!
 

Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I just finished this route starting in Oloron Ste Marie and going all the way to Santiago. Of the 900+km, those first few days between Oloron and Somport pass were some of the most scenic. So I would suggest starting in Oloron, enjoying the very warm welcome you will get staying at the monastery in Sarrance, and then enjoying the wonderful little French villages on your way up to Somport pass.

I found the way to be very clearly marked. There are a few unfortunate sections along the busy road, but it is certainly worth it to see the Pyrenees, lush fields with grazing animals, and wonderful villages. Don’t skip it!
 
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Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
Not sure about the first bit - parts of the path were narrow and slippery, but thoroughly endorse the second part: the walk from Oloron Ste Marie was magical. As for the path/road up to Somport, we walked along the road as it peeing down with rain most of the time. Yes, you are walking along the edge of a road, but that's not the only place you'll have to do this on the camino and there is a space at the side. It gets much better after the tunnel. i.e. less traffic. The Chemin D' Arles is a lovely route and you'll be missing a worthwhile experience if you miss any of it, so I'm with Vacajoe, start in Oloron. After that, you've got the Aragonés to look forward to and that is also a beautiful walk (see the umpteen threads and posts on this very forum). Buen Camino.
Thanks, Dick - makes sense to me, now that I am thinking this through.
 

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
I’ve walked in May and found the path lovely, safe, and fairly easy to follow. If it’s very stormy, you could bus to avoid the wettest part.

I do not understand your question about minimizing your kms walked - obviously, the farther up you take transit, the less kms you will have to walk. You will miss out on that beautiful walk up the valley to Somport, though, and some nice pilgrim accommodations. I would encourage you to walk from Oloron.
Thanks so much, just at the beginning stages of planning and have not really thought the whole route through at the beginning. To actually start walking over the pass from Urdos on my first day out (jet lag etc. still lingering) and having not gotten my walking legs back, would really be rather silly. Was hoping to do the Primitivo after arriving in Obanos and making my way to Oviedo, but not sure I will have enough time to do the whole thing - probably best to make the most of the first part of my trip and work around whatever days I have left. Would appreciate any suggestions for breaking up the walk between Oloron and starting the Col. Apologies for the silly question. Cheers, Linda
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
Based on my stops, I’d suggest:
Oloron
Sarrance
Borce
Somport (if walking short)
Canfranc
Jaca
Santa Cilia (if walking short or visiting SJdLP)
Arres
Ruesta
Sanguesa
Lumbier (walk the gorge!)
Monreal
Tiebas
Obanos

That gets you to the Frances. Of course, your speed, distance, and desire to wander will vary from mine.
 

frida1

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
My husband and I walked from Montpellier to Puente de la Reina on 2017. No one can predict the weather, but in mid-May, we had punishingly hot days in France, and no thoughts of snow crossings at Somport on May 22. Certainly the scenic value of a walk from Oloron is great, but crossing the Pyrenees at Somport is not a difficult walk. It climbs steadily but not steeply. From Oloron, we stopped at Bedous, Borce and then at the pass.
 

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
Based on my stops, I’d suggest:
Oloron
Sarrance
Borce
Somport (if walking short)
Canfranc
Jaca
Santa Cilia (if walking short or visiting SJdLP)
Arres
Ruesta
Sanguesa
Lumbier (walk the gorge!)
Monreal
Tiebas
Obanos

That gets you to the Frances. Of course, your speed, distance, and desire to wander will vary from mine.
Thanks so much!
 
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Barbara

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I'm a bit baffled by references to the tunnel, as the bus takes the route over the top. I actually cycled, so I went the exact same way as the bus. Maybe it goes a different way in the winter. What can also be cause for confusion is that the bus replaces the old train service to Canfranc, once you get to the current end of the railway line, and sometimes you will see it on a train timetable as if it were a train.
In any case,it is a lovely route. If you have time to do it, once in Spain, the variant by Foz to Lumbier is also delightful. The monastery in Sarrance is well worth a stay, the municipal in Borce is nice, but a bit cramped. The one at the shop is on the slightly grubby side. Arres is excellent. There is a hotel in Urdos that looks agreeable, right at the start of the climb.
 

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
I'm a bit baffled by references to the tunnel, as the bus takes the route over the top. I actually cycled, so I went the exact same way as the bus. Maybe it goes a different way in the winter. What can also be cause for confusion is that the bus replaces the old train service to Canfranc, once you get to the current end of the railway line, and sometimes you will see it on a train timetable as if it were a train.
In any case,it is a lovely route. If you have time to do it, once in Spain, the variant by Foz to Lumbier is also delightful. The monastery in Sarrance is well worth a stay, the municipal in Borce is nice, but a bit cramped. The one at the shop is on the slightly grubby side. Arres is excellent. There is a hotel in Urdos that looks agreeable, right at the start of the climb.
Thanks so much! Am sorting things out now, and think that I will start from Oloron and then on from there. Just sent off a request for a reservation at the Monastery in Sarrance. Seems a long way away, but it is exciting when things come together.
 

geraldkelly

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
I walked that way twice, both times I started in Oloron.
 

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
Okay, to further wet your appetite for walking the Aragon (and to put in a plug for a donation) check out my wife’s quick tour of the new FICS-staffed albergue in Canfranc Pueblo!

Am so hoping I will be able to stay there and will definitely leave an extra donation!
 
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vjpdx

camino-curious
Past OR future Camino
2022
Technically, you CAN walk from Biarritz! 7-8 days to Oloron and VERY beautiful! Plus you pass through SJPdP!
That sounds fantastic - especially the SJPdP to Oloron part. Is that via a GR? More info, pls, if you have it handy.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
From SJPdP to Oloron, it’s the GR78 or the Piemonte - Gronze.com has info on it. From Biarritz/Bayonne to SJPdP, it’s the “Voie de la Nive. All very lovely, but typically French paths in that you generally need to call the gites ahead of time to ensure they are open and should expect you.
 

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
From SJPdP to Oloron, it’s the GR78 or the Piemonte - Gronze.com has info on it. From Biarritz/Bayonne to SJPdP, it’s the “Voie de la Nive. All very lovely, but typically French paths in that you generally need to call the gites ahead of time to ensure they are open and should expect you.
Thanks😊
 
Past OR future Camino
2022
Okay, to further wet your appetite for walking the Aragon (and to put in a plug for a donation) check out my wife’s quick tour of the new FICS-staffed albergue in Canfranc Pueblo!

This looks incredible!! Very well thought out and seems to have the pilgrim in mind.
Washing machine & Dryer??!! Be still my heart!!
So much looking forward to my walk through the Somport in the Spring!!
 
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Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
Based on my stops, I’d suggest:
Oloron
Sarrance
Borce
Somport (if walking short)
Canfranc
Jaca
Santa Cilia (if walking short or visiting SJdLP)
Arres
Ruesta
Sanguesa
Lumbier (walk the gorge!)
Monreal
Tiebas
Obanos

That gets you to the Frances. Of course, your speed, distance, and desire to wander will vary from mine.
Hi - was wondering if you had any suggestions for staying in Borce? The Monastery in Sarrance replied saying they have accommodation for me - so excited!! Thanks, Linda
 

Barbara

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I created a short guide for cyclists from Châtellerault which goes over the Somport pass ( it stops at the top of the hill) which might be of use to you. You can get it Here Although it's a cycling route the accommodation list may be of help, as it goes through the same places. Just use the spreadsheet and maybe the route notes and forget about the maps.
 

Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Past OR future Camino
September/October 14, May 17, September 18,
May22
I created a short guide for cyclists from Châtellerault which goes over the Somport pass ( it stops at the top of the hill) which might be of use to you. You can get it Here Although it's a cycling route the accommodation list may be of help, as it goes through the same places. Just use the spreadsheet and maybe the route notes and forget about the maps.
Thanks!
 

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