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Camino del Norte - where to start?

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Camino del Norte April 2023
Hi. I will walk the Camino Del Norte from late april 2023. I would like to start in France. Does anyone have recommendations where to start in France? I am thinking about walking for 3-4 days in France before reaching Spain.
 
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Hi. I will walk the Camino Del Norte from late april 2023. I would like to start in France. Does anyone have recommendations where to start in France? I am thinking about walking for 3-4 days in France before reaching Spain.
we started in irun but doing it again I would start in St Jean de Luz which we visited on another trip and enjoyed very much
 
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I would recommend starting in Bayonne from the Cathedral. It is a short 5.5km walk from Biarritz into Bayonne, so you can begin your Camino right from the airport if you'd like. If you fly into Paris, you can take a train right to Bayonne itself.

There is more information in Whitson & Perazzoli guide: https://www.cicerone.co.uk/the-camino-del-norte-and-camino-primitivo-third

Gronze also shows these routes now: https://www.gronze.com/camino-norte

I would recommend taking the Sentier du Littoral option through Guéthary. We stayed in Guéthary and it was very nice.

After Saint Jean de Luz, you can still stay close to the coast, but note the old route is closed and there is a new route slightly inland from what the guide and Gronze Stage 2B shows: https://saint-jean-de-luz.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/sentier-cocc82tier.pdf

When you get to Hendaye, you can take a 2 minute ferry ride into Hondarribia and start there the next day on your way to San Sebastian.

We walked this section last Spring and it was both gorgeous and charming. Highly recommended!

Buen Camino!
 
Bayonne is a very atmospheric French Basque city, worth a good exploration. There's an albergue run by the local confraternity. The Cathedral has a pilgrim stamp. There is a history of chocolate making. Good homely restaurants and my favourite lunch stop in France at the Bar du Marche! From there, depending on your daily distance, it is 2 to 4 days to Spain and the route is in the Cicerone guide to the Norte and on Gronze.com
 
If you start in Bayonne you could really stretch it out and walk 3 short days to Irun. I believe it is a little less than 50k. I will be walking it later this year but I am going to switch to the Vasco in Irun. I have already walked the Norte. I have read in a few places about this refugio in Bayonne and will definitely stay here.

Or another not so great suggestion is to walk 3 or 4 days at the end of the Le Puy Camino into St. Jean and then to Biarritz. But that would mean taking transportation to the starting point and then from St. Jean to Biarritz.
 
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When you get to Hendaye, you can take a 2 minute ferry ride into Hondarribia and start there the next day on your way to San Sebastian.
Great post, but......There's a ferry?! I just got off the train in Hendaye and walked from there. Only took a half hour or so to get to Irun town center where we mailed my wife's suitcase (including de-camino-ization equipment) Santiago.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I would recommend starting in Bayonne from the Cathedral. It is a short 5.5km walk from Biarritz into Bayonne, so you can begin your Camino right from the airport if you'd like. If you fly into Paris, you can take a train right to Bayonne itself.

There is more information in Whitson & Perazzoli guide: https://www.cicerone.co.uk/the-camino-del-norte-and-camino-primitivo-third

Gronze also shows these routes now: https://www.gronze.com/camino-norte

I would recommend taking the Sentier du Littoral option through Guéthary. We stayed in Guéthary and it was very nice.

After Saint Jean de Luz, you can still stay close to the coast, but note the old route is closed and there is a new route slightly inland from what the guide and Gronze Stage 2B shows: https://saint-jean-de-luz.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/sentier-cocc82tier.pdf

When you get to Hendaye, you can take a 2 minute ferry ride into Hondarribia and start there the next day on your way to San Sebastian.

We walked this section last Spring and it was both gorgeous and charming. Highly recommended!

Buen Camino!
Thank you very much, Tjz! I will have a closer look. It seems like a solustion for me to do.
 
Bayonne is a very atmospheric French Basque city, worth a good exploration. There's an albergue run by the local confraternity. The Cathedral has a pilgrim stamp. There is a history of chocolate making. Good homely restaurants and my favourite lunch stop in France at the Bar du Marche! From there, depending on your daily distance, it is 2 to 4 days to Spain and the route is in the Cicerone guide to the Norte and on Gronze.com
Thank you very much Tandem Graham! It sounds like a beautiful place to start a Camino.
 
If you start in Bayonne you could really stretch it out and walk 3 short days to Irun. I believe it is a little less than 50k. I will be walking it later this year but I am going to switch to the Vasco in Irun. I have already walked the Norte. I have read in a few places about this refugio in Bayonne and will definitely stay here.

Or another not so great suggestion is to walk 3 or 4 days at the end of the Le Puy Camino into St. Jean and then to Biarritz. But that would mean taking transportation to the starting point and then from St. Jean to Biarritz.
Thank you very much for this recommendation, It56ny! I think I will start in Bayonne.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Great post, but......There's a ferry?! I just got off the train in Hendaye and walked from there. Only took a half hour or so to get to Irun town center where we mailed my wife's suitcase (including de-camino-ization equipment) Santiago.
Yes, you can find info buried in both the Whitson & Perazzoli guide and in Gronze. Here's are some more direct links:
The nice thing about the ferry, is you can stay on the coast all the way until you leave France, and you arrive in Hondarribia which is a quaint little town to stay in and start the journey to San Sebastián the next day.
 
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Thank you very much for this recommendation, It56ny! I think I will start in Bayonne.
One last point. According to Gronze.com the coastal route from St. Jean de Luz to Irun is closed because of rock slides. That information is now one year old. I would prefer to walk the coastal route when I am there later in the year. I am sure that the albergue in Saint Jean will tell you whether or not the coastal route has been reopened. My plan is to walk from Bayonne to Guethary the first day. 29K is out of my walking range at my age now. Hopefully the coast will be open to walk. I know it would be beautiful.
 
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One last point. According to Gronze.com the coastal route from St. Jean de Luz to Irun is closed because of rock slides. That information is now one year old. I would prefer to walk the coastal route when I am there later in the year. I am sure that the albergue in Saint Jean will tell you whether or not the coastal route has been reopened. My plan is to walk from Bayonne to Guethary the first day. 29K is out of my walking range at my age now. Hopefully the coast will be open to walk. I know it would be beautiful.
Based on what I saw last Spring and what I've read, I would guess the "old" coastal route listed in Gronze will be closed indefinitely. But, there is a newer route that still stays on or near-ish to the coast that should work if you are likely encounter the barricades that are (presumably) still in place. I linked a French version of the route description above, and I'll duplicate here: https://saint-jean-de-luz.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/sentier-cocc82tier.pdf

Even if you can't read the French you should be able to work with the map in that PDF and piece together something with google maps, wikiloc, mapy.cz or the like if needed.
 
One last point. According to Gronze.com the coastal route from St. Jean de Luz to Irun is closed because of rock slides. That information is now one year old. I would prefer to walk the coastal route when I am there later in the year. I am sure that the albergue in Saint Jean will tell you whether or not the coastal route has been reopened. My plan is to walk from Bayonne to Guethary the first day. 29K is out of my walking range at my age now. Hopefully the coast will be open to walk. I know it would be beautiful.
We did it last autumn - check out our site :www.carrick.ch go to home page and click on the shell,then Camino del Norte on pull down menu on the left. Hope this helps, it’s such a beautiful Way to go.
 
We did it last autumn - check out our site :www.carrick.ch go to home page and click on the shell,then Camino del Norte on pull down menu on the left. Hope this helps, it’s such a beautiful Way to go.
Thanks. A couple of questions. When you get on the coastal path by the church, are there signposts or do you just continually follow the path wherever it leads you? Does it take you all the way into Irun? If not where does it end. Finally on the map on the bottom of the webpage what are the numbers 1-5 mean that are in boxes. Sorry I sound pretty lame about this but my map and trekking knowledge ends after I just look at the GPS on one of my camino apps.
Thanks for your help.
 
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One last point. According to Gronze.com the coastal route from St. Jean de Luz to Irun is closed because of rock slides. That information is now one year old. I would prefer to walk the coastal route when I am there later in the year. I am sure that the albergue in Saint Jean will tell you whether or not the coastal route has been reopened. My plan is to walk from Bayonne to Guethary the first day. 29K is out of my walking range at my age now. Hopefully the coast will be open to walk. I know it would be beautiful.
I'm in contact with a woman who is living in San Sebastián. I asked her about this stretch. She said that she is going to check it out in the next couple of weeks. I'll get back to you when I hear from her.

Also, there are a couple of reviews on AllTrails from last year that mention having to walk on the road a bit.

 
Having walked it in 2021, I would guess that the damaged portion is irreparable since it’s literally the cliff side that has fallen into the ocean and there are spots where no more land exists between the road and the ocean for a safe trail. While the affected portion of the trail is small, the entire path has been designated as off-limits, forcing walkers to either walk on the roadway edge (very few cars in October, but it would be busy during tourist season) or to use the wide roadway shoulder which has barriers every 50 meters or so that one has to bypass. The trail itself wanders from the roadway to the cliff edge and back, but that has additional barriers and should not be used since It has truly dangerous parts.

All in all, it’s a small portion of the path and really more of an inconvenience then a reason to avoid that section entirely. Even though it’s not waymarked, the road is easy to follow and eventually returns you to the Norte once you reach the section where the Camino path is safe again.
 
I'm in contact with a woman who is living in San Sebastián. I asked her about this stretch. She said that she is going to check it out in the next couple of weeks. I'll get back to you when I hear from her.

Also, there are a couple of reviews on AllTrails from last year that mention having to walk on the road a bit.

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I started from the Hendaye train station where I got my first stamp - not realizing how close it was to the albergue in Irun, so it was an extremely short walking day. I wish I had started in Bayonne.
 
Based on what I saw last Spring and what I've read, I would guess the "old" coastal route listed in Gronze will be closed indefinitely. But, there is a newer route that still stays on or near-ish to the coast that should work if you are likely encounter the barricades that are (presumably) still in place. I linked a French version of the route description above, and I'll duplicate here: https://saint-jean-de-luz.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/sentier-cocc82tier.pdf

Even if you can't read the French you should be able to work with the map in that PDF and piece together something with google maps, wikiloc, mapy.cz or the like if needed.
Thank you so much for this, Jeanineonthecamino! Very useful.
 
I'm in contact with a woman who is living in San Sebastián. I asked her about this stretch. She said that she is going to check it out in the next couple of weeks. I'll get back to you when I hear from her.

Also, there are a couple of reviews on AllTrails from last year that mention having to walk on the road a bit.

Thank you som much for your help Trecile!
 
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Thanks. A couple of questions. When you get on the coastal path by the church, are there signposts or do you just continually follow the path wherever it leads you? Does it take you all the way into Irun? If not where does it end. Finally on the map on the bottom of the webpage what are the numbers 1-5 mean that are in boxes. Sorry I sound pretty lame about this but my map and trekking knowledge ends after I just look at the GPS on one of my camino apps.
Thanks for your help.

Hello - thanks for the feedback! Firstly, the map at the bottom of the webpage (https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/france/france063/index.html) has a misleading title; it is actually a map showing the location of the photos we took, and the numbers in boxes indicate the number of pictures taken at that place. Rather confusing, I agree.

If you click on the button on the links section "Download map as pdf" (https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/pdfs/jakobswegF063_SaintJeanDeLuz-Hendaye.pdf) you will find detailed maps of our walk on that day.

My recollection of the route is that we came across the signpost just past the church, and then used our map app on our smart phone (I like the mapy.cz maps) to check our route.
You can see the details of our route on the pdf.

The coastal path takes you to the beach on the edge of Hendaye; from there it is quite a long walk to the bridge across the estuary from Hendaye in France to Irun in Spain, and then quite a long walk to the hostel on the edge of Irun.
(We took the bus from Hendaye back to where we were staying, and then returned the next day to walk across the bridge through Irun and on to Pasaia as you can see here:
https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/spain/spain001/index.html)

Hope that helps

Angus
 
Hello - thanks for the feedback! Firstly, the map at the bottom of the webpage (https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/france/france063/index.html) has a misleading title; it is actually a map showing the location of the photos we took, and the numbers in boxes indicate the number of pictures taken at that place. Rather confusing, I agree.

If you click on the button on the links section "Download map as pdf" (https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/pdfs/jakobswegF063_SaintJeanDeLuz-Hendaye.pdf) you will find detailed maps of our walk on that day.

My recollection of the route is that we came across the signpost just past the church, and then used our map app on our smart phone (I like the mapy.cz maps) to check our route.
You can see the details of our route on the pdf.

The coastal path takes you to the beach on the edge of Hendaye; from there it is quite a long walk to the bridge across the estuary from Hendaye in France to Irun in Spain, and then quite a long walk to the hostel on the edge of Irun.
(We took the bus from Hendaye back to where we were staying, and then returned the next day to walk across the bridge through Irun and on to Pasaia as you can see here:
https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/spain/spain001/index.html)

Hope that helps

Angus
Thanks a lot for this helpful information with a lot of details!
 
Hello - thanks for the feedback! Firstly, the map at the bottom of the webpage (https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/france/france063/index.html) has a misleading title; it is actually a map showing the location of the photos we took, and the numbers in boxes indicate the number of pictures taken at that place. Rather confusing, I agree.

If you click on the button on the links section "Download map as pdf" (https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/pdfs/jakobswegF063_SaintJeanDeLuz-Hendaye.pdf) you will find detailed maps of our walk on that day.

My recollection of the route is that we came across the signpost just past the church, and then used our map app on our smart phone (I like the mapy.cz maps) to check our route.
You can see the details of our route on the pdf.

The coastal path takes you to the beach on the edge of Hendaye; from there it is quite a long walk to the bridge across the estuary from Hendaye in France to Irun in Spain, and then quite a long walk to the hostel on the edge of Irun.
(We took the bus from Hendaye back to where we were staying, and then returned the next day to walk across the bridge through Irun and on to Pasaia as you can see here:
https://www.carrick.ch/jakobsweg/spain/spain001/index.html)

Hope that helps

Angus
I followed these instructions via your link today and really appreciate the details! Once I got to Socoa I googled the Eglise Saint Francois Xavier and found the alternate route easily. As I got closer to Hendaya I googled the Navette Hendaye-Fontarribe to get to the ferry to Hondarribia. Many thanks!!!
 
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