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Tourism in SJPP or surroundings - Any suggestions??

2020 Camino Guides


Hi everyone, I have a few days to spare in SJPP before I start my walk. Never been there or anywhere in France, but would love to spend a couple of days in France, not too far from SJPP, getting to know the area, the people, food etc. Any ideas of where to go, where to stay, what to do? I'm prepared to spend more than what I would in pilgrim accommodation... Any tips appreciated.



Staff member
Hi aussieval,

This may not be the kind of answer you're looking for, but you are asking this question to a huge bunch of die-hard walkers and camino addicts. :D My suggestion would be to spend those days "warming up" -- go a few days back from St. Jean on the GR 65 (I walked the LePuy route years ago and can't pinpoint specific towns right now, but I'm sure others can). The scenery is beautiful and the accommodation is good. This is a particularly good idea, I think, if you think the crossing from St. Jean to Roncesvalles will be challenging for you, because it ease you into the walking routine more gently. The few days before St. Jean are all pretty level terrain. Combining easy walk days with tourism in this part of the world shouldn't be hard at all.



Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
Hi aussieval,

I agree with Laurie!
I would recommend starting at St-Palais. There is an excellent Gîte where you can get your legs back for a couple of nights and then hit the road for a warm up as suggested.

Take a look: http://maisonfransicaine.over-blog.com/

If you prefer something more romantic, then go past (a few minutes by train) Bayonne to St-Jean-de-Luz. A lovely Basque village by the ocean. You might not want to go any further...



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:
There is a lot to see around St Jean. You could start walking from Saint Palais which has one of the best Chemin St Jacques museums in France. It is about 38km from St Jean. About 2km from Saint Palais, on the way to Gibralta, is a 'stele' that was erected to mark the spot where the routes from Paris, Le Puy and Vezelay meet.

There is a lovely walk from there, uphill (the Chemin de procession) where you will have a wonderful view of the Pyrenees.

At the top is the tiny Chapelle de Soyarza with a covered area to rest and a pilgrims' book to write in.

5kms from there is the tiny hamlet of Ostabat where, it has been said, inns could accommodate up to 5000 pilgrims in the middle ages. Ostabat is about 19kms from St Jean Pied de Port.



Staff member
Beautiful pictures, Sil.

I guess I should modify my earlier statement about the terrain before St. Jean being level. Your picture jogged my memory, and now I do remember the ascent up to that beautiful spot a few km before Ostabat, but no specific memory about how difficult it was. But the views were amazing, just as your picture shows.



Thank you all for your ideas and tips. The area does look very beautiful and it might be a good idea to warm up my legs before I take on the Pyrenees! :) I'll consider...


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)
The Fransican Monastery in St Palais was wonderfully welcoming when I was there last year. There is a VERY steep hill on leaving St Palais, but wonderful scenery. On a Wednesday night the villages gather and practice their Basque dancing - truly a delight, watching the young and old all helping and encouraging each other, and working at keeping their culture alive. The Pelota games are worth watching too - I am not sure if that is a Tuesday or a Thursday in St palais, but the tourist office will tell you. Cheers, Janet

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