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Valcarlos/Burguete or Borda/ Roncesvales?

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mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
auburnfive,

I would choose the Valcarlos route which I walked 10 times from age 65 to 76. The views on this route are just great! The Valcarlos albergue although municipal take reservations.
See more
here. There are also other accommodations available.

For more info on this historic route see
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...y

However next day after Valcarlos do stop at Roncesvalles monastery where the evening blessing in the Roncesvalles monastery church is a poignant experience for all; don't miss this age-old tradition.

During easier years in fair weather and foul at the end of each exhausting day climbing it was a pleasure to arrive at the monastery and attend in the ancient Romanesque church the evening blessing. If you choose to attend you will remember it always.

Happy planning and
Buen camino!
 
Last edited:

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
auburnfive,

I wiuld choose the Valcarlos route which I walked 10 times from age 65 to 76. The views on this route are just great! The Valcarlos albergue although municipal take reservations.
See more
here. There are also other accommodations available.

For more info on this historic route see
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...y

However next day after Valcarlos do stop at Roncesvalles monastery where the evening blessing in the Roncesvalles monastery church is a poignant experience for all; don't miss this age-old tradition.

During easier years in fair weather and foul at the end of each exhausting day climbing it was a pleasure to arrive at the monastery and attend in the ancient Romanesque church the evening blessing. If you choose to attend you will remember it always.

Happy planning and
Buen camino!
I believe there are two options for private rooms in Roncesvalles at hotels. La Posada is one.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
If you are tallying votes, count mine in the VB column too.
Count me in, too. I have chosen the Valcarlos route twice and appreciated seeing a larger variety of terrain, and interesting things along the way; also more tranquility with few people.
 
Last edited:
John Brierley 2022 Camino Guide
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Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
We stayed in the Valcarlos albergue in mid-May '15. There were only two others staying there (and one, a snorer, actually slept outside). So that gives you an idea of the crowds you might expect.

We didn't walk the Napoleon Route because of possible lightning so I can't give a first hand comparison of the routes but I was enchanted by the walk to Valcarlos. It was easy and a great way to start.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
We stayed in the Valcarlos albergue in mid-May '15. There were only two others staying there (and one, a snorer, actually slept outside). So that gives you an idea of the crowds you might expect.

We didn't walk the Napoleon Route because of possible lightning so I can't give a first hand comparison of the routes but I was enchanted by the walk to Valcarlos. It was easy and a great way to start.
I walked it in April 2015 and enchanting is a great word you used to describe it! We too, only had two additional pilgrims sleeping in the albergue.
We had a very nice dinner at the restaurant in town filled with locals.
 

woody66

This is my boy !
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Coastal 2021 Frances 2023
Hi!
I will be staying in Valcarlos!
Start walking the Vacarlos route May 4th!
I have a sleep booked at Apartmentos de Montana Mendiola Casa Ferran.(i bed apartment £58 non refundable bit expensive but right on the road)
Woody
 
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MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Though I am in agreement with the majority, one item that has not been mentioned is the climb / drop, which, I believe, is an added 300 metres on the Napoleon Route over the Valcarlos route. Regardless of the amount, there is very, very little drop on the Valcarlos Route. And from experience, downhill walking really gets to the shins.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
see signature
We stayed in the Valcarlos albergue in mid-May '15. There were only two others staying there (and one, a snorer, actually slept outside). So that gives you an idea of the crowds you might expect.

We didn't walk the Napoleon Route because of possible lightning so I can't give a first hand comparison of the routes but I was enchanted by the walk to Valcarlos. It was easy and a great way to start.
I stayed in valcarlos mid-may this year. we were two pilgrims in the albergue and a third was carted in at about midnight by the police. it was a malaysian guy, I think, who was spotted still climbing to roncesvalles at 23h by some locals who alerted the cops who picked him up and brought him back to valcarlos.

the route through valcarlos village has been rerouted and now almost completely bypasses the village itself (and the fountain! in the playground), reaching the main road at the last restaurant (which was closed in may). the albergue is also not indicated from the route despite being practically above it.

when you finally drag yourself up that super steep climb from the torrent to the fronton, look right up to a (spruce?) grove and a big white modern building above it, with some stairs leading to it. the door on top of the stairs is the albergue door.
there is a code to get inside the albergue. there is a phone on the door for the hospitalero who speaks basque and quite incomprehensible spanish. I had to procure the help of two local teachers to get the code right. (it was the # that was giving us problems.) and then we discovered the door was open. :oops:

I liked the valcarlos route but it was also a lot on asphalt, especially the first part, with no grassy shoulders like on the orisson route. until valcarlos there were two more water spots (one at a farm before arneguy and one at the arneguy cemetery after the village) and the blocked sections have all been cleared.

the second part from valcarlos to roncesvalles was a lot better, even with the main road walking, especially the lovely path along the torrent after ganecoleta and the forest road before the steep climb.

the old fountain at the end of valcarlos was no longer operating and I saw no fountain in ganecoleta, but there was a working fountain after the big steep climb, on the main road, where the route leaves it for the last climb (not too steep but sunny) to ibaneta.

for me, the valcarlos route is more difficult then the orisson route altitude-gain-wise. yes, there is a lot of height gain on the orisson route but once you are up there, you stay there. whereas on the first part of the valcarlos route you constantly go up and down and up and down, and the ups are pretty steep. and only then you get to the main climb!
it is now recommended to descent from col de lepoeder (on the orisson route) by the road which is not that steep and offers safer walking.
 
Last edited:

Kev&Kath

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - Oct/Dec 2021
VdlP - Apr/Jun 2023
I stayed in valcarlos mid-may this year. we were two pilgrims in the albergue and a third was carted in at about midnight by the police. it was a malaysian guy, I think, who was spotted still climbing to roncesvalles at 23h by some locals who alerted the cops who picked him up and brought him back to valcarlos.

the route through valcarlos village has been rerouted and now almost completely bypasses the village itself (and the fountain! in the playground), reaching the main road at the last restaurant (which was closed in may). the albergue is also not indicated from the route despite being practically above it.

when you finally drag yourself up that super steep climb from the torrent to the fronton, look right up to a (spruce?) grove and a big white modern building above it, with some stairs leading to it. the door on top of the stairs is the albergue door.
there is a code to get inside the albergue. there is a phone on the door for the hospitalero who speaks basque and quite incomprehensible spanish. I had to procure the help of two local teachers to get the code right. (it was the # that was giving us problems.) and then we discovered the door was open. :oops:

I liked the valcarlos route but it was also a lot on asphalt, especially the first part, with no grassy shoulders like on the orisson route. until valcarlos there were two more water spots (one at a farm before arneguy and one at the arneguy cemetery after the village) and the blocked sections have all been cleared.

the second part from valcarlos to roncesvalles was a lot better, even with the main road walking, especially the lovely path along the torrent after ganecoleta and the forest road before the steep climb.

the old fountain at the end of valcarlos was no longer operating and I saw no fountain in ganecoleta, but there was a working fountain after the big steep climb, on the main road, where the route leaves it for the last climb (not too steep but sunny) to ibaneta.

for me, the valcarlos route is more difficult then the orisson route altitude-gain-wise. yes, there is a lot of height gain on the orisson route but once you are up there, you stay there. whereas on the first part of the valcarlos route you constantly go up and down and up and down, and the ups are pretty steep. and only then you get to the main climb!
it is now recommended to descent from col de lepoeder (on the orisson route) by the road which is not that steep and offers safer walking.
You are spot on with your description! The folk that walk the Napoleon get their climb on Day 1. For those on the Valcarlo…they get their not insignificant workout on Day 2. It’s no ‘walk in the park’; but it is quite beautiful, and is a fantastic walk. Weather on the Napoleon forced my wife and I to head to Valcarlos in late October last year. I’d definitely go this way again…very impressed.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
when you finally drag yourself up that super steep climb from the torrent to the fronton, look right up to a (spruce?) grove and a big white modern building above it, with some stairs leading to it. the door on top of the stairs is the albergue door.
I remember the door being at the lowest level but that was in 2015 and some changes may have been made. Anyway, here's some more help to find the Valcarlos albergue, its Gronze webpage and the Google Maps page for it which has the map, satellite view, photos of the exterior and interior, phone number and other information.
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Your age or fitness level does not matter! The best way to reduce injury on the Camino is by training at home. If you train at home up to walking 25Km a day for at least 2 days in a row over multiple terrains, then there is no path on the Camino that you cannot conquer.

Spend your time training, and not looking for the easy route.


-Paul
 
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katie@camino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016;CP (Central) Porto-SdC 2017;CP (Coastal) Porto-SdC 2018;CF Leon-SdC 2019
My friend and I will be on the Frances at the most popular time to walk - no option for a few reasons.
I am reasonably but not super fit for a 70 year old, not keen on crowds. Mostly prefer private accommodation but flexible. Which would you suggest?
Haven't walked the Valcarlos route, only the Napoleon twice and it is HARD! Have stayed in Borda, Burgete and Roncesvalles and would recommend Burguete. Beautiful little town and the short flat empty walk along the shaded path with the sun shining from Roncesvalles to Burgete at the end of an arduous day made my heart sing ❤️
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
see signature
Hmmm… now I’m thinking about Borda/ Burguete.
um, don't be discouraged by that view. it's a view of the albergue from the camino - for the purposes of spotting it right away and not needing to make a whole roundabout of the village because it's not indicated from the camino. the view from the albergue is much nicer, I promise! and the views from the route up the valley and up the sides of the valley and of the woods are also nicer!
 
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John Brierley 2022 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
the view from the albergue is much nicer, I promise! and the views from the route up the valley and up the sides of the valley and of the woods are also nicer!
Yes. There are a few videos on YouTube that show the view from the albergue and also the interior of it.

I first looked for the time lapse video of the forum's @John Sikora showing the way from SJPdP to Valcarlos to show the very short stretch from crossing the river from France to the Albergue door. I found it but I forgot that a heavy rain caused him put away his camera just minutes before reaching the albergue door.

Here's his walk to Valcarlos. Clicking the arrow shows the video embedded on this page, clicking the title should bring you to YouTube where you have access to its advanced features.


John has a whole series of time lapse camino videos. They show a Google Earth overview of the route and then the time lapse with the location of the shot shown as an x next to both a Google Earth view of the route and a map of the route taken from Brierley's guidebook.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
My friend and I will be on the Frances at the most popular time to walk - no option for a few reasons.
I am reasonably but not super fit for a 70 year old, not keen on crowds. Mostly prefer private accommodation but flexible. Which would you suggest?
I have just returned from walking to Croix de Thibault on the Route Napoleon. I am 68 with average fitness. There were people older and also overweight people walking. I decided to stay 2 nights in SJPDP because it was my first day and I was unsure of my fitness. Now I realise I could have made it all the way to Roncesvalles. I would recommend this route when the weather is good. The views are spectacular. There is a mini bus service from SJPDP that can pick you up from a number of places along the route as far as the cross. Pre book this service before you leave. On the approach to Roncesvalles a friend warned me today of a diversion of 4.2km. The Camino route is 3.6km and steep descent signs. He took the 3.6 and said the descent was brutal while recommending I try the 4.2km diversion. The crowds weren’t too bad. A very pleasant walk.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019

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