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I want to start Frances a couple of days before St Jean. Any advice?

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2017 Francés
Oct 2017 Le Puy / Francés (parts)
June/July 2018 Norte
Oct/Nov 2018 Francés
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for route advice on starting the Frances two or three days before St Jean this late Sep/early Oct. I want to start before St Jean so I'm already warmed up by then and also so I can enjoy a bit more of the beautiful Pyrenees area.

It seems there are three routes which lead into St Jean, but I'm having a little difficulty finding detailed information about stages, accommodation, routes etc.. Can anyone recommend a route and starting point based on these criteria:
- Need to be affordable and available albergue accommodation on the route (~30 euro inc food?)
- I'd like to meet some other English/German-speaking pilgrims, so not too lonely please.
- Need to be able to arrive easily by bus/train from nearby Ryanair airports

Also I have questions about how easy it is to find the trail and accommodation in this area. Is it necessary to book in advance?

Previously in Spain I used apps for these things exclusively, but there doesn't seem to be any English app that goes beyond St Jean into France. My French is pretty poor.

Many thanks in advance :)
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for route advice on starting the Frances two or three days before St Jean this late Sep/early Oct. I want to start before St Jean so I'm already warmed up by then and also so I can enjoy a bit more of the beautiful Pyrenees area.

It seems there are three routes which lead into St Jean, but I'm having a little difficulty finding detailed information about stages, accommodation, routes etc.. Can anyone recommend a route and starting point based on these criteria:
- Need to be affordable and available albergue accommodation on the route (~30 euro inc food?)
- I'd like to meet some other English/German-speaking pilgrims, so not too lonely please.
- Need to be able to arrive easily by bus/train from nearby Ryanair airports

Also I have questions about how easy it is to find the trail and accommodation in this area. Is it necessary to book in advance?

Previously in Spain I used apps for these things exclusively, but there doesn't seem to be any English app that goes beyond St Jean into France. My French is pretty poor.

Many thanks in advance :)

I have met a few pilgrims who started in Navarenx, which is three days before St. Jean on the Le Puy route. The stages would be Navarenx, Aroue 15km, Ostabat 21 km then St. Jean 20km.

Navarenx has good transport links and there are cheap gite communals there with kitchens (12.50 Euros) there is also a donativo Gite. In Aroue the Gite Communal is 5 Euros and it has a kitchen. In Ostabat the Gites cost between 13 and 15 Euros.

The Way is very well marked and you will not be alone! I would book in advance just in case.

Buen Camino

Davey
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sep-Oct-2013 Camino Frances (Bordeaux to Santiago)
I started from Bordeaux on 17 Sep 2013. Got off the train from Paris and started walking South. The first albergue is at the Prieure de Cayac in Gradignan - a suburb of Bordeaux about 10 km from the St Jean train station. The next 8 days are through the forested Les Landes - very flat and wonderful conditioning for the Pyrennes climb. There are gites (french equivalent of albergues) all along the route. The way posting is excellent thanks to the local St Jacques Association. Only met 3 people walking on to Santiago. The experience was very peaceful and a nice contrast to the more hectic stages after St Jean. The route I followed through Moustey, Dax, St Palais is the medieval route. There is also a modern route along the coast.
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2017 Francés
Oct 2017 Le Puy / Francés (parts)
June/July 2018 Norte
Oct/Nov 2018 Francés
Thanks very much for the info. I'll look into these suggestions. If you don't mind I'll probably have a couple more questions, but that's some great information to be getting on with now.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@H Richards hi

I walked from Le Puy in April 2016. Navarrenx is an old walled town with much still inside what is left of the ramparts. Flat and easy to get around. I was impatient and walked it in two days (Uhart-Mixte being my stop). But I think @falcon269 has wisdom in his suggestion.

Also consider Donapaleu / Saint_Palais. This is a stoppoing point on the Vezelay route. It meets the way from Le-Puy about 10 km to the south-west. One day from Saint-Palais to Ostabat-Asme and then one day to Saint-Jean.

Ryanair's latest destinations shows Biarritz as being the only practical arrival point. Though you would need to check if you can get there from your start point. First up bus to Bayonne.

For Navarrenx two bus hops from Bayonne (Rome2Rio)

For Saint-Palais a direct bus hop (Rome2Rio)

Hope that helps

Kia kaha
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
My preferred starting point for the Frances is at Saint Palais. It's a lovely modern town, with a pilgrim's hostel. There is a bus that goes there from Bayonne, although not regularly so you would need to source that info.

You could walk to SJPDP from Bayonne/Biarritz along the Nive River trail.
 

Seabird

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF April/May (2016), starting in St. Palais, France
I started in Saint Palais, after seeing a reference to it on the site. I flew into Pau and then took a bus from there, arriving early evening. It was a lovely start the next day. You are right to want to enjoy the Basque countryside! I didn't see any other pilgrims until I reached St. Jean, but I don't know what time of year you are walking. I left April 12 last year. I didn't find the pathway difficult, but I couldn't help but be a little nervous as a newbie starting out. If you want more information, I'm happy to share what I received from another member as well as my own experience. Just send me a PM.

Buen Camino!
 

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