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Starting in Pau in mid-October

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#1
On about October 10, 2008, my brother and I will be starting the Camino from Pau or Oloron. We have walked Le Puy to Santiago in previous years, so we are pretty well acquainted with the ups and downs, and ins and out, of being pilgrims. But I could use some specific tips on getting from the Toulouse airport to Pau, Pau to Oloron (by foot or public transportation), accommodations to avoid (or that are highly recommended), and whether staying on the more level terrain when given an option will cause us to miss some great views. We are 60-somethings, so a pilgrimage is no longer a marathon or test of our willpower; we want a pleasant 35-day walk in the Autumn, and are quite content with albergue accommodations and easy paths. We have modest French skills and no Spanish beyond "cafe con leche," so gathering information in advance really helps us. This forum is excellent for that. Thank you, merci, and gracias.
 

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:
#2
I am planning on walking the Aragones next year. We will be landing at Toulouse and will get a train to Lourdes. From there we will walk to Oloron Ste Marie - a two day walk - and then down to the Somport Pass and onto the Aragones route.
Originally we planned on walking the Chemin du Piemont which starts at Narbonne, passes through Carscassonne, Lourdes, Oloron and onto St Jean and Roncesvalles. From most accounts this seems to be a less strenuous route than the Somport route. (see profile map).
 

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oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#3
There is a shuttle from Toulouse aerodrome to the city’s centre-- it stops quite close to the main train station, should you wish to travel on immediately. Otherwise, Toulouse to Pau (14h00-16h23) and change for Oloron Sainte Marie (17h05-17h43).

Pau is an agreeable city: I cannot recall the name of the hotel I stayed at, but I think it was off avenue Louis Berthot. They served champagne for the after-service snack at the Anglican church when I was there, but it might have been a special occasion.

From Pau centre, it was a boring 10km walk to Lescar, once a cathedral town, but now a pleasant suburb. There is a small pilgrims’ hostel—the cathedral museum shop or tourism office will provide you with directions, as well as a small French country inn. The cathedral organist was practising with some Renaissance-style riffs on negro spirituals, and gave me an animated description of the cathedral and the town. Walking out the next morning, it is about 15km to Lacommande, where there is a pilgrims’ hostel.

In Oloron Sainte Marie, I stayed at the Hotel de la Paix, 24, Av Sadi Carnot, which I found plain, but comfortable. I had no trouble in finding accommodation in Accous—tourism staff spoke English and were accustomed to pilgrims, and were cheerful and helpful.

As I suffer badly from vertigo and having had tales of the terrors of the crossing of the Pyrenees, I took a bus to Jaca. I need not have done so. It was a steady, plodding, uphill climb, with no yawning chasms to terrify me—I would have been able to walk it without a problem. The only difficulty is that much of the trek is quite close to the main road, with an annoying degree of transport traffic. The difference between the green, lush, French side, and the parched Spanish southern slope was remarkable. I think that you will quite enjoy this stretch.
 

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:
#4
You can get your credencial in Toulouse from St. Sernin. They have the seals from the Bishop of Toulouse and the Association of the Friends of Compostela.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#6
The plans have gelled; we will leave from Dulles airport, Washington, DC on Wednesday night, and start walking from Toulouse on Thursday. Our plane leaves Santiago on November 16. Everything in between, including where we will stay Thursday night in the Toulouse area, is wide open. Maybe "gelled" was the wrong word for such an abundance of non-planning! When I have both an internet connection and some inspiration, I send out reports. I will try to include postings on this forum that could be helpful to future pilgrims (First one: my pack for cool weather weighs ounces over twenty pounds before food and water). Past reports have been on aches and pains, food, weather, philosophy, terrain, pilgrims, accommodations, etc. I am running out of words, so I do not have any left to complain about my feet, the weather, the food, cramped albergues or anything else I cannot control. The next reports will be about majestic scenery and other pilgrims, perhaps with a little bit on inspired meals (merluza and morcilla not included), wine, and autumn. Wish us well. OUR main wish is an occasional helpful translator (and maybe a strong dollar)!

Elect Obama!!!

Oh yeah, remind me how to get the "@" sign on a French keyboard?

Tom Hartman
Al Hartman
 

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:
#7
Buen Camino!!

French Keyboard? I think it is Ctrl + Alt 64 (if not, let us know when you work it out!)
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#8
You use the (righthand) ALT key I think- though my memory on this has faded...together with the 'hopefully marked" @ on the righthand lower side of the '0' key.
http://www.forlang.wsu.edu/help/kfrench.asp

All the best. Looking forward to hearing your reports!
Margaret

PS Sil...have only just read your plans for next year...I was still 'walking' when you posted it! Strangely enough, this is the 'plan' that has been gelling in my mind.... to walk from Lourdes and over the Somport Pass and along the Camino Aragonese!!!!! However, it may be 2012 or so before I get there....
Margaret
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#9
Internet has been sparse, and I have used my time on sending emails and paying bills, but I promise to provide detailed information on the Via Arles and Aragones route later. The biggest problem has been the closing of accommodations. For example, Canfranc Estacion has two of six or eight places still open, one with just four beds, and the other was full!! Only one place in Villanua was open, but not between 1400 and 1900. The albergue in Izco is closed, so there is no short option from Sanguesa toward Monreal. After October, even more closes, including Aruesta.

In general, the walking the great. Somport was closed by the police for a combination of a road washout and snow. The official route is pretty rotten in rainy weather, so we have used more roads than were on the plan. One section of path on the way up to Somport looked perpetually eroded, and at the best of times was at a thirty degree angle with a fall ending in 10 feets in barbed wire, or 100 feet in the river! With a damp path and fall leaves, it was a very tense hour.

As I said, more later. On to Puenta La Reina and Santiago.

Tom
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#10
We encountered an "interesting" situation in Tiebas last night. When we arrived in town, everything was closed (the bar was closed Monday afternoon!), but the door to the albergue was held open by a floor mat, so we entered and claimed beds. In the late afternoon, local teenage boys gathered at the entrance of the albergue, and were quite loud and animated, entering the albergue several times to use the toilet. When they finally left, I moved the floor mat to close the door. The smell of marijuana was quite pronounced. About fifteen minutes later, the hospitalero arrived and turned on the heat. He spoke no English, and we speak no Spanish, so we exchanged pleasantries, and he left. About fifteen minutes later, the teenagers rang the door bell, and wanted in. I told them no, and tried to close the door. One of them put his foot in the door. At 100 kilos I towered over them, and told him to move his foot. He did not speak English, but he understood my intent and moved his foot!

After I closed the door, they rang the door bell for about five minutes, then left. An hour later, a man with a key to the door arrived with his guitar, and for the next hour, the top level of the building was a music jam session of guitar and drums. The building is obviously a multi-use center of some sort. During his session, he held the door open with the floor mat. When he left, we closed the door.

We were the only two in the albergue for the night, which is a very nice albergue except for the open front door! This morning, we left the albergue as we had found it, with the door held open by the floor mat.

I think a woman (or women) would have been very uncomfortable with the teenage boys going in and out all afternoon, and presumably evening if we had let them, to use the bathroom. I grew up in California in the 1960´s, so dope does not bother me in and of itself, but I have been in over 100 albergues now, and I have never seen one that was a local hangout for teenagers before!

If one of the members of this board fluent in Spanish thinks it appropriate, please feel free to contact the Mayor or other official of Tiebas to report my story. They may want the albergue continuously open. They may want pot-smoking teenagers there instead of at some school! Still, I found it "interesting."

We are in Puente La Reina, so most of the rest of our trip will not be news to most. I will try to fill in the earlier parts of Arles and Aragones on future days.
 

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