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Valcarlos or Orisson?

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#1
Hi Everyone!
I'm so excited to be walking the Camino in late August this year. I'll be on my own, so I'm a little nervous and hoping to meet some friendly faces along the way. I am staying the night in Biarritz before I head to St. Jean and then I'm trying to decide the best thing to do. I am trying to get lots of walking in before I head out on my adventure, but where I live, we have no hills, so I'm a little nervous about trying to get all the way to Ronscevalles. And my knees aren't great so I don't want to push too hard the first couple of days and then not be able to make the rest of the walk. Here's a couple of options I was thinking of:-

1. Arrive in St. Jean, stay the night and start walking the next day, either to Orisson or Valcarlos - I'm leaning to the Valcarlos route - just so that I can get a little further on the way to Ronscevalles.
2. Arrive in St. Jean from Biarritz around lunch time and start walking straight away to either Orisson or Valcarlos. Stay the night at either place and then head out early for Ronscevalles. That way, because I'm not going straight to Ronscevalles on the first day, I'm giving myself an extra day for the camino. Do people start their walking in the afternoons from St. Jean? Not sure if I want to be walking on my own the first day!
3. Stay the night in St. Jean, head out early to either Orisson or Valcarlos and see how I go - if I get there early enough - be brave and head to Ronscevalles!

I'd love some advice please and to hear from anyone who might be walking around that time of year. I plan to get to St. Jean on August 28th. Thanks! Kate
 

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CdnDreamer

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012 & 2015) San Salvador (2018) Primitivo (2018)
#2
If your goal is to meet some people, then staying at Orisson is a good idea. Everyone sits out on the patio in the afternoon and then everyone has dinner together. At dinner, you can stand up and say why you are walking, where you are from... that sort of thing. Valcarlos may be lonely as most people want to head over the mountain. If you are concerned about the mountain route make sure you come down using the road. The office in St Jean can explain the easier route down. I like option 1 but I would go to Orisson. It gives you less days on the camino, but that way you get to see SJPdP, and you start slow - especially climbing and descending. Buen Camino!
 

Waka

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some but not all, and other routes too.
#3
Whether you go on your journey right away of stay the night in SJPDP you will not be walking alone, there will be plenty of pilgrims like yourself, nervous, excited all wanting to join up for the first part on your camino.
I'd make a guess that going in August most pilgrims will be going via the Napoleon route rather than the Valcarlos route, so for company then Napoleon would be your option. Remember if you wish to stay the night in Orrison then you will need to book well in advance, the Valcarlos route less so.
Both routes have there own kind of magic, but as a first timer I'd go over the top.

Hope this helps.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#4
I'm sure that the Valcarlos route won't be "lonely" in August. Just be aware that if you want the option of staying at Orisson, you must make a reservations and if you change your mind, I'm not sure if you'd get a refund. In that sense, the Valcarlos route has a little more flexibility.
 

RJM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#5
I walked the Valcarlos route one time in July during the height of the pilgrim season and I only met 3-4 other fellow pilgrims the entire day all the way to Roncesvalles. Not that's a bad thing. I kinda liked it as the Napoleon route had quite a few pilgrims on it as I realized approaching Roncesvalles. It's just that if you are looking for the social aspect, the Napoleon route is the busier of the two. Nonetheless they are both a lovely walk and the majority of pilgrims of all ages starting from Saint Jean Pied de Port walk all the way to Roncesvalles the first day, after starting early in the morning. The Napoleon Route is extremely well marked and the majority of its surface is blacktop roadway. Extremely doubtful that weather will be an issue on it in August.
Either way, if you want to sleep in that first morning, make reservations at either Orisson or Valcarlos. Neither place is very far from Saint Jean and you should be there in about three hours or less.
 
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Jackieduda

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francais end to end in 2018
#9
Hi Everyone!
I'm so excited to be walking the Camino in late August this year. I'll be on my own, so I'm a little nervous and hoping to meet some friendly faces along the way. I am staying the night in Biarritz before I head to St. Jean and then I'm trying to decide the best thing to do. I am trying to get lots of walking in before I head out on my adventure, but where I live, we have no hills, so I'm a little nervous about trying to get all the way to Ronscevalles. And my knees aren't great so I don't want to push too hard the first couple of days and then not be able to make the rest of the walk. Here's a couple of options I was thinking of:-

1. Arrive in St. Jean, stay the night and start walking the next day, either to Orisson or Valcarlos - I'm leaning to the Valcarlos route - just so that I can get a little further on the way to Ronscevalles.
2. Arrive in St. Jean from Biarritz around lunch time and start walking straight away to either Orisson or Valcarlos. Stay the night at either place and then head out early for Ronscevalles. That way, because I'm not going straight to Ronscevalles on the first day, I'm giving myself an extra day for the camino. Do people start their walking in the afternoons from St. Jean? Not sure if I want to be walking on my own the first day!
3. Stay the night in St. Jean, head out early to either Orisson or Valcarlos and see how I go - if I get there early enough - be brave and head to Ronscevalles!

I'd love some advice please and to hear from anyone who might be walking around that time of year. I plan to get to St. Jean on August 28th. Thanks! Kate
Kate, i do not have the answer, but you described my own question perfectly! I too have bad knees, will be walking alone on my first camino from St Jean, and am leaving two days later! Maybe we will meet fown the trail, and happy Camino to you?.now i await the flood of answers to our question!
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#10
Kate, i do not have the answer, but you described my own question perfectly! I too have bad knees, will be walking alone on my first camino from St Jean, and am leaving two days later! Maybe we will meet fown the trail, and happy Camino to you?.now i await the flood of answers to our question!
For bad knees, start in Pamplona. St. Jean is a modern invention and concept. Don’t destroy yourself for a myth.
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#11
Orisson was a great introduction to the Camino for me. I actually ended up walking into Sanitago with 4 people I met in Orisson. I live in Southwest Florida ... no hills ... just pavement to train on.

So how do you compensate for bad knees going up and over the Pyrenees, or is the real issue going down the other side into Roncevalles? I think it might be the later. Remember good to heaven, bad to hell.

1) Leave SJPdP early and spend the first night in Orisson. It may turn out to be easier than you think, and will improve your odds for the next day going down to Roncevalles. Have breakfast or lunch in Honto.
2) Relax on the deck at Orisson, drink some vino tinto, and make some new possibly life long friends.
3) Ship your pack from SJPdP to Orisson, and then from Orisson to Roncevalles to lighten the load on those knees. You will have plenty of time to carry a pack.
4) Use trekking poles. They significantly help with balance, and will take some of the load off those knees.
5) Tape your knees, or wear a brace for some kind of support. Ice or elevate them at night, and get some vitamin I.
6) Definitely take the road down to Roncevalles! It only adds about a 1/2 mile. One of my fellow peregrinas that I met in Orisson took the trail ... she was in a knee brace the rest of the Camino due to a fall on the trail.
7) Listen to your body. Take breaks, drink plenty of water.
8) Make reservations at both Orisson and Roncevalles, so you know you have a bed for the night, do not have to rush, and can enjoy yourself.

Buena Suerte Pergrina!:D:cool:
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#12
Walking from St Jean to Roncesvalles it is impossible to avoid a big climb, no matter which route you take. The difference is that the total climb is less on the Valcarlos route, but it is almost all compressed into the last 12km, after Valcarlos. On the Napoleon the steepest part of the climb is the first 8km out of St Jean to Orisson. - but with still a lot of climbing and walking the next day.

Now I prefer the Valcarlos route, but for someone walking the first time? Probably the Napoleon. But definitely with a booking at Orisson, or at least Huntto if Orisson is already booked out.
 

Sailor

Donante Vitalicio
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Sinfin
#13
Good conversation. Really bad knees? Then Puente La Reina is a good starting place. Nice, steady pace, enjoying the scenery and in company of smiling peregrinos. If I was going to walk the Camino Frances again, upon arrival [in Spain] I would stay one or two days in Pamplona, catch a bus to Puente La Reina, and start walking from there. Good luck with your decision, y que la luz de Dios alumbre su camino.
 

Juspassinthrough

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May-June (2017)
Ingles-Finisterre (2018)
#14
I too was in shape but could not train on hills, I used a treadmill on a hill climb mode instead. Like you, my knees have ached since I had knee surgery years ago and, they hurt on certain days on the Camino to, as did the rest of my body, especially the first 3 days out of SJPP. Only you can decide which route is best but, I spent the afternoon I arrived in SJPP, met 2 new Camino friends there. We started early the next morning and went over the top and down to Roncesvalles, the downhill is more difficult than the up. 8.5 hours after I left, I arrived in Roncesvalles, beat and totally fulfilled. Most of us are capable of far more than we think we are. And, after the first day, the climb over the Alto del Perdón leaving Pamplona is a breeze. Enjoy your Camino, however you start it.
 

Mormon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
August (2016) Camino Frances
#15
When I walked the Camino Frances (2016) I did your #2 option. Bayonne to St. Jean on the first train, check in at the Pilgrim Office and head to Orrisson. They do a communal dinner and the people I met that first night were friends I saw on and off throughout my pilgrimage. I wouldn't have missed it.

One other thing about walking to Valcarlos...the route is longer and not really the best for walkers. There are few fountains along the way so it's very important you carry enough water, especially in August. The year I walked a couple of young Dutch men got severely dehydrated walking to Valcarlos from St. Jean and had to be hospitalized (they, like you, thought it would be easier and didn't account for the lack of services). They saw very few walkers (mostly bicyclists) but were rescued by a local who saw them not looking very well.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Piamonte
#16
I took the Route Napoleon, and observed a number of pilgrims in Roncevalles that evening with sore knees. I ran into others in the days afterwards who had clearly suffered knee injuries very early in their Camino. Some were on the point of abandoning their Camino, which was a great shame. I very much wonder whether the knee injuries were caused by the last steep downhill stretch through the beech forest into Roncevalles, rather than the longer uphill pull earlier in the day. I had no joint problems but did notice the jarring with every downhill step through the forest. I was informed later that one can elect to follow the road downhill into Roncevalles, which will of course have more forgiving gradient. However, I simply don't know if the Valcarlos route includes this forest section or not.

And thinking about it, the blister roster in Roncevalles was pretty substantial that first evening too. Perhaps the precipitous descent contributed there as well.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#17
No, the route through Valcarlos does not include the last steep section down from the Napoleon through the beech forest. It joins the road that is the alternative down from the Napoleon.

To avoid that last section on the Napoleon, and to take the longer but more gentle road instead, all you have to do is keep your eyes out for the road. It is small but sealed - and there is a sign that warns against proceeding directly ahead in bad weather (ie through the forest) and points right onto the road.
 

Tim Floyd

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago 2017
#18
From my own experience I will tell you that if you are going to start from SJPP that Orisson is a great experience. It is a good first day, not too long. The climb is steep but not rugged. The best part is the dinner at night and the 40-50 people you will meet right at the start. We saw friends we made at Orisson all through the Camino. The Napoleon is steep, but not too rugged. The view will either be spectacular or non-existent depending on the weather. We walked the first two days in the rain so we saw very little, but we still enjoyed the experience of crossing the mountains into Spain. If you are doing Orisson, a reservation is a must because they don't have a big place.
You mention bad knees. You will likely find that descents are MUCH harder on knees than climbs. The descent into Zubiri is very steep and rugged. If you start in SJPP and stop at Orisson keep this in mind because day 3 will be rough. One member mentioned starting in Pamplona, which is not a bad idea if you want to spare your body. Another member talked about starting in Puente, but the walk from Pamplona to Puente is really nice and you would miss Alto del Perdon, which many pilgrims look forward to seeing.
Another thing to consider is bag transport. You can walk farther with less body stress if you have your bag transported. Many companies provide this service and it is cheap. If you can walk with a day pack and keep 15 extra pounds off your back all day, you can climb and walk farther will less discomfort. It broke my heart to see so many pilgrims dropping out the first week due to injury. For 3-5 euros a day you can double your chances of staying healthy by transporting your bag. Much information on this on the forum.
Most of all just enjoy. Find your pace. Do it your way. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
#19
In August with a good weather better to stay one night in Orisson. Valcarlos in only in winter and with a very bad weather
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#20
Kate, i do not have the answer, but you described my own question perfectly! I too have bad knees, will be walking alone on my first camino from St Jean, and am leaving two days later! Maybe we will meet fown the trail, and happy Camino to you?.now i await the flood of answers to our question!
Great! Good luck with the knees and Buen Camino and perhaps see you there!
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#21
If your goal is to meet some people, then staying at Orisson is a good idea. Everyone sits out on the patio in the afternoon and then everyone has dinner together. At dinner, you can stand up and say why you are walking, where you are from... that sort of thing. Valcarlos may be lonely as most people want to head over the mountain. If you are concerned about the mountain route make sure you come down using the road. The office in St Jean can explain the easier route down. I like option 1 but I would go to Orisson. It gives you less days on the camino, but that way you get to see SJPdP, and you start slow - especially climbing and descending. Buen Camino!
Thanks very much for your advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#22
Whether you go on your journey right away of stay the night in SJPDP you will not be walking alone, there will be plenty of pilgrims like yourself, nervous, excited all wanting to join up for the first part on your camino.
I'd make a guess that going in August most pilgrims will be going via the Napoleon route rather than the Valcarlos route, so for company then Napoleon would be your option. Remember if you wish to stay the night in Orrison then you will need to book well in advance, the Valcarlos route less so.
Both routes have there own kind of magic, but as a first timer I'd go over the top.

Hope this helps.
Thanks very much for your advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#23
I'm sure that the Valcarlos route won't be "lonely" in August. Just be aware that if you want the option of staying at Orisson, you must make a reservations and if you change your mind, I'm not sure if you'd get a refund. In that sense, the Valcarlos route has a little more flexibility.
Thanks very much. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#24
I walked the Valcarlos route one time in July during the height of the pilgrim season and I only met 3-4 other fellow pilgrims the entire day all the way to Roncesvalles. Not that's a bad thing. I kinda liked it as the Napoleon route had quite a few pilgrims on it as I realized approaching Roncesvalles. It's just that if you are looking for the social aspect, the Napoleon route is the busier of the two. Nonetheless they are both a lovely walk and the majority of pilgrims of all ages starting from Saint Jean Pied de Port walk all the way to Roncesvalles the first day, after starting early in the morning. The Napoleon Route is extremely well marked and the majority of its surface is blacktop roadway. Extremely doubtful that weather will be an issue on it in August.
Either way, if you want to sleep in that first morning, make reservations at either Orisson or Valcarlos. Neither place is very far from Saint Jean and you should be there in about three hours or less.
Thanks very much for your advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#26
Orisson was a great introduction to the Camino for me. I actually ended up walking into Sanitago with 4 people I met in Orisson. I live in Southwest Florida ... no hills ... just pavement to train on.

So how do you compensate for bad knees going up and over the Pyrenees, or is the real issue going down the other side into Roncevalles? I think it might be the later. Remember good to heaven, bad to hell.

1) Leave SJPdP early and spend the first night in Orisson. It may turn out to be easier than you think, and will improve your odds for the next day going down to Roncevalles. Have breakfast or lunch in Honto.
2) Relax on the deck at Orisson, drink some vino tinto, and make some new possibly life long friends.
3) Ship your pack from SJPdP to Orisson, and then from Orisson to Roncevalles to lighten the load on those knees. You will have plenty of time to carry a pack.
4) Use trekking poles. They significantly help with balance, and will take some of the load off those knees.
5) Tape your knees, or wear a brace for some kind of support. Ice or elevate them at night, and get some vitamin I.
6) Definitely take the road down to Roncevalles! It only adds about a 1/2 mile. One of my fellow peregrinas that I met in Orisson took the trail ... she was in a knee brace the rest of the Camino due to a fall on the trail.
7) Listen to your body. Take breaks, drink plenty of water.
8) Make reservations at both Orisson and Roncevalles, so you know you have a bed for the night, do not have to rush, and can enjoy yourself.

Buena Suerte Pergrina!:D:cool:
Great advice! Thanks very much. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#27
Walking from St Jean to Roncesvalles it is impossible to avoid a big climb, no matter which route you take. The difference is that the total climb is less on the Valcarlos route, but it is almost all compressed into the last 12km, after Valcarlos. On the Napoleon the steepest part of the climb is the first 8km out of St Jean to Orisson. - but with still a lot of climbing and walking the next day.

Now I prefer the Valcarlos route, but for someone walking the first time? Probably the Napoleon. But definitely with a booking at Orisson, or at least Huntto if Orisson is already booked out.
Thanks very much for your advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#28
From my own experience I will tell you that if you are going to start from SJPP that Orisson is a great experience. It is a good first day, not too long. The climb is steep but not rugged. The best part is the dinner at night and the 40-50 people you will meet right at the start. We saw friends we made at Orisson all through the Camino. The Napoleon is steep, but not too rugged. The view will either be spectacular or non-existent depending on the weather. We walked the first two days in the rain so we saw very little, but we still enjoyed the experience of crossing the mountains into Spain. If you are doing Orisson, a reservation is a must because they don't have a big place.
You mention bad knees. You will likely find that descents are MUCH harder on knees than climbs. The descent into Zubiri is very steep and rugged. If you start in SJPP and stop at Orisson keep this in mind because day 3 will be rough. One member mentioned starting in Pamplona, which is not a bad idea if you want to spare your body. Another member talked about starting in Puente, but the walk from Pamplona to Puente is really nice and you would miss Alto del Perdon, which many pilgrims look forward to seeing.
Another thing to consider is bag transport. You can walk farther with less body stress if you have your bag transported. Many companies provide this service and it is cheap. If you can walk with a day pack and keep 15 extra pounds off your back all day, you can climb and walk farther will less discomfort. It broke my heart to see so many pilgrims dropping out the first week due to injury. For 3-5 euros a day you can double your chances of staying healthy by transporting your bag. Much information on this on the forum.
Most of all just enjoy. Find your pace. Do it your way. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
Thanks very much for your advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#31
I took the Route Napoleon, and observed a number of pilgrims in Roncevalles that evening with sore knees. I ran into others in the days afterwards who had clearly suffered knee injuries very early in their Camino. Some were on the point of abandoning their Camino, which was a great shame. I very much wonder whether the knee injuries were caused by the last steep downhill stretch through the beech forest into Roncevalles, rather than the longer uphill pull earlier in the day. I had no joint problems but did notice the jarring with every downhill step through the forest. I was informed later that one can elect to follow the road downhill into Roncevalles, which will of course have more forgiving gradient. However, I simply don't know if the Valcarlos route includes this forest section or not.

And thinking about it, the blister roster in Roncevalles was pretty substantial that first evening too. Perhaps the precipitous descent contributed there as well.
OK thanks - I think I'll be taking the road down into Roncevalles! Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#33
When I walked the Camino Frances (2016) I did your #2 option. Bayonne to St. Jean on the first train, check in at the Pilgrim Office and head to Orrisson. They do a communal dinner and the people I met that first night were friends I saw on and off throughout my pilgrimage. I wouldn't have missed it.

One other thing about walking to Valcarlos...the route is longer and not really the best for walkers. There are few fountains along the way so it's very important you carry enough water, especially in August. The year I walked a couple of young Dutch men got severely dehydrated walking to Valcarlos from St. Jean and had to be hospitalized (they, like you, thought it would be easier and didn't account for the lack of services). They saw very few walkers (mostly bicyclists) but were rescued by a local who saw them not looking very well.
Thanks very much. I think I'm going to Orisson. I'll book a room there and if I decide to carry on, I'm sure another Pilgrim can take it. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#34
I too was in shape but could not train on hills, I used a treadmill on a hill climb mode instead. Like you, my knees have ached since I had knee surgery years ago and, they hurt on certain days on the Camino to, as did the rest of my body, especially the first 3 days out of SJPP. Only you can decide which route is best but, I spent the afternoon I arrived in SJPP, met 2 new Camino friends there. We started early the next morning and went over the top and down to Roncesvalles, the downhill is more difficult than the up. 8.5 hours after I left, I arrived in Roncesvalles, beat and totally fulfilled. Most of us are capable of far more than we think we are. And, after the first day, the climb over the Alto del Perdón leaving Pamplona is a breeze. Enjoy your Camino, however you start it.
Thanks very much for the advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#35
Good conversation. Really bad knees? Then Puente La Reina is a good starting place. Nice, steady pace, enjoying the scenery and in company of smiling peregrinos. If I was going to walk the Camino Frances again, upon arrival [in Spain] I would stay one or two days in Pamplona, catch a bus to Puente La Reina, and start walking from there. Good luck with your decision, y que la luz de Dios alumbre su camino.
Thanks for the advice. Kate
 

Jami Gray

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
June/July 2015
June(2016?)
#37
It was here, in this very spot, i was catching my breath, questioning my sanity and cooling down, that i met my two soon-to-be life-long Camino family/friends. We continued our walk/adventure together, all the way to the cathedral in Santiago. This is a very special place that i would encourage anyone to stop and spend some time at.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)
#38
You may book a reservation now for an overnight stay in Orisson. Write to refuge.orisson@wanadoo.fr. Reservation payment is non refundable. You may pay through PayPal. Leave SJPdP early and enjoy the walk. Relax, rest, spend the night, and continue the next day to Roncesvalles. A couple that I know, who trained for months and who were in great condition, regretted not staying in Orisson. Also, you'll want to use trekking poles. Shorten them when climbing and lengthen them when descending. Lean back just a bit as you walk downhill. There's a very good tutorial re trekking poles on YouTube. It's easy to find.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Invierno: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2017
#39
For bad knees, start in Pamplona. St. Jean is a modern invention and concept. Don’t destroy yourself for a myth.
Actually, the village of St. Jean Pied de Port is THE traditional starting place before climbing over the Pyrenees into Spain. This is where several of the pilgrimage routes to the North converge, enroute to Santiago.

There is long historical history, with local records, of this scenic town equipping, provisioning, and providing a rest stop to pilgrims arriving from the north, before they head over the Pyrenees into Spain. They have been doing this for more than 1,100 years.

Saint Jean Pied de Port factors into the Camino de Santiago since the earliest days of the medieval pilgrimages. It is not a modern construction.

Hope this helps the dialog.
 

jsalt

Jill
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, De Soulac, Norte, Madrid-Salvador-Primitivo
#40
In August with a good weather better to stay one night in Orisson. Valcarlos in only in winter and with a very bad weather
Hi!
I don’t understand.
Why Valcarlos only in winter in bad weather?
I walked via Valcarlos on a lovely sunny day in June. It was heavenly, as everybody else had taken the Napolean Route. Just a few of us in the albergue, nice easy walking, no rush, no hoardes.
Next day, took my time up the steep bits, wandered into Roncesvalles late morning after all the pilgrims had left, lovely and quiet, stayed a couple of hours, then walked on to Burguete and beyond.
Jill
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#41
It was here, in this very spot, i was catching my breath, questioning my sanity and cooling down, that i met my two soon-to-be life-long Camino family/friends. We continued our walk/adventure together, all the way to the cathedral in Santiago. This is a very special place that i would encourage anyone to stop and spend some time at.
Thank you! I've requested a reservation! Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#42
You may book a reservation now for an overnight stay in Orisson. Write to refuge.orisson@wanadoo.fr. Reservation payment is non refundable. You may pay through PayPal. Leave SJPdP early and enjoy the walk. Relax, rest, spend the night, and continue the next day to Roncesvalles. A couple that I know, who trained for months and who were in great condition, regretted not staying in Orisson. Also, you'll want to use trekking poles. Shorten them when climbing and lengthen them when descending. Lean back just a bit as you walk downhill. There's a very good tutorial re trekking poles on YouTube. It's easy to find.
Thanks very much for the advice. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#43
Actually, the village of St. Jean Pied de Port is THE traditional starting place before climbing over the Pyrenees into Spain. This is where several of the pilgrimage routes to the North converge, enroute to Santiago.

There is long historical history, with local records, of this scenic town equipping, provisioning, and providing a rest stop to pilgrims arriving from the north, before they head over the Pyrenees into Spain. They have been doing this for more than 1,100 years.

Saint Jean Pied de Port factors into the Camino de Santiago since the earliest days of the medieval pilgrimages. It is not a modern construction.

Hope this helps the dialog.
Thank you! Kate
 

Camino Chris

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#44
For bad knees, start in Pamplona. St. Jean is a modern invention and concept. Don’t destroy yourself for a myth.
Good point. Even Valcarlos has a grueling uphill climb the second day. Spare the bad knees if you have them and consider starting in Pamplona.
 

Botaivica

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May - July 2016
SJPP - Santiago - Finisterra
May 2017
Caminho do Tejo
June 2017
Fatima - Santiago
#46
Mission accomplished. This picture makes want to change my initial plans to overnight in St. Jean and head straight to Orisson my first day.
Seriously?

look at this

IMG_6495.JPG
IMG_6494.JPG



IMG_6496.JPG

I do not get my video, it's too big, but trust me, 2/3 you walk along the streams, with the noise of water and bird singing. Above Valcarlos I drank this stream water, there was no problem.
lots of resting places, either in the woods, or in the lawn with a view on the summits of the Pyrenees.
And I walked to Espinal, in Roncesvalles just coffee. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
#47
If the weather is good Orrison for me everytime. The views are spectacular and it's where you meet life long friends. It's a great place to look up at the stars and contemplate God's creation whats not to like? DSC_1473_02.JPG
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#48
Good point. Even Valcarlos has a grueling uphill climb the second day. Spare the bad knees if you have them and consider starting in Pamplona.
It is not just the SJPdP to Roncevalles portion that can be bad for the knees but there are plenty who aren't happy about the descent to Zubiri either. That makes Pamplona a good spot to start but if you have really bad knees @Sailor's suggestion of starting in Puente de Reina is good as you then avoid the ascent and descent of the Alto del Perdon too.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
#49
It is not just the SJPdP to Roncevalles portion that can be bad for the knees but there are plenty who aren't happy about the descent to Zubiri either. That makes Pamplona a good spot to start but if you have really bad knees @Sailor's suggestion of starting in Puente de Reina is good as you then avoid the ascent and descent of the Alto del Perdon too.
I agree it's the descents that will do for your knees.I took the wrong path down into Roncevalles and felt like my knees had locked up it was so steep. Think I was walking like Frankenstien by the end :D:D:D
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances (2018)
#50
Seriously?

look at this

View attachment 39342
View attachment 39343



View attachment 39344

I do not get my video, it's too big, but trust me, 2/3 you walk along the streams, with the noise of water and bird singing. Above Valcarlos I drank this stream water, there was no problem.
lots of resting places, either in the woods, or in the lawn with a view on the summits of the Pyrenees.
And I walked to Espinal, in Roncesvalles just coffee. :)
So, the Valcarlos route has less asphalt (paved road) walking?
 
#52
Hi Everyone!
I'm so excited to be walking the Camino in late August this year. I'll be on my own, so I'm a little nervous and hoping to meet some friendly faces along the way. I am staying the night in Biarritz before I head to St. Jean and then I'm trying to decide the best thing to do. I am trying to get lots of walking in before I head out on my adventure, but where I live, we have no hills, so I'm a little nervous about trying to get all the way to Ronscevalles. And my knees aren't great so I don't want to push too hard the first couple of days and then not be able to make the rest of the walk. Here's a couple of options I was thinking of:-

1. Arrive in St. Jean, stay the night and start walking the next day, either to Orisson or Valcarlos - I'm leaning to the Valcarlos route - just so that I can get a little further on the way to Ronscevalles.
2. Arrive in St. Jean from Biarritz around lunch time and start walking straight away to either Orisson or Valcarlos. Stay the night at either place and then head out early for Ronscevalles. That way, because I'm not going straight to Ronscevalles on the first day, I'm giving myself an extra day for the camino. Do people start their walking in the afternoons from St. Jean? Not sure if I want to be walking on my own the first day!
3. Stay the night in St. Jean, head out early to either Orisson or Valcarlos and see how I go - if I get there early enough - be brave and head to Ronscevalles!

I'd love some advice please and to hear from anyone who might be walking around that time of year. I plan to get to St. Jean on August 28th. Thanks! Kate
Hi Kate, and Welcome,

In late August, you will likely not be alone on either track.

When walking the Camino and seeking a rhythm / balance, listen to your body. Be open to stopping when the body says, "Stop, I need a break and some water." The rhythm will come but only after the Pyrenees are behind you.

Keep in mind, Orisson is only 8 km up the Route Napoleon but Valcarlos is 12 km with little climb factor, the opposite of the Orisson way. For me, 2 years ago, the climb wiped me out. It took 9 hours to go 10 km (because I did not take the off road path it adds 2 km). It was also a very hot day. Had I walked to Valcoarlos, I believe i would have made it in good order.

And I see one thing that has decided it for me that I will go via Valcarlos this year. The Route Napoleon has a large uphill component, which stretches your hamstrings, and then at Col Loepeder, 5 km walking downhill, killing the shins. Going via Valcarlos, there is no downhill really to be concerned with.

With leg issues minimized after making it to Roncesvalles, I can see that a second day stop can see one in Burgete or Espinal easily.

Finally, I have experienced a Full Moon rising in the East at 3 AM in late August. I will say no more but if the timing is right, and you are able to see this, go outside and let your senses take it all in. Leave the camera. It is an experience that your soul will record. It cannot be saved in any other way.
 
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zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#53
At least in August you have the option of either route. When my wife and I were in St. Jean in April 8th,2016 the Napoleon route was closed due to heavy snow, so we had to walk via Val Carlos. No big deal as it was all new to us. We still walked in heavy snow the last couple of hours even on this lower route. But coming from Alberta with 6 months plus of winter, snow is no big deal, but many we met were freaking out over it!
If I start in St. Jean again, would like to walk the Napoleon route for sure for the change of scenery.
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#54
I agree it's the descents that will do for your knees.I took the wrong path down into Roncevalles and felt like my knees had locked up it was so steep. Think I was walking like Frankenstien by the end :D:D:D
Descents are only an issue for those without trekking poles and/or not knowing the proper technique for using them.
 

Jen Marsden

Charging The Globe
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2016 (Walked Frances)
Sept 2019 (Planning Norte or Via De La Plata)
#55
Hi Everyone!
I'm so excited to be walking the Camino in late August this year. I'll be on my own, so I'm a little nervous and hoping to meet some friendly faces along the way. I am staying the night in Biarritz before I head to St. Jean and then I'm trying to decide the best thing to do. I am trying to get lots of walking in before I head out on my adventure, but where I live, we have no hills, so I'm a little nervous about trying to get all the way to Ronscevalles. And my knees aren't great so I don't want to push too hard the first couple of days and then not be able to make the rest of the walk. Here's a couple of options I was thinking of:-

1. Arrive in St. Jean, stay the night and start walking the next day, either to Orisson or Valcarlos - I'm leaning to the Valcarlos route - just so that I can get a little further on the way to Ronscevalles.
2. Arrive in St. Jean from Biarritz around lunch time and start walking straight away to either Orisson or Valcarlos. Stay the night at either place and then head out early for Ronscevalles. That way, because I'm not going straight to Ronscevalles on the first day, I'm giving myself an extra day for the camino. Do people start their walking in the afternoons from St. Jean? Not sure if I want to be walking on my own the first day!
3. Stay the night in St. Jean, head out early to either Orisson or Valcarlos and see how I go - if I get there early enough - be brave and head to Ronscevalles!

I'd love some advice please and to hear from anyone who might be walking around that time of year. I plan to get to St. Jean on August 28th. Thanks! Kate
Hi Kate, while the hill can be challenging if you aren't used to hills, the last 10mins up to Orrison is in my opinion the toughest. Once you leave Orrison it isn't as steep. Even if you don't have hills around you I would start doing squats and calf raises now and build up those little muscles in your knees and get a bit of hill readiness that way. My only concern with staying at Orrison if you don't have hill fitness would be attempting the down the next day with sore legs. I agree with others to take the road and not the forest into Roncevalles for your knees but either way, down with some shaky legs might now be the best thing for your knees. Just my opinion of course but over the mountain is the way to go. I still tell everyone how I walked over the Pyrenese in a day. Sounds so impressive!
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#56
Valcarlos in only in winter
Been over the top many times [5] now prefer Valcarlos, especially if we have commenced on the GR 65 in the days prior.
Valcarlos is a great little Basque village with very good accommodation in Casa Rural's as well as the alberque. It is more popular than many realise.
This is a very popular stage for the first 2 days.
StJPP to Valcarlos then Burguette
 

HedaP

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#57
So, the Valcarlos route has less asphalt (paved road) walking?
I’ve done both. Both options include some lovely off-road walking but, in my opinion, the Napoleon pips the Valcarlos for views. The road walking on the Napoleon route is all on quiet country roads. The road walking on the Valcarlos has some lovely walking on quiet country roads but also some on a fairly busy main road which is two lanes wide, one up and one down, and there is no walking path. You walk against the traffic as close to the guard rail as you can possibly get. If you are unlucky enough to be rounding one of the many switchback bends at the same time that a car or truck is going up and another is going down then one of the cars or trucks may well need to give way to you as there simply isn’t enough space for three abreast.
I would walk the Valcarlos route again because overnighting half way at Valcarlos suits me better than other options. Though truth to tell, if I ever do it again I would probably start in Roncesvalles.
Sometimes you shouldn’t ask questions because there’s always the risk of getting too much information. :D At that time of year, assuming it is reasonable weather, then just go with what your heart tells you to do.
Buen camino
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
#58
Descents are only an issue for those without trekking poles and/or not knowing the proper technique for using them.
I agree I didn't have mine as it transpired but made sure to bring them next time:eek:
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
#59
Been over the top many times [5] now prefer Valcarlos, especially if we have commenced on the GR 65 in the days prior.
Valcarlos is a great little Basque village with very good accommodation in Casa Rural's as well as the alberque. It is more popular than many realise.
This is a very popular stage for the first 2 days.
StJPP to Valcarlos then Burguette
Basque Country is my country I live in. I know very well the both ways . In summer when the weather is good "la Route Napoleon" is mooooooore beautiful. By Valcarlos pilgrims walk a grand part on road with lot of cars and that is dangerous and not very interesting.
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#60
Hi Kate, while the hill can be challenging if you aren't used to hills, the last 10mins up to Orrison is in my opinion the toughest. Once you leave Orrison it isn't as steep. Even if you don't have hills around you I would start doing squats and calf raises now and build up those little muscles in your knees and get a bit of hill readiness that way. My only concern with staying at Orrison if you don't have hill fitness would be attempting the down the next day with sore legs. I agree with others to take the road and not the forest into Roncevalles for your knees but either way, down with some shaky legs might now be the best thing for your knees. Just my opinion of course but over the mountain is the way to go. I still tell everyone how I walked over the Pyrenese in a day. Sounds so impressive!
That's great advice - thanks very much. Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#61
Hi Kate, and Welcome,

In late August, you will likely not be alone on either track.

When walking the Camino and seeking a rhythm / balance, listen to your body. Be open to stopping when the body says, "Stop, I need a break and some water." The rhythm will come but only after the Pyrenees are behind you.

Keep in mind, Orisson is only 8 km up the Route Napoleon but Valcarlos is 12 km with little climb factor, the opposite of the Orisson way. For me, 2 years ago, the climb wiped me out. It took 9 hours to go 10 km (because I did not take the off road path it adds 2 km). It was also a very hot day. Had I walked to Valcoarlos, I believe i would have made it in good order.

And I see one thing that has decided it for me that I will go via Valcarlos this year. The Route Napoleon has a large uphill component, which stretches your hamstrings, and then at Col Loepeder, 5 km walking downhill, killing the shins. Going via Valcarlos, there is no downhill really to be concerned with.

With leg issues minimized after making it to Roncesvalles, I can see that a second day stop can see one in Burgete or Espinal easily.

Finally, I have experienced a Full Moon rising in the East at 3 AM in late August. I will say no more but if the timing is right, and you are able to see this, go outside and let your senses take it all in. Leave the camera. It is an experience that your soul will record. It cannot be saved in any other way.
Thank you so much for your advice and here's hoping for a full moon!!! Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#62
Basque Country is my country I live in. I know very well the both ways . In summer when the weather is good "la Route Napoleon" is mooooooore beautiful. By Valcarlos pilgrims walk a grand part on road with lot of cars and that is dangerous and not very interesting.
Thank you again - I've booked a night at Orisson! And.....if I think I can make it all the way to Roncevalles in one day, I've booked a night there too! Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#63
I’ve done both. Both options include some lovely off-road walking but, in my opinion, the Napoleon pips the Valcarlos for views. The road walking on the Napoleon route is all on quiet country roads. The road walking on the Valcarlos has some lovely walking on quiet country roads but also some on a fairly busy main road which is two lanes wide, one up and one down, and there is no walking path. You walk against the traffic as close to the guard rail as you can possibly get. If you are unlucky enough to be rounding one of the many switchback bends at the same time that a car or truck is going up and another is going down then one of the cars or trucks may well need to give way to you as there simply isn’t enough space for three abreast.
I would walk the Valcarlos route again because overnighting half way at Valcarlos suits me better than other options. Though truth to tell, if I ever do it again I would probably start in Roncesvalles.
Sometimes you shouldn’t ask questions because there’s always the risk of getting too much information. :D At that time of year, assuming it is reasonable weather, then just go with what your heart tells you to do.
Buen camino
Yes, thank you and my head is spinning! Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#64
Been over the top many times [5] now prefer Valcarlos, especially if we have commenced on the GR 65 in the days prior.
Valcarlos is a great little Basque village with very good accommodation in Casa Rural's as well as the alberque. It is more popular than many realise.
This is a very popular stage for the first 2 days.
StJPP to Valcarlos then Burguette
I agree I didn't have mine as it transpired but made sure to bring them next time:eek:
I agree I didn't have mine as it transpired but made sure to bring them next time:eek:
I agree I didn't have mine as it transpired but made sure to bring them next time:eek:
Got my poles, doing my knee excercises - going to Orisson and I'll see what happens from there!!! Thanks
Kate
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#65
Basque Country is my country I live in. I know very well the both ways . In summer when the weather is good "la Route Napoleon" is mooooooore beautiful.
Was Napoleon ever there?
When walking on Gr65 and GR10 the views are magnificent ,
After 800km in France on Gr's which include The Aubrec for 100km's and the Basque country as we approach StJPP we find your villages maketh the way ,
What is mooooooore beautiful is with the beholder.
Samport is ok or beautiful , its much higher ?????????
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#66
Got my poles, doing my knee excercises - going to Orisson and I'll see what happens from there!!! Thanks
Kate
Just remember Kate it will be the middle of summer and you will arrive at Orisson very early.
You leave albergues by 8 am , you arrive in Orisson by 11am latest.
You knees will get tested on your 5th day
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#67
By Valcarlos pilgrims walk a grand part on road with lot of cars and that is dangerous and not very interesting.
Are country lanes very dangerous ?
Is the forrest floor very dangerous??
Are the cars , mainly taxis taking pilgrims or luggage , going fast in those bends or very slow ?
What percentage is on a road , not a country lane which are beautiful ?
 

Kate Allenger

Member
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Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#68
Just remember Kate it will be the middle of summer and you will arrive at Orisson very early.
You leave albergues by 8 am , you arrive in Orisson by 11am latest.
You knees will get tested on your 5th day
Thank you! Kate
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#69
Just remember Kate it will be the middle of summer and you will arrive at Orisson very early.
You leave albergues by 8 am , you arrive in Orisson by 11am latest.
You knees will get tested on your 5th day
OK, thanks for the advice. Kate
 
Camino(s) past & future
July/ Aug (2016): StJPdP to Viana
Apr (2017): Viana to Castrojeriz
Apr (2018): Castrojeriz to Leon
#70
I'm sure that the Valcarlos route won't be "lonely" in August. Just be aware that if you want the option of staying at Orisson, you must make a reservations and if you change your mind, I'm not sure if you'd get a refund. In that sense, the Valcarlos route has a little more flexibility.
I can confirm you don't get a refund if you change your mind. I booked Orisson and decided to go straight on to Roncesvalles as I had more in my tank than I gave myself credit for. I tried to transfer my booking to another pilgrim who was struggling. They wouldn't let me do it. I understand they have to make a living but this struck me as a little disappointing- to give the booking I'd paid for to another, worn out, fellow peregrina would have seemed to be more in the spirit of things in my opinion. Oh well.
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#71
I can confirm you don't get a refund if you change your mind. I booked Orisson and decided to go straight on to Roncesvalles as I had more in my tank than I gave myself credit for. I tried to transfer my booking to another pilgrim who was struggling. They wouldn't let me do it. I understand they have to make a living but this struck me as a little disappointing- to give the booking I'd paid for to another, worn out, fellow peregrina would have seemed to be more in the spirit of things in my opinion. Oh well.
That is a real shame as I was thinking that if I decided to go on, I would certainly donate my room to another pilgrim. That doesn't seem very fair, as I've already paid for the room. I'm going to email them and let them know that that is what I'd like to do and see what their response is. Thanks for the heads-up. Kate
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x3), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham.
2018? Vf again or Via Lemovicensis
#72
To avoid that last section on the Napoleon, and to take the longer but more gentle road instead, all you have to do is keep your eyes out for the road. It is small but sealed - and there is a sign that warns against proceeding directly ahead in bad weather (ie through the forest) and points right onto the road.
I took that road on my 3rd Camino, it was raining and I didn't fancy a wet forest floor.... It was lovely and I would not hesitate to choose it again. Definitively recommended. But as mentioned by @Kanga, you have to keep your eyes peeled, don't go straight on, from memory you have to go right. It is signalled.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x3), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham.
2018? Vf again or Via Lemovicensis
#73
That is a real shame as I was thinking that if I decided to go on, I would certainly donate my room to another pilgrim. That doesn't seem very fair, as I've already paid for the room. I'm going to email them and let them know that that is what I'd like to do and see what their response is. Thanks for the heads-up. Kate
Oh, things have changed then. On my first camino, I gave my bed to another pilgrim as I decided to walk on to Roncesvalles. Mind you, you didn't have to pay ahead in those days....
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2017: Home(Germany) to SdC via Cologne-Taizé-Le Puy-Somport-Camino Aragones-Camino Frances
#74
Actually, the village of St. Jean Pied de Port is THE traditional starting place before climbing over the Pyrenees into Spain. This is where several of the pilgrimage routes to the North converge, enroute to Santiago.
The Le Puy route, the Vezelay route and the Tours route converge in Ostabat, at the Stèle de Gibraltar. That's not Saint Jean Pied de Port.

Saint Jean Pied de Port factors into the Camino de Santiago since the earliest days of the medieval pilgrimages. It is not a modern construction.
The overwhelming significance as a starting point is a modern construction. SJPDP opened its railway station in 1898, and only since then it was possible to start there. In the Codex Calixtinus, the towns Orleans, Vézelay, Le Puy and Arles are mentioned as possible starting points. Other locations with historic relevance would have been Ostabat or Roncevalles (due to the historic pilgrim's hospital), but neither has a railway station. This was SJPDP's advantage and this is why it was mentioned in some guides which appeared since 1971. Thus, starting at SJPDP is a merely modern tradition.

Page 53 in the book "Pilgrim Stories: On and off the Road to Santiago" is quite helpful in that regard.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#75
Saint Jean Pied de Port factors into the Camino de Santiago since the earliest days of the medieval pilgrimages. It is not a modern construction.
In a lovely restaurant / cafe in a side street beside The Parador in Santo Domingo is an ancient map / drawing / tapestry on one wall showing the commencements in Le Puy, Arles, Paris , Vezeley etc , as they enter the basque and the border ;
St Palais---Ostabat----Samport
or
Ostabat -- Valcarlos--Roncesvalles
STJPP was not on the map.
 
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Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#76
I took that road on my 3rd Camino, it was raining and I didn't fancy a wet forest floor.... It was lovely and I would not hesitate to choose it again. Definitively recommended. But as mentioned by @Kanga, you have to keep your eyes peeled, don't go straight on, from memory you have to go right. It is signalled.
Thank you. Kate
 

t2andreo

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Invierno: 2018
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#77
I understand and accept the updated information relating to Saint Jean Pied de Port. Thank you.
 

Wiebmer

Ning Wiebmer
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2015 Frances, 500 miles. 2016 Via Francigena, 200 miles. 2018 Frances Burgos to Sarria.
#78
For bad knees, start in Pamplona. St. Jean is a modern invention and concept. Don’t destroy yourself for a myth.
I agree!

Pamplona is a lovely place to start - and avoiding those (very tough - either route) mountains does not affect the quality if your Camino. It was agony to watch pilgrims with knee problems struggle after doing the Pyrenees.

You’ll also get stunning views in O’Cebriero...later, after you’ve built up some miles.

When we got our Compostella in Santiago, we were struck by how little it meant to them that we’d done all 500 miles. You can create your OWN Camino as long as you get stamps after Sarria.
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#79
I agree!

Pamplona is a lovely place to start - and avoiding those (very tough - either route) mountains does not affect the quality if your Camino. It was agony to watch pilgrims with knee problems struggle after doing the Pyrenees.

You’ll also get stunning views in O’Cebriero...later, after you’ve built up some miles.

When we got our Compostella in Santiago, we were struck by how little it meant to them that we’d done all 500 miles. You can create your OWN Camino as long as you get stamps after Sarria.
Thanks very much, but I think I'm going to tough it out from SJPDP - just so I can prove to myself that I can do it!
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#82
Thanks very much, but I think I'm going to tough it out from SJPDP - just so I can prove to myself that I can do it!
Good for you Kate. Regardless of the route you take from St.Jean, there is a lot of stunning scenery and interesting villages prior to Pamplona.
In my opinion, very much worth the walk.

Just pace your self the first 5 days in particular and you will be fine.
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#83
Good for you Kate. Regardless of the route you take from St.Jean, there is a lot of stunning scenery and interesting villages prior to Pamplona.
In my opinion, very much worth the walk.

Just pace your self the first 5 days in particular and you will be fine.
I'm soooo excited! I have booked a bed at Orisson and at Roncesvalles so I'm prepared! Thank you for your support! Kate
 

MaryLP

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago - May 2014
St. Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona - Starting September 27, 2015
#84
Hi Everyone!
I'm so excited to be walking the Camino in late August this year. I'll be on my own, so I'm a little nervous and hoping to meet some friendly faces along the way. I am staying the night in Biarritz before I head to St. Jean and then I'm trying to decide the best thing to do. I am trying to get lots of walking in before I head out on my adventure, but where I live, we have no hills, so I'm a little nervous about trying to get all the way to Ronscevalles. And my knees aren't great so I don't want to push too hard the first couple of days and then not be able to make the rest of the walk. Here's a couple of options I was thinking of:-

1. Arrive in St. Jean, stay the night and start walking the next day, either to Orisson or Valcarlos - I'm leaning to the Valcarlos route - just so that I can get a little further on the way to Ronscevalles.
2. Arrive in St. Jean from Biarritz around lunch time and start walking straight away to either Orisson or Valcarlos. Stay the night at either place and then head out early for Ronscevalles. That way, because I'm not going straight to Ronscevalles on the first day, I'm giving myself an extra day for the camino. Do people start their walking in the afternoons from St. Jean? Not sure if I want to be walking on my own the first day!
3. Stay the night in St. Jean, head out early to either Orisson or Valcarlos and see how I go - if I get there early enough - be brave and head to Ronscevalles!

I'd love some advice please and to hear from anyone who might be walking around that time of year. I plan to get to St. Jean on August 28th. Thanks! Kate
I walked from St. Jean to Roncevalles via the Napoleon Route in late September 2016. I started out at 8:30 on a cool sunny day and hit Orisson by 11:00 a.m. It seemed a lovely place but I had planned to get to Roncevalles so I ate a nice lunch on the terrace and headed out. Arrived in Roncevalles about 5:00 p.m. With good weather and if you are in good shape, completing that climb in one day is absolutely possible. I was 69 years old when I did it! In retrospect, the most difficult part of the climb was from St. Jean to Orisson!
 

Kate Allenger

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking the Camino Frances August 29 2018!!
#85
Great! Thanks very much - I can't wait and I've booked a bed at both Orisson and Roncevalles so wherever I end up, I'll have somewhere to rest my head! Hopefully I'll be in reasonable shape by the time I go - it's just that where I live in the Cayman Islands - we have no hills whatsoever!!
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#86
Great! Thanks very much - I can't wait and I've booked a bed at both Orisson and Roncevalles so wherever I end up, I'll have somewhere to rest my head! Hopefully I'll be in reasonable shape by the time I go - it's just that where I live in the Cayman Islands - we have no hills whatsoever!!
Do you have stairs, bleachers, treadmills with inclines, stairmasters? Those will work, too. :)
 

HedaP

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#90
Great... Now stream some YouTube Camino videos to a TV next to the climber. These are a couple of good ones:

Thank you for the reminder about Efren’s video series of the CF. I’d forgotten how good it was and how much I enjoyed everyone of his daily video blogs.:D
 

boomtown

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for Frances 2018
#91
I've been doing the same head scratching - head out early from St Jean and push on all the way to Roncesvalles or play it safe and stop at Orrison? The only thing I know is that I'm going for Route Napoleon, since I read about it as a child I always wanted to experience it.

So after reading this thread I came to this conclusion: Hey, I'm on vacation! :cool:

My flight arrives Biarritz at 10:30 and I could throw myself in a taxi to SJPdP, stop by the pilgrim's office and get going for Roncesvalles. But nah...
I'll take the bus into Bayonne, mope around for a while waiting for the train to St Jean and the (soon-to-be) pre-booked accommodation and the day after head for Orrison - which everyone says is a great start for the Camino newbie... That extra day will also give me plenty of time getting down the hill towards Roncevalles safe and sound. ;)

So thanks for the thread, really made me make up my mind! :)
 

Sailor

Donante Vitalicio
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Sinfin
#92
Good. It is a good idea to start slowly up those hills to Orisson, stay at the albergue in Orisson, go outside at night and look at the black sky full of bright stars, and then start early the next day to finish the Route de Napoleon, take the RIGHT turn after reaching the summit at Collado de Leopeder heading to Roncesvalles (it is a long downhill, take it easy, listen to your body, watch your lower back, watch your heels, watch your toes]. You are going to have FUN! Sigamos caminando, y que la luz de Dios alumbre su camino.
 
Last edited:

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#93
My flight arrives Biarritz at 10:30 and I could throw myself in a taxi to SJPdP, stop by the pilgrim's office and get going for Roncesvalles.
That was never on mate and if you think that way then please change and go slow on this beautiful path .
There is a lot to see and take in , or hurry get home and say s...t i missed a bit didn't i.

mope around for a while waiting for the train to St Jean
The station will be full of young , old , overweight and underweight fellow human beings who are going to the same place as yourself.
You will see their faces for the next 5 weeks and will enjoy their company , even in passing.
Enjoy the train trip , its one of our best memories.

Hope they get another name one day as he was never there
 

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