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French way: Paved sections to skip

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RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I'm not sure what percentage of the Frances is paved/improved path, but it's a lot and quite often you transition from different surfaces on the same day. So to narrow it down to a paved section is a bit problematic.
How many days do you have to walk the Frances? Perhaps that could help answer. Also I recommend getting a guidebook and researching the route and on the maps you see what is paved and what is not and can make your own decisions.
ultreia
 

irishrock

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (1st three stages in 2016 and finished in 2017)
Hello, I don't have enough time to walk the entire Camino Frances. Which paved sections could be avoided to save time? Thanks.
I hiked the first three stages into Pamplona in 2016.

In 2017, I hiked from Pamplona to Burgos...took a train to Astorga. (7 days) I hiked Astorga to el Acebo (1 day), took a taxi to Vega de la Valcarce and then hiked that into Santiago. (5 days).

I had a time constraint that kept me from hiking (or biking) the Bugos to Astorga stages. I'll be back to do that someday soon
 

wanderingsilvia

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
Hello, I don't have enough time to walk the entire Camino Frances. Which paved sections could be avoided to save time? Thanks.
Hello. I realize there is not one answer to this question. I have 25 days and I am not fast. I may just cut a section and move on. I have watched many videos from previous pilgrims and, unlike other routes that cross industrial areas o have long sections on paved roads, I haven't seen any section on the CF that are particularly like that. Thank you!
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
as a rough guide......
according to the John Brierley Guide.
I have added up the sections.

He categorises the paths on each section into 3 types.

  1. Natural paths. Including gravel 'senda'.
  2. Secondary roads
  3. Main roads.
If I add up all the natural path distances it comes out to 538.1 kms. (69% of the distance).
So about 240 kms of asphalt/concrete.

Though some of those 'natural' paths might also include old roman roads, that can be hard on the feet too!

But as others have said, most sections are a combination of surfaces, or maybe a paved section amongst lots of mixed sections.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
As Robo points out in the Brierly guide, there are details as to how much of each stage is paved versus natural on every profile diagram.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances/SJPP '15,'16,'18,'19,('20)
Way of St. Francis, Italy 2017
Portuguese/Finisterre 2018, 2019
Hello. I realize there is not one answer to this question. I have 25 days and I am not fast. I may just cut a section and move on. I have watched many videos from previous pilgrims and, unlike other routes that cross industrial areas o have long sections on paved roads, I haven't seen any section on the CF that are particularly like that. Thank you!
A couple of questions before I offer my advice.
1) How many km can you realistically walk day after day? Have you trained for ascents and descents?
2) What time of year are you planning to go?
3) Does the 25 days include your travel time to get to/from the Camino? Where are you coming from?
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Hello, I don't have enough time to walk the entire Camino Frances. Which paved sections could be avoided to save time? Thanks.

Don't skip anything. Just walk as far as you can :)

Exactly, pick a place to start. If you want to get to Santiago pick a place where you think you can make it and just walk. Why make things complicated? One of the biggest joys of pilgrimage is uncomplicating and stripping down to the bare minimum in every respect. Believe me you will waste a lot of time and energy skipping.
 

SouthernBoy

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2012 / 2022
Hello, I don't have enough time to walk the entire Camino Frances. Which paved sections could be avoided to save time? Thanks.
My wife and I have been on the route sonce June 13. Arrived in Sarria today (super hot weather and many pilgrims). Everyone answering your question will have an opinion, so here's mine: Take the bus from Los Arcos to Logrono. It's easy to find and saves you a stage. Walking in and out of Leon is a slog. I'd accelerate through Leon to Hospital de Orbigo. Leon is beautiful, but if you stay in Burgos, you'll get your "city fix" and needn't do both if pressed. The section from Rabanal into Molinaseca is really tough on the legs, with a good 3 hour descent on either rock or roadway as well, and the adjoining walk from Molinasecca into Ponferrada is totally urban. So right there, you could shave 4 -5 days off your trip with little regret. Lastly, if you are really tight for time, there is no shame in starting from a town other than St. Jean. Pamplona is an excellent start point and saves you another 3-4 days. I would NOT skip the meseta! So peaceful and full of quinessential Spanish villages and churches. Have a great Camino...we are!!
 

Liam55

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
In my opinion it might feel better, as noted above, to pick a stretch say from Leon and walk all of from there. You will be in a flow of pilgrims; you will feel that sense of community and meeting people again and getting to know them. Skipping sections might feel disruptive and you are then picking and choosing. Take the head stuff out of it, let the heart feel. I am fairly certain this would feel more satisfying. Galicia is just outrageously beautiful; I probably breezed through too fast. Take your time and absorb. I’d go back to Leon tomorrow if I could and I only home 3 weeks from Santiago. Let yourself feel, enjoy and love it !!!
 
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wanderingsilvia

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
My wife and I have been on the route sonce June 13. Arrived in Sarria today (super hot weather and many pilgrims). Everyone answering your question will have an opinion, so here's mine: Take the bus from Los Arcos to Logrono. It's easy to find and saves you a stage. Walking in and out of Leon is a slog. I'd accelerate through Leon to Hospital de Orbigo. Leon is beautiful, but if you stay in Burgos, you'll get your "city fix" and needn't do both if pressed. The section from Rabanal into Molinaseca is really tough on the legs, with a good 3 hour descent on either rock or roadway as well, and the adjoining walk from Molinasecca into Ponferrada is totally urban. So right there, you could shave 4 -5 days off your trip with little regret. Lastly, if you are really tight for time, there is no shame in starting from a town other than St. Jean. Pamplona is an excellent start point and saves you another 3-4 days. I would NOT skip the meseta! So peaceful and full of quinessential Spanish villages and churches. Have a great Camino...we are!!
Thank you! I want to cross the Pyrenees so I will start in SJPDP, I definitely want to walk the meseta,quick visit Burgosand walk from Sarria to Santiago. My focus is the walk, and with such little time I don't expect to do a lot of sightseeing. I leave for Spain next week. Buen Camino!
 

wanderingsilvia

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
A couple of questions before I offer my advice.
1) How many km can you realistically walk day after day? Have you trained for ascents and descents?
2) What time of year are you planning to go?
3) Does the 25 days include your travel time to get to/from the Camino? Where are you coming from?
I am leaving next week and my start point is SJPDP. Twenty five days will be my walking time. I am not in great shape ( long story) therefore I am planning to carry the bare minimum which I have tested on a few walks and it is not too hard on my body. I want to walk the meseta and the last stretch to Santiago
 

Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
How exciting! I like your plan of starting in SJPP. Both times that I have crossed the Pyrenees were extra special! Navarra and Rioja provinces are favorites of mine. I, too, found the Meseta a great part of the walk and a part of the Camino that I would not have wanted to miss. So, with only 25 days, you’ll have to do some picking and choosing, but there are no “bad” days on the CF. Different stages simply offer different challenges. I understand walking the last 100 kms into Santiago, but I don’t think you’ll find it the most satisfying part of your Camino after having been on earlier sections. Nonetheless, after that much time walking, your arrival in Santiago will be very special and you will certainly understand the meaning of the pilgrimage. Starts in a week! Wow! Buen Camino!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Hello, I don't have enough time to walk the entire Camino Frances. Which paved sections could be avoided to save time? Thanks.
I dislike the pavement and cement but sometimes the pavement is easier than the path! Occasionally one experiences downhills, where paths are full of rocks and very steep, making the walk slow and slippery.

Pavement areas
How exciting! I like your plan of starting in SJPP. Both times that I have crossed the Pyrenees were extra special! Navarra and Rioja provinces are favorites of mine. I, too, found the Meseta a great part of the walk and a part of the Camino that I would not have wanted to miss. So, with only 25 days, you’ll have to do some picking and choosing, but there are no “bad” days on the CF. Different stages simply offer different challenges. I understand walking the last 100 kms into Santiago, but I don’t think you’ll find it the most satisfying part of your Camino after having been on earlier sections. Nonetheless, after that much time walking, your arrival in Santiago will be very special and you will certainly understand the meaning of the pilgrimage. Starts in a week! Wow! Buen Camino
I am leaving next week and my start point is SJPDP. Twenty five days will be my walking time. I am not in great shape ( long story) therefore I am planning to carry the bare minimum which I have tested on a few walks and it is not too hard on my body. I want to walk the meseta and the last stretch to Santiago
The walk up and down to Roncevalles is mostly on a paved road! And do monitor the weather! Currently expecting another heatwave. Of course weather can change quickly In the mountains.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances/SJPP '15,'16,'18,'19,('20)
Way of St. Francis, Italy 2017
Portuguese/Finisterre 2018, 2019
I am leaving next week and my start point is SJPDP. Twenty five days will be my walking time. I am not in great shape ( long story) therefore I am planning to carry the bare minimum which I have tested on a few walks and it is not too hard on my body. I want to walk the meseta and the last stretch to Santiago
I usually don't recommend that pilgrims skip around, as you won't make the friendships that are important to MY Camino, but given your desires and physical fitness below are some of my suggestions.
1) Given your physical fitness, I would definitely not go to Roncesvalles in one day. In fact, I personally rarely recommend to do it in one day. Stay at Orisson or Borda. You will need a reservation!
2) Given your short time frame, you might be tempted to push yourself too hard in the beginning. This could put your entire Camino at risk due to injury. Keep your distances short to moderate the first week and build your strength.
3) You may want to consider using the bag service. I know you have packed light and it feels good now. Someone it always feels much heavier day after day. I would take a foldable duffle to send things ahead if desired and carry your backpack. Not carrying this weight will allow you to cover more distance.
4) Keep in mind that it could be very hot and this will impact your ability to cover as much ground. The summer is one of the few times I take a headlamp so that I can start very early and be done by the time it gets too hot. The mornings are still nice in Spain.
5) These are some sections I would consider skipping. I feel that they have good transportation options there is a lot of road walking most often in suburbs or industrial sections.

* Catch the bus in Belorado and go on to Burgos. If you catch the morning bus, you could spend half a day in Burgos and then taxi or bus out to Rabe de las Calzadas and be ready to walk the next morning. This will save you about 2.5-3 days. The walking into and out of Burgos will not be missed. There is a nice climb through the forrest after Villafranca but it doesn't rank with some of the other not to miss areas.
* Get a train from Sahagun to Leon. If you spend the night in Sahagun, you could catch the early train and have the day to see Leon. Check the bus schedule and see if you could get to Hospital de Orbigo later that day and be ready to walk the next morning. This would save about 2.5 days. You could go on to Astorga to save a little more time and you could catch the train.
* You could arrange for a taxi to pick you up at Cruz de Fero or Manjarin. The downhill from here to Molineseca is where I have seen the most injuries. The rocks are difficult and the alternative is walking the road.
* Molineseca to Camponaraya can definitely be skipped. You may want to taxi to Ponferrada, visit the castle (closed on Mondays) and then continue on to Camponaraya to continue walking. If you take the cab from Cruz de Fero you will save about 2 days
* Now for your desire to walk the Meseta. I love the Meseta in the spring and early summer. However, later in the summer it can be very hot and very brown. I was through there a couple of weeks ago and due to the intense heat it was drying up fast. The wheat was golden and had not been harvested. Once it is harvested, it is just a lot of brown dirt. So I don't know your desire, but at this time of year I would consider skipping more of it in order to enjoy other areas. I would never consider skipping it in spring or early summer.
Hopefully, this will be helpful. Skipping around it a different kind of Camino, but its your Camino.
Ultreia Y Susia
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Get yourself a Brierley guidebook for the Frances. Plan your route accordingly using that.
 

wanderingsilvia

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
I usually don't recommend that pilgrims skip around, as you won't make the friendships that are important to MY Camino, but given your desires and physical fitness below are some of my suggestions.
1) Given your physical fitness, I would definitely not go to Roncesvalles in one day. In fact, I personally rarely recommend to do it in one day. Stay at Orisson or Borda. You will need a reservation!
2) Given your short time frame, you might be tempted to push yourself too hard in the beginning. This could put your entire Camino at risk due to injury. Keep your distances short to moderate the first week and build your strength.
3) You may want to consider using the bag service. I know you have packed light and it feels good now. Someone it always feels much heavier day after day. I would take a foldable duffle to send things ahead if desired and carry your backpack. Not carrying this weight will allow you to cover more distance.
4) Keep in mind that it could be very hot and this will impact your ability to cover as much ground. The summer is one of the few times I take a headlamp so that I can start very early and be done by the time it gets too hot. The mornings are still nice in Spain.
5) These are some sections I would consider skipping. I feel that they have good transportation options there is a lot of road walking most often in suburbs or industrial sections.

* Catch the bus in Belorado and go on to Burgos. If you catch the morning bus, you could spend half a day in Burgos and then taxi or bus out to Rabe de las Calzadas and be ready to walk the next morning. This will save you about 2.5-3 days. The walking into and out of Burgos will not be missed. There is a nice climb through the forrest after Villafranca but it doesn't rank with some of the other not to miss areas.
* Get a train from Sahagun to Leon. If you spend the night in Sahagun, you could catch the early train and have the day to see Leon. Check the bus schedule and see if you could get to Hospital de Orbigo later that day and be ready to walk the next morning. This would save about 2.5 days. You could go on to Astorga to save a little more time and you could catch the train.
* You could arrange for a taxi to pick you up at Cruz de Fero or Manjarin. The downhill from here to Molineseca is where I have seen the most injuries. The rocks are difficult and the alternative is walking the road.
* Molineseca to Camponaraya can definitely be skipped. You may want to taxi to Ponferrada, visit the castle (closed on Mondays) and then continue on to Camponaraya to continue walking. If you take the cab from Cruz de Fero you will save about 2 days
* Now for your desire to walk the Meseta. I love the Meseta in the spring and early summer. However, later in the summer it can be very hot and very brown. I was through there a couple of weeks ago and due to the intense heat it was drying up fast. The wheat was golden and had not been harvested. Once it is harvested, it is just a lot of brown dirt. So I don't know your desire, but at this time of year I would consider skipping more of it in order to enjoy other areas. I would never consider skipping it in spring or early summer.
Hopefully, this will be helpful. Skipping around it a different kind of Camino, but its your Camino.
Ultreia Y Susia
Thanks very much for the detailed answer. Considering the heatwave currently happening in Europe , and your comment about it being brown, I am thinking of skipping it . I want to enjoy my walk, not suffer through it unnecessarily.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances/SJPP '15,'16,'18,'19,('20)
Way of St. Francis, Italy 2017
Portuguese/Finisterre 2018, 2019
Thanks very much for the detailed answer. Considering the heatwave currently happening in Europe , and your comment about it being brown, I am thinking of skipping it . I want to enjoy my walk, not suffer through it unnecessarily.
Buen Camino.....and don't forget to stay off of the book stages in the last 100km to avoid the crowds. I also make sure that I am not walking through one of the stage towns before 9:00 a.m. Otherwise, you might get caught in the crowds departing in the morning.
 

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