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Lourdes to Somport

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#1
Hi all,

I'm planning to walk from Lourdes to Finisterre coming Sept./Oct. However, the available information about the section from Lourdes to Somport seems a little outdated to me. Can anyone update me on the available accommodation on this track? I'm still in doubt whether to make a detour to Oloron Ste. Marie or head straight to Somport from Arudy. How is the waymarking on this section of the camino? Any experiences that you'd want to share with me would be highly welcomed!

Noor
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#4
Thanks Colin, for the website. I'm realizing I can read Spanish better than I thought! Do you have any personal experiences of this part of the route?

Falcon, thanks, good to hear that there is adequate accommodation. Have you recently been there?
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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#5
The accommodation is fine from Lourdes to Oloron, and from there onwards you'll be on one of the major routes anyway.

The only thing I'd add is to be a little careful of he "official" route, as it makes a few detours up mountainsides that considerably lengthen the day's walking, including IIRC one rather nasty trudge up a wall of mud (not earth : mud) -- though the "official" route for the final section down to Oloron is quite fine ; it's the part between Bétharram and Sainte-Colombe especially where some care might be needed, and where IMO the tarmac solution is actually better.

Up to you -- the views up those detours are OTOH rather fine :D
 

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colinPeter

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SDC (2009) Somport-Jaca, Burgos-SDC, Cee-Muxia (2012) Le Puy - Aumont-Aubrac (2014) SJPP-SDC (Oct 2015)
#6
NoorvanderVeen said:
Do you have any personal experiences of this part of the route?
Hi Noor,
Only from Somport to San Juan de la Peña. I have done a little research on the route from Lourdes, but ended up starting from Somport. Unfortunately, a back injury meant we couldn't continue further. After a couple of weeks recuperation, time constraints meant, we continued on from Burgos to SDC.
I have a variety of maps (jpg's) which I sourced from the internet. I also have the Rother walking guide from Somport to Finisterre, but I found it quite out of date, even though it was suposed to be a recent edition.
Buen Camino
Colin
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#7
I just finished it in the record rains. The locals were recommending walking the roads, not the marked route on the Voie d'Arles. A woman who ignored the advice slipped on the mud going into Oloron and broke her leg. The stages out of Lourdes sodden, but roads lightly traveled. In better weather they will be fine.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#8
Hi Jabbapapa, thank you for the tip. I'm keeping it in mind.

Colin, sorry to hear you had to skip a part. Hope you had a nice camino anyway! I also have the Dutch version of the Rother walking guide, came out in 2012 which indeed states that it is up to date. Sorry to hear that it was not. I just ordered a totally new guidebook (came out in may 2013) that I have yet to receive: The Village to Village Guide to Hiking the Camino by Anna Dintaman and David Landes. Doesn't contain the Aragones part though, so I'm going to have to choose...

Falcon, thanks for the information, I'll keep your anecdote in mind and will be careful in the rain. Hope you could enjoy your camino despite of the rain.
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#9
I recommend the vallee d'ossau (arudy-somport) route, it's very beautiful and you get to see pic du midi d'ossau up really close. it's entirely waymarked as GR 108 (red-white), there's enough affordable accommodation, a couple even specifically pilgrim (call in advance!).

there's a whole site now, in french: http://www.valleedossau-tourisme.co...le-chemin-de-saint-jacques-de-compostelle.php

list of places with accommodation with approx kms/hrs:

arudy - 3km/45min louvie-juzon - 12km/3h30 beost - 2.5km/30min laruns - 5.5km/1h30 eaux-chaudes - 8.5km/3h gabas - 18km/7h30 somport.
there is also refuge d'ayous between gabas and somport, off route (but waymarked) and can be easily connected to the main route. I advise a map and a reservation as it's extremely popular because of the magical location but worth every minute.

here's a list of accommodation I made. it's note yet been updated from my return but if you are interested I can do it in a few days.

http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...ation VOIE PIEMONT PYRENEEN + VOIE OSSEAU.pdf

I also have a description if you decide for ossau route. pm me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#10
Hi Caminka, thanks for the tons of information! Helps a lot. In my research I had already found your list, it is the only sort of information about accommodations and the route I have so far. Thanks for putting it up. If it doesn't take too much time, it would be great if you would be able to update it.

Your recommendation for the route through Vallée d'Ossau has really got me interested. The website you linked is very helpful and makes me really interested to do this route. They even provide some sort of printable guidebook for the Chemin d'Ossau! Also, it seems like a good option to go through the Pyrennees slowly and really enjoy it. Last time, we rushed and I still regret it.

Thanks again, this is really helpful!
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#11
I walked from Lourdes last year in April. The walk was nothing short if spectacular. The weather was everything between hot and snowing. My only advice would be to book ahead and be prepared for any weather.

I can't give you a link from this phone but if you check out my blog you will find information and photos starting April 2012.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#12
Hi Annie, I have found your blog and read it already - reading it made me decide on taking this route! Snow! :shock: I hope not to come accros that in september! :mrgreen:
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#13
accommodation list updated.

call in advance for every accommodation. for beost, gabas and ayous at least 4 days in advance, bearing in mind that gabas and ayous close at the end of the season. ayous has a winter room (and F outside, probably working off season?) but I don't know for gabas. there are two hotels in gabas, too. I couldn't get anyone for beost and wanted to sleep there really badly. it's not advisable to drink directly from the streams on high pastures, because of cows and sheep grazing; at least when they are up there. bring a purifier.

start asking at the TO in lourdes, they might have some maps or other info already. then ask everywhere you sleep and in municipalities, but especially in laruns' TO, it's well stocked.

it's a very beautiful route. I hopped from west to east bank, to see as much of the lovely villages and their fine houses and monuments as possible.

I made it like this: lourdes - asson - arudy - laruns - gabas - ayous - canfranc.

lourdes - asson
you have a choice of chemin de st jacques proper (yellow arrows) or GR which goes via lovely st-pe-de-bigorre (with a shop). asson has only one bunk and two mattresses, the shop is closed on M, W and Su afternoon, but the first bar on the right, on entering the village, stocks a few cans.

asson - arudy
here I haven't seen two waymarkings. after sainte colombe there is a fork for arudy (left) and sevignacq-oloron (right). well signposted. voie d'ossau is now a proper GR with red-white waymarks (but also occasionaly yellow arrows or shells). first peak of pic du midi. arudy is well stocked with bakeries and has a supermarket. the priest in the presbitery will probably say 'mon dieu, jesus, marie!' when you tell him you are going over col des moines. ;)

arudy - laruns
it's still all flat and with a view of pic du midi all the way if the weather permits (it didn't for me, sniff). the official route follows the eastern bank of gave d'ossau, to laruns it's practically all on a minor road. I started on the west side through izeste (afterwards you can hop to the east side at louvie-juzon) and bielle then changed to the east side at the camping in monplaisir - a footbridge to aste-beon. I went via beost and arrouste to laruns, to see them that day.
laruns is a bustling town with a good TO and a good gite. the bunks are very close together but there are walls in between so it doesn't seem so stuffed.

laruns - gabas
the route now avoids almost all of the main road but that means that you go up and down one or the other side constantly, and steeply (a few ropes in one section which can be avoided via the main road). it's really beautiful, passing through some quite enchanting forest. about 5-7h. gite is beyond the village, where the side road to lac bious-artigues branches off. here take care not to go left up the wrong valley!

gabas - ayous
after lac bious-artigues the main route goes left gently up along the broad valley and more gradually ascends to col de moines, passing two shepherd huts which can be used as bivouacs when the shepherd is not there (or even?). firewood and water should be provided (but it's polite to bring some dry wood).
for ayous, turn right up here, zigzaging up to the refuge in about 1h30-2h. the position above a lake (good for swimming) and the view of the amazing pic du midi (and an optional ascent to pic d'ayous above with 360C view of the pyrenees) make it absolutely worthwile. reserve! there's a water pipe outside. you can only sleep, too, but bring your food, there's no kitchen. it opens 15h-16h but you can leave the backpack and go exploring. 3-4h from gabas.

ayous - canfranc
continue from the refuge on a path with yellow signposts due south up past another big lake then down and right up to col de moines. on the other side, above astun, there is an eroded section that can be tricky in the rain. then the road to somport and the path with yellow arrows to candanchu. this part has been badly damaged last autumn by water and landslides, don't know if it's repaired.
from candanchu/ruins of hospital st christine there are now two options. the left one (left on the road across the bridge then left up) is GR 653 with red-white waymarkes and yellow arrows and sticks to the east side of the valley all the way to canfranc estacion, crossing the main road only once. in 2012, a new, more 'historical' route has been waymarked with yellow arrows. this one goes straight down between appartment blocks, crosses the main road at least three times and sometimes runs parallel to it. I didn't find it as nice as the GR.

aw, man, another long post. :D
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#14
Thanks once again Caminka, this is great! :D Makes me want to go already.
One more question on the Ayous - Canfranc stage: do both ways from Candanchu go over the Somport pass? I'm asking because we planned to sleep there. The map/guidebook I have from the website of Vallée d'Ossau does have a route that goes via Somport.

Oh and sleeping in Ayous sounds amazing. Have you climbed the pic? How long does that take? Will it be doable if you first walk from Gabas to Ayous and drop the backpacks there? Just curious :wink:
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#15
hehe, maybe I was subtly trying to steer you there... :D

er. I don't exactly understand your question. it's like this. vallee and voie d'ossau both split in gabas.

the left route goes up valle brousset via artouste and col du pourtalet to spain's sallent de gallego and sabinanigo. this will also be waymarked as as pilgrim route at one point (maybe is already?). there was a medieval pilgrim hospital somewhere in that valley.

the right route goes up valle bious, passes lac de bious-artigues, crosses col de moines and descends to somport and candanchu. this is the one you will be taking. it's GR 108A. it's also GR 10 part-way. GR 10 is the one you are following if you want to sleep in refuge d'ayous. from there it's sentier du parc national (signposts only).

it was amazing. one of the most beautiful and grand days of my camino. the valley has been covered in clouds for two days, it's even been lighty raining from time to time, and I only got my first spectacular view of pic du midi above the treeline. after that it was sunny so that I got my fill of 'ohs' and 'ahs', a bit breazy in the evening so we didn't get the full orange-red-pink reflection in the lake, but we did get its moonlit reflection.
I started from gabas about 6h30 and was up at the refuge at about 12h. I left the backpack and climbed to pic d'ayous above the refuge (not pic du midi, that's too far, on the other side of the valley, and more climbers' territory), about 45min. the path is not waymarked all the way but obvious. ask and they will show you.
I cannot stress enought that you must reserve ahead. I called four days prior and got the last bed!

they give out a fine map in TO in laruns, where everyting is neatly displayed.

um. just occured to me that you are probably asking about the spanish side?
yes, the route actually splits in candanchu. the ruins of hospital sta cristina are just on its edge, and afterwards you descend a few stairs to the road. GR 653 goes left. the 'historical' route goes straight ahead, it's marked with wooden posts, if I remember correctly (or maybe they are brown metal posts?). I think that the albergue is not too far from the 'historical' route, somewhere to the right.

may the weather be on you side!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#16
Nope, I was asking about the French side! I understand now :D So I'll be taking the road to the right to go to Ayous and Somport, perfect. It's good hearing there are good TO's on the way and hearing all your experiences makes me more confident to be taking this route. Thank you so much.

The stages we plan to do are: Lourdes - Lestelle Betharram - Arudy - Laruns - Ayous - Somport - Villanua - etc. Maybe take a day of rest somewhere in the Pyrennees if it is possible and the weather allows us ;-)
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#17
NoorvanderVeen said:
The stages we plan to do are: Lourdes - Lestelle Betharram - Arudy - Laruns - Ayous - Somport - Villanua - etc. Maybe take a day of rest somewhere in the Pyrennees if it is possible and the weather allows us ;-)
Sounds good, but DO be wary of the mud after Arudy !!!
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#18
no problemo!

I am a little concerned about your stage laruns - ayous, it's a big basic hight difference, 536m to 1960m (or even to 2288m if you will be climbing to pic d'ayous), plus the path goes constantly up and down, making the difference even larger. it's possible to do it in about 9h but that doesn't leave much time for breaks. I would recommend breaking the stage in two.

hm, the only option for a rest day up on the pyrenees that I can think of, is refuge ayous. otherwise I would recommend laruns, and you can have a whole day for exploring the town and all the surrounding villages (don't miss beost and assouste).

I looked more closely at the guide from the site, it's pretty good. if you have time, hop to bielle and look at all the lovely and interesting carved portals (some have tiny hidden faces called 'cagots' that were the 'not normal' inhabitants, bastards, and what we would call today 'people with special needs'). refuge gabas is about 100m on the left from 23, towards col de peyrelue - you continue directly on the road up vallee bious.

for the mud sections till arudy, I remember this possible culprits: the climb out of betharram (way of the cross), the path sections after mifaget (possibly muddy steeper stream crossings), the ascent to sainte-colombe (the path turns off the road, descends into a valley and then ascends that valley, it's a fairly steep field-road with some paving here and there, you can simply continue on the road), descent from sainte-colombe (is a track then a narrow path, with stones and some steeper sections, here is also the split for GR 108).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#19
Woops, I didn't realize that! Somehow, I thought Ayous was close to Gabas, I don't know where I got that from. Now that I've taken my time translating the french guidebook that the Vallée-website offers and reading all your comments + your list of accommodations more closely, I realize we will need to make a stop in Gabas, especially if we want to climb the pic!

My french is not what it used to be, so I took the time to translate the guide to dutch. Halfway now. I thought of taking a day of rest in Ayous, but we'll see how everything turns out. We'll take a day off whenever we feel like it :) All the villages as described by you and the guide sound so nice. I'm really looking forward to walking this beautiful route.
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#20
I am glad more people/pilgrims are deciding to climb over col de moines. not that I have seen any more passes then somport and ibaneta, but, in my opinion, the higher up you go across the mountains, more beautiful it is.

I hope you will enjoy every second of it and that you will tell us of it later, too!

perhaps a word of caution for those who are used to more common pilgrim routes. the day from lac bious-artigues to astun is definitely a mountain day, with appropriate paths and weather, lack of (drinkable) water and refreshments. it more then makes up for it with amazing landscape and scenery, but is not to be taken lightly, especially in bad weather.

if you are carrying a small tent, you can make an overnight bivouac (after 19h and leaving before 8h), away from water sources, but allowed near mountain huts (curtesy of their guardians). I counted 24 bivouacs below refuge d'ayous in one night only. you can take the water from the waterpipe at the refuge, use the outside toilet and get a dinner there, too, I think.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#21
I think so too - the higher the mountains, the prettier the view is. I think (or hope) the Voie d'Ossau provides a beautiful mountain route that allows us to enjoy the Pyrennees somewhat longer than going from Oloron straight to Somport. Of course I will tell you in all detail how it was!
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#22
another thought. unless you wish to sleep up on somport to get one more helping of the (spanish) pyrenees (in that case I recommend the french gite with the kitchen which is about 600m down the road on the french side, call ahead as the entry is via a code; and, albergue aysa doesn't stock bread as far as I know), I think you can easily descend all the way to canfranc-estacion. I went even further, to the old village of canfranc. there's about 2h-2h30 climb to col de moines, about 1h down to astun, 30min of road to somport, and about 2h to canfranc-estacion.

from villanua, I found the left route (GR 653.1) a lot nicer then the main route. more shady in the morning, too.

I am quite sure that you won't be disappointed. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#23
Caminka - I'm sorry for the late response on your last post. I think I'd want to stay in Somport (enjoy the mountains a little longer), but we might want to walk on. Thank you for the tips, I'll keep them in mind! Just one more week till our train to Lourdes is leaving. I'm so excited to go. I want to thank you one more time for the tons of information you gave me. Your list of accommodations is printed and packed! :)
 

dalston999

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Le Puy/Santiago/Fisterra/Murxia Sept/Oct 2012, Portugues march 2013, Arles April 2013
#24
Caminka - I'm sorry for the late response on your last post. I think I'd want to stay in Somport (enjoy the mountains a little longer), but we might want to walk on.
I stayed in the Gite in Urdos, last town before Somport on the Voie d,arles. very modern, clean, well-equipped kitchen but not sure it is on the route you are following. Also, the Albergue Juvenil inCanfranc Estacion, comfortable, clean and very welcoming and helpful Hospitaliero. No cooking option, but dinner there or at one of the many restaurants in town.
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#25
Just one more week till our train to Lourdes is leaving. I'm so excited to go.
ooh! I am quite envious! :)
not a problem at all, I am very glad I could help! I hope you'll have great time!

dalston: gite in urdos is quite a way down from somport on the french side, it's the last village before the final climb.
I didn't know albergue juvenil in canfranc-estacion actually accomodates pilgrims. the guides mostly leave it out and I though it is mostly reserved for (or by) school groups - like the one in villanua. that's cool.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Finisterre) - Fall 2013
#26
Wow, Caminka, thank you so much for the tip about the Voie d´Ossau, it has been amazing - I can recommend it to everyone. Everyone not suffering from vertigo that is: at some point between Laruns and Eaux Chaudes the path gets really narrow and high above the main road and the Gave. It took us a long time to walk this stretch because of the vertigo issues of my boyfriend. It was amazingly beautiful though!
We did the following stages: Lourdes - Lestelle Betharram - Arudy - Eaux Chaudes - Gabas and Lac de Bious-Artigues. I loved the aubergue in Eaux Chaudes, lovely atmosphere and people. Due to the weather we haven´t been able to walk further than Lac de Bious-Artigues. There were thunderstorms and the locals told us to go back, it would be too dangerous to be walking all the way up to Somport. We could get a ride back to Laruns, from where we have taken the taxi/train/bus to Puerto de Somport. I really want to go back sometime and redo this stage.

I am now in Bilbao and starting the Camino del Norte tomorrow. I can confirm the messages that the Camino Frances is very crowded at the moment, so I´m more or less fleeing from it... ;-)
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#27
:) I am very glad you enjoyed it, and a bit upset (at the weather) that you couldn't cross the pyrenees or got to stay in ayous. on the other hand, it's a really good excuse to do it all over again. :)

that vertigo section, yes. I couldn't properly warn you because I avoided it via the main road. I decided that wet weather, a dress and ropes don't go well together.
am I guessing right that this was the second path section after leaving laruns? first you ascend a small road across a hewn-out pass, then there is the first path section that ends on the main road where the second path section climbs up the other bank? the main road is very busy but if you are early enough (I started from laruns at about 6am and was there about 1h later) there shoulnd't be too much traffic. I stayed on the right side of the road because it gave me clearer view of the oncoming traffic and I speeded up a little. the passage on the main road took me 20-30min.

light feet on the norte! it's my next wish.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (SJPDP - Santiago) - Summer 2012 / Camino Aragones (Lourdes to Logrono) - Fall 2013
#28
Everyone not suffering from vertigo that is: at some point between Laruns and Eaux Chaudes the path gets really narrow and high above the main road and the Gave. It took us a long time to walk this stretch because of the vertigo issues of my boyfriend. It was amazingly beautiful though!
Confirmed, haha. There is a sign on the end of the first climb which tells you that you should not climb further if the weather is bad. I think they should add that you also should not climb further if you have vertigo issues! The albergue (and cheese fondue) in Eaux Chaudes is a good reward tho.
 

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