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Starting the Camino Aragones in France

#1
I'm starting to plan my camino for next year and have decided to walk the Camino Aragones till Puente la Reina and join the Frances there. I am trying to decide where to start. I have read conflicting reports about starting in Oloron Ste. Marie. Is it well marked? Is it a good place to start? Any information on where to start in France, a few days before Somport, would be greatly appreciated! Many thanks, Laurie
 

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Debinq

Active Member
#2
Hi Laurie

Maybe useful for you to check out attached URL - it describes the 3 'etapas' in France (from Oloron Ste Marie) before Somport

http://www.jacajacobea.com/ficha_poblac ... p?pob_id=1

I did C aragones from Somport in Sept 06 - I wanted to strat from somewhere in France but instead 'bussed' it from Barcelona to Jaca (and then to Somport) - I did Somport to P de la Reina - it was great (especially the 'detour' to San Juan dl Pena from Sta Cilia de Jaca) is superbe

buen camino

Peter
 
#3
Hi Laurie

I walked the Chemin d'Arles starting in 2003 (Arles to Toulouse) and then 1 week in May 2004 from Toulouse to Lescar (near Pau) before two weeks in late-July/early-August 2004 Lescar to Sto Domingo. Lescar is one day before Oloron.

Right, where to start. First off, the ascent of the Pyrennees to Somport is a two day climb, but rather gentle.

Oloron is three days from Somport. But one day back at Lescar is a charming cathedral. And one day further back at Morlaas, another splendid church. The days before that are a bit low-key as regards religious architecture, although here and there there are some lovely churches. So assuming you don't want to go as far back as Auch or even Toulouse, I think you are probably choosing between Morlaas, Lescar and Oloron.

Both Morlaas and Lescar are easily reached from Pau (local bus services) which itself has a main-line rail station (Bayonne-Toulouse) and an airport. The walk between the two is short and from memory flat, semi-urban and not particularly inspiring although you can see the Pyrennees in the distance. The chemin from Lescar to Oloron is about 30km, wooded and rather vallonné, ie you are crossing river valleys so it is very much up and down. But good training!

If your French is up to it, you'll find info here http://www.aucoeurduchemin.org/spip/spip.php?page=carte&lang=fr. Click on the yellow rectangles between the two towns for full details - map, elevation profile and description

To be honest, I can't remember if it was well marked, but if you print out these maps, they should help.

One other thing that may be important to you. Between Arles and Oloron, about 22 stages, I met just ONE other pilgrim in the evening. Yet I get to the albergue in Oloron and there were four or five other pilgrims there!!

Hope this is of help, but if you need anything else let me know. But I won't be able to answer now until early January.

Mike
 

Donovan

Active Member
#4
Hi Peregrina,
I overnighted in Oloron Ste Marie in late September, then got a lift to Urdos and started walking from there. In Oloron I stayed at the Maison Guerra Laroque, run by a very helpful Canadian named Pierre who advised me that the way is well marked to Somport (the stretch I did from Urdos, along the 'route ancienne d'espane' was fine). It is a really beautiful area. You can get a Credential from Pierre, and his Refuge in the Rue Revol is a delight. The camino from Somport to Puenta la Reina is great - and I also strongly recommend a visit to the San Juan de la Pena monastery. There are three routes to get there - don't try the first one - I think it is the GR 65.3.3. It starts promisingly but deteriorates to a very poor track with very few marks. I eventually abandoned it and returned to the main camino, then followed the road from the Hotel to Santa Cruz de los Seros. From Somport the way is very well marked with both camino yellow and red/white GR signs.

I wanted to avoid the crowds on the Frances so from Puenta la Reina I caught a bus to Oviedo and walked from there. I took with me a print of your notes on the northern route and found them really useful - many thanks. Some useful restaurant tips too - Baamonde was a highlight.
Donovan
 
#5
Hi, Peter, Mike and Donovan,

Thank you so much, this is great information. I will probably start at Oloron Ste. Marie, but I'm a sucker for romanesque, so Mike's comments piqued my interest. I googled both Lescar (beautiful capitals) and Morlaas (amazing looking tympanum), so I'll have to see if I can squeeze in a few more days.

And thanks for the great tip on the walk to San Juan, I will not take the GR. Donovan, will that add another day to the route? Is it an up and back to the place where you took the road or do you join up with the Camino in another place further forward (not sure that question makes much sense, sorry).

And has anyone detoured up to the Monastery at Leyre?

I'm glad my notes were useful to you, Donovan -- by any chance did you have jurel at the restaurant in Baamonde? It was a firm white fish in a tempura-like batter that was just delicious. That guy is quite a character!

Once again, many thanks to all of you. Laurie
 

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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:
#6
You can find out more about San Juan on their website; http://www.monasteriosanjuan.com/ingles

Here is a post from a fan of San Juan:

You can make an arrangement through the Jaca tourism office to be taken to the Monastery in the morning and be picked up in the evening. They will arrange for transportation to San Juan de la Pena. The (regulated) taxi fare to and from the Monastery is ±5 Euros which includes a stop at the church at the foot of the Mountain, a visit to the "new" Monastery (350 years old) on top of the mountain and a one hour wait for the visit to the old monastery which is the glorious one carved out of the rock at the side of the mountain about twelve hundred years ago.
The ride from Jaca takes about half an hour or so.
On top of the mountain at the "new" monastery there is an "environmental" exhibit in an old building and nestled in the forest trees there is a bar. Those who drive their own cars can only park on top of the mountain for limited periods. While up there in the forest, there are picnic grounds - they are seriously and carefully regulated.
There is no parking, or standing at the "old" monastery except to let people in or out of cars.
The view from up there is breathtaking where from the thick of the mountain forest the valley below can be seen, in all its grandeur and beauty, framed by the ice blue of the snow-capped Pyrenees in the distance.
The "old" Monastery, of course, in and by itself is worth a visit.
As you will see, the capitals of the cloister columns have carvings with Biblical scenes, and the figures have supersized eyes..... justifiably so to encapture such beauty.
 

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
#7
I just lost a long post on this, but will try again. I walked from Pribrac in 2005 and, in 2007, up from Huesca through Castillo de Loarre to Jaca on to the Camino Aragonese and then west to Puenta la Reina in Navarre to join up with the main drag.

The 65.3 out of Toulouse is poorly marked and few locals were able to give directions. If it had not been for an Australian scoutmaster I ran into in Gîmont, I would likely still be there-- her blazing and tracking skills, honed by years of hiking in the outback, saved my bacon a thousand times. The Confraternity's guide, by Maurice and Marigold Fox, was too outdated to be of much precise use. The aucoeurduchemin website, provided by Mike, looks golden--- from my memory of the route, I think that it is pretty accurate, and is detailled enough to be eminently practical. If I had that with me in 2005, my frustration level would have been much much much lower.

There were very few pilgrims on the French route-- in about a dozen days I do not know if I saw more than ten. There is little pilgrim-specific accommodation (the Cathedral in Auch had an apartment for our use and the friendly and warm http://www.lepuydesgraces.com a few days later on), but there are many hikers' gîtes about. You will find the ability to speak French very useful, if not essential, everywhere (except perhaps in Pau, with a very large and old English-speaking community--- drop by Saint Andrew's Anglican Church-- we got champagne there instead of fair-trade coffee after services). As many French villages do not have shops or cafés or bars, make sure that you have enough food between stops; a useful tip is that potable water can be found at the standpipe in most French cemeteries. However, locals were friendly and helpful and hospitable and were generous at giving lifts to blister-crippled pilgrims.

Fans of the romanesque will like the Spanish stretch of this route, as the region tended to be too poor to go in for the expensive baroque retablos which seem to take over many Spanish churches.

San Juan de la Peña is one of the highpoints of many years' travelling. This is an incredibly spectacular place to visit, rating 10/10 for beauty, art, history and significance, and rates its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It is worth the day out of your schedule. Carved from a mountain-side, it will take your breath away and the memory of it will stay with you. The carvings of the capitals of the pillars in the cloister are exquisite and a marvel, and perhaps we could not have really understood them before Picasso.

In 2005, I took the GR route from Jaca to San Juan de la Peña, finding it poorly marked, arduous and, in a few places, risky. In 2007, I enquired in Jaca and was told that it had not been improved and, if anything, was worse than before. I sensibly (I think) walked to Santa Cruz de los Seros, took a room at the Hospederia overlooking the fine romanesque church (there is an albergue, but I am a luxury-loving lout of a pilgrim). I then walked up two hours along the road to San Juan de la Peña, and then back along the road, stepping aside for the occasional tourist bus with passengers astonished that anyone was walking. In 2005, I tried to take the return path but was unable to continue-- climbing over the lip of the cliff by the hydro pylons was too much for me and I had to retrace my steps to the monastery, and go back along the road. It is likely a technical climb and should only be undertaken by those with a head for heights.

The Camino Aragonese is beautiful and stark and fascinating. There are enough facilities, but those who are accustomed to the Camino Francese and its fuentes and pueblos every few km will not find them there. Watch your food and water supplies, but at least the facilities are there (unlike the Camino from Montserrat through to Huesca and north) and the Camino is well-marked. Fans of the romanesque will find lots of interesting places (the church in Sangüesa, for example) and there are some very tempting detours, such as those I managed to accomplish to Leyre and to Javier by accident (don't ask). There are not many pilgrims... on my two trips through (month of September) I would estimate about a dozen or so at each stop, and they are mainly French or Spanish.
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
#8
Oursonpolaire,

You've given me the inspiration to make my Camino in 2009 along the Aragones.

I sometimes need more solitude...than company; I prefer new experiences to the same old...my French is horrible...so personal growth potential is likely.

Following my posing to the embassy in Paris...I found I much preferred the folks in the countryside to those in Paris. My Dad would second those remarks. During WWII he was captured just past Evreux and taken by train to Germany. Upon his release (by US Army tankers) he was transported by truck to the vicinity of Paris, Burgonne I believe, where a fantastic family took him and a fellow soldier in for nearly two weeks. Before he passed away...he often said these folks helped him regain his humanity.

Merci,
Arn
 
#9
Wow, more great information. Thank you so much. Sil, you seem to be the repository for all things related to the Camino. What would we do without you?

I have visited both San Juan and the monastery at Leyre, but I imagine that walking there would produce quite a different sensation than hopping out of a rental car. In fact, I slept at the Leyre monastery in 1995 or thereabouts. At the time, they had very reasonably priced accommodation, good food (I still remember a pea soup I had there that was delicious), and I wonder if it's still available. My memory of sitting in the romanesque church during vespers was a feeling of total awe. I remember the uneven arches, the simplicity of the construction and the overpowering feeling of serenity. I visited again a few years ago but was unable to stay for a service. If anyone has up to date information on it, I'd love to hear about it. How much of a detour off the camino is it anyway?

Ok, oursonpolaire, you can't expect me not to ask -- HOW did you get to Leyre and Javier? I love your description of the Aragones!

Thanks all. Laurie
 

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:
#10
Hi Laurie,
There is a Javier website where you can find info. http://www.javier2006.com/en/tierras/entorno.php
The Navarra tourism website also has some info on Leyre and the castle of Javier which is the site of a local pilgrimage.
quote]Every year in early March the castle is the destination of thousands of people from all over Navarre in the popular pilgrimage known as the Javierada. Cross the drawbridge and enter a world of towers, dungeons, machicolations, embrasures and arrow slits, enabling you to get to know the place where Francis Xavier was born (1506) and lived. He was later the co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and one of the most universal missionaries. [/quote]
http://www.turismo.navarra.es/eng/organ ... nado/3110/
 

Debinq

Active Member
#11
hola Laurie & Orson

re walking from Sta Cilia de Jaca to Sta Seros d/l Cruz - there's a great track that also will take you through a small village after an hour or so (can't recall name now without recourse to my notes) before a poorly marked trail with a few bifurcations (invariably one takes the wrong one, but soit,thems de breaks!) - but then after another hour or two there's Sta Seros before you .... with two very nice churches (one hardly big enough to swing a cat in!) - the road (bitumen) up to San Juan is ok but it seemed very busy to me -more than the 'odd bus' at Sta Seros- so I took the track up that starts near the stream - steep going in some parts before the pylons (hhhmmm, yes perhaps also a little dangerous here and there) - so it's a decent, arduous trek up (3-3.5 hours) until you arrive at San Juan - I didn't find it very difficult to imagine -in spite of many centuries of building additions- how the cave must have been like right at the beginning, when the first monks went there to live in 10th C AD ; I'll bet there was prehistoric habitation there too! Cro Magnon and Neanderthal man!!

The hospitalera at Sta Cilia let me stay 2 consecutive nights ... so the detour can be done in one day!

Definitely a most interesting detour along the C Aragones - like Orson, I did it in late Sept into Oct (06) - few people (just right for me! - a lovely Spanish couple and great Brasileno ... good company for a few days, and yes, it was good to have to speak another language for a week or so) Things got noticably busier nearer to P d l Reina (at Monreal already actually) ... hence I bussed it from Pamplona to Salamanca on the Via d/l Plata .... also great! IU intend to do the C Aragones again - maybe next year - and then will definitely start in France .... so look fwd to reading how you go Laurie

happy trails and buen camino

Peter
 

Donovan

Active Member
#12
Laurie, the consensus seems to be to go via Sta Cruz de los Seros. However there is a second route but it needs further investigation to verify that it’s feasible. A few km after the first take-off (GR65.3.2) there is a minor sealed road to Atares. I wanted to take this route after abandoning the GR65.3.2 but couldn’t (long story). I understand that there is a path from Atares to the monasteries, but this needs to be confirmed. Does anyone know? This route would be ideal as it allows you to make a loop through the monasteries en route to Santa Cruz de los Seros for the night.

The third route is the easiest - to the Hotel Aragon at Venta (10k from Jaca), then along the road (3-4km) to Santa Cruz de los Seros. My memory of the path up the mountain is different from Peter’s I seem to remember 2 hours at most – and I’m no greyhound. The path is well marked and while fairly steep it’s relatively easy. There are superb views across to the mountains which still had snowcaps in September. I walked from Sta Cruz to the monasteries and easily got to Santa Cilia de Jaca for the night. A more aggressive approach, if time is precious, would be to leave Jaca early and have a Sta Cruz-monasteries-Sta Cruz day. I believe that would be possible. At Sta Cruz I stayed in the Hostal Sta Cruz in a room overlooking the lovely Romanesque Santa Maria church. Simply stunning.

A further comment on that general area – not many people seem to stay at the refuge at Santa Cilia de Jaca, which is a pity. The camino skirts the village and there is no sign guiding one to the refuge. But it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk and is well worth a look. It was absolutely spotless, very well equipped and the hospitallera is delightful. The village is tiny, very pretty and without a place to eat, but there is a small shop. The hospitallera sells packaged food for those who need it – as I did. There was only one other occupant the night I was there – a Greek bike-pilgrim who was staying for several days as he was nursing some serious bruising. He said he had been attacked at a roadside stop in France.

Finally, just after leaving Sta Cruz on the way back there is a path to the left (GR 65.2 I think) taking you through Binacula and meeting the camino near Sta Cilia de Jaca. This is a tough walk through the mountains, whereas along the road is flat and easy.

No jurel in Baamonde I’m afraid. Snr Juan Corral Castro insisted that (on that day at least) the mussels were the house special, so that’s what I had. They were excellent. He’s quite a character and sure knows how to work a room. He had all the patrons, (I was the only non-Spaniard), eating out of the palm of his hand.
 

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
#13
I understand that there is a path from Atares to the monasteries, but this needs to be confirmed. Does anyone know? This route would be ideal as it allows you to make a loop through the monasteries en route to Santa Cruz de los Seros for the night.
Yes, there is supposed to be a path. I took this in 2005, using the Fox guide produced by the Confraternity, and the trail was very poorly marked. The final 2-3km up the slope is guesswork-- several hunting and maintenance trails cross and interloop with it and it was only thanks to my 1/256th Mohawk blood that I could track my way through. The Jaca-Atares part is doable but there is nothing in Atares aside from a fuente in the plaza outside the church.

Meals can be had in Santa Cruz de los Seros at the Hospederia de Santa Cruz, which provides a reasonable menu de dia. Rooms were about 38-40 euros, if memory serves me right. However, with an uncrowded albergue available, private accommodation might not be as necessary as I thought. I note that everyone I know who has stayed in Santa Cilia raves about the hospitalera.

Debinq's memory of the trail from Sta Cruz to SJdlP is rosier than mine, but perspectives differ and she just may be in much better shape than I am.

How did I get to Leyre? Well, after Ruesta, the Camino crossed through a construction zone and I quite lost my way, as I had been walking out of sight of other peregrinos. After an hour or so of this, ended up at the dam over the Yesa, which I crossed, the southern shore being blocked. I then realized I was way off course, and walked up to Leyre, looked around the monastery, and then walked back into the village, where I had lunch. From there I headed south to Javier along the roadside until I hit the castle, which was closing just as I got there (siesta time!!), so I bought some postcards of the saint's mummified feet, which looked as if they had just walked from Ruesta, and ambled along the roadside to Sanguesa where I bunked at the Yamaguchi. It was a long day-- about 10 hours walking...but not unpleasant.
 
#14
Thanks so much everyone. I think I will take the detour up to San Juan, going through Sta. Cruz de Seros unless I hear that the alternative routes have been improved. By the way, Sil, I think the Monastery has redone their website, because the link you gave me didn't work. I found the main English page at http://www.monasteriosanjuan.com/monast ... a-pena.php It has some lovely pictures.

But it doesn't sound like anyone recommends following oursonpolaire's unintentional detour up to Leyre. Does anyone know if there's a marked trail from the Camino up to the monastery?

Laurie
 

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:
#15
Camino(s) past & future
1999: Holland-Santiago, 2001 Jakobsweg Switzerland, 2002 GR65 Geneva- Le Puy, 2003 2004 2005 GR65, 2006 Camino Aragones
#16
Laurie, and all,

All good wishes for 2008 with many happy times on the Camino!

Below the route we walked from Lourdes in France to Puente la Reina in Spain in June 2007 via the Somport Pas:

First our stages:
day 1: from Lourdes to Asson, 24 km, 7 hours incl. rest, Asson has
pilgrim accommodation.
day 2: from Asson to Arudy, 19 km, 6:45 hours, Arudy has B&B facilities
and camp site.
day 3: from Arudy to Oloron-Ste.Marie, 23 km, 7:45 hours, O.S.M. has
pilgrim accommodation.
day 4: from Oloron-Ste.Marie to Sarrance, 21 km, 8 hours, Sarrance has a
monastery, phone in advance!
day 5: from Sarrance to Borce: 22 km, 6:45 hours, Borce has pilgrim
accommodation.
day 6: from Borce to Canfranc Estacion, 25 km, 9 hours, Canfranc Est
has privat refugio.
day 7: from Canfranc Estacion to Jaca: 25 km, 6:30 hours, Jaca has
refugio.
day 8: from Jaca to Arres, 25 km, 7:45 hours, Arres has refugio.
day 9: from Arres to Ruesta, 28 km, 8 hours, Ruesta has refugio.
day 10: from Ruesta to Sanguesa, 22 km, 6:45 hours, Sanguesa has
refugio.
day 11: from Sanguesa to Izco: 18 km, 5:30 hours, Izco has refugio.
day 12: from Izco to Tiébas: 23 km, 6:15 hours, Tiébas has refugio.
day 13: from Tiébas to Puente la Reina: 18 km, 5:30 hours, Puente la
Reina has refugio.

We camped two times, in Lourdes (lot of camp sites) and Arudy (camping municipal, no facilities, only a water point!!, so free) All the other places I thought to camp, we did not do so because the camp sites were too far from town or at the wrong side. Our advice:
do not take your camp gear with you!!:)

The signs to follow along the route in France are sometimes very confusing: signs with
'voie de Piemont' (yellow, arrow-like posts), GR signs (red and white paint), shells are thrown together. You have to know your directions, carefully seek your way, especially when walking in woods. One time, after Oloron Ste. Marie we came in a wood, where they were exploring, we had to split up two times to find some sign!
From the border of Spain, the Somport-Pass, it is easy again, just follow the yellow arrows!

The way: from Lourdes to Oloron-Ste Marie it is about 40% walking on foot paths, 60% pavement, much ups and downs, but not very high. If the weather is (or was) wet, some paths in the woods are muddy or when going through fields and these fields are not mowed, you will be wet up to your waist.
From Oloron-Ste.Marie the route goes up to the Somport-Pass through the "Val d'Aspe", the valley of the river Aspe. We walked a lot on the main road through that valley, N 134, specially
from Sarrance, because signs along the route warned not to go on the foot path for safety reasons due to the heavy rainfall early 2007.
We did not stay in the refugio on the Somport-Pass because otherwise we
had to walk to Jaca 32 km, only descending, so we divided the stages Borce to Canfranc Estacion and Canfranc Estacion to Jaca into two stages of 25 km. From Borce it is ascending 18 km and descending to Canfranc Est. 7 km. From Canfranc Est. it is only descending to Jaca, so rather heavy!!
The day after Jaca we did not go to the monastery of St. Juan de la Pena, but walked straight westward along the N 140, only the last 3 km of that day were not paved, climbing up to Arres. Arres to Puente la Reina it is walking along quiet roads and foot paths, sometimes the foot paths can be muddy and even slippery (when we walked there), so one (or two) trekking poles
can be helpful.

The accommodation: in Lourdes one has a lot of possibilities, hotels, pensions, B&B and huge pilgrim houses. In Asson there is one gite d'etape on your left side when entering the village (near the church), you have to make a phone call to the number on the sign and wait a couple of minutes. In Oloron Ste.Marie there are two gites d'etape, both in the 'Rue de Revol', but it has more possibilities.
If you want to sleep in the monastery in Sarrance (you can make a meal there yourself, they do not serve you a meal) you have to call one day in advance, but there is also a pension/restaurant. Borce has a little chapel (St.James) with gite d'etape for 6 persons and one little bar/foodstore. The chapel/gite is the first building on the left side when entering the village!

Jan Brilleman
 
#17
re: albergue in Santa Cruz de los Seros
so a question to those two (sorry, can't find your names) who mentioned the albergue
Where precisely in Santa Cruz de los Seros is it? We walked around but never saw any signposts. (It was already dusk and we were knackered.)
We're planning Camino Aragones next autumn (in short stages up to Puente la Reina) and love comfy and atmospheric and reasonably priced accommodation.
 

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
#18
I have racked my brains and examined my notes but can give you no specifics about an albergue in Santa Cruz de los Seros. I have a recollection of having seen a sign directing one to an albergue, but can give you no specifics on where it might have been. A review of the Spanish websites suggests that I am out to lunch on this and any albergue in Santa Cruz likely only exists in my head.

I think that you are out of luck and can only rely on the (quite comfortable) Hosteleria in SC, or the highly-praised albergue in Santa Cilia just off the main Jaca road. The only account I have found of the traverse of the Sierra de la Peña indicates that the albergue in Ena is not in service.
 

Debinq

Active Member
#19
Hi all

re my post of 18 Dec - Just recalled the name of the tiny village between Sta Cilia and Sta Cruz d/l Seros ... Binacua!

To get to it from Sta Cilia, you must backtrack a little (approx 1.5km) from Sta Cilia and take a right turn up the hill away from the main track to Sta Cilia that comes from Hotel Aragon - in spite of the poor waymarking after the Binacua turn off, it's much nicer than the road from the Hotel Aragon to Sta Cruz/Seros! If you spend the night at Hotel Aragon then, heading for Sta Cilia the turn off to Binacua would be on yr left!

As for the path up to San Juan/Pena from Atares, I recall meeting a young German pilgrim at the refugio in Sta Cilia who reported that it was heavy going, even a little tricky and dangerous in terms of rocks strewn along the track (even for him - a very fit looking 20-something whippet! Very unlike me: the 50 something 'plodder' that I am) :roll:

anyway: happy trails and BUEN camino whichever way you choose!

Peter
 

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
#20
I walked the Jaca-Atares-San Juan de la P traverse in September, 2005, and found it extremely difficult, with a rough track, sparsely (although accurately) marked, and no facilities from Atares on (Atares itself only had a church and a fuente, and no bar that I could see). It was not the sort of place you would want to turn your ankle. In 2007, I made enquiries in Jaca at the turismo and with two members of a local hiking group and they all agreed that the trail had deterioriated further since then.

For this reason, I walked from Jaca westward to the Hotel Aragon, then up the road to Santa Cruz, and then to San Juan de la P. The Binacua detour on the way back would have been interesting. Next time.
 

falcon269

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Camino(s) past & future
yes
#21
Is the road (N134/E07) from Oloron to Somport then Sanguesa generally safe for walking? I cannot tell from the maps if it is a superhighway (unlikely) or a country lane! Paving is a bit hard on the feet, but at least it is sure footing in the rain.
 

Alan Pearce

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
#22
I walked on the the road from Oloron Ste Marie to Somport in early April and found it safe enough. I can't help you with the Spanish side of the border,as I moved off the roads and on to the marked trails. Despite the sign warning me how to behave if I saw a brown bear, I didn't have any trouble with them either.
Buen Camino
Alan
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
#23
Hi falcon 269, Just supporting what Alan says, as when I walked this way in 2005 the waymarked path (in Spain) was very easy to follow, and often ran parrallel to the road, but just slightly above. When the waymarks joined a road it was generally what we call a gravel road here in Australia, usually very wide and with very liitle traffic - I would guess primarily for local traffic. I was there in early September and it was hot and dry - an austere landscape, but a fertile one and very beautiful. You do need to plan for food and water more than on the Camino Frances though. In 2005 the government was actually employing people to drive around and stop where the path intersected a road and hand out bottles of water to pilgrims.

Like the lovely little refugio in Santa Celia de Jaca the refugio in Arres is a very special place. The path is long and rocky up to Ruesta, and hot and dry into Sanguesa - lots of long straight roads, where you can see a pilgrim walking far in the distance. A lovely way all in all.

Cheers, Janet
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#24
I forgot to ask about tunnels. Google maps seems to show tunnels up to Somport, and narratives talk of tunnels on the way to Puenta La Reina/Pamplona. What's up with tunnels for pedestrians?
 

Debinq

Active Member
#25
Falcon

I remember only one tunnel after Somport - it's just past Canfranc Estacion and is on the main road (carretera) from the Col de Somport to Jaca - the tracks were washed out near Canfranc according to a sign I saw at the local Camino office - so I walked approx 3 km along the road (bitumen) to Villanua; I later realised the sign referred to the situation during the previous Spring months (2006) when there had been alot of snow -melt water in the river - I was there in Sept 06 so it was kinda obsolete!!

buen camino

Peter
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#26
Thank you to all those who are contributing to this thread. I am 'lurking' here and have bookmarked it! When I arrived home I bought the Gitlitz and Davidson guide from CSJ to mull over. And they start their book on the Camino Aragonese..... it has inspired me.... though it will be on the 5-10 year plan!!! That is a wonderful website you have listed peter.
Margaret
 

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