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Route Napolean versus Valcarlos

Ray Boneski

Ray B
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances from Bordeaux March-April 2017
Will the Route Napoleon be open and relatively safe for a mid to late October start date? Or should I plan to take Valcarlos Route? Thanks.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2012
The 'official' closure date of the Route Napoleon is the end of October. The advice of the Pilgrims' Office in StJdP should be obtained on the eve/day of your departure. No need to plan. Make a decision on the available local information at your time of departure. Both routes get you to the same place for about the same amount of effort over similar walking times. One just goes a little bit higher and is more exposed in inclement weather.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Year of past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
Will the Route Napoleon be open and relatively safe for a mid to late October start date? Or should I plan to take Valcarlos Route? Thanks.
Will the Route Napoleon be open and relatively safe for a mid to late October start date? Or should I plan to take Valcarlos Route? Thanks.
The Valcarlos route is great to walk according to my wife anyway she walked the Valcarlos route in 2013.
It's a great alternative for the Napolean
Wish you a wonderful journey and a Buen Camino, Peter.
 
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Annie Little

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept-Oct 2016
I have decided to go via Valcarlos mid sept . Have booked accommodation for stay in Valcarlos thus making it two days to Roncesvailles . Yes I know i don't have to book :rolleyes: but I can't help myself . I will loosen up as I travel. I intend to take the first week very slow and steady .

Anne
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
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First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
That decision at that time of the day can really be made only max 3 days beforehand as so much depends on the weather forecast. So, get yourself to SJPdP, check the weather forecast with the pilgrims office and decide then. Buen Camino, SY
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I love the Valcarlos Route, which somehow people have a view of as 'not as good as' or 'not the real Camino'.
I don't get it. This path is quite beautiful and as 'authentic' (whatever that is) as the Napoleon.
But whatever. That makes it the quieter way.:cool:

So you can't go wrong--and as others have said, no need to plan. Wait until you get there, ask at the pilgrim's office, see what the weather's doing...and then decide. (And regardless of the weather, maybe just see which way the feet end up going in the morning...;))
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Yes
napolean has some hostels about 10km up. valcaros is a all day commitment.

Just be sure of a bit of clarity...
There are two accomondations on the Napolean route (Orisson & Hunto) both at about 7.5 km.
They have limited space available

Actually, there are more and varied accommodation available in Valcarlos.
The myths surrounding the Napoleon route make it sound like the preferred route...and easier. Don't believe it. They are similar in difficulty and both are very doable by all but the physically challenged.
Hard because it is the first day..but doable.
Remember that the vast majority walk through to Roncesvalles in one day so stopping on the way should lessen the difficulty.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
2004%25202.JPG


Here is a modern print depicting Charlemagne mounted finding Roland dead in August 778 on what would later be known as the Valcarlos route near Roncevalles. (For a further description of this scene see this Roncevalles monastery history page) Hence the village of Valcarlos was named in honor of Carlos ie. Charlemagne. For more on the history and toponymy of the village see this Wikipedia entry in Spanish.

It may come as a surprise but the Valcarlos route was THE original medieval pilgrims' path through the mountain pass to Roncevalles; the present Napoleon camino over the mountains to Roncevalles is later.

In winter/spring the Napoleon route from SJPdP to Roncevalles is often filled with several meters of snow and in effect closed to pilgrims thus necessitating the use of the Valcarlos alternate. You can read about this hazardous situation in the Forum topic. >> http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/el-camino-frances/topic16961.html

Whatever the season always ask for advice at the SJPdP Pilgrim office before setting out on either route !

For more in praise of the Valcarlos route see this earlier Forum thread.

Buen Camino!
 
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wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
2004%25202.JPG


Here is a modern print depicting Charlemagne mounted finding Roland dead in August 778 on the Valcarlos route near Roncevalles. (For a further description of this scene see this Roncevalles monastery history page) Hence the village of Valcarlos was named in honor of Carlos ie. Charlemagne.

It may come as a surprise but the Valcarlos route was THE original medieval pilgrims' path through the mountain pass to Roncevalles; the present Napoleon camino over the mountains to Roncevalles is later.

In winter/spring the Napoleon route from SJPdP to Roncevalles is often filled with several meters of snow and in effect closed to pilgrims thus necessitating the use of the Valcarlos alternate. You can read about this hazardous situation in the Forum topic. >> http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/el-camino-frances/topic16961.html

Whatever the season always ask for advice at the SJPdP Pilgrim office before setting out on either route !

For more in praise of the Valcarlos route see this earlier Forum thread.

Buen Camino!
This is the best advice any pilgrim could get regarding these two routes IMO.
Thank you Margaret.
 
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james walter purdum iv

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
camino francés sept 1, 2015
Just be sure of a bit of clarity...
There are two accomondations on the Napolean route (Orisson & Hunto) both at about 7.5 km.
They have limited space available

Actually, there are more and varied accommodation available in Valcarlos.
The myths surrounding the Napoleon route make it sound like the preferred route...and easier. Don't believe it. They are similar in difficulty and both are very doable by all but the physically challenged.
Hard because it is the first day..but doable.
Remember that the vast majority walk through to Roncesvalles in one day so stopping on the way should lessen the difficulty.
thanks for the clarity of my misinformation
 
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Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Find your pace..others will go ahead and you may pass others. I remember saying to my friend Dave on day 3 " I actually am about to pass somebody!!
It took us 15 days to actually pass someone walking. She was in sight for about an hour and we managed to pass her about a minute before she stopped for the day. :)
 

Annie Little

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept-Oct 2016
Had a lovely day in Valcarlos route today .... Staying overnight as I wish to take my time .... It was plenty steep enough for good aerobic workout .... Started out totally alone which was lovely and then then a group of three caught up and we walked together ... Took 4 hrs with a stop .... They went on to RONCESSVAILLES ... But there are a few others here so I will new people tomorrow .... Weather was lovely ... Cool over caste no rain ...

Anne
 

Annie Little

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept-Oct 2016
LOW ROUTE ?? :rolleyes: What low route ??? The only way to get over a mountain is UP !!!! :D ... Did it today ... It was tough ... But rescued by a spaniard and a Spanish speaking Canadian :cool:.... It was a great day ... Enjoying wine in RONCESSVAILLES ...
 

Kennedy1

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - May & June 2013
Camino Finisterre and Camino Muxia - June 2013
In 2013 I walked the Napoleon route with a stop in Orrison. I had a amazing time and meet some life long friends in Orisson. Next May , 2017 I plan on doing the Valcarlos route with a stop in Valcarlos. I expect it will be just as amazing as the Napoleon route but different.
 

clivespicer

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May 2017. Via de la Plata/Sanabres April/May 2018.
Good evening to you all and thank you for the informative comments in this thread on the lower route. I plan to start walking from StJPdP on 19 April 2017 and, regardless of the weather forecast for the Napoleon Route, I am intending to take 2 days to get up to Roncevalles and walk via Valcarlos. When bad weather forces the Napoleon to close is it often the case that accommodation in the Valcarlos Municipal Alberque becomes completo or do the majority of pilgrims walk on through? If the Alburque beds fill quickly then Id rather opt to book a private bed for a night in Valcarlos, any recommendations?
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

clivespicer

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May 2017. Via de la Plata/Sanabres April/May 2018.

HedaP

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
LOW ROUTE ?? :rolleyes: What low route ??? The only way to get over a mountain is UP !!!! :D ... Did it today ... It was tough ... But rescued by a spaniard and a Spanish speaking Canadian :cool:.... It was a great day ... Enjoying wine in RONCESSVAILLES ...
@Annie Little Was there lots of snow? Did you walk the road all the way or take the paths? Was it really cold?
You may have guessed I'm walking the Valcarlos route beginning April and am clearly showing my anxieties. :)
Buen camino. Hope your camino is everything that you expect it to be and more.
 
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