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From Paris


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KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#2
I have a French friend who lives near Paris. When I stayed with her last year I was telling her about the places where I had 'banged into' the Camino and pilgrims while I had been in France (Arles, Montpelier, Cahors and various places along the Loire.) She told me about a work colleague of hers who was feeling very despondent about the state of the world etc. Then in 2005 he had walked the Chemin from Paris to the top of Spain. He had enjoyed both the walk and the people he met so much, that it had totally changed how he viewed the world again, and made him realise the world was actually a good place. So he decided to walk the Spanish section last summer (2006).
 

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
In 2004 we started the Via Turonensis in Paris and got our first sello at Nortre Dame. We spent two days following the two walking itineraries in the CSJ's City Guide called 'Paris Pilgrim'. They are fascinating walks following the scallop shells and other St Jacques symbols and historical places - each lasting about 2 hours. After two days in Paris we walked to the outskirts and got a train to Orleans where we started our pilgrimage proper and walked all the way to Roncesvalles.
The route is very flat with practically no way markers until you reach the south. There are very few pilgrim refuges – as we know them from the camino – so it can be a fairly costly route to walk.
Three years ago there was quite a lot of road walking but we managed to stay off main highways by asking the locals for the 'petit rues'. The only time we 'cheated' was when we caught a train from Dax to Lourdes where we spent a day. On the way back we got off the train at Peyrehorade and walked to Bidache before continuing to Spain.
We only saw three pilgrims, cyclists from Belgium who were getting the ferry across the Gironde, until we reached Ostabat. By the time we got to St Jean there were hundreds of pilgrims and our solitary journey was over.

PS: We hired a car in Pamplona and drove across the camino frances to Lugo, staying over at a few places along the way. We then got a bus to Sarria and walked to Santiago from there. The pilgrim office registered us as starting from Paris – so we were part of the 24 pilgrims who started in Paris during the Holy Year.[/attachment]
 

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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:
#4
In the 1930s the controversial art historian Arthur Kingsley Porter went on a journey from Notre Dame de Paris to Santiago de Compostela following Romanesque sculptures. His ten-volume work argued that medieval sculptural influences, like medieval poetry, knew no national borders but were fluid like the pilgrims who travel to Santiago de Compostela. (Perhaps this is where the mix-up with Goethe's non-quote occured?)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
#5
ivar said:
I just added this section on the route from Paris. It will probably not bee walked by too many, but I thought we should have a section on it.

More about this route can be found here:
http://www.csj.org.uk/route-paris.htm
In my research for the Canterbury to Santiago walk I'm planning for May-July 2008, walking for the childrens' mobility charity Whizz-Kidz (http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk), I have now made contact with the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (http://www.ffrandonnee.fr).

They have a query page and I posed my question about the possible walking routes - on a traditional Chemin St Jacques from Dieppe to SJPP. Within hours of sending that query, one of their people, a lady called Ginette, emailed me with a very thoroughly worked out itinerary, suggesting maps, with reference numbers, and all the details of the infrastructure on different bits of the route. Very helpful indeed. This is a one-stop shop for planning in France. Loads of info about maps and also online interactive maps (like the excellent one for the long-distance GR3 which follows the length of the Loire) etc.

Gareth
 

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A

Anonymous

Guest
#7
Peter Robins said:
the FFRP can tell you all about GRs, but that's not the same thing as 'traditional Chemin St Jacques'.
Yes, that's quite right, and inasmuch as there is sometimes a convergence of the two for long stretches (e.g. on the Le Puy to SJPP route withthe GR 65) it is very useful to be able to get the map references from the very helpful people at the FFRP! They do have a whole section on their site devoted to the Chemin St Jacques too, so I am happy to make use of all the information available from different sources. And there's plenty of time to work out a considered plan yet.

I'm still looking for guidance from anyone who has walked the route from Dieppe - Chartres - Tours and I'll probably get this from Les Amis in Chartres where there seems to be a fairly active organisation.

Gareth
 
#8
the GR65 is an invention of the 1970s. The creators tried to find evidence of a 'traditional route', but failed. http://www.saint-jacques.info/anglais/chaize.htm

Chartres is very pilgrim-friendly. The Amis there have recently updated their website http://www.amis-st-jacques-chartres.org/ and now have some detailed route descriptions (not the same as the GRs); this doesn't (yet) include the section from Dreux you'd be interested in, but I expect they can give you details if you ask nicely. They also seem to have moved their office, which was in a side-street close to the cathedral when I was last in Chartres, but is now further out of town. There's also a cafe on the, um, south side of the cathedral where there is a sort of accueil for pilgrims - recommended.

The diocese runs its own hotel/restaurant next to the cathedral http://www.diocesechartres.com/styves though it seems the Amis recommend the youth hostel (cheaper!).
 
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Anonymous

Guest
#9
Peter Robins said:
the GR65 is an invention of the 1970s. The creators tried to find evidence of a 'traditional route', but failed. http://www.saint-jacques.info/anglais/chaize.htm
Thanks for that link. I've had a chance to catch up with a bit more research on the routes over the last few days. Really interesting! And when you look at the 're-discovery' of Le Puy as the 'traditional' departure point, the absence of an authentic tradition turns out to be quite surprising:

"The only written document placing Le Puy on a route to Compostela is a Book of the Codex Calixtinus, translated into French in 1938 by Jeanne Vielliard under the name of Pilgrim's Guide. We learned on this occasion that Jean Chaize had been the kingpin of the team which traced the route in Haute-Loire which became the GR65. He told us that, faced with "a nebulous history" and "in the absence of reliable sources", he based his actions on what had "passed into common use" at the time of his researches made in the beginning of 1970" (Source: http://www.saint-jacques.info/anglais/lepuy.htm)

If the classic Le Puy to SJPP route is no more 'traditional' than this, it's anyone's guess what should be the best route from Dieppe through western France, surely? It has been suggested that many traditional routes would have been buried under modern roads and motorways; but isn't it more accurate to say that nobody has any real idea where these routes went? If the Le Puy route is suspect, it is hardly likely that any traditional route could be discerned in France! It is a helpful touchstone to know of the ancient pilgrimage connections of particular towns (e.g. St Antoine, Moissac, Conques, Ostabat, etc.) but it seems the line of the 'chemin' that links them together is just an arbitrary invention; in which case, we might just as well construct routes for our own individual convenience, and put aside our historical and spiritual scruples about keeping to apparently 'traditional' routes?

That may be realistic, but it is at the same time disappointing.

Gareth
 
#10
Gareth Thomas said:
If the classic Le Puy to SJPP route is no more 'traditional' than this, it's anyone's guess what should be the best route from Dieppe through western France, surely? It has been suggested that many traditional routes would have been buried under modern roads and motorways; but isn't it more accurate to say that nobody has any real idea where these routes went?
no, medieval roads in general are well documented, and broadly speaking remain much as they were. There is little doubt of the road from Paris, via Tours, Poitiers, Bordeaux etc - the main road then and the main road now. If you go to one of the online route finders and ask for Paris-Santiago, it will give you much the same route as the one in the Codex Calixtinus or for that matter as the Roman one - the main difference being the shift in the late Middle Ages from the Roncesvalles pass to the coastal road and the route via Tolosa and Vitoria. The main road from Dieppe was south to Rouen and Chartres, and this remains the main road today. It will have been used by English pilgrims to Chartres, though I would question how many pilgrims to Santiago went that way.

Those are the 'traditional' routes, but main roads are of course problematic for modern walkers, who generally have to find some compromise, 'shadowing' the line in some way. This is what both the Amis route through Normandy and the GR655 (and to some extent the modern Camino Frances) do. As the main road is more or less a straight line, inevitably that means the walking route is much longer. The situation in France is no different from England. If you want, for example, to follow Chaucer's pilgrims, you are essentially following Watling St, the main A2 - neither pleasant nor safe walking.

The point with the so-called Le Puy route is that there is nothing 'classic' or 'traditional' about it. There were plenty of pilgrims in Le Puy, of course, as it was and remains a major shrine - Our Lady of France. It was (and AFAIK still is) popular with Spaniards, particularly Catalans, and there are well-documented pilgrimages of Catalans to Le Puy, via the Perthuis pass and the Chemin Regordane. The Bruges Itineraries list the Regordane, i.e. the road south from Clermont-Ferrand to Le Puy, and on to Nimes - a GR based on this (GR700) is currently being developed. Estienne lists a pilgrim road from Montauban via Rodez to Le Puy (broadly the Roman road known as La Bollène). Those who created the GR65 chose to ignore these documented 'pilgrim roads' and base the route on the extremely vague claim in the Codex Calixtinus that there was a road to Santiago via Le Puy, Conques and Moissac. The GR65 was the first 'chemin de saint Jacques' to be developed, but it was not originally intended as a 'pilgrimage road', any more than the Sentier Cathare was intended for use by Cathars. It was intended as a walking route, loosely based on the sparse info in the Codex, through attractive country, visiting places of religious and/or historical significance. Ironically, it is popular with walkers precisely because there is no traditional, i.e. main, road to spoil the experience. However, AFAIA there is no historical evidence of any pilgrim to Santiago going via Le Puy.

You may find some of the info on my website useful http://www.peterrobins.co.uk/camino/history_F.html and see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09185b.htm for a potted history of Le Puy's pilgrimage (which predates that to Santiago).

Gareth Thomas said:
we might just as well construct routes for our own individual convenience, and put aside our historical and spiritual scruples about keeping to apparently 'traditional' routes?
more or less any old road will have been used by some pilgrim at some time, so it really depends on what you mean by 'traditional'. In the pilgrimage context, for me the important thing is what you get out of your journey, what it means to you. If you find walking the GR65 or even Watling St rewarding or even uplifting, I don't see that it matters what its historical background is.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#11
Peter Robins said:
You may find some of the info on my website useful http://www.peterrobins.co.uk/camino/history_F.html
It certainly is useful and you have some very helpful links there, Peter. Thanks. I'm building up a much clearer picture now and there are a few different options for France. I particularly want to go through Chartres, even if it means going a few dozen kilometres out of my way. After that, it's good to know there's clear way marking once I pick up the Paris - Tours section. Plenty more research needed on the rest of the trail south from there.

Gareth
 

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:
#12
Gareth, the CSJ guide "Paris to the Pyrenees" we used in 2004 gives a route from Chartres to Vouvray and from Orléans to Vouvray, and then from Vouvray to Bordeaux and all the way to Roncesvalles.
Although it is a bit out of date there are updates on the website.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#13
sillydoll said:
Gareth, the CSJ guide "Paris to the Pyrenees" we used in 2004 gives a route from Chartres to Vouvray and from Orléans to Vouvray, and then from Vouvray to Bordeaux and all the way to Roncesvalles.
Thanks for that! You are quite right to suggest that: it makes perfect sense! I've spent most of today in the CSJ office in London, talking with Marion and looking at the CSJ folder on the French routes. (I'm doing the serious research now!) I've Decided to go from Chartres to Artenay and pick up the Paris to Tours route before Orleans. I think Vouvray is before Artenay, if I remember correctly. I should know, as I've cycled that way at least seven times in the past twenty years....

The alternative involves too much walking on D roads between Chartres and Tours. It's looking good. My work will now be to contact people on route, all through France, to arrange the cheapest accommodation possible so I can channel the funds into the Whizz-Kidz charity and not spend too much on the road.

Every time the subject of footwear comes up, it presents new problems! I'm walking in 13th c. medieval pilgrim costume and I can't wear modern walking boots. So will I go in trekking sandals or something more medieval looking? How much do I really want to ruin my feet for life....!?

Gareth
 

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:
#14
If you look at the small profile map I posted earlier on you will see that the Via Turonensis looks like a flatline! Even the few off road tracks are flat especially in the forests of the Landes. You can easily wear hiking sandals on these flat roads. (I wore Crocs for 4 days on the camino and then bought a pair of sandals in Logrono for the remainder of the camino.)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
#16
Peter Robins said:
Vouvray is ... nowhere near Artenay.
Yes! (How embarrassing...) It's Voves that's before Artenay. I should have looked at the map rather than trust my memory...

Gareth
 
#17
Gareth wrote: "we might just as well construct routes for our own individual convenience, and put aside our historical and spiritual scruples about keeping to apparently 'traditional' routes? That may be realistic, but it is at the same time disappointing."
We always stayed out of discussions on traditional routes, but in this case I would like to say to you, Gareth, that I respect your opinion but it is our experience that new routes can also be very inspirating and heartlifting (in stead of being felt as "disappointing").
Our Dutch Pelgrimspad was not borne as a pilgrim's path (it was my job to develop it as such) but it does live on like one now. We planted Pilgrim's Books in several pilgrim's resting places or Pelgrims Pleisterplaatsen as we called them: walker friendly restaurants where pilgrims could leave messages and write little poems and so on.
In one of those books in 's-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc halfway Amsterdam and Belgium) a Lady wrote: "I will cherish this path for ever in my heart!". That touched my heart and we couldn't have wished for better appreciation and more sincere feelings. She gave us back more than we had put in it. All good walking is spiritual; you make it your own Way!

Ps: Under our Pelgrimspad lies an older international walking route to Luxembourg that was meant to reach Basel in Switzerland. It was made by founding fathers from four or five countries along this way who wanted to connect the nations of Europe before it was too late when WWII loomed. It was opened in 1939 and closed a year later. Still it wouldn't surprise me if one day an even older 'true pilgrim's path' would emerge. It hasn't yet been fully investigated.
 

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:
#18
On traditional routes - Walter Starkie spoke extensively of the routes the gypsies took when coming from the east and into Spain. Documents show that some groups entered Spain via the Somport Pass. When you have mountains and valleys it is easier to follow the most accessible and safests trails in between.
 
#19
... as most first pilgrims took the high roads (in France now buried under the Routes Nationales) for reasons of safety, convenience and speed; the urge to follow scenic routes came much later.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
#20
A thought strikes me, as I consider some of the practical difficulties of walking the St James Way through the back roads of France.

There are all sorts of pseudo-gnostics and crystal gazers gabbling away about the secrets of the path, whereas the main mystery is why you have to walk twenty miles in France before you come to the next town that has a boulangerie. :lol:


Gareth
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#21
Gareth makes a valid point. I walked the Toulouse-Somport stretch in 2005 and was astonished at how few villages in France had any facilities at all (cafe, bar, restaurant, inn, grocery, anything). If it were not for the cemetery standpipes which provided potable water, I'd likely still be in a ditch somewhere outside Olorons Sainte Marie. Some of the French-language guides (the oddly-named Miam Miam Dodo) will help, but there is nothing like a) being prepared and b) consulting with locals on this.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
#22
oursonpolaire said:
I walked the Toulouse-Somport stretch in 2005 and was astonished at how few villages in France had any facilities at all (cafe, bar, restaurant, inn, grocery, anything). If it were not for the cemetery standpipes which provided potable water, I'd likely still be in a ditch somewhere outside Olorons Sainte Marie. Some of the French-language guides (the oddly-named Miam Miam Dodo) will help, but there is nothing like a) being prepared and b) consulting with locals on this.
Be prepared? I thought so too. But now just look at the consequence of my preparations. I have produced a notice which was kindly handed out in churches last Sunday by a friend in France, but a surprisingly prominent member of a French association [I'll go no further in identifying him - at least publicly - to spare that organisation embarrassment, as they may wish to distance themselves from his attitude] wrote the following rant to me, for reasons known best to himself:

""I am sorry but you are WRONG !the ways of Santiago are ways of PROVIDENCE ! you DON'T NEED to make papers on the ways to find a room !!! IT S ABSOLUTLY WRONG AND IF YOU DO THIS you are a pilgrim, only a tourist, afraid of not to have what you need. AND you will be seen by others like a pilgrim !! YOU WANT TO MAKE THE PILGRIMAGE LIKE IN THE MIDDLE AGE???? SO DO IT !!!!!!!!! LIKE IN THE MIDDLE AGE In any cases, your stapes, your way in france is wrong too. like in sapain how can you know that this day you will be in this place ou this one??? any way.

"I am a member of .....[*DELETED TO SAVE EMBARRASSSMENT*] and I am the secretary of [*DELETED*] so it's the mother of all the associations which exist.

"YOU WANT INFORMATIONS?? NO PROBLEM, but NOT in THE WAY YOU'RE MAKING YOUR WAY !!! PLEASE THINK ABOUT THAT !!! WHY ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO SANTIAGO??? IN WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE???? I TOLD THE WAYS OF SANTIAGO ARE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE.

"my job since several years, even i m not 40, is to hlep pilgrims, so I WILL DO IT WITH YOU or any body else, but please ! STOP TO BE AFRAID ! .... AND PLEASE STOP RIGHT NOW THESE COMMERCIALS ABOUT THE FACT TO SLEEP SOMEWHERRE "

So that's the sort of 'advice' you can expect from... [a very prominent French pilgrim organisation] ...when planning your route through France. And the advice seems to be.. Errr... that you shouldn't be planning at all? (They may as well disband then!)

We record all the time in this forum our pleasant and uplifting experiences on the Camino, and it is mostly good news. But I have no hesitation in posting this story here - and good news this certainly isn't, on this rare occasion - because it needs to be recorded. As with any journey, there are hazards out there, ready to trip you up and give you a bad time, and we need to be aware of them. So it is important to record this, embarrassing and unsavoury though it may be for the organisation concerned. You know exactly who you are, so get your act together folks!

I am walking for a disabled children's charity and when this awful email came in during a planning session, I printed it out before reading it, thinking it was more "help" coming in from France. Some people read it before I realized what it contained and they were upset and amazed.

We have since been in touch with non-Jacquarian walking associations in France to get the information needed and they are perfectly easy to talk to and very helpful, so that's the best thing now, to studiously avoid contact with those who 'speak' for the Chemin St Jacques and who are a little bit eccentric and unpredictable, to say the least :roll:

Has anyone else experienced this kind of thing, or do they just reserve this level of abuse for disabled children's charity fundraisers!

Gareth

P.S. I'm editing this post to say two things. Firstly, thank you to those who have responded privately to this post with some lovely, kind and supportive comments. I'll pass those on to the people at the charity I'm walking for. There's a really good positive online community on this Forum and pilgrims support each other wonderfully. That easily balances out the odd negative experience like that quoted above. (And it was very odd, wasn't it?) Secondly, yes: I will name privately to any pilgrim who contacts me, exactly which organization is represented by the person I'm quoting here, if you wish to avoid encountering this level of rudeness! And you may be surprised when I tell you. :(
 
#23
I walked the Paris route to Bordeaux in the autumn of 2007. I'll be posting one small tale from the trail in the next few days on http://www.longwalking.com.

It's quite a beautiful walk, especially once you reach Orleans. You either pass or can detour to many of the famous chateaux during the Loire river section, and your in wine country, of one varietal or another all the way once you reach the river.

If you watch the trail video on the site, or at [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_z-0Jpexzo[/youtube], the section starting around 1:45 wanders along the trail for half a minute, or so.

I'll have more to say later, but it's well worth considering this path if you're planning a French walk (which you should be :!:) Two things of note: It's very lightly traveled compared to the other three French "Caminos" (chemins de St-Jacques), and very unlike the other 3, it's pretty flat terrain. Definitely the least strenuous of them all.

There are a couple of French guidebooks available.
 
#24
Glad to have found this thread!

In preparation for my own velo-pilgrimage (rough map) I'll be reading the above links very carefully. I know the route through Spain is well sign-posted, but was more or less resigned to 'making it up' for my trip through France.

I do hope things have improved since this thread was started.
 

rglongpre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Figeac (2012); Camino Frances (August 28, 2015)
#26
ivar said:
I just added this section on the route from Paris. It will probably not be walked by too many, but I thought we should have a section on it.

More about this route can be found here:
http://www.csj.org.uk/route-paris.htm

Saludos
Ivar
Thanks Ivar, I will be walking from Paris beginning on August 31st. Hoping to arrive in Santiago on November 11th.

Buen Camino / Bon Chemin
 

ozviking

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis September/October (2014)
#27
I just visited the Paris Camino sites that I could find, before going to SJPdP today. If interested check out my blogpost http//Ozvikingcamino.wordpress.com/Camino trail in Paris
 

Ray J

Where exactly are we?
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Portuguese 2016 (inc. Rota Vicentina)
Le Puy 2017 (inc. Paris to Moulins)
Italy 2018
#28
Not much posted here for a number of years, so just wondering if anyone has current information on hiking from Paris to SJPdP? Thanks!
 

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