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From Paris to Roncevalles

#1
Hello All,

First of all, thanks to everyone who contribute to this forum, it's a treasure trove or knowledge. Without it I'd be lost a long time ago :)

I have been planning on starting my camino late April, starting in Orléans, France, taking the 'Paris Route'. However today I was read something a little disheartening on The CSJ website and read the following concerning the route:

It has largely disappeared under tarmac, and is not really recommended for people setting out on the pilgrimage for the first time
The thing is it will be my first pilgrimage. Has anyone here walked this route and have thoughts on it? Is it really that bad?

Thanks everyone!
Eric
 

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Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#2
Of the 4 routes in the Liber Sancti Jacobi, the Paris/Tours one is the one that is most populated, and so is the most urban. The historic line is essentially the Roman road, which has remained a main road to the current day - except at the S end, where the main road shifted from Roncesvalles to the coast at the end of the Middle Ages. This is what the CSJ means by 'disappeared under tarmac'. On the other hand, more towns means more architectural heritage, and this route is easily the most interesting from that point of view. Depends what you want ;-)

You do not have to bat along the main road, as there is a now a waymarked walking route all the way from Orleans, with the exception of a hole N of Bordeaux, which no-one seems to feel responsible for filling. As the walking route dodges about either side of the main road, it's substantially longer, but considerably nicer to walk along :)

See my website http://www.peterrobins.co.uk/camino/routes/tours for an overview and some links for further info. The CSJ site is a bit out-of-date now, as regards pilgrim accommodation too, as this has improved considerably in the last couple of years, as the route has been marked and more people walk it.

I wouldn't agree with the CSJ's comment that it isn't appropriate for a 1st-time pilgrim. IMO all routes are appropriate :) I would regard it as the 2nd most appropriate for British walkers - the 1st being the sea-route via Corunna.

PS. There are now at least 3 (French) guides to the route, though they are also a bit out-of-date and do not necessarily follow the waymarked route. A new edn of the Rando Edns one is due out in the spring.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#3
Via Turonensis

I walked from Orleans to Roncesvalles in June 2004 - before the route was marked and signposted - and found that the best way to stay off the main roads was to ask locals for a 'petit rue' to the next town or village.
We used the ferry to cross the Gironde and that was where we saw our first pilgrims - three cyclists from Belguim on their way to St Jean to start their pilgrimage proper. The next time we saw another pilgrim was down south, in Ostabat.
The Via Turonensis couldn't compare with the Camino Frances which I walked in 2002 from Roncesvalles to Santiago. That was a totally different experience - everything I expected the pilgrimage to be with hundreds of pilgrims, nightly albergues, cook-outs, sing-alongs, doing foot massages for weary pilgrim. It was wonderful but it rather spoiled the Orleans to Spain route for me which is more of a GR hike and the least popular of all the routes.
I am inclined to suggest to wannabe pilgrims that if this is to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you walk the Camino Frances.
If you are still keen to do the Orleans to Roncesvalles route, drop me a line and I will send you our daily schedule, list of albergues and budget.
un saludos,
 

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#4
Re: Via Turonensis

sillydoll said:
The Via Turonensis couldn't compare with the Camino Frances which I walked in 2002 from Roncesvalles to Santiago. That was a totally different experience - everything I expected the pilgrimage to be with hundreds of pilgrims, nightly albergues, cook-outs, sing-alongs, doing foot massages for weary pilgrim. It was wonderful but it rather spoiled the Orleans to Spain route for me which is more of a GR hike and the least popular of all the routes.
That used to be the case, but I don't think it's true any more. Judging from the nos recorded in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, more people, particularly cyclists, now use the Tours route than the Vezelay route. Hard to tell how many use the Somport route, but nos recorded in Oloron are somewhat more than Tours/Vezelay together. Other routes are negligible, and none are anywhere near nos on the GR65.

I don't think you can compare any route in France (or Spain for that matter) with the Camino Frances, which has developed into its own special thing. The other routes are more like what the Camino Frances used to be 15-20 years ago. When I walked from my home in Chester 15+ years ago, via Paris, Vezelay, Le Puy, Roncesvalles, I doubt whether I saw a dozen pilgrims the whole way.

If you want lots of other pilgrims to provide fellowship and comraderie, and plenty of cheap accommodation, the Camino Frances is the only choice, and the GR65 from Le Puy would be the only choice in France. If, however, you prefer something quieter away from the crowds, and have no problem with hotel-type accommodation, pick one of the other routes.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#5
Via Turonensis

Hellp Peter,
I copied a lot from your site (and Phillipe Do Ngoc's site) before we walked the route from Orleans.
I am pleased that the Paris route is growing in popularity. It is largely flat until one reaches the Landes and is therefore easy to walk or cycle, goes through many historic towns and villages and deserves to reclaim some of it's earlier popularity.
Although the 2004 stats showed that only 24 pilgrims who collected the Compostela started in Paris there might have been many more on the route who started further back in Belguim or Holland even. (1,843 started in various points in FRANCE).
 

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