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Avoiding the paved road leaving St Jean?

MarkA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
#1
Brierley (15th ed) describes an alternative way to join the Route de Napoleon (from St Jean Pied de Port). By taking the GR65 from Mayorga and re-joining the Route de Napoleon at Orisson its possible to avoid the hard asphalt roads. This sounds attractive except that perhaps its more "fun" to stick to the main route with the other pilgrims? Has anyone taken this alternative route who can comment please?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#2
Hi, and welcome!

You might be walking slowly enough up to Orisson, that the hard road surface will be the least of your concerns! It is brisk striking of my foot on the hard roads that makes my feet sore after a time. That doesn't happen when I'm trudging slowly up a hill. (Of course you will be tired and sore but the asphalt road isn't such a problem.)

I'd say it's more fun with the other pilgrims on that stretch, anyway.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#3
Agree with @C clearly , unless you're an absolute mountain goat the walk out of St. Jean will be sufficiently slow that the tarmac will not be an issue.

Apart from a brief section where you can cut a corner by going cross country, which if memory serves is detailed in the sheet given out at the pilgrim office, I didn't know there was any other alternative for getting up to Orisson, but my knowledge is far from exhaustive. Looking at google maps it appears the area is riddled with streams so I imagine in all but high summer it might be rather a muddy affair.

Whichever way you go.....Buen Camino,

Rob.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#4
Brierley (15th ed) describes an alternative way to join the Route de Napoleon (from St Jean Pied de Port). By taking the GR65 from Mayorga and re-joining the Route de Napoleon at Orisson ...
It's an old variant of the GR 65 (dashed line - brown) as it leaves SJPP from rue Mayorga. It is not maintained and there are no trailmarkers. The main GR 65 track (dotted line - yellow) follows the D428. I don't think you gain much, if anything at all, if you try to follow the unmarked variant. It covers only the section SJPP-Orisson anyway and you would bypass Orisson as shown in Brierley's drawing (he doesn't do maps). Topographic map at https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/carte

GR65.JPG
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#5
Here's a map. For the first half or so, the track follows small country roads, also paved. Later, it gets trickier and you have to cross streams. No idea how much ups and downs it adds to your path, compared to the Napoleon route. Looks nice in Google Streetview. I'd attempt it if I stayed in SJPP for longer to go for walks. But only in good weather and with a proper map. :cool:

IGN 65.jpg
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#6
If it were me I would definitely go astray and get lost. It may be the path that the elderly German couple were following last year when they got lost for a couple of days. Or the one followed by Paulo Coelho?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#7
If it were me I would definitely go astray and get lost. It may be the path that the elderly German couple were following last year when they got lost for a couple of days. Or the one followed by Paulo Coelho?
They were British and got lost elsewhere, on the other side of the valley. Didn't Sartre get lost when he and Simone de Beauvoir came for a vacation to SJPP? And another Camino author walked in circles for a whole day and ended up in SJPP again instead of Roncesvalles - Jack Hitt perhaps? Those were the days ... don't try to relive it, people :cool:, follow the well-trodden path, there are too many other tracks in the area and some just peter out in the middle of nowhere .
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#8
I drove to and from Orisson on different routes this August, whilst playing tourist with my wife. All of the routes I encountered were paved.

Most of the routes are narrow access roads for the few residents and farmers who need to get someplace.

I doubt there are unpaved paths that are as direct as the customary route. If there were, IMHO, pilgrims would have exploited them centuries ago...

Hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#9
If it were me I would definitely go astray and get lost. It may be the path that the elderly German couple were following last year when they got lost for a couple of days. Or the one followed by Paulo Coelho?
Kanga, you "like" to get lost? I nearly go into "freakout mode" when I get lost! I guess I'm not very adventurous after all. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#10
Kanga, you "like" to get lost? I nearly go into "freakout mode" when I get lost! I guess I'm not very adventurous after all. :)
I think you are a secret adventurer - something you've been hiding all your life, and walking the Camino is your outlet. Let's see what the future brings!!! :cool::eek:o_O:D
 

MarkA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
#11
Thanks all, especially Kathar1na for the hand-drawn map.

Given that I've investigated the alternative route, I'm now more inclined to try it, even if out of sheer bloody-mindedness :). I use a GPS navigation App so I'm unlikely to get too far lost but I may get prematurely muddy shoes! I'm an experienced wilderness hiker so the only things that really concern me on the Camino are (a) snow in the Pyrenees and (b) badly-behaved dogs.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#12
Thanks all, especially Kathar1na for the hand-drawn map.

Given that I've investigated the alternative route, I'm now more inclined to try it, even if out of sheer bloody-mindedness :). I use a GPS navigation App so I'm unlikely to get too far lost but I may get prematurely muddy shoes! I'm an experienced wilderness hiker so the only things that really concern me on the Camino are (a) snow in the Pyrenees and (b) badly-behaved dogs.
Good for you. Please report back.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#13
Thanks all, especially Kathar1na for the hand-drawn map.

Given that I've investigated the alternative route, I'm now more inclined to try it, even if out of sheer bloody-mindedness :). I use a GPS navigation App so I'm unlikely to get too far lost but I may get prematurely muddy shoes! I'm an experienced wilderness hiker so the only things that really concern me on the Camino are (a) snow in the Pyrenees and (b) badly-behaved dogs.
Bear in mind it can get very foggy out there, even in high Summer :) B98FD30E-6D71-458C-BEC4-145EAB9C8712.jpeg
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#14
I'm an experienced wilderness hiker so the only things that really concern me on the Camino are (a) snow in the Pyrenees and (b) badly-behaved dogs.
Yes, please do report back. Out of curiosity, I made a quick elevation profile in Google Earth. It's not much longer than the normal track, it gets a bit steep for about 1 km towards the end. The first part is marked as a short local walking path btw. It looks quite nice and scenic from my point of view far away. You will miss out on a lot of "Buen Caminos" though :cool:. When are you planning to go? There are times when the road is crawling with walkers.
 
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MarkA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
#15
I won't be doing this until "the opening" of the 2019 season, mainly to avoid the crowds. As a wilderness walker, its the rural environment that appeals to me.

Obviously, whether or not I attempt this little side deviation will depend on the Route de Napoleon being open higher up the range...
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
#16
Oui il existe un autre chemin qui est plus ancien que le chemin actuel. Il part de St Michel avec très peu d'asphalte il rejoint la "route Napoléon " à la vierge de Biakori. Notre association l'a balisé. Par ce chemin la montée est plus progressive. Il figurera dans certains guides en 2019.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#17
Kanga, you "like" to get lost? I nearly go into "freakout mode" when I get lost! I guess I'm not very adventurous after all. :)
I read Kanga's post as saying that she would likely get lost without the arrows and other pilgrims, not that she likes to get lost. Though that can sometimes be fun. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#18
I read Kanga's post as saying that she would likely get lost without the arrows and other pilgrims, not that she likes to get lost. Though that can sometimes be fun. :)
I believe you are correct! I got a good laugh when I re-read Kanga's post again. I didn't think that sounded like her! But then, some people thrive on a new adrenalin rush, so who knew?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#19
@MarkA, as you have probably seen in a previous message, there is another possible approach on the other side of the D428 road ("route Napoleon") that goes through the village of Saint Michel. Apparently, the Camino association of SJPP has recently marked the trail and it is included in some of the guidebooks for 2019. It joins the D428 near a place called Vierge d'Orisson or Vierge de Baikorri.

Such a trail is also marked in the topographic IGN maps but I'm not sure whether it's the same one.
 
#20
I suppose this alternative way is the same of this wikiloc map. Looks good...
The Biakorri virgin (where it merges with the Napolleon) is the 8th flag.
Saint Michel seems (judging by Google Maps) a very pleasant and quiet Basque village. It has a restaurant and hotel, with a nice terrace. It could be handy for people afraid of the single stage SJPP-Roncesvalles.
Alternatives are always welcomed.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#21
It could be handy for people afraid of the single stage SJPP-Roncesvalles.
Let's not give people false hopes prematurely. That Wikiloc trail goes still up to 1400 m and is 26 km long, starting in Saint-Michel. It has basically the same length as the one starting in SJPP, reaches obviously the same altitude at the pass, and its starting point Saint-Michel is only some 50 m higher than SJPP.
 
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#22
Brierley (15th ed) describes an alternative way to join the Route de Napoleon (from St Jean Pied de Port). By taking the GR65 from Mayorga and re-joining the Route de Napoleon at Orisson its possible to avoid the hard asphalt roads. This sounds attractive except that perhaps its more "fun" to stick to the main route with the other pilgrims? Has anyone taken this alternative route who can comment please?
Hey Mark,

In all honesty, the only way to improve on thew tried and true road path to Orisson would be to do the trip in a self propelled helicopter, if that ever becomes possible.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#23
the only things that really concern me on the Camino are (a) snow in the Pyrenees and (b) badly-behaved dogs.
If there is snow then more than likely the pass is closed [ 4 months min. per year......no trespass]
The dogs are going to be the least of your problems.
To "Orisson" is a very leisurely walk compared to a few days ahead
 

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