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Evvie

Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
You can’t beat early September on CF; and walking CF as an initial camino.

The beauty of crowds: you can be as alone or surrounded by others as you wish.

Buen camino.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
Plenty of them:
https://www.rayyrosa.com/caminos (scroll down to see the map and drag the cursor onto Caminos to see their names)
All of them have some sort of info posted here on the forum (in sub-forums of course).

But as @nycwalking posted above I would also suggest CF if that's your first Camino. The easiest way to learn the tricks of Camino and yet you can walk all alone if you don't want company. Same in albergues, you can take part in conversation or find a quiet spot for yourself.

Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
The two quietest routes I enjoyed were the Aragones and the route from Lourdes.
The Aragones was easy to get to from Pamplona. Just a quick bus ride to Jaca.
Whatever you decide, Buen Camino!
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
If you go to Jaca, don't miss San Juan de la Pena and the train station in Canfranc.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Only by walking the CF or the Norte ;) @Evvie the CF will have plenty of pilgrims in September but it won't be "crowded", well it might be but only with Pilgrims. There will be lots of people walking in the same direction stretched out from StJdP to Santiago. There are plenty of places to stay and if you make a point of avoiding the classic guidebook stages: stop one short or walk on one step, you'll not likely have to hunt for a bed. The Norte "harder" than the CF? Underfoot maybe. The Norte has a reputation for to much tarmac but there are plenty of variants to get you off the concrete if thats what you need.

If you want the "quiet" life, at least at first research the Camino Vasco down to San domingo or Burgos: consider then the Salvador up to Oviedo and the Primitivo from there.

Buen Camino(s)
 

caminoagogo

http://camino-a-go-go.blogspot.com/
Camino(s) past & future
Francés from Leon(2014)
Frances & Sanabres from Ourense (2018)
Portugués (2020)
@Evvie You could always do the Frances and then switch Caminos for the last 100KM as it gets really busy from that point onwards. I did that last year and it was great. I switched at Sarria from the Frances to the Sanabres. All you do is catch one train from Sarria to Ourense and then start walking. You can read more about it at https://camino-a-go-go.blogspot.com/2018/05/day-27-ourense-to-cotelas.html. I wrote about each stage so it may give you a little bit of info.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
@Evvie You could always do the Frances and then switch Caminos for the last 100KM as it gets really busy from that point onwards. I did that last year and it was great. I switched at Sarria from the Frances to the Sanabres. All you do is catch one train from Sarria to Ourense and then start walking. You can read more about it at https://camino-a-go-go.blogspot.com/2018/05/day-27-ourense-to-cotelas.html. I wrote about each stage so it may give you a little bit of info.
Much easier to veer left onto Camino de Invierno in Ponferrada and continue walking without taking a transport. But what you did it's an option too of course :)
 

Leibniz

Peregrina
Camino(s) past & future
Frances from Astorga (2018)
Frances/Invierno from SJPP (2019)
Hi Evvie,

I walked in September last year and did not find crowds...I could see it was busy and there were many pilgrims but I always found the quiet, contemplation and aloneness that I sought.

I had been worried about the crowds and I had been told that on the CF wherever you are, if you look ahead and if you look behind you you will always see a pilgrim. I found this not to be true and very often I walked completely alone for hours at a time without anyone ahead or behind.

It is not completely lonely and you will see other pilgrims and that was nice too...just to say hello and a little chat (or not if you don’t feel like it) but I would definitely not say that the crowds were invasive or overwhelming.

And as the infrastructure on the CF is really good (lots of albergues and other places to stay so you don’t have to worry about planning your stages too tightly), I would recommend it as a first Camino.

The only place when I thought the crowds were too much was after Sarria. After Sarria the crowds sometimes felt like Time Square on New Year’s Eve (both density and atmosphere).

So when I walk this year I am planning switch to the Invierno at Ponferrada. Maybe you could look into something like that.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
Hi @Evvie Even crowded the CF is a great first Camino.
I've done it 2 and a bit times, and only venturing on to a different one next year.

There is crowded and crowded. It's not like walking down the main street of a city crowded.
We've had hours without seeing another pilgrim, and other days there might be 10 within sight.

And even crowded, the last 100 kms from Sarria is somewhat special I think.

You start to lean a few tricks if you want to avoid the crowds.

Start earlier or later in the day.
Walk for more hours. Many people stop at 12-2 pm to get the Albergue beds.
We walk till 4 or 5 pm, as we start later, about 9 am. The afternoons are often deserted on the trail.
(we book 1 day ahead so we are not rushing for a bed)
Then avoid the end stages shown in the guidebooks.
These are arbitrary stages based on the average distance the author believes people might want to walk.
If you are not 'average' like most of us aren't, then you'll adapt your daily distances anyway.
 
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omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
If you go to Jaca, don't miss San Juan de la Pena and the train station in Canfranc.
I remember that train station..don't quote me but i believe it's the longest in the world..certainly seemed ages to pass it!
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
You can go on "the camino vasco del interior" from Irun to Burgos. It's a nice way with "albergues" and not too much pilgrims
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
As others have stated if it is your first one there is something very special about the CF. I am not into alot of crowds but I also want to do other caminos so I have done the the Portuguese from Lisbon, The Norte and from Le Puy. ALL caminos have good and bad but almost universally wonderful things and are all different. The Portuguese is not as crowed but it too can be very hot in early September and there is alot of road walking. I was 64 when I did the Norte last year. Yes it is tough. I found it the hardest of the caminos I have done and there is alot of road walking BUT there are lots of alternative routes you can take. They are written about here extensively. It is also really beautiful especially if you like ocean landscapes. It will be cooler since it is on the coast and if getting a Compostela is important then choose this one. The reason I mention the Compostela is that you could also choose the route from Le Puy in France. It is quiet, beautiful, has GREAT food in the gites. Very few English speakers though. I can speak about 4 words of French and I still loved it. There are also multiple other routes. Some more difficult than others but all with challenges.
Buen Camino
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
You have been reading about crowds on the camino for a few weeks now. Bear in mind that the last few weeks have been holidays in Spain. Easter followed very quickly by Mayday holiday. Many Spanish walk during these holidays but should be mostly gone home by now. I would guess from experience that the crowds will drop off a bit now. I have found walking in early September that although still busy it is not overly so and as the month goes on, the numbers drop. Even the surge at Sarria middle to late September is not too bad. So play it by ear. Just go for it. Book ahead for St Jean, Orisson and Roncesvalles. After that, start between 6:30 and 7, walk for around six hours then stop at an albergue mid stage. Worked every time for me. Bear in mind though that every morning is darker than the one before and eventually you will be walking in the dark until about 8:30 so bring a good head torch. Absolutely invaluable
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
According to the chart when is the best time to walk you'll be walking in the busiest month wi t h 30% of the year's pilgrims walking then...that to me says BUSY
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
You can’t beat early September on CF; and walking CF as an initial camino.

The beauty of crowds: you can be as alone or surrounded by others as you wish.

Buen camino.
Have to agree with this.
 
Camino(s) past & future
French route (04,05,06) Portugues (07) VDLP (09,10,11) Aragon (0413) Levante (16) French (18)
I am planning to start the Camino Frances in early September but am really concerned about the crowds that I keep reading about. That's not what I expected, but with the increased popularity of the Camino I guess I'm not surprised. Peace, solitude, and reflection -- not compatible with the masses and trying to hunt down a bed. So I'm thinking about taking a different route. I'm flying to Paris from the US and currently have reservations to Biarritz/SJPP but I'll change or cancel that if necessary. I think the Norte might be too difficult for me. Please, what do you recommend?
Consider the Aragón route either starting in Olonon Ste Marie France and walk over the mountain, or begin in Jaca (via a bus to Canfra Estation in Spain)
 

VeganCamino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Frances from Saint Jean Pied du Port to Burgos, starting in June.
The two quietest routes I enjoyed were the Aragones and the route from Lourdes.
The Aragones was easy to get to from Pamplona. Just a quick bus ride to Jaca.
Whatever you decide, Buen Camino!
Annie, so curious about the route to the Frances from Lourdes. I am planning to stop in Lourdes for a night, then travel via train and bus to SJPP. Would be interested in walking from Lourdes. Curious about your experience there. Thank you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
French route (04,05,06) Portugues (07) VDLP (09,10,11) Aragon (0413) Levante (16) French (18)
Lourdes to SJDP approx. 6 days walk. Lourdes to Jaca approx. 10 days; depending of Ks per day obviously.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Annie, so curious about the route to the Frances from Lourdes. I am planning to stop in Lourdes for a night, then travel via train and bus to SJPP. Would be interested in walking from Lourdes. Curious about your experience there. Thank you.

Here is my blog:
 

VeganCamino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Frances from Saint Jean Pied du Port to Burgos, starting in June.
Sure you can. It's called the Le Puy route, which you are well set-up for since you're flying into Paris.
Say more! I'm interested. I care less about the compastela than about having a great experience along the way. I heard Le Puy is more vegan friendly and I speak some French. Curious your impressions of the route from Le Puy to say Logonos. Thank you!
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
Annie, so curious about the route to the Frances from Lourdes. I am planning to stop in Lourdes for a night, then travel via train and bus to SJPP. Would be interested in walking from Lourdes. Curious about your experience there. Thank you.
Lourdes to SJPP is a magnificent, challenging and quiet route. Look for threads on "Piedmont" in the forum.
 

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