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GR65 starting new years day 2020

gemma.mj

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
future - january le puy-santiago
Hello, I am walking the Camino for my first time next year. I'm beginning on new years day and wish to follow the steps of my Uncle beginning in Le Puy-en-Velay. I am an outdoor guide and can walk far distances without a problem. However I understand my limitations lie within the snow, as well as a short window of daylight hours. I want to know a few things (that I have had a lot of trouble researching myself and need local knowledge)
-Is there a lot of snow, storms or white-outs in January?
-Are the Pyrenees mountains open for walkers in January? (I've read contradicting info on this)
-Should I begin my walk instead on the 22nd of December to make this possible, or will that make no difference to weather?
-Will accommodation be open that time of year?
-Is there anything else I should be asking..?

I am not a cowboy and don't want to do anything stupid. I am also happy to contingency plan, so if you recommend to go stage by stage and skip a dangerous section if I need to, please let me know if anyone has done that/if there is a way using trains or busses. Perhaps I will need to begin further in than planned. Thanks in advance, all advice is much appreciated!

Gemma :)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Firstly, the Napoleon route from St. Jean will be closed. It closes on November 1 and I am not sure when they reopen it but it isn't until spring. You can walk the Valcarlos route. That one is open all year. Even if you wake up and it is sunny skies I think it is a must to check the weather with the Pilgrim office before you start your trek up the mountain.

This is my advice to you. Walking in winter of course presents challenges that are quite different. One of the biggest differences is the availability of Gites and allergies. In France the consensus of opinion is that the Miam Miam Dodo book is by far the best guide of all and the most up to date. When I walked in 2014 I got my passport in the Pilgrim Office in Paris. The lady in the office recommended this guide but I balked because I don't know any French. Big mistake. I bought the Michelin guide. I don't know if they have improved it. There are maps and a few places to stay but overall I was very Unimpressed with it. If you are leaving on New Year's day bring food for the day as I have a feeling everything may be closed. Check every day if there is an open gite wherever you are staying that night. You never know when something may be closed and they say it is open in a guide. This goes for Spain too. If you can't speak French/Spanish google translate with the gite or albergue owner/host and ask them to call for you. So make sure you have a SIM card for Europe.
In Spain there is always the Brierley guide and I would tell you to download either the Buen Camino or Wise Pilgrim app. I believe they are both free. The more resources you have for open albergues the better. For both caminos you can also reference Gronze.com, open it in google chrome to translate. This site has maps, distances, reviews of gites/albergus etc., elevation guides and accommodations for both caminos. It is free. Oh yea one more thing in France, make sure you stay in as many gites that offer dinner and maybe breakfast. You will have fantastic dinners believe me!! The food in Spain is good and you will get some really nice communal meals and dinners. Compared to France, no comparison.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
Hello, I am walking the Camino for my first time next year. I'm beginning on new years day and wish to follow the steps of my Uncle beginning in Le Puy-en-Velay. I am an outdoor guide and can walk far distances without a problem. However I understand my limitations lie within the snow, as well as a short window of daylight hours. I want to know a few things (that I have had a lot of trouble researching myself and need local knowledge)
-Is there a lot of snow, storms or white-outs in January?
-Are the Pyrenees mountains open for walkers in January? (I've read contradicting info on this)
-Should I begin my walk instead on the 22nd of December to make this possible, or will that make no difference to weather?
-Will accommodation be open that time of year?
-Is there anything else I should be asking..?

I am not a cowboy and don't want to do anything stupid. I am also happy to contingency plan, so if you recommend to go stage by stage and skip a dangerous section if I need to, please let me know if anyone has done that/if there is a way using trains or busses. Perhaps I will need to begin further in than planned. Thanks in advance, all advice is much appreciated!

Gemma :)
Welcome to the forum Gemma.
For accommodation, as said above, I use the Miam Miam Dodo guide. In winter I would ring ahead every day to make sure the next place is open.

Each place you stay question the owners. They are often a mine of information. They will often recommend the next place open ahead and even ring them for you.

They often know the Way in their area and can advise on your route. If the GR65 is snowed in there are often alternative routes that are easier and more direct.

Bon Chemin
Davey
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
You may hit snow on the Aubrac plateau, but local info will guide you. A lot of the waymarks in that area are on stones, so a wiki-locs track on an off-line map on your gps enabled smartphone might be helpful.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
My wife and I walked winter 2016 weather was snow for 10 days the rest were rain and overcast, only 4 days of sun. Bed were plentiful . No regrets.
 

gemma.mj

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
future - january le puy-santiago
Firstly, the Napoleon route from St. Jean will be closed. It closes on November 1 and I am not sure when they reopen it but it isn't until spring. You can walk the Valcarlos route. That one is open all year. Even if you wake up and it is sunny skies I think it is a must to check the weather with the Pilgrim office before you start your trek up the mountain.

This is my advice to you. Walking in winter of course presents challenges that are quite different. One of the biggest differences is the availability of Gites and allergies. In France the consensus of opinion is that the Miam Miam Dodo book is by far the best guide of all and the most up to date. When I walked in 2014 I got my passport in the Pilgrim Office in Paris. The lady in the office recommended this guide but I balked because I don't know any French. Big mistake. I bought the Michelin guide. I don't know if they have improved it. There are maps and a few places to stay but overall I was very Unimpressed with it. If you are leaving on New Year's day bring food for the day as I have a feeling everything may be closed. Check every day if there is an open gite wherever you are staying that night. You never know when something may be closed and they say it is open in a guide. This goes for Spain too. If you can't speak French/Spanish google translate with the gite or albergue owner/host and ask them to call for you. So make sure you have a SIM card for Europe.
In Spain there is always the Brierley guide and I would tell you to download either the Buen Camino or Wise Pilgrim app. I believe they are both free. The more resources you have for open albergues the better. For both caminos you can also reference Gronze.com, open it in google chrome to translate. This site has maps, distances, reviews of gites/albergus etc., elevation guides and accommodations for both caminos. It is free. Oh yea one more thing in France, make sure you stay in as many gites that offer dinner and maybe breakfast. You will have fantastic dinners believe me!! The food in Spain is good and you will get some really nice communal meals and dinners. Compared to France, no comparison.
Wow thankyou so much for all of this, so valuable!! This goes a long way.
 

TMcA

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
I usually read threads on the GR65 and I can't ever recall someone inquiring about starting from Le Puy at this time. (I don't know if the post by @J F Gregory is referring to this route or to the Portuguese.)

Anyway, I would suggest the following to get the best answers to your questions about the early portions of the GR65 in December and January:

First, write to the Tourist office in Le Puy (link below).

Second, write to La Malle Postale (link below). La Malle Postale is the best transport service (bags and people) from Le Puy to nearly Cahors. They probably have a feel for closure of gîtes and other lodging. They have responded in English, although a couple of years ago, to my phone and email inquiries. Their service might not extend through the winter months, I don't know for sure. I would also ask them how many fellow hikers leave Le Puy during December and January.

I have walked across the Aubrac Plateau twice and it is not a place I would want to be in a snowstorm. Once you descend from there, your elevation will be less than 1,000 ft and that drops even further after Cahors.

The GR65 is a beautiful hike and my favorite in France and Spain so far. But I wouldn't hike it during the winter months when grey, overcast skies are prevalent. Having said that, I realize you may have a window of time to do this that is not moveable.



Bon chemin.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
I recommend you not start from Le Puy if your calendar is fixed. Instead, you can start from Figeac (2 weeks after Le Puy) or Cahors (3 weeks), both of which have transit connections to Paris. These are at lower elevations and should be snow-free. You can cross the Pyrenees by the lower-altitude route, going through Valcarlos.

In France, about half the lodgings close from All Saints (Nov 1) to Easter (late Mar - late Apr). Even if a place plans to be open, per MMD, if there are no reservations, they might go visit the grandkids. So planning a day or two ahead will be essential.
 

gemma.mj

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
future - january le puy-santiago
I usually read threads on the GR65 and I can't ever recall someone inquiring about starting from Le Puy at this time. (I don't know if the post by @J F Gregory is referring to this route or to the Portuguese.)

Anyway, I would suggest the following to get the best answers to your questions about the early portions of the GR65 in December and January:

First, write to the Tourist office in Le Puy (link below).

Second, write to La Malle Postale (link below). La Malle Postale is the best transport service (bags and people) from Le Puy to nearly Cahors. They probably have a feel for closure of gîtes and other lodging. They have responded in English, although a couple of years ago, to my phone and email inquiries. Their service might not extend through the winter months, I don't know for sure. I would also ask them how many fellow hikers leave Le Puy during December and January.

I have walked across the Aubrac Plateau twice and it is not a place I would want to be in a snowstorm. Once you descend from there, your elevation will be less than 1,000 ft and that drops even further after Cahors.

The GR65 is a beautiful hike and my favorite in France and Spain so far. But I wouldn't hike it during the winter months when grey, overcast skies are prevalent. Having said that, I realize you may have a window of time to do this that is not moveable.



Bon chemin.
thanks for the links, I'll write to these on the weekend. Finding out numbers is a great idea and a transport service incase of bad weather would be a brilliant safety net.
I'll definitely give a detailed post about my experience for future walkers when I return :)
 

gemma.mj

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
future - january le puy-santiago
I recommend you not start from Le Puy if your calendar is fixed. Instead, you can start from Figeac (2 weeks after Le Puy) or Cahors (3 weeks), both of which have transit connections to Paris. These are at lower elevations and should be snow-free. You can cross the Pyrenees by the lower-altitude route, going through Valcarlos.

In France, about half the lodgings close from All Saints (Nov 1) to Easter (late Mar - late Apr). Even if a place plans to be open, per MMD, if there are no reservations, they might go visit the grandkids. So planning a day or two ahead will be essential.
Okay, thanks a lot - I'll look into these alterations on the weekend. Very much appreciated advice!
 

jozero

Been there, going again...
Camino(s) past & future
CF x 3
Going over the Valcarlos route in January can be plenty of snow. One year I walked in well over 60cm of snow on the lower trails so had to switch to the roads for the remainder of the way to Roncesvalles. That is no easy walk either as the roads are very tight due to piled up snow on the sides so there was no way to 'get off the road' when vehicles came. I chose to switch sides every time a vehicle came so I was always on the opposite side. Fortunately there wasn't a time when cars were coming both ways at the same time. Then the next couple of days were all about black ice, the road ways and even trails from Roncesvalles to Pamplona were wickedly slippery. My poles saved me from going down numerous times. After that I've always carried ice trekkers in my pack for winter walks and never slipped again. Clothing in general needs to be chosen wisely, lots of layers from base to mid to thermal to waterproof outer layer. You may well carry a little extra weight but probably well worth it! It's a great time of the year to walk and I'm sure you'll love every moment!!
 

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