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LIVE from the Camino My experience with the Camino Aragones

Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I began in Oloron-Ste-Marie Oct 5th and was so happy that I started there instead of at the top of Somport pass. As others have mentioned, the days in France are wonderful, especially the first night at the monastery in Sarrance and the walk between Bedous and the pass. Very green, pastoral, and you get to walk through several small villages.

Going up and over the pass at Somport gives a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of transition as you move from France into Spain, from a wet environment to a dry one, and from a nice but reserved hospitality to a very warm one.

Canfranc station is in the process of being converted into a luxury hotel, so I could only peek through the windows. They are doing a great job, but I wonder how they can justify the funds.

The new albergue at Canfranc is great and the hospitaleros are really nice and helpful, especially to me who was still trying to figure out how this whole camino thing works. You might book ahead since this is very popular and COVID is limiting their spots. I know they had to turn some pilgrims away.

Jaca has plenty to see and do, but I was just content to eat and drink and soak up the warm street vibe. The municipal albergue was fine but you get a lot of street noise from the bar crowd walking on the street.

I took the bus up to San Juan de la Peña monastery and spent a few hours there. A cafeteria is open at the new one, but I didn’t try the food. The walk down is very fretful and not too steep, but it did make for a long day to get to Arrés. I’m happy I went to Peña, but you should really the enjoy architecture/ history/hike down if you chose this route.

Arrés is a special and welcoming albergue run by great hospitaleros that change every two weeks. We received a warm welcome and a delicious home cooked meal. Great views and a bar.

Walking to Ruesta, I stopped at Artieda for a delicious lunch with another great view of the Aragon valley. Getting to Ruesta, I decided to take a trail higher up the mountain that took me in the back way to Ruesta. Fun since I felt like I was finding my own path, but not recommended since it was longer and more elevation.

As others have said, Ruesta is special. Delicious food, interesting people, and so much atmosphere among the ruins.

Most others in the group headed to Sangüisa, but I detoured to Javier castle, then the monastery at Leyre. Jarvier castle was nice to see for what living in a castle was like, and it is in great condition although it feels a little empty — a museum focused on wall displays and Saint Francis Xavier. From there I still had a long way to walk to Leyre. This could be shorted by taking a taxi, but I was feeling fresh and invincible so I walked it. 29 k in total from Ruesta with a steep uphill climb at the end to the monastery. All off the camino, so unmarked.

Leyre had attracted me for the organ music and the Gregorian chant service. You can stay in the hotel on site and the is a bar, restaurant and tours. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was worth the large detour to get there and back. Walking down from Leyre is nice, and allows for you to explore the Foz de Lumbier. After the gorge, reward yourself with a lunch or second breakfast at Hotel Irubide— highly recommended. Delicious.

I had planned to get a taxi to take me back to the main Aragon camino, but it seemed that all the numbers I tried weren’t working. So I set out walking to meet up with my group in Monreal. I made it, but at 38km it was really too much for me and led to some foot tendonitis that I’m still recovering from 5 days later. So don’t do what I did.

Monreal to Puente la Reina did not have much in the way of services ( this was the case for most of the Aragones) so it was best to bring your own lunch and snacks. But I really enjoyed walking among the fields, and was fortunate enough to walk it alongside a Spanish farmer who could answer many of my questions about what was being grown.

Enuate was closed, listing only a few hours on the weekend when it might be open.

After 9 days on the Aragones, starting in Oloron and only seeing 6- 12 pilgrims each day, merging with the Camino Frances in Puente la Reina was a shock. So many pilgrims everywhere! But that allowed me to meet new people and enjoy the greater diversity of pilgrims on the way. I miss the intimacy of the Aragones, but I still have a long way to go on my journey and look forward to the steps ahead toward Santiago.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this Aragones beginning to my camino such a special one. For those that are considering it, I would highly recommend it! October seemed like the perfect weather.
-Daniel
 
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Thanks again to everyone who helped make this Aragones beginning to my camino such a special one. For those that are considering it, I would highly recommend it! October seemed like the perfect weather.
-Daniel
Thanks to you Daniel. I'm so pleased you had such an enjoyable camino. Your post brought back great memories of my time there in 2016 and 2019. I love the Aragones - and agree it's wonderful to begin in France. Our first time walking the Aragones was at the end of the Arles Way. I always find the contrast of France and Spain so interesting - both countries I love. As soon as you cross over the Col du Somport, you know you are in Spain.

What a wonderful Camino. Sshhh. Don't tell anyone!

Best wishes for the rest of your path.
 

Scott Sweeney

Active Member
Thank you for the memories. We walked this route in the spring of 2018 only we started at the tomb of Mary Magdalene and ending in Saint Jean Pied de Port. To me walking the CF backwards was very odd. I saw things I had never noticed before.
Thanks again.
 

Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thank you for the memories. We walked this route in the spring of 2018 only we started at the tomb of Mary Magdalene and ending in Saint Jean Pied de Port. To me walking the CF backwards was very odd. I saw things I had never noticed before.
Thanks again.
Hi Scott,
I crossed paths with a very camino experienced Frenchman who was doing a U shaped camino: Starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port, then at Obama’s walking the Aragones backward, and then finishing in Oloron Sainte Marie. He liked that route for the time of year, number of people, and his time available. I could tell he enjoyed the mountain passes, so this gave him two!

Regarding your earlier suggestion: I looked at a baret in Oloron, but firmly decided to hold off on all shopping until the end of the trip. They also had a Basque version in Logroño (bigger).
 

Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks to you Daniel. I'm so pleased you had such an enjoyable camino. Your post brought back great memories of my time there in 2016 and 2019. I love the Aragones - and agree it's wonderful to begin in France. Our first time walking the Aragones was at the end of the Arles Way. I always find the contrast of France and Spain so interesting - both countries I love. As soon as you cross over the Col du Somport, you know you are in Spain.

What a wonderful Camino. Sshhh. Don't tell anyone!

Best wishes for the rest of your path.
Thanks!
Once I figure it out, I’ll try and post a few pictures. My favorite scenes were of the freshly tilled dark brown earth, already planted with seed and waiting for the rains to begin growing. -Daniel
 
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Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I wish I had more time in Arrés, but I got in late, and after cleaning up got a quick tour of the church. I did enjoy watching the France/Spain match in the cozy bar, but the highlight was the communal meal where I got to meet some other pilgrims that would be sharing the same path over the next several days.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I did enjoy watching the France/Spain match in the cozy bar,
I had read reports that the bar had closed. Good to see that someone has apparently re-opened it. It used to also have a pensión but that might not be in operation.

I remember learning that the government had given away houses in Arres to anyone who would promise to live in them and renovate them in the traditional style. I met some Dutch (?) people who had taken advantage and loved it.

Loved the albergue! Although the hospitaleros there introduced me to some pretty weird theories about chemtrails out of airplanes.
 

Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I had read reports that the bar had closed. Good to see that someone has apparently re-opened it. It used to also have a pensión but that might not be in operation.

I remember learning that the government had given away houses in Arres to anyone who would promise to live in them and renovate them in the traditional style. I met some Dutch (?) people who had taken advantage and loved it.

Loved the albergue! Although the hospitaleros there introduced me to some pretty weird theories about chemtrails out of airplanes.
Yeah, I think that old houses are like old boats…
The hospitalero Jose and his wife were great. They change every 15 days. I remember seeing something else there that wasn’t open, but couldn’t tell you what it was. The bar pulled in a few locals which was nice to see. Can’t imagine how it makes it through the “off season” though.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
Thanks for the trip report! I have walked that route twice and will revisit in November! As for the new albergue, did you mean the one in Confranc Puebla (as opposed to Confranc Estacion)?
 
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Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks for the trip report! I have walked that route twice and will revisit in November! As for the new albergue, did you mean the one in Confranc Puebla (as opposed to Confranc Estacion)?
Yes, I should have clarified Canfranc Pueblo is where the new albergue is— and where you are headed! Heads up— some of the plumbing doesn’t drain very well. They know about, and are making a list of things to get fixed once they close for the winter. Also be sure to ask the cat lady down the street about Pacharan— you might get a taste of her homage brew.
 

lindam

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
What a wonderful experience you've had (other than your injury which has hopefully fully healed by now). Thank you so much for sharing your memories. I was happy to read your account of many places where I was able to walk while in Spain, the Cami Catalan followed by the Aragones being my favourite. I loved the warm hospitality and Mexican-influenced food and drinks received in Artieda. Keep enjoying!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Most others in the group headed to Sangüisa, but I detoured to Javier castle, then the monastery at Leyre.
29 k in total from Ruesta with a steep uphill climb at the end to the monastery. All off the camino, so unmarked.

I have been to both the castle and monastery as a tourist, but think it would be a wonderful detour. For those who love Romanesque, the church, and especially its crypt, are must-visits.

@Daniel H — Do you remember the details of the walk to the castle and the monastery? So you stay on the Camino till some point after Undues de Lerda and then detour? Was it all road?

And based on what you say, the next stage you walked was from Leyre through the Foz de Lumbier to Monreal, meaning you don’t go through Sangüesa? Any details on that walk would be great too.

For those who don’t want to walk the 38 kms like you did to Monreal, gronze does show a couple of options before Monreal.

I don’t mean to bombard you with questions, but this seems like such a great alternative — Javier Castle, Leyre Monastery, and Foz de Lumbier all in two days!

Thanks in advance for any details you can provide, buen camino, Laurie
 

Scott Sweeney

Active Member
Hi Scott,
I crossed paths with a very camino experienced Frenchman who was doing a U shaped camino: Starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port, then at Obama’s walking the Aragones backward, and then finishing in Oloron Sainte Marie. He liked that route for the time of year, number of people, and his time available. I could tell he enjoyed the mountain passes, so this gave him two!

Regarding your earlier suggestion: I looked at a baret in Oloron, but firmly decided to hold off on all shopping until the end of the trip. They also had a Basque version in Logroño (bigger).
The last beret factory in France is in Oloron. Oloron is in Basque. ;-)
 
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Daniel H

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I have been to both the castle and monastery as a tourist, but think it would be a wonderful detour. For those who love Romanesque, the church, and especially its crypt, are must-visits.

@Daniel H — Do you remember the details of the walk to the castle and the monastery? So you stay on the Camino till some point after Undues de Lerda and then detour? Was it all road?

And based on what you say, the next stage you walked was from Leyre through the Foz de Lumbier to Monreal, meaning you don’t go through Sangüesa? Any details on that walk would be great too.

For those who don’t want to walk the 38 kms like you did to Monreal, gronze does show a couple of options before Monreal.

I don’t mean to bombard you with questions, but this seems like such a great alternative — Javier Castle, Leyre Monastery, and Foz de Lumbier all in two days!

Thanks in advance for any details you can provide, buen camino, Laurie
Hi Laurie,
To navigate from the Camino to Javier, and then on to Leyre I used Gaia GPS, since I have the paid version that allows me to download maps for offline use and they show trails as well as various kinds of roads. But that is just because I’m familiar with using it from my backpacking in the states. I’m sure you could use whatever route app you are familiar with.

There was no set GPS tracks I followed, just what made sense knowing where I was and where I needed to go.

You are correct- I split off from the Camino at Undues de Lerda. That did mean a fair amount of road walking into and out of Javier, but after it was more dirt roads and trails that parallel roads. I’m sharing my GPS tracks below, to give you an idea, but there could a better way to do it. And I’m comfortable wandering in the hills and backroads.

Here is my track for Leyre:

And here it is from Leyre to Monreal via Foz de Lumbier: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/kEmERfmWwFIvj0AnNIUknO54

Those 38km with a large descent and ascent getting to Monreal really was too much so breaking it up with a nice stay at the Hotel Iru Bide is strongly suggested. In fact, the walk after the Foz was mostly on road so a taxi or alternate route for that last section would be best.
I really enjoyed creating some of my own camino. Felt like more of an explorer rather than blindly following yellow arrows.
Best of luck!
-Daniel
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
say, the next stage you walked was from Leyre through the Foz de Lumbier to Monreal, meaning you don’t go through Sangüesa? A
I walked from Leyre to Sangüesa through the foz, which was an extremely enjoyable 30km, with a stop for a very good lunch in Lumbier (duck breast on the menú del día, most unusual).

 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I walked from Leyre to Sangüesa through the foz, which was an extremely enjoyable 30km, with a stop for a very good lunch in Lumbier (duck breast on the menú del día, most unusual).

Always mixing it up, @alansykes! So you went “backwards” from Lumbier to Sangüesa and then continued to Monreal on the “standard” route?

Did you also break off the Aragonés at Undues de Lerda and then go to Leyre from there (via Javier or not)?
 

sharon w

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007
Camino Portugues 2009
Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre 2012
Cammino di Assisi 2014
Via Podiensis, Camino del Norte, Camino Frances(Astorga to Santiago) 2015
Aussie Camino 2016
The last beret factory in France is in Oloron. Oloron is in Basque. ;-)
We bought a beret in Oloron. Wore it on Bastille Day back here in Australia.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
mixing it up, @alansykes! So you went “backwards” from Lumbier to Sangüesa and then continued to Monreal on the “standard” route?

Did you also break off the Aragonés at Undues de Lerda and then go to Leyre from there (via Javier or not)?
Here's the post:
Leyre monastery to Sangüesa vía the Foz de Lumbier
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
[note to map gurus, aka VN and Doughnut — If I have this wrong, please let me know and I will revise]

I think future pilgrims now have two different ways to reconnect with the Aragonés after a detour to Leyre. Both go through the Foz de Lumbier but in different directions.

@alansykes — Leyre - Lumbier - Foz de Lumbier - Liédena - Sangüesa (30 km). From there back on the Aragonés, which would mean the next day to Monreal.

@Daniel H — Leyre - Liédena - Foz de Lumbier - Lumbier - Monreal (38 km, but a stop is possible in a nice hotel in Lumbier, the Iru Bide). @Daniel H points out that most of the walk after the Foz is on a road.

GPS tracks for both options are linked in posts 16 and 17 of this thread.

Javier Castle, Leyre Monastery, and the Foz de Lumbier make for two pretty awesome days!
 
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I think future pilgrims now have two different ways to reconnect with the Aragonés after a detour to Leyre. Both go through the Foz de Lumbier but in different directions
That looks correct to me. Though these are not the only options, because going in @Daniel H's direction, one could do two things once getting to Yesa - either do what Daniel did or drop down to Sangüesa, then take Alan's tack backwards to Lumbier.
So I see at least three options
1. Leyre - Yesa - Liédena - Foz de Lumbier - Lumbier - Monreal
2. Leyre - Yesa - Sangüesa - Liédena - Foz de Lumbier - Lumbier - Monreal
3. Alan's track

If one chooses 2, there are a number of ways to get there, one on the road, and at least two off road routes depending on how close you stick to the river.
I wanted to post a map but for some reason OSMand cannot draw the route.
 

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