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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Bayonne – Pamplona via Baztán or Frances?

Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
#1
Next year I will walk my first camino in May / June. I’ll walk the Frances to SdC, but I have a lot of respect for that first leg SJPdP to Roncevalles. Since I'm definitely going to travel via Bayonne, I figured it would be a good idea to start walking from there to warm up a bit, plus when finding out that Esplettes is not far away from there, my decision was made. [I love the spice Piment d'esplettes very much, use it regularly in the kitchen, and always wanted to visit that town ;).]

Continuing in my research, I have now discovered two options from Bayonne to meet the Frances. First one is the Camino Baztán which starts from Bayonne and leads directly to Pamplona, not via SJPdP and is supposed to be - according to some threads here - a very beautiful route.

The other option would be to walk via SJPdP / Roncevalles, but I couldn’t find out yet whether this way is also a marked with arrows starting from Bayonne or do I have find my path with the help of a map or GPS?

Second question: For those of you who have walked both ways which one would you recommend to a Camino newbie?
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#2
Yes, there is a "transversal" way from Bayonne to SJPP. It is called "La voie de la Nive" (from the river of the same name). Click here
No personal experience; i have just looked at this way as a very interesting option. Some day...
There are members of this forum who have walked and posted about the "Nive" option. Just use the search function,
The volunteers of the Bayonne association have a regular place in the cathedral.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#3
The voie de la Nive is signed quite near the start of the Baztan walk.
The Baztan is a beautiful, unspoilt walk. We loved the walk this September however I would not have liked walking it on my own. We only met three other pilgrims during the whole six days.
 

basquelady

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2013), CF Pamplona to V del Bierzo (2014), Baztanés, then CF (2016), CF Sahagun to SDC (2017)
#4
Next year I will walk my first camino in May / June. I’ll walk the Frances to SdC, but I have a lot of respect for that first leg SJPdP to Roncevalles. Since I'm definitely going to travel via Bayonne, I figured it would be a good idea to start walking from there to warm up a bit, plus when finding out that Esplettes is not far away from there, my decision was made. [I love the spice Piment d'esplettes very much, use it regularly in the kitchen, and always wanted to visit that town ;).]

Continuing in my research, I have now discovered two options from Bayonne to meet the Frances. First one is the Camino Baztán which starts from Bayonne and leads directly to Pamplona, not via SJPdP and is supposed to be - according to some threads here - a very beautiful route.

The other option would be to walk via SJPdP / Roncevalles, but I couldn’t find out yet whether this way is also a marked with arrows starting from Bayonne or do I have find my path with the help of a map or GPS?

Second question: For those of you who have walked both ways which one would you recommend to a Camino newbie?
We walked the Baztán in 2016, having previously walked the CF from Roncesvalles. I would NOT recommend it as an introduction to Camino walking. We left Bayonne on Aug 17th and did not meet a single other pilgrim. There is not the infrastructure which makes the CF so much simpler; no coffee stops etc in between fairly long stages. My husband had a nasty fall before Lantz, no bones broken but quite bashed up! It made us realise that we were quite vulnerable in case of emergency. On the CF, there will nearly always be a helping hand in case of trouble. We "hopped" over to the CF from Sorauren (1-2km I think) because we had enjoyed 2 previous stays in the Zabaldika albergue. It's then an easy walk to Pamplona, avoiding the less interesting river walk at the end of the Baztán. Perhaps consider starting in Pamplona? We did that on one of our Caminos and found it a good decision.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#5
It depends, @sugargypsy, on what flavor of 'camino experience' you're looking for. A quiet contemplative walk, or a more social one?.
Having walked both ways my choice would be the Baztan, hands down. But that's me.

If you are comfortable with or seek solitude, the Baztan is the way to go. It is gorgeous and unspoiled.
If you want company go via the superhighway
In either case you will pick up plenty of company in Pamplona.

There is quite sufficient infrastructure on the Baztan, and there are decent guides as well. And if you have a working phone, you're never far from help should you need it. But yes, there is not the 'cafe every 5K' vibe that is on the Frances. Which is why I liked the Baztan better.;)

If you walk the Baztan, budget roughly 5 days to Pamplona rather than 3 on the Frances.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#6
Just back from a Sunday walk with one of our Baztan 4 walkers. I mentioned this forum thread and her immediate comment was "I wouldn't walk that route on my own , especially for a first Camino." We both loved the Baztan and had previously walked the CF.

I've walked on my own in France and from Roncevalles to Puente la Reina and that didn't worry me but I wouldn't walk alone on the Baztan.

I agree with VNwalking there's enough infrastructure on the Baztan though parts of the walk go through some very remote countryside.

Good information can be found on here and in the Gerald Kelly Walking guide to Camino del Baztan.

Basquelady we enjoyed the river walk from Sorauren.😊

We took 6 days for our walk.😉
 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
#7
I’ve done La Voie de la Nive and the Baztan. I realise majority opinion here is for you not to do the Baztan, but if you are comfortable with the idea of making your own way with the help of a GPS, then either route will be fine for you. If you’re wanting both Esplette and St Jean you could even walk to the former and then cross over to La Voie de la Nive - check a map, it’s both possible and easy. You just have to choose!
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
#8
Thanks a lot for your replies. My main goal is actually to start walking a few days as a warm-up before hitting the slope from SJPdP to Orrison/Roncesvalles.

I'm fine being with myself, but I'm not too experienced on walking unknown terrain without having the possibility to stop for a break every now and then. One of the reasons why I also want to walk the Camino Frances. That the Camino Baztán isn't walked by that many pilgrims I'd figured out, but not that I might not meet any other pilgrims on my way. Therefore, I will probably look for another route.

Are the last two or three stages of Chemin Le Puy before SJPdP suitable for warming up? Is it more frequented?
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#9
.... Are the last two or three stages of Chemin Le Puy before SJPdP suitable for warming up? Is it more frequented?
You will have plenty of company and the terrain is good for warming up, I would say - Go for it ;-)

Buen Camino/Bon Chemin, SY
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#10
For warm up try Bordeaux train to Dax, bus to St. Palais then walk to Ostabat. Next day walk to St Jean Pied de Port.
Obviously this doesn't work from Bayonne.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
#11
Thanks a lot Fleur, that's a great idea and that starting point is a lot easier to reach for me, since I'll be arriving at the airport of Bordeaux.

Bayonne and Esplettes will then have to be visited by me some other time.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#12
Sugargypsy
if you need any travel info for the Bordeaux Dax St. Palais option private message me on here and i can give you details. We took that route in 2012.
 

PEI_Heather

Canadian Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 - Voie de la Nive
2012, 2016 - Frances
2013 - Portuguese
2012, 2013 - Finesterre & Muxia
#13
The Voie de la Nive is a beautiful walk, from Bayonne to SJPP.

For the first half of the first day it is really well signed; after that, not so much. Take good maps with you and be prepared to ask questions in French or Basque to help you negotiate when you get lost. That was several times a day for me (2016). No worries; the Basque people are wonderful and helpful. I was told many times 'Bon courage!'. The only accommodation on the first night, in Cambo-Les-Bains, is at a family run hotel. It was about 60 Euros...not a cheap place but a nice place.

Take a compass to keep heading south/south-west....

There is a small church on the way to Hélette that was open when I was walking through on day two. I poked my head in, saw a service was taking place, so quietly went into the church to sit down. The service was in Basque; the interior of the church was lovely. At the end, the priest included me by welcoming me, which was nice (he used the French 'pèlerin'; I'm not sure if there is a Basque word for pilgrim). :)

The albergue (gite) in Hélette is wonderful. There is a little marche beside the gite, owned, I think, by the same people.

It's not a hard walk. It's a continuous, gentle walk up (especially after leaving Cambo), and because in places, there would be no markers, or markers that point back to Bayonne, or several markers in one place that point to various directions...the entire way gives one the capacity to get easily lost, or just unsure of the direction to go. (Well, except outside of Bayonne, while walking along the Nive--that is well marked). The last day (27 km) especially, could be a long one, with that potential of getting lost or misdirected. On that day, there are two options (eventually, when you come to that part of the walk): walk along the highway (which is busy), or walk through a forested area (which is not well marked, apparently). Before I had to choose which option to do, I arrived into a small village, realized if I walked, I would get into SJPP around 11pm or later. I decided to take a taxi to? (or from?) Irissarry (or) to Jaxu? I still had 5-10 km to walk to SJPP, but I got there in time to get a bed in a great albergue (and didn't book it). I had walked about 15 km before I took the taxi. And got lost probably 15 times. And along that way, met the most amazing people. (So it was meant to be?!).

If you can speak/read French to follow the directions in the attachment below (I can't), have good maps, and a compass, you may have better luck than me in staying on the course.

I was the only pilgrim walking, as far as I knew... In the gites the last people who had signed in had been there months before. It's not a well used route by pilgrims.

I would definitely do this walk again, but I'd also walk the Baztan from Bayonne; I've heard it's also amazing.
 

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FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#14
Pelheather

Thanks for your voie de la Nive description. That route is one I've been vaguely considering. You'd love the Baztan it's stunningly beautiful and there's enough accommodation at various points.
 

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
#15
Second question: For those of you who have walked both ways which one would you recommend to a Camino newbie?
"If i could turn back time".....Tina
I would do both without hesitation if you have time on your side.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes, Aragones-Frances-Finisterre, Operation Sabre, Marin Ramble
#16
My wife and I are walking from Biarritz to SJPdP this coming mid-April! Like our Aragones Camino this past year, we are hoping for the pleasure of walking without a crowd.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
#17
I agree with the people who are saying the Camino del Baztan is not suitable for a first-timer.

Gerald
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#18
@ Gerald Kelly
Your guide book was very helpful and we used it on a daily basis. Also Nuala's notes on the Baztan forum. Happy days.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
#19
@ Gerald Kelly
Your guide book was very helpful and we used it on a daily basis. Also Nuala's notes on the Baztan forum. Happy days.
Hi Fleur! I'm glad you found it useful.

If anybody would like to download a copy of the Baztan guide please just email me or send me a PM with your email. It's free.
 

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