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Seeing a lot of pilgrims starting in Roncesvalles...issues with SJPDP now?

Backagain

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Primitivo (2017)
Frances (2020)
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
 
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SabineP

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some and then more. see my signature.
I never saw the " need " of starting in France seeing most foreigners land in Spain and it makes more sense to just start somewhere in Spain.
You are not missing anything. St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start.

And I am not a Caminopurist by all means. Just start where you want to start.
The concept of a " full Camino" ...😉.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
What am I missing? thanks.
Nothing.

There was some fuss about Covid-19 related documentation required when crossing the land border from either Spain to France or from France to Spain, or in both directions within a short period of time, but that was in June.

We are now in July, and as far as I can tell, if you are vaccinated, all you need is proof of your vaccination, whether a EU DCC from an EU country or documentation from a non-EU country ... or not even that.

Exactly when to you want to walk and from where are you coming into SJPP (Biarritz or Pamplona)?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
We are now in July, and as far as I can tell, if you are vaccinated, all you need is proof of your vaccination, whether a EU DCC from an EU country or documentation from a non-EU country ... or not even that.
Current (4 July 2021, late Sunday afternoon in Europe) situation for a traveller, with completed vaccination program and after mandatory waiting period since last jab, from the USA to SJPP, then onto Roncesvalles:

USA [-> Spain] -> France -> Spain
This assumes that the US traveller did NOT transit or stay in any other countries during the last two weeks or so, i.e. flew directly from the USA to either France or Spain. If she or he did otherwise, different rules may apply.

You need to go by what is now, and not by what was last week or the week before last week. Use Reopen Europe as your starting point. It gives you an overview for your individual travel situation and takes you to the official government websites of the EU country or countries you wish to visit.
 
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The Camino begins when you walk out your front door. Wherever you choose to start from in Europe is your decision. Some like the idea of crossing the Pyrenees. Some don’t care. It’s honestly just up to you. I think some people might be concerned about crossing the border between France and Spain but there’s nobody standing there watching you.
 

Kathar1na

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In normal years, many more pilgrims start in SJPP than in Roncesvalles, about ten times more.

In June this year, it was very different: the number of pilgrims who started in Roncesvalles was about the same as the number of pilgrims who started in SJPP.

Reason: mandatory PCR tests.
 
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SJPP2Santiago completed (Sept.15, 2018).
Current (4 July 2021, late Sunday afternoon in Europe) situation for a traveller, with completed vaccination program and after required waiting period since last jab, from the USA to SJPP, then onto Roncesvalles:

USA [-> Spain] -> France -> Spain
This assumes that the US traveller did NOT transit or stay in any other countries during the last two weeks or so, i.e. flew directly from the USA to either France or Spain. If she or he did otherwise, different rules may apply.

You need to go by what is now, and not by what was last week or the week before last week. Use Reopen Europe as your starting point. It gives you an overview for your individual travel situation and takes you to the official government websites of the EU country or countries you wish to visit.
Thank you Kathar1na for your research and posting here. Nice!
 

Freetogo

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
There may be people simply not wanting the hassle of testing etc just for one stage ; though I most certainly agree with there being nothing special about SJPP as a starting point.
Oh! But crossing the Pyrénées is so... magical! But you can, of course, start from any other town in le pays Basque AND get that wonderful mountainous crossing!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
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I've crossed the Pyrenees at the Route Napoléon (both directions), the Somport, the Perthus pass, and over from Cerbère to Portbou.

And I live right next to where you cross the Alps at La Turbie on the French & Italian coastal Mediterranean Camino & Francigena.

Of course crossing those mountains is pleasant when you're on a Camino, but that still doesn't add up to SJPP being a special place to start.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Le Puy-en-Velay and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port are traditional starting points for contemporary long distance camino pilgrimages; Sarria is a traditional starting point for contemporary short distance camino pilgrimages.

Maybe it is difficult to accept that something is a tradition when the tradition is still young. 😐

Starting a foot pilgrimage from home is no longer a tradition. Just something that some people do.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
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Starting a foot pilgrimage from home is no longer a tradition. Just something that some people do.
?????

It certainly remains a tradition in Spain and parts of France.

I've met a few pilgrims this year who live in Zaragoza and started in Zaragoza.

Some starting places are better than others, but there's still nothing quite like starting from home.

Nor is SJPP special compared to say Lourdes, Le Puy, Arles, Burgos, or Sarria, or other such popular starting places.
 

Esauro57

Member
Past OR future Camino
St.Jean Pied du Port - Santiago 23-29/7/2010 23-30/7/2014
Porto-Santiago&MuxiaFinestere2018
I have a google phone app ( also on PC in link-->called Re-openEU this app permits you to see the requirements for EU citizens (but a "rest of the world" is select-able too) .

You can select in "Travel Plan" your origin and route, according to your country of departure and an important option "Add a Transit"... The main Rules are then displayed links are provided to further confuse yourself ;-) lol

From this app it seems that you need a covid test even if you have a green pass to go to Spain from France by land coming from Italy for example....? Maybe this is the reason... most are flying in Spain Directly and "bussing" to Roncisvales / Pamplona to avoid the covid test hassle (and cost) having "only" a Green Pass & QR flight entry module for entering for Spain ...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
From this app it seems that you need a covid test even if you have a green pass to go to Spain from France by land coming from Italy for example....?
This was the case a little while ago but it is no longer the case now. When coming from Italy and travelling through France and to Spain on land you currently do not need a negative PCR test if you have a EU Digital Covid certificate that attests a completed vaccination program.

I agree with you: the Reopen Europe website and app are useful tools.

BTW, I know that the EU DCC is called Certificazione verde in Italian; the "green" label has been dropped in the other official EU languages.

Some of the official government websites are more confusing than others. I've been following the twists and turns on the Spanish SpTh website for a long time and I can find my way around there in the dark. I've been wondering recently whether I could start a small online consultancy business for puzzled future pilgrims. 🤔🤭😉
 
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Kathar1na

Member
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Peregrinos, just walk ... ❤️
I am sorry for being blunt, @Sven Kaven, but what do you actually mean with your generic advice? Have you lived under a rock during the past 6 months or are you advising people to actively ignore official government rules? Any current issues at the land border due to public health related regulations is the issue here, not whether someone fancies starting from SJPP or from elsewhere.

I am trying to bring this thread back on track. I realise that some posters have never been aware of the existence of such issues in recent weeks. Surely everyone who lives in Europe must be aware of these issues?
 
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What am I missing? thanks.
It's a tough question to chew through - How are we to explain the reasons that fewer people are choosing the departure point that more people used to choose for reasons that are hard to explain? Here are a few things that came to my mind:

One reason may be simply a delay between a change in the situation and a change in behavior. Many people plan their travel in advance of setting off. Some of those who are on the Camino today may have reserved flights at a time when border crossings weren't allowed, and before the bus from Pamplona to SJPP resumed service.

Another reason may be risk aversion. Some people may sense that the situation is not yet stable and that there could be risks associated with plans that require border crossings.

Another reason may be a bias among the population on the Camino today. The folks who started walking when it became possible might not be "mainstream" pilgrims for whom the draw of SJPP is important.

Another reason may be a bias in the sample of the population that you are observing ...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
When coming from Italy and travelling through France and to Spain on land you currently do not need a negative PCR test if you have a EU Digital Covid certificate that attests a completed vaccination program.
I checked the current list on the Spanish SpTH website and have to correct what I wrote: It is not "When coming from Italy". It is "When coming from the regions of Piemonte, Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste, Liguria, Lombardia, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardegna, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen, Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Marche, Lazio."

Of course it is different again when you've walked during the past few weeks through the French regions of
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine on your way from Italy to SJPP.

That's how complicated and confusing it all is for us. And that's why people say: To heck with it all. I'll just fly to Pamplona and start from Roncesvalles this summer.
 

Sven Kaven

writer, photographer and mindfulness teacher
Past OR future Camino
2021
I am sorry for being blunt, @Sven Kaven, but what do you actually mean with your generic advice? Have you lived under a rock during the past 6 months or are you advising people to actively ignore official government rules? Any current issues at the land border due to public health related regulations is the issue here, not whether someone fancies starting from SJPP or from elsewhere.

I am trying to bring this thread back on track. I realise that some posters have never been aware of the existence of such issues in recent weeks. Surely everyone who lives in Europe must be aware of these issues?
❤️ No offence taken @Kathar1na. Important is to simply allow a short sentence to stay, like the one I have posted first, without judging it.

What I mean by my - any but generic advice - is to not forget the walk itself, by all research, as to what is required in order to take the walk. I have walked last year June / July 2020 from Porto (Portugal) to Leon (Spain) during strong Covid restrictions and most certainly was it advisable to be aware of the rules. For instance, did I wait a day in Valenca, Portugal before I was able to cross the bridge/border into Spain on July 1. 2020.

Or this year in 2021, when I walked during the months of January and February on the Camino Mozarabe from Malaga to Cordoba for 10 days. We spoke to the "Guarda Civil" or local police stations to stay on top of what we were able to do and what not.

However, most important was to be respectful of the people living in the region, opening their doors and living rooms for us, while all albergues had been closed, giving us shelter. On all those walks, I trusted that the way is, what I meet with every step I take.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Being respectful of the people around you and being aware of the public health related rules of the place where you are is the same principle, whether you are at home or abroad. Here in this thread it is specifically about border crossing rules of other countries than your own, and you need to inform yourself and be up to date before you start travelling there.
 
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Sven Kaven

writer, photographer and mindfulness teacher
Past OR future Camino
2021
not quite dear @Kathar1na. Just look at the person starting the thread. Anyway, I am not here to discuss your take on this but was rather sending a reminder of what the Camino is about. all the rest appears right in front of your eyes. Take it easy! 😀
Being respectful of the people around you and being aware of the public health related rules of the place where you are is the same principle, whether you are at home or abroad. Here in this thread it is specifically about border crossing rules of other countries than your own, and you need to inform yourself and be up to date before you start travelling there.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I think a lot of walkers are wisely following the KISS principle….“Keep it simple stupid!” By flying into and staying in one country they are avoiding additional complications, should regulations change quickly, especially with the Delta virus on the rise!
 
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longwalker60

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09/2018
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
I would disagree with a few people on this thread. I do agree you can start your Camino adventure anywhere. However, Starting SJPP is a great start. Its a small town. If you have the time, come a day early and stroll about the streets. Some of the homes were built during Roman times! Also there is good food and a great way to begin immersing yourself into Spanish and French Culture. I love the town. As far as starting out at SJPP, walking up and above the clouds, seeing where the town is located, So far down below is a great experience. Also the challenge and thrill of crossing over the pyrenes is a great experience. Is it difficult, yes, but great bragging rights and a tough, difficult, challenging start. But what an adventure! Buen Camino.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I may have misunderstand the question in the first post. I assumed that the poster was referring to recent questions/comments like these:

I'm already in Spain and will fly to Pamplona June 23 and would like to make my way to SJPP to start my camino. However, it seems that I might need to show a negative PCR test to cross the border from Spain to France.

The bus driver announced on our bus [from Pamplona to SJPP] that she was required to tell us the a PCR test is required to enter France. About half the people got off the bus.

have already booked my end-of-August flight from Geneva direct to Bayonne, but this means that I first enter France with the risk of special diverging rules of entry. Alternatively, I could fly to Barcelona, take a train to Pamplona and start from there all within Spain, which seems to be more relaxed regarding entry.

It's not a question of starting point, but about possible risks of Covis related entry formalities, which nobody knows at this stage.

Is it possible to get a PCR test in St Jean Pied de Port before crossing into Spain?

will start walking on 6 July. We would have started in SJPP of course but would need to get another COVID test to get into France and back into Spain since it hasn’t been 2 weeks since our 2nd vaccine dose.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
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I would disagree with a few people on this thread. I do agree you can start your Camino adventure anywhere. However, Starting SJPP is a great start.
Nobody has said that it isn't.

The only suggestion that was really made is that there's no reason to be worried about people choosing to start in Roncesvalles rather than SJPP, where they might normally start, for these Covid things.

Some tangential chatting also occurred around the broader matters in the thread, which is not infrequent in these forums. And is often quite pleasant.
 
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2015 2017
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
In my opinion this happens because many pilgrims reach Roncesvalles and Pamplona more easily.
 
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winewalker3

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I never saw the " need " of starting in France seeing most foreigners land in Spain and it makes more sense to just start somewhere in Spain.
You are not missing anything. St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start.

And I am not a Caminopurist by all means. Just start where you want to start.
The concept of a " full Camino" ...😉.
Are you kidding me!! SJPDP is a unbelievable quaint, beautiful historical village. A fulfilment of the Camino expierence. It was my 3rd. Camino before I decided to fly into France and start in St. Jean. The excitement and larger gathering was electrifying. Everyone leaving in the morning to tackle the most challagening
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Oh! But crossing the Pyrénées is so... magical! But you can, of course, start from any other town in le pays Basque AND get that wonderful mountainous crossing!
But then really one should start further north-east so you can cross both the Alps and the Pyrenees on your way to Santiago, no? If you want to choose your starting place to allow for maximum mountain-crossing wonder.
 
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If you want to start your camino in France but not go to the trouble with all that covid stuff there is an alternative. The PLM Autocares bus line had a Pamplona-Valcarlos-Arnéguy bus that ran all year with service on Tuesdays and Fridays (but not if a holiday.) The old bus schedule had the bus leaving Pamplona at 11:00 and arriving in Valcarlos at 12:30 and Pekotexet at 12:45.

Pekotexet is a village of Valcarlos, Spain and is just across the river from Arneguy, France. Start your camino one step over the border on the bridge and walk the road back to Valcarlos and Roncesvalles.

It looks like PLM was bought out and the old website redirects you to a new one that does not have this route listed. I suspect that is just an oversight. I would appreciate it if someone who visits the Pamplona bus station would check this at the PLM ticket counter and report back.
 

Scott Fraser

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018
Le Puy - SJPdP 2019
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
Missing? We’ll, how about …
…..walking across a mountain range (a “bucket list” event for sure)?
….or if the weather isn’t perfect, a walk through the clouds?
…..meeting new friends over dinner at Orisson, whom you’ll see again and again over the next 800 km?
…..seeing the herds of horses and sheep wandering about with no fences to constrain them?
….. the relief when the trail stops rising before you, the view ar the top and the descent through the forest to Roncesvalles?
….and more.

It’s the journey that’s important. If you start in Spain, you’ll always wonder what you missed. But that’s not bad— it is the reason you’ll do it again.😀
 

taigirl

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
Maybe they don't want to tackle the Pyrenees.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
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Nobody "misses" anything by doing a shorter Camino. Have those starting in SJPP "missed" something from not starting in Le Puy, or Arles, or Vézelay, or Lourdes, or Tours, or Paris, or Rome, or Jerusalem ?

Every Camino is complete in itself, regardless of where you make your first step.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
walking across a mountain range
Just to offer a reality check.
If your idea of the Pyrenees has been created by photos of jagged peaks, or of a peleton going up into steep mountains, you'll be surprised: this is a big hill, not a whole lot more.

Compared to the peaks East of here, these are foothills. And if you want more than foothills begin in Pau or Somport on the Aragones.

But we have strayed far from the OP:
Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days?
And this says it all:
I checked the current list on the Spanish SpTH website and have to correct what I wrote: It is not "When coming from Italy". It is "When coming from the regions of Piemonte, Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste, Liguria, Lombardia, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardegna, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen, Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Marche, Lazio."

Of course it is different again when you've walked during the past few weeks through the French regions of
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine on your way from Italy to SJPP.

That's how complicated and confusing it all is for us. And that's why people say: To heck with it all. I'll just fly to Pamplona and start from Roncesvalles this summer.
 

pepi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Apart from the Covid related temporary entry formality differences between France and Spain (now resolved) I never understood this discussion about the "starting point". And having started in SJPdP as well as in Pamplona, no @Scott Fraser, I never wondered about what I missed. To peregrino's from overseas with a somewhat romantic idea of border crossing: You won't even know when it happens.

Currently preparing for my 6th Camino in late August, I simply start where common sense indicates: As I have a convenient flight to BIQ (Biarritz-Bayonne) this time, it is SJPdP. If instead, I have a good flight-train connection via Barcelona or Madrid to Pamplona, then I start from there. Why bother? Look forward, not back! For me, the Camino is a straight walk from wherever to SdC. Whether it is 790km (SJPdP) or 730km (Pamplona), the difference is irrelevant. It is all about the Camino, dummy, nor the starting point.

My $0.02, Buen Camino
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
To peregrino's from overseas with a somewhat romantic idea of border crossing: You won't even know when it happens.
Sometimes you will get a sign that you’ve crossed the border, but it may not be from the gods or border patrol. I walked once with two women from Finland, and the entire way over from SJPP was fogged in. But at one point, the mobile phone of one of them rang, and it was Movistar welcoming her to Spain.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
But at one point, the mobile phone of one of them rang, and it was Movistar welcoming her to Spain.
How long ago was that? This sent me to Wikipedia to check: Since about 2007, mobile phone operators are required by law to send a text message to customers travelling to another EU country to inform them about the tariffs that apply for roaming services. A major nuisance, if you ask me. When you are moving around in a border area, you get half a dozen if not more of these messages, from the mobile phone operators on either side of the border. ☺️
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
How long ago was that? This sent me to Wikipedia to check: Since about 2007, mobile phone operators are required by law to send a text message to customers travelling to another EU country to inform them about the tariffs that apply for roaming services. A major nuisance, if you ask me. When you are moving around in a border area, you get half a dozen if not more of these messages, from the mobile phone operators on either side of the border. ☺️

I haven’t walked the Francés since 2006, so it had to have been before that. As I remember it, it wasn’t a text but an actual automated voice message.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
When you are moving around in a border area, you get half a dozen if not more of these messages, from the mobile phone operators on either side of the border. ☺️
I live near the Italian border, and my window faces towards Italy. On some days, without ever leaving home, I can get 5 or 6 of them.

When the French network is particularly iffy, they can go off every 20 minutes or so it seems.

But I do have the benefit of being able to connect to the Italian network, which has its roaming advantages, so I won't really complain.

As to the border on the Route Napoléon, there's a resting and watering spot on top of it that might be more interesting to pilgrims than the border line itself, but that is physically there as a fence and an open gateway. People can miss it though ; I certainly did on the 1994 !!
 

Raymond

Member
Past OR future Camino
St Jean-Sahagun'16' Sahagun Santiago Finisterre'18' Portugese'19'
Many people will have made flight bookings in advance to keep the cost down . Most lightly looking at restrictions in place at the time of booking. Crossing borders is a major consideration. I would consider this to be one of the major factors in the increase in numbers starting in Roncevalles.
It is a pity as the walk over the Napoleon route, weather permitting, is an experience not to be missed.
 

Raymond

Member
Past OR future Camino
St Jean-Sahagun'16' Sahagun Santiago Finisterre'18' Portugese'19'
p1000481-jpg.104097

If Memory serves me correctly this is the border crossing on the Napoleon route !!
 

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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Missing? We’ll, how about …
…..walking across a mountain range (a “bucket list” event for sure)?
….or if the weather isn’t perfect, a walk through the clouds?
…..meeting new friends over dinner at Orisson, whom you’ll see again and again over the next 800 km?
…..seeing the herds of horses and sheep wandering about with no fences to constrain them?
….. the relief when the trail stops rising before you, the view ar the top and the descent through the forest to Roncesvalles?
….and more.

It’s the journey that’s important. If you start in Spain, you’ll always wonder what you missed. But that’s not bad— it is the reason you’ll do it again.😀
And if you start in St Jean Pied de Port you miss Saugues, Conques, Figeac, and Moissac and you'll always wonder what you missed by not starting in Le Puy. Or if you start in Le Puy, you might wonder what you missed by not starting in Geneva. And that is just the one route. There is a whole network of routes across Europe that lead to Santiago. It is always possible to start further away and see more.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
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Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
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p1000481-jpg.104097

If Memory serves me correctly this is the border crossing on the Napoleon route !!



Valcarlos/Luzaide, view south to France
photo taken October 16, 2012

from Valcarlos,towards France 16.10.2012.jpg

Crossing borders elsewhere in the Pyrenees

This mountain landscape view is from the municipal albergue in Valcarlos/Luzaide, Spain, towards the facing slope in Ondarolle, France.

Hidden within the foreground trees is the rio Luzaide/ la nive Arnéquy, which since the 17th c Treaty of the Pyrenees serves here as the border between Spain and France.
 

Kathar1na

Member
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
this is the border crossing on the Napoleon route !!
I used to think that you actually step from France into Spain when you step over this cattle grid next to the Roland fountain. Looking at the map, however, it appears that pilgrims walk along the border line for a short while and then leave it near the fountain, see below. Needless to say that I did not notice border stones #198 and #199. They are numbered all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, all 602 of them.

Borne frontière = border stone; boundary stone.
Font. = fountain.

FR ES border.jpg
 

Kathar1na

Member
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I did not notice border stones #198 and #199.
Luckily, someone photographed all the border stones in the Pyrenees that mark the French-Spanish border, including stones #198 and #199 on the Route Napoleon.

This may be bad news for many online discussions of the past and for blogs because as you can see on the photos and on the map, the path of the Route Napoleon is to the south west of stone #199. Which means that by the time you reach the fountain and the cattle grid you have already been walking in Spain.

198 and199.jpg
 
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Kathar1na

Member
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I remember that there was poster a few weeks ago who had planned to travel to Roncesvalles, then walk up the Route Napoleon until he reached the Spanish-French border and then start walking to Santiago from there. This was because of Covid-19 public health restrictions.

I can't remember the name of the poster and I don't know what he did in the end. I so hope that he walked further than the fountain and the cattle grid, at least to border stone #199 or better even to #198, just to make sure ... 😇.
 
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trecile

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Just to offer a reality check.
If your idea of the Pyrenees has been created by photos of jagged peaks, or of a peleton going up into steep mountains, you'll be surprised: this is a big hill, not a whole lot more.
You are right. I always chuckle when someone asks here on the forum or on one of the Facebook Camino groups (more commonly asked on FB than here) if they will need special shoes or other specialized gear to "cross the Pyrenees." I imagine that they are anticipating scrambling up craggy mountain peaks - not a paved road or dirt path.
Screenshot_20210706-071104_Amazon Photos.jpg
 

FourSeasons

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CF Sept/Oct 2013
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del Norte (July/August 2019)
There may be people simply not wanting the hassle of testing etc just for one stage ; though I most certainly agree with there being nothing special about SJPP as a starting point.
Uh-hem....everyone is totally entitled to their opinion however "True Pilgrim" you don't think there is anything special about starting in SJPdP?? My experience says it's magical to say the least and challenging and a right of passage. There is such a buzz in the little town of SJPdP where the pilgrims office is a must visit, it's where the magic begins. I feel a "True Pilgrim" (what ever that means) should experience it at least once. :) I've done it twice and I'm at peace with the fact that I don't really need to do it again but I'm very happy I gave myself the opportunity to conquer the mighty Pyrenees. If time allows future pilgrims, I highly recommend it. :) Just my two cents worth. ;)
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
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Oh deary me.

Nobody has suggested that the SJPP > Roncesvalles stage is not an extraordinarily beautiful one.

And it is.

It is however equally beautiful no matter where you have started.

The joy of that crossing was amazing on both my 1994 from Paris (both ways) and my 2005 from Monaco. I fully expect to love it again on my Way home later this year.

Meanwhile, I might prefer it if people refrained from reading "stuff" into my posts which is not there.
 
I will start on August 26th from SJPDP. I am retracing my original Camino walked 2008 April to end of May for several reasons:
At the time it was the thing to do. So said some books I read.
I wanted to see if I was still in good shape. I was not
I had reservations at Orisson. Met the one...
I fell down the rocky side of the Alto de Perdon...NO replay please!
The rest of the Way was a blessed event...Replay please!
 
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There seems to be an element of thinking in a number of the above postings that could lead folks to believe that walking the Route Napoleon is a necesity for this pilgrimage. For Spaniards in particular, Roncesvalles was seen as a popular starting point in preference to SJPdP, in modern times, for this particular route to Santiago. Oh and as far as tradition goes then the Valcarlos route beats the Route Napoleon by quite a long period of time within this pilgrimage route history. It is also currently the main path when the RN is shut for weather purposes.
In modern times the pilgrimage starts at the place you get the first stamp in your Pilgrim passport.
Jaba's passports must be so full of fantastic memories, (good, bad, and painful😊)
 
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Various routes...
There seems to be an element of thinking in a number of the above postings that could lead folks to believe that walking the Route Napoleon is a necesity for this pilgrimage. For Spaniards in particular, Roncesvalles was seen as a popular starting point in preference to SJPdP, in modern times, for this particular route to Santiago. Oh and as far as tradition goes then the Valcarlos route beats the Route Napoleon by quite a long period of time within this pilgrimage route history.
Thank you Jim.
I've long since lost track of how many times I've either read or posted this. But it bears repeating over and over. People have been influenced by modern mythology and hype, and at a certain point the hype has become self-perpetuating.

Sharing the simple truth gives people perspective: they may still prefer the mythology and the hype, but at least then it's a choice.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Just to offer a reality check.
If your idea of the Pyrenees has been created by photos of jagged peaks, or of a peleton going up into steep mountains, you'll be surprised: this is a big hill, not a whole lot more.

Compared to the peaks East of here, these are foothills. And if you want more than foothills begin in Pau or Somport on the Aragone

I agree with @VNwalking. Although we enjoyed the walk from SJPdP to Roncevalles, there are many more awe dropping sites we have had the privilege of hiking in The Canadian Rockies,the Swiss, Italian and Austrian Alps, White Mt. Range in New Hampshire, The Adirondacks, etc. I found SJPdP cramped in September. More disappointing, the mountain route is mostly paved!
That said, there are some really nice views on the Napoleon route. However, given the emergence of the delta virus, staying within Spain without worrying about crossing borders would be my choice for the Fall of 2021.

If you haven’t made plans yet try to avoid flying into a second country this year? Consider flying in and out of Spain. Keep it simple!
 

pepi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I agree with @VNwalking. Although we enjoyed the walk from SJPdP to Roncevalles, there are many more awe dropping sites we have had the privilege of hiking in The Canadian Rockies,the Swiss, Italian and Austrian Alps, White Mt. Range in New Hampshire, The Adirondacks, etc. I found SJPdP cramped in September. More disappointing, the mountain route is mostly paved!
That said, there are some really nice views on the Napoleon route. However, given the emergence of the delta virus, staying within Spain without worrying about crossing borders would be my choice for the Fall of 2021.

If you haven’t made plans yet try to avoid flying into a second country this year? Consider flying in and out of Spain. Keep it simple!
Absolutely agree with you....(unless of course, if you have a European Covid Certificate)
 
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JabbaPapa

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When I walked into SJPP for the first time in 1994, apart from finding and appreciating the formidable Mme Debril (unlike most, I had all my necessaries in order, including a letter from the parish priest of my point of departure, which happened to be Notre Dame de Paris, so I was on her good pilgrim list), I found that whilst some pilgrims were indeed starting there, most had walked there from further away.

That first time over the Napoleon route was amazing and very memorable, though I was very happy to have several weeks of hiking behind me, which certainly made that passage easier, and then to see that many more people were starting at Roncesvalles than had started at SJPP.

Though by my second time there in 2005, the opposite had become massively true, and there were literally hundreds of people starting from SJPP, only very few from Roncesvalles.

No idea what prompted that change in the late 90s early 2000s.
 

JabbaPapa

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The hospitaleros in Roncesvalles told me on Tuesday that most pilgrims staying there still walked from St Jean.
Some pilgrims who start in Roncesvalles get in by bus early in the morning and so do not sleep there, nevertheless that's good info. Thanks.
 

Luka

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Some pilgrims who start in Roncesvalles get in by bus early in the morning and so do not sleep there, nevertheless that's good info. Thanks.
As far as I know that isn't possible as the 16.00h bus from Pamplona to Roncesvalles is the only one. But you could take a taxi of course.
 
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JabbaPapa

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It's a few years since I was last there in the morning, admittedly, so yes some possibilities may no longer exist. Last time I looked though, there were two bus lines ; one to Roncesvalles, the other one to the Spanish side of the border.
 

Happy Penguin

Rainy day in Castilblanco
Past OR future Camino
2021
Some people think the stage between SJPdP and Roncesvalles is the most beautiful of all the Camino Frances:) but it is just an opinion.

In those turbulent times you may just choose to fly to Spain, get to Pamplona and if the current situation let you go to SJPdP, then go. If not go to Roncesvalles to start.

Interesting fact. Despite about 120+ pilgrims leaving currently SJPP the famous Orisson hostel stays nearly empty. When I was passing it on Monday the owner said he had 2 reservations for that day. My friends told me next day there were only 5 people there. My opinion is that Orisson became a victim of its strict "no refunds no cancellation" policy. For now, if you arrive to SJPP you can easily book a place at Orisson and I guess at Borda as well (nice cows grazing in front btw). :)
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
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camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
I never saw the " need " of starting in France seeing most foreigners land in Spain and it makes more sense to just start somewhere in Spain.
You are not missing anything. St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start.

And I am not a Caminopurist by all means. Just start where you want to start.
The concept of a " full Camino" ...😉.
Well said.
 

ukjohn99

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2009 St Jean to Santiago
I never saw the " need " of starting in France seeing most foreigners land in Spain and it makes more sense to just start somewhere in Spain.
You are not missing anything. St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start.

And I am not a Caminopurist by all means. Just start where you want to start.
The concept of a " full Camino" ...😉.
"St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start". I cannot agree. Starting in St Jean means going over the Pyrenees and walking from one country to another. Two experiences that I was glad to have. Each to his own, of course, but let's not denigrate St Jean and its prominent role on the Camino Frances.
 

mattythedog

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
I jus took a taxi from Roncesvalles to SJPP 20 days ago and no one stopped or questioned me. Lots of bogus rumors out there
 
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Kathar1na

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I jus took a taxi from Roncesvalles to SJPP 20 days ago and no one stopped or questioned me. Lots of bogus rumors out there
You are confusing being controlled and questioned by police or by border control with wanting to know the applicable rules for crossing from one EU country to the neighbouring EU country and wanting to comply with those rules.
 

Ianinam

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles:
2015/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020
I was working as a hospitalera at Roncesvalles as from the opening day (June 25th) until yesterday. By far the most pilgrims came from SJPdP. Of course there was the dayly bus from Pamplona with Spanish pilgrims who consider Roncesvalles as their starting point, but this is not different from earlier years.
We saw mainly people from European countries: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Danmark, Germany, and also from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Rumenia, Ukraine. Also some people from the USA, and one man from Austraalia, who lives in Europe.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Lots of bogus rumors out there
I'd actually be interested to hear what "the lots of bogus rumours out there" are. I've never seen any such claims on the forum. There is no border control on the small road between Roncesvalles and SJPP in either direction and none on the Napoleon path; nobody - at least nobody from an EU country - would expect otherwise.

France currently expects travellers to have proof of vaccination or of a negative test result when they enter France from Spain but there is no systematic control. I remember a post where someone reported that the bus driver from Pamplona to SJPP even announced this obligation on the bus, and some people got off.

We are expected to inform ourselves before we travel and to comply.

There is increased police presence in the Irun/Hendaye area and there are more controls in the direction from Spain to France than in the other direction. This has not only to do with vaccination certificates and PCR tests.
 

ISABEL linares

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camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
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some and then more. see my signature.
"St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start". I cannot agree. Starting in St Jean means going over the Pyrenees and walking from one country to another. Two experiences that I was glad to have. Each to his own, of course, but let's not denigrate St Jean and its prominent role on the Camino Frances.

I'm not denigrating anything. Just giving my personal opinion.
If pilgrims want to start in Saint Jean they do not need my permission.

Hopefully one day, when enough time and funds, I hope to start from my front door here in Belgium to Santiago and the climb to Roncesvalles will be just " a climb ' to me... ;)
 
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mspath

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Past OR future Camino
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....
Hopefully one day, when enough time and funds, I hope to start from my front door here in Belgium to Santiago and the climb to Roncesvalles will be just " a climb ' to me... ;)
SabineP,
I hope for you that that day will come with successful results.
When I started from home here in France in 2008 my knees gave up in Vezelay after only 250 km.
 

sid gustafson

Veterinario y Novelista
Past OR future Camino
(2018) Francés in the spring, Portugués in the fall!
I'm seeing a lot of people posting about starting in Roncesvalles or Pamplona, not SJPDP. Is there something going on that makes starting in France more difficult these days? As far as I can tell, if I'm fully vaccinated I should be able to start anywhere in Spain or France.

What am I missing? thanks.
It’s a big hike over the Pyrenees from SJPDP, escorted by wild horses
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
I was working as a hospitalera at Roncesvalles as from the opening day (June 25th) until yesterday. By far the most pilgrims came from SJPdP. Of course there was the dayly bus from Pamplona with Spanish pilgrims who consider Roncesvalles as their starting point, but this is not different from earlier years.
We saw mainly people from European countries: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Danmark, Germany, and also from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Rumenia, Ukraine. Also some people from the USA, and one man from Austraalia, who lives in Europe.
I just had dinner with that man from Australia in Los Arcos. He said it was his 20th Camino. 🙂
 

Ianinam

Active Member
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CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles:
2015/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020
I just had dinner with that man from Australia in Los Arcos. He said it was his 20th Camino. 🙂
I read in another thread you were in Roncesvalles last Tuesday. We must have met each other, without knowing ...
 
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The Camino begins when you walk out your front door. Wherever you choose to start from in Europe is your decision. Some like the idea of crossing the Pyrenees. Some don’t care. It’s honestly just up to you. I think some people might be concerned about crossing the border between France and Spain but there’s nobody standing there watching you.
Yeah. Thanks. I was getting a bit confused by the idea that you would have to show your vaccination passport when you went from France to Spain on the CF. As I recall, there was a cow standing at the border, but that was about it. No "gendarmes" (spelling?) checking any documents.
 
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As I recall, there was a cow standing at the border, but that was about it. No "gendarmes" (spelling?) checking any documents.
Thinking about the border I came up with a plan that the Spanish police would like, without them standing out in the weather. They would take over the check-in duties at Roncesvalles and look for credentials with a French sello. The French police, on the other hand, would have it even easier. How many pilgrims walk from Roncesvalles to SJPdP after all?
 
Past OR future Camino
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
SJPP has another side: when you start in Paris, le Puy, Vézelay or even further in Europe, SJPP is the last town in France.
Arriving there after some hundreds km and walking through the "Porte St-Jacques" is something special, you are finishing a big stage of your journey and starting the last one: Spain...
This is a totally different situation as arriving with train, bus or taxi, looking at your first day.
Even if it is not like arriving on the Praza do Obradoiro, it is still an emotional time.

Buen Camino,
Jacques-D.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Just curious, when you walk from Le Puy, at which point do you see the Pyrennees for the first time? Is that a memorable moment?

Walking from Paris, I still vividly remember the moment, though I don't recall from where exactly, before Saint Palais I think. Unfortunately, my photo doesn't contain location information. All of a sudden you see something massive in the far distance to the south that looks like a very high and huge black wall. And you think "finally"! You know that you still have to cross the north of Spain but there is a feeling of having done most of the walk (I actually had done about two thirds by that time).

Shortly after that, the area becomes more hilly and you never get this view of the mountain range again.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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I read in another thread you were in Roncesvalles last Tuesday. We must have met each other, without knowing ...
Yes, I spent the night there from Monday till Tuesday. I spoke with 2 hospitaleros (in Dutch). One of them could have been you. 🙂
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
Just curious, when you walk from Le Puy, at which point do you see the Pyrennees for the first time? Is that a memorable moment?

Walking from Paris, I still vividly remember the moment, though I don't recall from where exactly, before Saint Palais I think. Unfortunately, my photo doesn't contain location information. All of a sudden you see something massive in the far distance to the south that looks like a very high and huge black wall. And you think "finally"! You know that you still have to cross the north of Spain but there is a feeling of having done most of the walk (I actually had done about two thirds by that time).

Shortly after that, the area becomes more hilly and you never get this view of the mountain range again.
Yes, I recall that magic moment, but don't remember where it was...
 
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First glimpse of the Pyrenees on the Le Puy route was in Larressingle - you really had to look hard as we had cloudy/overcast weather. Madame had a painting on her wall with what we would see on a fine day. Apparantly they should be visible from any of the high points after that but we didn't see them til Miramont-Sensacq - Magical😊
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
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There's been a Twitter announcement by one of the French government ministers yesterday: Among the countries classified by France as green countries, Spain and Portugal will be subject to reinforced surveillance: the time limit for the test required at departure must be 24 h for the non-vaccinated in future [instead 72 h currently].

Remember, this was the reason for the OP's question: public health related conditions for crossing the border FROM Spain to France to start in SJPP.

(And yes, we know, you travelled recently from Pamplona to SJPP and you were not controlled 😷).

Edited to add: No changes of current entry conditions until 21 July 2021 - a week from now.
 
Last edited:

JabbaPapa

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Information on the new travel restrictions into France from UK, Portugal, and Spain is unusually hard to find ; unusual because the French media are typically a lot more efficient about such things. It may be the case that the new measures concern arrivals in ports and airports, but not land border crossings. And whilst the negative test requirement concerns all, also unclear is if those having proof of having recovered from Covid19 in the previous 6 months need also quarantine for the seven days. Those who are vaccinated are not subjected to the quarantine requirement anyway, so if OP or others are in that situation, a quick pop over the border with a negative test 72 hours to start at SJPP is feasible.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
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Information on the new travel restrictions into France from UK, Portugal, and Spain is unusually hard to find ; unusual because the French media are typically a lot more efficient about such things
Macron and his government use the same approach as Sanchez and his government: first they make public announcements on TV or at a press briefing, then they make the laws that hopefully fit their earlier announcements, then they publish the laws and say when the laws with enter into force and be applicable, then they have their websites updated - in a more or less user friendly way. This can take anything between a few days and a few weeks.
 

JabbaPapa

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From a helpful article in Le Monde today I have anyway been able to clarify that proof of having recovered from Covid19 in the previous 6 months remains valid as an alternative to proof of full vaccination, although only the latter allows entry into France from Spain, Portugal with a test of 72 hours, not 24.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
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The French Government has ruled by the quarantine requirements for travellers from EU countries, which in effect should mean that a quick journey over the land border to SJPP should be feasible, and more generally that foot pilgrims should be OK for the land border specifically.
 

Tiger 48

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2014 Frances. 2017 to be Norte
I never saw the " need " of starting in France seeing most foreigners land in Spain and it makes more sense to just start somewhere in Spain.
You are not missing anything. St Jean Pied de Port is "just" another town to start.

And I am not a Caminopurist by all means. Just start where you want to start.
The concept of a " full Camino" ...😉.

It’s a big hike over the Pyrenees from SJPDP, escorted by wild horses
It is a BIG, BEAUTIFUL walk over the Pyrenees and SJPP is a beautiful town.
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
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The Camino begins when you walk out your front door. Wherever you choose to start from in Europe is your decision. Some like the idea of crossing the Pyrenees. Some don’t care. It’s honestly just up to you. I think some people might be concerned about crossing the border between France and Spain but there’s nobody standing there watching you.
Well said.
 

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