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Wait or start walking on 28th March 2018

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#1
[Hello looking for some encouragement and advise. I am scheduled to start my Camino on March 28th 2018. I based my start date on input from others and did not research opening date of Napoleon route. The Pilgrim office is SJPP says the route now may not open until 15th April. I can not wait until then to start. I can wait until 4th April. So my questions are;

How likely is it that the route is not open until 15th April ?
If I decide to start on 28th March or 4th April will I be disappointed walking via Valcarlos?
Since the route is closed, is it better to go directly from Biarritz to Roncesvalles and start my Camino there?
Thank you in advance. Carol ]
 

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John Hawke

Leaving O'Cebreiro
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016, completed 1/6/2016
(April 2018)
#2
The Pilgrim Office knows best. I arrive on the 17th and plan on the Napoleon route but would have no problem taking the Valcarlos route if necessary. Having said that, many pilgrims start their Camino in Roncesvalles. This is my second Camino and I wouldn't miss St Jean Pied de Port.
Buen Camino
 

Eddie_

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
part (2018)
#4
Hello Carol and others,
I am planning to walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona from Saturday 24th March. Do you know if this section is closed and where the Pilgrim Office posts this information?
Thanks, Eddie
 

Peter Fransiscus

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
#5
Hello Carol and others,
I am planning to walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona from Saturday 24th March. Do you know if this section is closed and where the Pilgrim Office posts this information?
Thanks, Eddie
Hi Eddie , the Napoleon route is closed . You need to take the Valcarlos route .
Wish you well , Peter .
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Sept. 3-October 15, Camino Frances to Santiago from SJPDP
#6
I walked the Valcarlos. It is still a walk that takes you over the Pyrenees (and through lovely forest). If you were to become tired, you'd have the option of sleeping over in Valcarlos, whereas you need to book months in advance to get in at Honto. Valcarlos offers babbling brooks, and magnificent rock faces, a proper place to get provisions at a grocery store in Valcarlos... and fewer people (though that may be less relevant on your intended departure date).
I wish people did not treat it as an inferior route. It is not. I like to remember that Napoleon was all about ego fulfillment.
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#8
Hello Carol and others,
I am planning to walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona from Saturday 24th March. Do you know if this section is closed and where the Pilgrim Office posts this information?
Thanks, Eddie
Hi Eddie, I don't know the answer to this. I understand that the route over the mountains is closed but the rest of route is open. Let me know what you discover. Maybe see you on the Camino. Buen Camino.
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#9
The Pilgrim Office knows best. I arrive on the 17th and plan on the Napoleon route but would have no problem taking the Valcarlos route if necessary. Having said that, many pilgrims start their Camino in Roncesvalles. This is my second Camino and I wouldn't miss St Jean Pied de Port.
Buen Camino
Thank you John.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#11
I am always a little puzzled by aspirant pilgrims who cannot understand the simple phrase "the Route Napoleon is closed". How will they cope with "no defecar", or grasp that "Menu Peregrino €10" means that inedible muck is available, with wine, for €10.
And if one more 'peregrino' suggests or implies that the ancient and historic pilgrim way through Valcarlos is in some way inferior to that modernist concept that dear old 'Boney' never went near: well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs....
The purpose of the pilgrimage is to walk to Santiago. The route is an irrelevance (smiley added in case anyone thought Tink was in grumpy mode)
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#12
I am always a little puzzled by aspirant pilgrims who cannot understand the simple phrase "the Route Napoleon is closed". How will they cope with "no defecar", or grasp that "Menu Peregrino €10" means that inedible muck is available, with wine, for €10.
And if one more 'peregrino' suggests or implies that the ancient and historic pilgrim way through Valcarlos is in some way inferior to that modernist concept that dear old 'Boney' never went near: well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs....
The purpose of the pilgrimage is to walk to Santiago. The route is an irrelevance (smiley added in case anyone thought Tink was in grumpy mode)
[Tincatinker, thank you for taking the time to share your delightful and encouraging comments, if aspirant pilgrims can't ask questions then please explain the point of this forum]
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#13
[Tincatinker, thank you for taking the time to share your delightful and encouraging comments, if aspirant pilgrims can't ask questions then please explain the point of this forum]
I could refer you to Nilsonns "The Point", but that would betray both my age and my (alleged) lifestyle. My point is that there seems to be a growing tendency to keep asking the same question until someone provides the desired answer. This is not a criticism of individuals, scared, confused and bewildered I can handle: but determinatedly ignoring information and advice just reminds me of all those politicians I used to work with.
I just wish that people would take personal responsibility and do their own research rather than merely asking the void for an answer. And asking a bunch of strangers in the void does not constitute research.
I used to write tripe advertiser reviews for money ( I feel neither pride nor guilt for that.)
You will have a Camino. The rest is just stuff....
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#14
Maybe some visuals can help? :cool:

1. The path called Napoleon route is closed from 1 November until 31 March. That's November, December, January, February, March. All of it. Always. For every pilgrim. You run the risk of a heavy invoice for trespassing.

Closed.jpg


2. There is often snow on the ground in the mountains in winter. It may still be there when spring has arrived in the valley. Into April. Can be different from one year to the next. Locals who have vehicles to drive up and check will know what the conditions are like on the ground. This includes people at the pilgrims office. Ask them when you have arrived in SJPP. Even if there's brilliant sunshine all round, it may still not be advisable to walk the Napoleon route because of the conditions on the ground.

3. Do not walk the Napoleon route in bad weather. That's the red path. Use the green path via Valcarlos. Nobody knows for certain if there will be bad weather until 1 or 2 days beforehand. Two options: a. Consult the people in the SJPP pilgrims office. b. Learn to understand mountain weather forecasts.

BAD WEATHER.jpg
 
Last edited:

Robo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
Alone.
------------------------------
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
with my wife Pat.
------------------------------
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
together again :-)
#15
[The Pilgrim office is SJPP says the route now may not open until 15th April. ]
Where did they 'say' this Carol? I couldn't find anything on their website, or did you call them?
I'm just surprised that they try to forecast a month ahead.........

As others advise, early in the season, t's really just a case of turning up and finding out 'on the day'.
 

GettingThere

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
Roncesvalles-Sarria Sep-Oct 2017
#16
[Hello looking for some encouragement and advise. I am scheduled to start my Camino on March 28th 2018. I based my start date on input from others and did not research opening date of Napoleon route. The Pilgrim office is SJPP says the route now may not open until 15th April. I can not wait until then to start. I can wait until 4th April. So my questions are;

How likely is it that the route is not open until 15th April ?
If I decide to start on 28th March or 4th April will I be disappointed walking via Valcarlos?
Since the route is closed, is it better to go directly from Biarritz to Roncesvalles and start my Camino there?
Thank you in advance. Carol ]
Hi Carol and welcome to the Forum! As you have discovered, the Route Napoleon is officially closed until the 1st April, but if weather conditions are bad that opening may well be delayed. In fact this route is very weather-dependent all year, and even when it is "officially" open, there are times when the local police and Pilgrim's Office will advise people not to go that way - it can be dangerous in bad weather, and it is very changeable and hard to predict - long-term weather forecasts for mountain areas are notoriously unreliable! The Valcarlos route is also beautiful, with more woodland and also as others have pointed out, you have services about halfway at Valcarlos (and before that) which is also an overnight option if you want to start slow the first day. There are no services or water sources after Valcarlos until Roncesvalles.

Personally I'm a fan of Roncesvalles as a starting point - I started there for various reasons on my first Camino and found it such a special and spiritual place to begin in the early Spring with its cool and misty mornings, that I chose to start my second Camino there too, at a different time of year. But St Jean is a lovely little town too. If you decide to start there, plan to take the Valcarlos route (especially if you stick to your planned date of 28th March) but then if you delay until after the official 1st April opening date and the weather is good on the day (and the route closure hasn't been extended), you might decide to walk up and over the Napoleon Route instead. Look at it that way and then you can enjoy whatever route you take! (And the different humour you will find here on the Forum too...;))

Buen Camino Carol, whatever you decide!
 

Eddie_

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
part (2018)
#18
Hi Eddie , the Napoleon route is closed . You need to take the Valcarlos route .
Wish you well , Peter .
Hi Peter and others,
Thanks very much for your help. There's a lot of information out there regarding the Camino(s) and it's great that you've confirmed I can still do my part of the Camino Francés . (It's interesting that, if you search on 'Napoleon and Valcarlos route', there is the answer in seconds).
Best wishes, Eddie
 

adam lapp

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2015
Frances July 2016
Frances May 2017
Portugues March 2018
Frances April 2018
#19
Hi carol. I’m starting the 28th as well. I’ve done the Napoleon route twice but I’ve heard the valcarlos is really nice as well. I’m actually excited the Napoleon is closed so I can try a different route. Take what the Camino gives. Not sure where I’m staying yet in sjpdp, but hope to see you out there. I’m 35 with blonde hair and will have a Patagonia hat on.
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#20
Where did they 'say' this Carol? I couldn't find anything on their website, or did you call them?
I'm just surprised that they try to forecast a month ahead.........

As others advise, early in the season, t's really just a case of turning up and finding out 'on the day'.
I spoke to them
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2014, 2015)
St Olav/Francés (2016)
Baztanés/Francés (2017)
Ingles (July 2018)
#21
If I decide to start on 28th March or 4th April will I be disappointed walking via Valcarlos?
Welcome, Carol!
Not at all. It is a really gorgeous walk, and the older, more 'authentic' Camino Frances route. Shirley Maclaine, Paolo Coelo, and Hollywood have all made the Napoleon route out to be the 'real' one, but that's just inaccurate hype. Hence these posts, which I have to say I agree with entirely:
I wish people did not treat it as an inferior route.
And if one more 'peregrino' suggests or implies that the ancient and historic pilgrim way through Valcarlos is in some way inferior to that modernist concept that dear old 'Boney' never went near: well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs....
So I would concur with others who have said, 'No need to wait!' And if you do wait until after April 1, when you get to SJPP, the people at the Pilgrim's Office can advise you of the current conditions. The Napoleon may be open or not - at this point there is no way to know.

Whichever way you go, buen camino!
[Edited for spelling...]
 
Last edited:

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#22
@Carol GD and @Eddie_ you are both on your way. Just go pilgrims!

If you are walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles you will be walking over the mountains - regardless of whether it is via Valcarlos or what is called the Route Napoleon. The Valcarlos Route is the traditional and authentic route taken by pilgrims in medieval days and it is absolutely beautiful. I have walked both, and I now prefer the Valcarlos. And do not think it is easy - from SJPDP to Valcarlos is reasonably gentle, but the walk from there to Roncesvalles is very steep, just as steep as the other route. It may not go quite so high, but it compresses all the elevation into the last 12km. So when you reach Valcarlos, think about how you are feeling and unless you are feeling very confident, stay the night. And enjoy the great restaurant at the end of the village!
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#23
Welcome, Carol!
Not at all. It is a really gorgeous walk, and the older, more 'authentic' Camino Frances route. Shirley Maclaine, Paolo Coelo, and Hollywood have all made the Napoleon route out to be the 'real' one, but that's just inaccurate hype. Hence these posts, which I have to say I agree with entirely:



So I would concur with others who have said, 'No need to wait!' And if you do wait until after April 1, when you get to SJPP, the people at the Pilgrim's Office can advise you of the current conditions. The Napoleon may be open or not - at this point there is no way to know.

Whichever way you go, buen camino!
[Edited for spelling...]
Thank you for your helpful comments. I had decided to walk via Valcarlos. I am so looking forward to it. Your positive comments are much appreciated. I am reluctant to post any additional questions in fear of ridicule. I look forward to saying to others Buen Camino.
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2014, 2015)
St Olav/Francés (2016)
Baztanés/Francés (2017)
Ingles (July 2018)
#24
I had decided to walk via Valcarlos.
Wonderful - you will love it.
After Valcarlos, if you take take the forest path (as opposed to following the road), it goes along a stream and then (steeply!!) up through the most beautiful beech forest.
Buen camino, peregrina!
 

Suzi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sjpp to logrono starting 28 march 2018
#25
[Hello looking for some encouragement and advise. I am scheduled to start my Camino on March 28th 2018. I based my start date on input from others and did not research opening date of Napoleon route. The Pilgrim office is SJPP says the route now may not open until 15th April. I can not wait until then to start. I can wait until 4th April. So my questions are;

How likely is it that the route is not open until 15th April ?
If I decide to start on 28th March or 4th April will I be disappointed walking via Valcarlos?
Since the route is closed, is it better to go directly from Biarritz to Roncesvalles and start my Camino there?
Thank you in advance. Carol ]
[Hello looking for some encouragement and advise. I am scheduled to start my Camino on March 28th 2018. I based my start date on input from others and did not research opening date of Napoleon route. The Pilgrim office is SJPP says the route now may not open until 15th April. I can not wait until then to start. I can wait until 4th April. So my questions are;

How likely is it that the route is not open until 15th April ?
If I decide to start on 28th March or 4th April will I be disappointed walking via Valcarlos?
Since the route is closed, is it better to go directly from Biarritz to Roncesvalles and start my Camino there?
Thank you in advance. Carol ]
Hello Carol
I am also starting on the 28th for the first time.
Shame the Napoleon route is closed but the Valcarlos route looks great.
Hope to see you on the trail
Suzi
 
Camino(s) past & future
April (2017)
#26
[Hello looking for some encouragement and advise. I am scheduled to start my Camino on March 28th 2018. I based my start date on input from others and did not research opening date of Napoleon route. The Pilgrim office is SJPP says the route now may not open until 15th April. I can not wait until then to start. I can wait until 4th April. So my questions are;

How likely is it that the route is not open until 15th April ?
If I decide to start on 28th March or 4th April will I be disappointed walking via Valcarlos?
Since the route is closed, is it better to go directly from Biarritz to Roncesvalles and start my Camino there?
Thank you in advance. Carol ]
I started my walk March 30, 3017. Napoleon route was closed and apparently opened three days after I left. You will bind the second half of the via Valcarlos route every bit as challenging. Just make sure you have water. I would suggest you don’t skip this first leg of the Camino just because the Napoleon route is closed. Via Valvarlos does has its own qualities, some picturesque photo opportunities, challenging uphill walk and just that satisfaction of completing day one. I found every leg of Camino Francais had its own uniqueness to it and am glad I walked every part of it. You won’t be disappointed if you walk SJPDP to Roncesvalles even if Napoleon rote closed and via Valcarlos is your alternate route. Buen Camino.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
#27
Thank you for your helpful comments. I had decided to walk via Valcarlos. I am so looking forward to it. Your positive comments are much appreciated. I am reluctant to post any additional questions in fear of ridicule. I look forward to saying to others Buen Camino.
Hi Carol. Please don't be reluctant to post questions here. Although I can see why you would be, I can guarantee that 99.9% of questions asked on this forum are responded to with encouragement and kindness.

Buen Camino!!
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#28
Hi Carol and welcome to the Forum! As you have discovered, the Route Napoleon is officially closed until the 1st April, but if weather conditions are bad that opening may well be delayed. In fact this route is very weather-dependent all year, and even when it is "officially" open, there are times when the local police and Pilgrim's Office will advise people not to go that way - it can be dangerous in bad weather, and it is very changeable and hard to predict - long-term weather forecasts for mountain areas are notoriously unreliable! The Valcarlos route is also beautiful, with more woodland and also as others have pointed out, you have services about halfway at Valcarlos (and before that) which is also an overnight option if you want to start slow the first day. There are no services or water sources after Valcarlos until Roncesvalles.

Personally I'm a fan of Roncesvalles as a starting point - I started there for various reasons on my first Camino and found it such a special and spiritual place to begin in the early Spring with its cool and misty mornings, that I chose to start my second Camino there too, at a different time of year. But St Jean is a lovely little town too. If you decide to start there, plan to take the Valcarlos route (especially if you stick to your planned date of 28th March) but then if you delay until after the official 1st April opening date and the weather is good on the day (and the route closure hasn't been extended), you might decide to walk up and over the Napoleon Route instead. Look at it that way and then you can enjoy whatever route you take! (And the different humour you will find here on the Forum too...;))

Buen Camino Carol, whatever you decide!
Thank you for talking the time to share so much. I am excited to begin on Wednesday.
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#29
Thank you for talking the time to share so much. I am excited to begin on Wednesday.
Hi Carol. Please don't be reluctant to post questions here. Although I can see why you would be, I can guarantee that 99.9% of questions asked on this forum are responded to with encouragement and kindness.

Buen Camino!!
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#30
Thank you for your positive comment. I am excited to begin on Wednesday.
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#32
Hi Suzi, I am flying in from London tomorrow evening and I'm excited to start walking on Wednesday. Yes hope to see you on the trail. Buen camino
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#33
Hi carol. I’m starting the 28th as well. I’ve done the Napoleon route twice but I’ve heard the valcarlos is really nice as well. I’m actually excited the Napoleon is closed so I can try a different route. Take what the Camino gives. Not sure where I’m staying yet in sjpdp, but hope to see you out there. I’m 35 with blonde hair and will have a Patagonia hat on.
 

Carol GD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk Camino starting March 28th 2018
#34
Hi Adam, thanks for message. I am too excited to be starting on Wednesday and look forward to meeting you on the trail. I'm flying in from London tomorrow. I'm about a good few years older, have a bright blue backpack and blondish hair. Buen camino
 


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