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The Camino does NOT start in StJpdP - discuss

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
In the same Peregrino edition, there'a also a report of 20 young Spanish guys, aged 15-18 years, who walked from Roncesvalles to Santiago in 21 and a half days. Their daily schedule (the times when they get up, when they eat, when they rest) is a bit different from today's Roncesvalles-Santiago pilgrims. Also, they proclaim one member of their group as the "king of the pilgrimage" at Monte del Gozo, and when they reach the town of Santiago itself, they walk barefoot through the streets to the Cathedral.
My first Camino was slightly later in summer 1990. I walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 23 days - so not all that different from these younger people. That sort of time scale would not have been particularly unusual then. There were quite a few long stages between refugios. Private accommodation was also in very short supply. The daily pattern of walking then was often very different from today's norm. With no bed race and frequent long stages people would not normally stop at noon or 1pm as is quite common now. My own preference was to stop for my main meal at lunchtime if possible, rest for an hour or so, then carrying on walking until early evening. Others I met did likewise. As the menu peregrino did not yet exist restaurant meals were served at conventional Spanish hours with an evening meal rarely available before 9pm. Refugios were not usually staffed and there was no general 10pm curfew so eating later was not a problem provided you could stay awake for long enough! If I had found a substantial lunch on a given day then I rarely ate a full evening meal and more often had a bocadillo instead at an earlier time. I know that quite a few people chose to walk the final km or two barefoot though it was not a common practice even in 1990.
 
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Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
I'm actually more intrigued by the 10% - nearly 400 Compostela recipients - who are recorded as parte a pie. And what does this drawing in the infographic mean? Are the pilgrims changing the tires on their car?

Parte a pie means, 'partially by foot' is that right ? Apparently this was large segment in those days. Just stumbled upon a 1991 article in the Jacobsstaf containing a detailed report of a meeting of the Asociaciones de la Amigos del Camino, that advices that pilgrim passports will no longer be issued to pilgrims who travel partly by foot / partly by vehicle (car). Also the meeting advies that it will specifically forbidden for drivers of following cars / support cars (don't know the correct term in English) to stay in albergues. According to the article, this caused serious problems during previous years. I can also imagine that some of them walked one day, then drove the car the next day, (and then changed the tires the next day ....)
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2021)
My first Camino was slightly later in summer 1990. I walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 23 days - so not all that different from these younger people. That sort of time scale would not have been particularly unusual then. There were quite a few long stages between refugios. Private accommodation was also in very short supply. The daily pattern of walking then was often very different from today's norm. With no bed race and frequent long stages people would not normally stop at noon or 1pm as is quite common now. My own preference was to stop for my main meal at lunchtime if possible, rest for an hour or so, then carrying on walking until early evening. Others I met did likewise. As the menu peregrino did not yet exist restaurant meals were served at conventional Spanish hours with an evening meal rarely available before 9pm. Refugios were not usually staffed and there was no general 10pm curfew so eating later was not a problem provided you could stay awake for long enough! If I had found a substantial lunch on a given day then I rarely ate a full evening meal and more often had a bocadillo instead at an earlier time. I know that quite a few people chose to walk the final km or two barefoot though it was not a common practice even in 1990.

That sounds like a wonderful way to walk, especially in summer - much more in tune with the Spanish daily rhythm, avoiding walking in the heat of the day, and probably easier on your feet.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I'm actually more intrigued by the 10% - nearly 400 Compostela recipients - who are recorded as parte a pie. And what does this drawing in the infographic mean? Are the pilgrims changing the tires on their car?

When I did the Camino in 1989, I did it parte a pie, a mixture of walking and hitchhiking. I wasn't one of the 400, though. When I arrived in Santiago I was much more focused on the cathedral than on the Compostela and didn't ask for one. While I was certainly aware of people walking the who Camino then, there were also people driving it.

I got my first Compostela in 2016, when I walked the whole way (except for the stretch between Tosantos and Villafranca Montes de Oca).
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I came across a recent article about the Compostela boom in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port that says that it was only during the early years of this century (ie from 2000 onwards) that SJPP became a global rallying point for those who want to start this ever more popular walk to Santiago.

And they are a manna for the locals, says the article. Between 65 000 and 70 000 pilgrims from 114 nationalities pass every year through the paved streets, with up to 500 pilgrims each day in May and September. They eat, drink and buy, they spend a night and take the road to Roncesvalles the next morning. Numerous inhabitants have made use of the opportunities and converted all or part of their homes into a gîte d'étape, an albergue or dormitories, in addition to the dozens of chambres d'hôtes. SJPP has now at least 470 beds for the pilgrims who pass through the town.

A town of 1 800 inhabitants with 140 shops, 25 restaurants (including one with Michelin stars) and a few bars, all spread out over the three main roads. The Boutique du pèlerin is mentioned, started 10 years ago by a former pilgrim, and also Express Bourricot who started at the same time and have now five employees.

And les voyageurs haut de gamme sont de plus en plus nombreux, and all this is expected to increase.

Leave no trace? Ha, we have quite an impact. ;)

Source: L'impact du pèlerinage de Compostelle sur Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
 
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Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I came across a recent article about the Compostela boom in Saint-Jacques-Pied-de-Port that says that it was only during the early years of this century (ie from 2000 onwards) that SJPP became a global rallying point for those who want to start this ever popular walk to Santiago.
I have to disagree. SJPDP was being thought of as the principal starting point for non-Spanish pilgrims as far back as 1985 when my own mother-in-law walked the Camino Frances as part of a large group. Roncesvalles was generally regarded as the start by most Spanish pilgrims then as now. By the time I walked in 1990 the UK's Confraternity of St James was publishing an A5 pamphlet supplement to Valina's guidebook which presumed that the majority of readers would begin at SJPDP. The numbers may have been ludicrously small by today's standards but SJPDP had clearly acquired a special prominence long before the millenium.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I have to disagree. SJPDP was being thought of as the principal starting point for non-Spanish pilgrims as far back as 1985 when my own mother-in-law walked the Camino Frances as part of a large group. Roncesvalles was generally regarded as the start by most Spanish pilgrims then as now. By the time I walked in 1990 the UK's Confraternity of St James was publishing an A5 pamphlet supplement to Valina's guidebook which presumed that the majority of readers would begin at SJPDP. The numbers may have been ludicrously small by today's standards but SJPDP had clearly acquired a special prominence long before the millenium.
It is good to point this out. I guess the article was trying to express that the pilgrimage boom in SJPP took off in the years around 2000 and that SJPP is now a global rallying point, with so many people from nearly all nationalities from around the globe now represented. It's perhaps no coincidence but a sign of this development that this particular forum with its specific audience was started in 2004.

All the Camino related online forums that I knew of in 2003 when I looked around for the first time were quite country specific and their forum language was rarely English. At that time, I was definitely not aware that SJPP was more than just yet another place you pass through on your way to Santiago. In fact, shortly afterwards I happened to meet, in other contexts, people who had already walked to Santiago, and that gave me the impression that one starts either in Le Puy or in Arles or Toulouse or Bordeaux or any town that was close to where they happened to live and that was on one of the established pilgrimage roads. SJPP wasn't mentioned.
 
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longwalker60

Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
I came across a recent article about the Compostela boom in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port that says that it was only during the early years of this century (ie from 2000 onwards) that SJPP became a global rallying point for those who want to start this ever more popular walk to Santiago.

And they are a manna for the locals, says the article. Between 65 000 and 70 000 pilgrims from 114 nationalities pass every year through the paved streets, with up to 500 pilgrims each day in May and September. They eat, drink and buy, they spend a night and take the road to Roncesvalles the next morning. Numerous inhabitants have made use of the opportunities and converted all or part of their homes into a gîte d'étape, an albergue or dormitories, in addition to the dozens of chambres d'hôtes. SJPP has now at least 470 beds for the pilgrims who pass through the town.

A town of 1 800 inhabitants with 140 shops, 25 restaurants (including one with Michelin stars) and a few bars, all spread out over the three main roads. The Boutique du pèlerin is mentioned, started 10 years ago by a former pilgrim, and also Express Bourricot who started at the same time and have now five employees.

And les voyageurs haut de gamme sont de plus en plus nombreux, and all this is expected to increase.

Leave no trace? Ha, we have quite an impact. ;)

Source: L'impact du pèlerinage de Compostelle sur Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
You can start your camino walk anywhere. Look at all those that do only the last 100 km in Sarria. What about those that leave their front door in Sweden, Italy or some other country. I do think SJPP has become more popular due to the movie "The Way" and the many of the guidebooks have noted it as a starting point. That being said, when I walked, I walked from SJPP. I am so glad I did. It made it challenging, most memorable and certainly brought me to question, if I bit off more then what I could chew. A humbling experience. Wish I could go back tomorrow. Good luck to all those that walk...no matter where you start!
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
You can start your camino anywhere.

The convergence of three of the major routes through France just a few days walk before Saint-Jean must surely help to make the town what it is.

And those routes are themselves "collector" routes for those starting in northern or central European countries.

And, arguably, Saint-Jean is at one end of the more benign crossing of the central Pyrenees.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I saw some numbers on the website of the SJJP Camino Association. I don't know whether it proves the point of the article or not, I'm just adding this for info. All figures are rounded figures.

In 1995, they welcomed 2,000 pilgrims in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Then we have:

Year1999200020012002200320042005
Pilgrims7,00010,00014,00017,00018,00022,00024,000

Then 36,000 in 2010 and 54,000 pilgrims in 2015. And during this current year 2019, they will have welcomed around 61,000 pilgrims.

BTW, the Compostela Holy Years were 1999, 2004 and 2010.
 
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Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
In 1993, they welcomed 2,000 pilgrims in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Interesting. In 1993 the pilgrim office in Santiago issued 99,436 Compostelas. It is quite likely that a few pilgrims left SJPDP without calling in at the pilgrim office there and were not counted. But the comparison would seem to suggest that in 1993 only about 2% of those who received Compostelas started in SJPDP while last year the figure was 10%. A blip caused by far greater numbers of short-distance pilgrims in the 1993 Holy Year? Or evidence that SJPDP has grown in significance over the years?
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Interesting. In 1993 the pilgrim office in Santiago issued 99,436 Compostelas. It is quite likely that a few pilgrims left SJPDP without calling in at the pilgrim office there and were not counted. But the comparison would seem to suggest that in 1993 only about 2% of those who received Compostelas started in SJPDP while last year the figure was 10%. A blip caused by far greater numbers of short-distance pilgrims in the 1993 Holy Year? Or evidence that SJPDP has grown in significance over the years?
Sorry, I was still fiddling around with the table and checking on my typos when you answered. It was 1995, not 1993.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Ponferrada to Santiago (2019)
Seville to Zafra (2020)
Porto to Santiago (2020)
I have enjoyed reading all the various views on SJPdP being the definitive starting point for the Frances and the reasons why. It seems to me that this is now acquired wisdom rightly or wrongly. I told friends I was intending to walk the Camino but always added “But only a bit of it” as my chosen start point was Ponferrada. The ‘whole thing’ is still niggling me and so I suppose SJPdP will be my aim
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I have to disagree. SJPDP was being thought of as the principal starting point for non-Spanish pilgrims as far back as 1985 when my own mother-in-law walked the Camino Frances as part of a large group.

1985 is "recently". But well, I agree that Kathar1na is mistaken in commencing this business of confluence into SJPP and starting there in this Century.

But SJPP has always been a gathering point for people from several pathways, which dates back to mediaeval times. But "gathering point" is not "starting point".
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I have enjoyed reading all the various views on SJPdP being the definitive starting point for the Frances

It isn't.

 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
If anyone is interested, the source for the SJPP numbers, including some interpretative blurb, is here:

I should really be doing something else right now but here's something I noticed that may be interesting: in 2005 for example, around 66 % of those counted by the SJPP Welcome Office had actually started walking in SJPP and the rest had started elsewhere, so that's a third or every third pilgrim. The majority of those had started on the road from Le Puy.

Edited to add: However, only 15% of the French pilgrims counted in SJPP started in SJPP in 2005: the overwhelming majority of the French pilgrims had started walking elsewhere in 2005. So this fits nicely with my earlier observation that those people that I met in a different context, away from the Camino, around that time and who had already walked to Santiago, did not put any emphasis on SJPP as a starting point.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The view from the SJPP Pilgrims Office about when the boom started in SJPP (Année jacquaire means Holy Year). Apparently, 1996 was the year when the SJPP Camino association were first tasked with running the Welcome Office and producing their statistics.
SJPP data.jpg
Some details:
Year199619971998199920002001200220032004
Pilgrims​
1,300​
2,000​
2,900​
7,000​
10,000​
14,000​
17,000​
18,000​
22,000​
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The view from the SJPP Pilgrims Office about when the boom started in SJPP (Année jacquaire means Holy Year). Apparently, 1996 was the year when the SJPP Camino association were first tasked with running the Welcome Office and producing their statistics.
View attachment 67979
Some details:
Year199619971998199920002001200220032004
Pilgrims​
1,300​
2,000​
2,900​
7,000​
10,000​
14,000​
17,000​
18,000​
22,000​
Interesting. There is definitely a big leap in the 1999 Holy Year but I don't see a similar noticeable increase in 2004 or 2010. The increase from 2003 to 2004 seems less than the increase from 2006 to 2007, and the increase from 2009 to 2010 is much less than the increase from 2010 to 2011.

It seems that most of the large increases in pilgrims in 2004 and 2010 came from pilgrims who started closer to SdC than SJPP.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
It seems that most of the large increases in pilgrims in 2004 and 2010 came from pilgrims who started closer to SdC than SJPP.
The huge increase in numbers for the Holy Year 2010 came from pilgrims who started closer to SdC than SJPP and it came mainly from Spanish pilgrims. I played around with the numbers a bit recently (I'm trying to acquaint myself with a different spreadsheet program than Excel) and it's stunning at first to see how the figures changed from 2009 to 2011, both throughout the year and for Spanish pilgrims and non-Spanish pilgrims in comparison. The non-Spanish pilgrims barely left a mark on the 2010 Holy Year figures.

2009-2011 by month.jpg
 
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Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
O yippee, more numbers:

About 6,600 pilgrims from the USA were registered by the Pilgrims Office in SJPP in 2019, i.e. only a little over 10% of the total number of those who started in SJPP or passed through, or every 10th pilgrim, but their contingent has now climbed to 2nd place in the list of nationalities, in hot pursuit of the French who are still in 1st place and ahead of the Spanish in place 3. Also:
  • a total of about 61,000 pilgrims were registered in SJPP in 2019, a new all-time record
  • a little over 5% of them, about 3,400 pilgrims, arrived from the French side and ended their walk in SJPP
  • the overwhelming majority, nearly 95% or 57,000 pilgrims, started in SJPP or continued walking
    • nearly all of them chose the Camino Frances
  • about 60 pilgrims (out of those who were registered) were on their way back from Spain.
Obviously, not every pilgrim who walks through the Porte de l"Espagne is included in these statistics ...
Source: FB group Accueil des amis du chemin de St Jacques de SJPP
 
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