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St. Jean or Roncesvalles

#1
so in my previous post I asked how long it would take .... and I want to thank everyone for their kind and well put answers. I find myself with 6 weeks and definately do not want to hurry...smell the flowers and chase the butterflies is my intent. I hear that the pass 'tween St. Jean and Roncesvalles is beutiful and not to be missed, but if I start in Roncesvalles I will have a bit more time to go at a leisurely pace. I'm wondering if anyone has an opinion they would like to share about this....

Thank you much,
Kenny
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#2
I've walked the Camino Frances four times and the most recent time started in Moissac, which is a couple of weeks before St. Jean. Crossing the Pyrenees was spectacular, it made this last camino really special. True, if you're going to start walking in St. Jean, it's a tough way to start the Camino, but you have time and could easily break it up into two days. Spend the first night at Orisson and you have a short but very steep walk the first day from St. Jean to Orisson, and then you are in a place with beautiful views, good company, and a very nice place to either sit and relax or walk around and explore. You also increase the odds that at least one of the days will be clear so you can enjoy the views. The next day from Orisson to Roncesvalles is not difficult and you will be there by early afternoon and have the rest of the day to enjoy yourself.

With six weeks, I think you have plenty of time to start in St. Jean, and the effort is well worth it, in my opinion.
 
#3
lots of time

hi there, dawn from canada, i walked from St. jean-p-d-p and walked to finisterre. i had 7 weeks off, i walked for 40 days. some days 10km, others 33. for me my comfort zone was 28km a day. stay in orrison.
when i walked may/june 2006 i was VERY FORTUNATE, 3 hours of rain in the entire trip.
 
#4
I recommend the walk over the Pyrenees, so that the pilgrimage starts from outside Spain, but the walk itself is worthwhile. Getting to St. Jean from England is straightforward - by train or air to Bayonne and then the train up the valley to St. Jean. I do not know if the whole journey can now be done in a day.
 
#5
i would suggest if you arrive in SJPDP in the evening, enjoy this quaint town in the morning, set out about lunch and you will arrive in orrison around 3. i would hate to not see SJPDP.
 

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#6
I did it at the same time as Dawn (Hi Dawn - glad to hear you are still around - how is the walking?) and agree! I wouldn't have missed the napoleon route to Roncesvalles for the world. It is hard, though and so is the second day, but with six weeks you have plenty of time to catch up. I would make sure that you check that there is room at Orrisson. It would be sad to have to retrace your steps late in the day because there was no time to reach Roncesvalles before nightfall.

As Dawn says, we had lots of dry weather last year, but, being a northerner, there were plenty of times when I would have happily swapped the searing heat for a lovely cooling shower of rain, or even a day of dull drizzle.
 
#7
now Paul, the weather wasn't THAT hot, yes i remember you, it is SO GREAT actually coming face to face with people that we recognize on this site.
Still a postie in Canada,looking at doing another hike in 2008, like 3-4 months, YES i am HOOKED. My camino has been one of my best trips and experiences, and i have BEen around!!!!
Any plans for you??
dawn
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#8
I agree with all the replies. I have only done it once (in this lifetime anyway) and also started from Moissac. I wanted to limber up for a while before hitting the mountains as I didn't have a chance to 'practise' (and practise is NOTHING like the reality) so was pretty limber for an old fart when I got to St. Jean.
Thing is, start where you will but you will meet people who started at St. Jean and if you started in Spain you may feel this sort of niggling feeling that you haven't done it 'properly'. Ludicrous of course - but we are human and you may feel it.
Thing is, not the road, but the cobbled lane in and out of St. Jean is old - no, OLD!. No, really, it is OLD! and you feel it. You feel it deeply. You feel it through your feet, through time, it is old - you belong and it belongs - it is good. When you leave it will be dark as you will be afraid of the ascent and your ability to do it (normal). As you leave that lane through the stone pillars you look back and see - well, you'll have to go there won't you? - and then the hard, a bit frightening if you are afraid of heights sometimes, cold, windy, sunny, all changeable things trek over the pass. During which you will come to a true pass, then a spring where you will stop, then move on and there, in front of you - and GOD (you will think) how mountainous, is Spain - fantastic. And when I stopped at that point on the Camino I looked to my right and there, suspended on an upcurrent, not 20 feet away, was an eagle, just sitting there on the air, gazing at me with one rather cruel looking eye .... I mean ... Crikey! and the long walk along and the descent, where you can see the monastery below you just 4k away and down you go - refuge true and there is even a bar there!! And you feel so tired and so 'Veteran' and you now know that you can do it - really that you can do it, and will do it and life is Wonderful!. If you can, gulp, breathe deep - do not be afraid - and Go from St. Jean!
 

Minkey

Active Member
#9
Go over the Pyrenees!!!

I've only ever done it when the mist is so thick that after a few hours it messes with your head, but still, when you come back down after the col, it's simply beautiful. There's a wooded area that pops up from the hillside, it's steep, it's wild, it's just awesome.

I felt like I'd really started my journey by doing that and wouldn't miss it for the world... I'm busy sorting my flights etc for this year's trip... All holiday is being reserved for the St Jean - Finisterre slog and once again, several months prior to my trip, I'm getting all excited by it!

It'll be hard, I guarantee you that, but it'll be worthwhile.

Buen Camino :arrow:
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#10
Ho Minkey - I remember that wooded area! Bit muddy then and snowy for me. And I fell over too, and slid a little way (well, quite a lot really).
And you walked through fog and mist and then down under it? Brilliant! Actually, a bit scary sometimes I would have thought - wrong turn and over the edge!??
Oh, now I want to be there again and doing it again!!!

Buen Camino!!!!
 

Jerome74

Active Member
#11
Hi,

I will also be starting in mid-May in SJdPP. I've also wondered whether I should go to Roncesvalles in one day or two days because it's quite a long way to start. But since I can start early in the day in SJ I think that I will go the whole leg in one day (and the Orisson refuge doesn't have a lot of beds anyway ...). I'm young and quite fit, so I should be able to ;) But to be sure I've started practicing though too of course, hehe.
 
#12
all the way to roncevalles

Hi, Have you walked 28km????? Is this norm for you. It is a LONG way, don't forget it is not the destination but the journey. Why not take your time, what if the weather is foggy, wouldn't it be nice to be hopeful for the next day. I had amazing weather last may, I am grateful to have taken 2 days to cross, the scenery is amazing. What about time in SJPDP. IT is so much nicer than Roncevalles, There really isn't much in R, a church, it is not a town, most people start here.
dawn
 
#13
I recommend you start from St. Jean

I didn't, started from Roncesvalles, and regretted it, the first part may be the most beautiful part of the Camino, you want to see every part

as for distance, it really depends who you are
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#14
Where to start?

This is a message to new pilgrims, undecided on where to start their walk.

You can start anywhere you like on the camino - there is no sure beginning only an end.
Admittedly there is a misguided perception (promoted by most modern guidebooks) that the camino frances STARTS at a given place, usually St Jean Pied de Port or Somport in France.
As Peter has often said on this forum, the camino STARTS wherever you happen to be - in Jerome's case Luxembourg.
Jacobean pilgrims from England who walked to Spain started from their homes. As did people from the rest of Europe. But, the people in Spain did not walk over the Pyrenees to a town called Saint John at the Foot of the Pass so that they could walk to the tomb of their saint!
The trek from St Jean to Roncesvalles is beautiful but there is nothing mystical, spiritual, significantly traditional or important about starting there. It barely follows the original route which has long since been covered by tarmac.
You do not need to feel guilty, cheated or less 'authentic' if you start at Roncesvalles, Puenta La Reina or Burgos.
Start where you feel comfortable starting. Walk within yourself.
Buen camino,
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#15
Agree.
Actually, the 'true' start of the Camino is in your head. Where your body loads the pack and starts from is secondary.
 

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