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Crowds on the Vezelay route

M

Metropolly

Guest
Does anyone have any recent information/experience of the Vezelay route? I'm setting off this month from London and walking via Canterbury, Calais and Reims to reach Vezelay (hopefully) in May, and from there on to Santiago. Somewhere on this site I read about intense competition for accommodation in spring months on the Vezelay route, while July and August are quiet. I prefer solitude, and dread the thought of a Camino Frances-style race to the refuge. Is May abysmally crowded, or is it just relatively busy compared with the summer months? For some peace, should I delay my Camino by a couple of months?
By the way, hello again to the familiar names on the forum. Some of you may remember that three years ago, after walking to Castres from Arles, I said Never Again. Ha!
 
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Deleted member 3000

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No crowds in October. It is hard to imagine crowds anytime. Sometimes the guestbooks did not have a sign in for weeks. Some gites have only four beds, so it always is possible to be the fifth person...
 
M

Metropolly

Guest
Thanks Falcon - I saw your blog and it seems you met more deer than pilgrims. Lucky you! But I'm looking for information about May - does anyone else have any first-hand experience of the Vezelay route in spring?
 
A

AJ

Guest
Metropolly said:
Thanks Falcon - I saw your blog and it seems you met more deer than pilgrims. Lucky you! But I'm looking for information about May - does anyone else have any first-hand experience of the Vezelay route in spring?

I saw more deer than people too! I left Vezelay on May 5 2010, taking the Northern route via Bourges. I used the Chassain guide. I never had any problems with accomodation and often had a refuge to myself. The biggest problem on this route is food. Very many villages have no bar and no shop. Some of the refuges have canned food, beer, wine with price labels and an honesty box.
 
M

Metropolly

Guest
Thank you AJ! That is music to my ears! One takes the Camino as one finds it, of course, but I'm glad I'm not necessarily wandering into a pilgrim rush hour. How things pan out on the Camino del Norte in June is a whole other matter - but hopefully by then I'll be acclimatised enough to accept whatever the Way throws at me...
I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my query
 
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A

AJ

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Metropolly said:
How things pan out on the Camino del Norte in June is a whole other matter -

I will be on the first part of the Norte (to Bilbao) sometime in June. I have previously been on it in September 2009 when it was good and August 2012 when it was awful.
 
M

Metropolly

Guest
How lovely! Perhaps our paths cross on the way. I've noticed in among the threads on the Camino Frances that Rebekah Scott once said June is quieter than any other month from May to September. Perhaps this lull applies to the Camino del Norte too. I suppose there's only one way to find out...
 
A

AJ

Guest
lynn.riding said:
What made it awful in August 2012?

Too many pilgrims and lots of holiday makers. A lot of groups of young Spaniards. The infrastructure couldn't cope and albergues filled up very quickly. In Miraz for example I arrived around 2p.m. and there were more people waiting than there were beds. In Vilalba I got the last bed. The whole of La Isla was booked out, including all hotels. etc, etc.
 

carolus

New Member
Crowds on the Vezelay route? It's hard to imagine. I walked in May, and met fewer than a dozen people in 38 days. More often than not I was alone in the gite at night.
 
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giorgio

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF(2000), Puy (03), VDLP(04), Arles(05), Paris/London(06), Norte(07),Vezelay(09), Levante(10),Madrid(13),CF(15),CF(16)
We did the Vezelay route thru Bourges in May. Met half a dozen people. Most of the time me and my wife were alone for the night. As someone else said above pay attention to food as there are often few places to refer to. We enjoyed very much the ospitality of the Friend of the Chemin , they were the greatest people we ever met!!!
Here is one picture that summarizes well , in my opinion , the Vezelay route.
 

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FatmaG

Active Member
@giorgio: beautiful picture, thank you!

@Metropolly: I neither can imagine plenty of pilgrims on that path... Especially as the way has somehow been splitted into 2 caminos between Reims and Vézelay: the GR with its white and red marks, and another path planned by the local French association to shortcut the GR taking some detours... (you can buy this path description arriving in the cathedral of Reims).
I mixed up both and am to leave (rejoining again the GR between Brienne le Chateau and Vézelay). I can give you feedback when back home.

I am so very excited to be on the camino again!
To all of you here, fine Easter celebrations!

FatmaG
 

FatmaG

Active Member
Back to Brussels after 8 walking days, from Briennes le Château to Vézelay...

By now, Metropolly, you must be well on your way, so this information might not be very uselful for you.

About crowds : 'Which crowds???'
I mostly heard about pilgrims passing behind me, or having spend a night before me in the hostal. And they were few!
I was always the only pilgrim in my accomodation; the first 'crowds', I met in Vézelay: one woman to start in Vézelay towards the Pyrenees, 3 women to start towards Rome (or Assisi) and one man arriving behind me from the north.

It was gorgeous, no rain, some days of sunshine, lovely wine (I walked through the Champagne and Burgundy regions), nice French people.

The waymarking was mostly very good - except once where I was a lost and searched about one hour for the right trail.

There were some days with few food on the camino, because the little shop either opened late (and I came through the village in the morning) or it opened only in the morning (and I was there in the afternoon).

And, yes, it was expensive - I spend more in one week in France than in four weeks on the Camino Frances... This because of the stages I chose and because of the period of the year: else you could camp, and you don't have to pay a surplus for heating in some places. (several hotel rooms and one chambre d'hôte at the hotel price)
And, I admit, I offered myself the 'luxury' for some good restaurants...

Bon chemin,
FatmaG
 
M

Metropolly

Guest
Hello, and thanks for ayour replies. After setting out from London three weeks ago, and walking blissfully alone the whole way, I arrived in Reims today where the Acceuil in the cathedral was swamped with clean-shoed people buying pilgrim passports and starting out for a few weeks' cheap walking on the road to Vezelay. I must hope it's a temporary crowding because of the sudden good weather (it's been rain and snow until this week). Is it un-pilgrim-like of me to value my solitude so much? Anyway, all is well!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
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Sounds like a sudden glut, from the recent shift to the better from the unseasonably wintry weather we've been having in France.
 
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M

Metropolly

Guest
I'm going to answer my own previous question: It is perhaps not un-pilgrimlike to wish for solitude, but it certainly was un-pilgrimlike of me to have been so harsh in my judgement about those with clean shoes and wanting a cheap holiday. We all start the Camino somewhere, and for many of us (myself included, many years ago) the love of pilgrimage began with the desire for a few days' easy and inexpensive walking. As my parish priest told me before I began this time, when I told him my trip was perhaps more motivated by pride than spirituality, 'Isn't it wonderful how God brings us closer to Him, even through our vices?'
I am now in Gargilesse, taking a couple of days' break as I wait for the post office to open again after yet another tranche of public holiday closures (awaiting urgent Poste Restante - ugh!). I urge ALL pilgrims taking the Vezelay route to stop here at the Gite/Chambres d'hote/camping at Le Haut-Verger - an incredibly welcoming and relaxing stop in a beautiful spot on one of the most lovely sections of the chemin. Sadly the number in the Chassain guide is out of date, but details can be found online
 

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