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Best place to start on CdF to introduce a newby??

Camino(s) past & future
St Jean - Finisterre (August 2014)
Pamplona - Burgos (January 2015)
Bilbao - Santander (May 2015)
St Jean - Sahgún (2nd Sept - 20 Sept 2015)
León - Sarria (26/12/2015 - 04/01/2016)
Lisbon - Tomar (02/04/16 - 10/04/16)
Pau - Pamplona (August 2016)
#1
Any thoughts please about the best part of CdF to walk for 5 days please? I'm brining a friend (in his 50's) over and want him to have the best time, and be inspired.

We are arriving in Biarritz on Friday 16th November. so has to be starting probably either SJPdP, Pamplona or Logroño.

My original plan at this stage is to go to SJPdP and walk the Valcarlos route, and try to make it at least to Pamplona. But I'm really open to other ideas.

My main thoughts that I'd like your advice with please:

- What is the Valcarlos option like? What is the albergue at Valcarlos like?

- I thought of starting in St Jean to get a real sense of the journey which so many people make. However, is it likely to be better starting from Pamplona - more guaranteed warmth and sun?

- Which would be more scenic and enjoyable: starting in SJPdP, Pamplona, or somewhere else?

- I've not walked in November, what is weather likely to be like?

- Does anyone know the bus / train times from Bayonne to SJPdP?

Many thanks, P
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#2
IMHO as far as the CF goes it's all good!
I really like the St Jean to Pamplona section. Mountains, forests, streams.
From Pamplona is nice, Alto del Perdon, more open spaces, Eunate.........
From Logrono is also nice.
Maybe the start from St Jean?
It has that sense of 'beginning' with so many starting out together and eager to chat and meet new people.

Haven't tried the Valcarlos route yet though.
I like the Napolean. Haven't tired of that yet.
 

sunshines

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino de portuguese (2018)
camino Frances (portion) (2019)
camino primitivo/Frances (2019)
#3
Any thoughts please about the best part of CdF to walk for 5 days please? I'm brining a friend (in his 50's) over and want him to have the best time, and be inspired.

We are arriving in Biarritz on Friday 16th November. so has to be starting probably either SJPdP, Pamplona or Logroño.

My original plan at this stage is to go to SJPdP and walk the Valcarlos route, and try to make it at least to Pamplona. But I'm really open to other ideas.

My main thoughts that I'd like your advice with please:

- What is the Valcarlos option like? What is the albergue at Valcarlos like?

- I thought of starting in St Jean to get a real sense of the journey which so many people make. However, is it likely to be better starting from Pamplona - more guaranteed warmth and sun?

- Which would be more scenic and enjoyable: starting in SJPdP, Pamplona, or somewhere else?

- I've not walked in November, what is weather likely to be like?

- Does anyone know the bus / train times from Bayonne to SJPdP?

Many thanks, P

at the end? LOL then take them to the beginning and get them to look forward to what's waiting for them at the end
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#4
Both times I walked the Camino Frances I started in Roncesvalles. The first time it was because I was living in Spain and (at least then) as far as the Spanish are concerned, it starts in Roncesvalles. That's why the half way market (just before Sahagun) marks half way between Roncesvalles and Santiago de Compostela. The second time I started in the same place because I was walking with my son and wanted to introduce him to the route I had walked so many years before.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
#5
The first day, SJPD to Valcarlos, is through rolling foothills, a pleasant undemanding walk for those of reasonable fitness.

The second day, for me, was lovely through forests mostly, but I found it hard work as I was in my 60's and live and walk in relatively flat country. It is pretty much all uphill.

The third day is also lovely as you drop down to Zubiri but, possibly, because of the previous day I found it fairly hard work although nothing compared to the second day.

After a day off in Pamplona the rest of the camino became easier as my endurance increased. So SJPD to Pamplona eminently doable and attractive if reasonably fit, may be a bit tiring and so less pleasurable if you are not used to hills.

The kicker on this route, rarely mentioned, is that the route climbs almost continuously and steepens ALL day, the steepest part being at the end when you are tired.

The albergue at Valcarlos is fine, good beds, excellent showers etc. and an equipped kitchen/lounge area. There is also a general store and restaurant 200m away.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago (June 2019)
#6
The first day, SJPD to Valcarlos, is through rolling foothills, a pleasant undemanding walk for those of reasonable fitness.

The second day, for me, was lovely through forests mostly, but I found it hard work as I was in my 60's and live and walk in relatively flat country. It is pretty much all uphill.

The third day is also lovely as you drop down to Zubiri but, possibly, because of the previous day I found it fairly hard work although nothing compared to the second day.

After a day off in Pamplona the rest of the camino became easier as my endurance increased. So SJPD to Pamplona eminently doable and attractive if reasonably fit, may be a bit tiring and so less pleasurable if you are not used to hills.

The kicker on this route, rarely mentioned, is that the route climbs almost continuously and steepens ALL day, the steepest part being at the end when you are tired.

The albergue at Valcarlos is fine, good beds, excellent showers etc. and an equipped kitchen/lounge area. There is also a general store and restaurant 200m away.
This is great information for our first Camino, thank you!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#8


Here is a modern 19th c print depicting Charlemagne mounted finding Roland dead in August 778 on what would later be known as the Valcarlos route near Roncevalles. (For a further description of this scene see this Roncevalles monastery history page) Hence the village of Valcarlos was named in honor of Carlos ie. Charlemagne. For more on the history and toponymy of the village see this Wikipedia entry in Spanish.

It may come as a surprise but the Valcarlos route was THE original medieval pilgrims' path through the mountain pass to Roncevalles; the present Napoleon camino over the mountains to Roncevalles is later.

In winter/spring the Napoleon route from SJPdP to Roncevalles is often filled with several meters of snow and thus closed to pilgrims from November 1 to April 1 hence necessitating the use of the Valcarlos alternate. You can read about this hazardous situation in the earlier Forum topic. >> http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/el-camino-frances/topic16961.html

Whatever the season always ask for advice at the SJPdP Pilgrim office before setting out on either route !

For more in praise of the Valcarlos route which I have walked 10 times during recent years see this earlier Forum thread.

Buen Camino!
 

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