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LIVE from the Camino WALKING from Biarritz to SJPdP

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Yes, I have chosen to avoid the taxi/bus/train dilemma by WALKING from Biarritz to SJPdP!!!

Arrived at the Biarritz airport on a flight from London (45€) and stayed the night at a quaint family-run hotel (70€) two blocks from the ocean in Biarritz. Transport from the airport to the village ranges from a €20 taxi ride to a 1€ bus trip (or free if you walk the 5kms!).

Today my wife and I walked about 10kms to Bayonne and enjoyed at afternoon stroll in this fine city. Bayonne claims to be the chocolate capitol of France as well as the home of the distillery for the basque liqueur Izarra. A longer route follows the shoreline and is supposed to be spectacular, but we needed to visit the Decathalon store in Anglet so we took the route through the city. The entire walk was on city streets, so plenty of services on the way.

Tomorrow we will follow the Nive River upstream to Cambodia-les-Baines, about 22kms.4B1290B6-E089-44D4-8AA3-3BE78038CDE9.jpegF198CB3B-D09D-4571-8C86-1D66E0349DE3.jpegB92DB8FF-46DF-4D21-87E9-43432D4182E0.jpeg
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Yes, but we started in Jaca (Camino Aragones) last year, so we missed the SJPdP to Pamplona part of the CF and wanted to experience it this time.

A handful of other hikers are in town, but it’s fairly empty for it being Holy Week. As you can see in the photos, it’s very warm and sunny but it should cool today d then possibly rain later this week.
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
Wide awake here in San Sebastian (still jetlagged) and at least another hour before the first bars open to dispense that wonderful elixer. Your pictures of Bayonne reminded me of our mini-stay there last year, it's a real gem.

Connie and I were surprised when we walked down from Irun yesterday starting the Norte. Not one single pilgrim on the trail. We did see two Spanish guys at the little ferry who were wearing the uniform, but that's it. So much for semana santa crowds!

Buen Camino
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
DAY 2: BAYONNE TO CAMBO LES BAINES (24km):

Great day of walking, though it was a bit muggy and warm out. The walk along the Nive River is incredibly tranquil and (today) pilgrim-free. Rick M is correct: so much for the pilgrim hordes of Easter! Flat nearly all the way to our destination, but a bit hilly after Ustaritz where the Batzan separates from our path.

Contrary to past posts and a published guide for the Route of the Nive, there does appear to be albuerges and gîtes on this path (especially in Ustaritz) but they did not appear to be open yet as it’s not quite walking season in this region. We are staying at the Hotel Trinquet (named after the pelota court attached to the building!) but there are no pilgrim dinners or stays here - in short, dinner at 9pm anyone?

There are some stunning church interiors (two are from the mid-1600s and have two and three stories of balconies around the interior walls, picture-perfect villages, and some nice encounters with farm animals (though a loose bull stared us down in the middle of one village and we had to help yell at him with the rancher to get him back into the corral!)

I highly recommend this route to SJPdP as a good shakedown of your equipment as well as a warmup for the Pyrenees crossing. An alternative would be to head for Espelette (home of all things red pepper) instead of Cambo, but we chose here due to the nearby thermal baths. 😎

23826AAF-C107-44D9-8ECF-7E4AE892DBFA.jpeg43D39FF9-3249-495F-81FE-2F5E4B600BA9.jpeg23826AAF-C107-44D9-8ECF-7E4AE892DBFA.jpeg43D39FF9-3249-495F-81FE-2F5E4B600BA9.jpeg9B04D839-F837-4578-ABD3-6B9206DB3094.jpeg199A851E-2DB3-4C38-B578-CB4F36A13177.jpeg
 

Attachments

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
We went to Biarritz from the airport, but Bayonne is not much further of a walk. Leaving the airport is your typical urban walking experience, but there IS a sidewalk and you quickly enter into a less dense city area. The entire BAB area (Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne) has pretty much morphed into one continuous city, so you’ll be traversing that for a little over an hour. On the plus side, your legs will get a good stretch and there will be plenty of places to grab a snack.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
More like 6 or 7km walking, depending upon where in Bayonne you are headed. It would be the shortest stage of your Camino!
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Sorry think it's only about 6k ? I was looking at your first post but now realise you went from Airport to Biarritz town and then Bayonne. So airport to Bayonne is only 1hr 30 mins walking maybe?
 

Walden

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte, Camino Frances, Camino Primitivo, Camino Portuguese, Voie de la Neve. GR Andalucia
DAY 2: BAYONNE TO CAMBO LES BAINES (24km):

Great day of walking, though it was a bit muggy and warm out. The walk along the Nive River is incredibly tranquil and (today) pilgrim-free. Rick M is correct: so much for the pilgrim hordes of Easter! Flat nearly all the way to our destination, but a bit hilly after Ustaritz where the Batzan separates from our path.

Contrary to past posts and a published guide for the Route of the Nive, there does appear to be albuerges and gîtes on this path (especially in Ustaritz) but they did not appear to be open yet as it’s not quite walking season in this region. We are staying at the Hotel Trinquet (named after the pelota court attached to the building!) but there are no pilgrim dinners or stays here - in short, dinner at 9pm anyone?

There are some stunning church interiors (two are from the mid-1600s and have two and three stories of balconies around the interior walls, picture-perfect villages, and some nice encounters with farm animals (though a loose bull stared us down in the middle of one village and we had to help yell at him with the rancher to get him back into the corral!)

I highly recommend this route to SJPdP as a good shakedown of your equipment as well as a warmup for the Pyrenees crossing. An alternative would be to head for Espelette (home of all things red pepper) instead of Cambo, but we chose here due to the nearby thermal baths. 😎

View attachment 55239View attachment 55240View attachment 55239View attachment 55240View attachment 55241View attachment 55242
We’re there any other accommodation options in Cambo? Planning on arriving next week
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
DAY 3: CAMBO to IRISSARRY (27km)

Definitely a hike, but a beautiful one! Lots of rolling hills, some steep climbs, and pretty much no one out here: pilgrims, residents, or otherwise. We added a few KM to visit a Basque restaurant in Macaye (FABULOUS!!!!) and the nearby cheese factory! This stage could probably be done faster, but who wants to skip all the extras?!?

A few notes:
* nearly all of the walking is on asphalt
* very very very few services; carry food or plan your walking to hit one of the few cafes during its limited lunch hours (if they are even open on the day you walk)
* carry a lot of water; didn’t see any fill stations
* trail markings were sporadic in areas, so it helps to have maps.me/google maps just in case
* we chose Irissarry over Helette in order to have a shorter final stage tomorrow, arriving in SJPdP with plenty of time to see the town. Our B&B is really quite nice with a wonderful family home feel and a private bath with a bathtub! 👍 (Chambres d'Hôtes Aire Berria).
* Helette has a number of housing choices, including a pilgrim gite (see photo)

E8601D98-3949-4997-ABC9-5763A881E69D.jpeg01237918-3CAB-4CDC-8CF3-D5177F82B15C.jpegFE04A9FF-37B9-467E-963E-921BD3D27FEB.jpeg7E5F6179-2E81-4DFB-8DBE-9C923C909D43.jpegEB50EDC7-75C4-4F71-9A3E-2C0DF283BBBE.jpeg
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Don't you wish more pilgrims would travel this way? This what a pilgrimage is all about, not rushing to a bus stop or a train station to rush ahead to God only knows where. Enjoy the walk. Ultreya.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Yes, more pilgrims should walk this way AND “walk this way” - literally and mentally.

More pilgrims physically on this route would create the need for pilgrim accommodations, resolving a major issue with this route. Additionally, it benefit the local Basque communities through sales of meals, drinks, accommodations.

Mentally, more pilgrims need to get their nose out of the guidebook and away from Hollywood’s and television’s idea of what the Camino is and start asking themselves if it’s about the best shoes/albuergues/etc or about approaching life in a different way.

Travel has the power to creat great personal change and SLOW travel at the speed of walking even more so. I hope everyone has a chance to experience that.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
Definitely in my wish list since I took the train from Bayonne to SJPP and looked at the pleasant river, rolling hills, green fields, and nice villages. And I like the idea of some days of solitude before the brouhaha of the main Caminos.
I am taking notes...please keep posting about your experience!
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
DAY 4: IRISSARRY TO SJPdP (16km, unless you get lost......😳)

The path out of Irissarry quickly splits into two: the poorly marked “Camino Santiago” one that heads to the left and around the northern side of two mountains through valleys to SJPdP, or the older GR route which heads over a mountain, through some woods, and finally brambles and sheep pastures, necessitating climbing fences and wandering through the yard of a very helpful Basque shepherdess... Okay, the GR probably follows a better path, but at a five-way unmarked farm road intersection, it’s pretty unclear what is supposed to happen!

So we lost the Camino path about 500m outside of Irissarry but tripped on via maps.me on a unique but very beautiful path to our destination. We weren’t really “lost,” just wandering...

Our way had some significant climbs and descents whereas the “Camino” route was done the previous week by our B&B host and his class of 5 and 6 year olds. 😳. My suggestion is to pay attention as you leave town and head left if you are not sure.

Both routes rejoin the Nive River eventually for a nice flat stroll into St Jean. Overall, it was a great four day journey to start our further Camino walking.

Final Notes:
+ I will do a single post summing up the Nive River route under its proper name (Voie de Le Nive) so it’s easier to access for future walkers.
+ It’s a pleasantly challenging route in terms of terrain, food, accommodations, etc, but a little planning and a smartphone make it easily doable.
+ several pilgrims in our SJPdP albuergue who didn’t know this was Day Four remarked that my wife and I looked relaxed, as if we’d “already adjusted to the pilgrim life”. The walk definitely is a good shake-down for the CF.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
Very useful hiking notes...I read some time ago that a section of this Camino had been closed by a farmer, and there was some kind of conflict there...Apparently (and fortunately) this is no more true.
Did you use a guide, as the provided by http://vppyr.free.fr ? Or just followed the signposts and the help of your smartphone?
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
...
Final Notes:
+ I will do a single post summing up the Nive River route under its proper name (Voie de Le Nive) so it’s easier to access for future walkers.
...
Thanks for the posts @Vacajoe but if you really want to put it under proper name then you have to know it's "la Nive" not "le Nive" ;)

Buen Camino Frances!
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Yes, I realized the spelling mistake after posting and just as my phone died 😵. Thanks for the the correction! 👍
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
“Did you use a guide, as the provided by http://vppyr.free.fr ? Or just followed the signposts and the help of your smartphone?”

I used that guide and another trip report I found online, but they both were out of date re: some more recent developments. Both helped, but so did the signage and maps.me. For instance, the “farmer’s field” one used to cross by opening a pallet gate is now a housing track and a private driveway and definitely locked - a detour around it added a km or so. Other directions such as, “Turn left at the house with the green shutters” is unintentionally hilarious in a town where half the houses have them and they’ve likely been repainted since the guide was published 15 years ago! Finally, the Camino Santiago scallop shell indicators are quite small and so infrequent in some spots that it’s either purposeful removal to keep people off of certain tracks, petty vandalism, or willful souvenir collectors.

All in all, though, you cannot REALLY get lost; you may take detours, have to retrace your steps, and ask for directions, but you WILL reach SJPdP.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
“Did you use a guide, as the provided by http://vppyr.free.fr ? Or just followed the signposts and the help of your smartphone?”

I used that guide and another trip report I found online, but they both were out of date re: some more recent developments. Both helped, but so did the signage and maps.me. For instance, the “farmer’s field” one used to cross by opening a pallet gate is now a housing track and a private driveway and definitely locked - a detour around it added a km or so. Other directions such as, “Turn left at the house with the green shutters” is unintentionally hilarious in a town where half the houses have them and they’ve likely been repainted since the guide was published 15 years ago! Finally, the Camino Santiago scallop shell indicators are quite small and so infrequent in some spots that it’s either purposeful removal to keep people off of certain tracks, petty vandalism, or willful souvenir collectors.

All in all, though, you cannot REALLY get lost; you may take detours, have to retrace your steps, and ask for directions, but you WILL reach SJPdP.
I love this route too. Every time I read a post along the lines of 'best way to St. Jean from Bayonne' I think of it! It is a great warm up before the Pyrenees (some start in Naverranx - same thing).

Really glad you enjoyed it
Davey
 

binhpac

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Camino Frances
2020 Planned Camino Frances
I was cycling from Bayonne to SJPdP in one day.

I was also following the Nive River. But i was following it all the way to SJPdP.

I did it, because i read i shouldnt pass "le pas de roland" after Itxassou and it was totally worth it. It might be the most beautiful pass of the whole camino. im glad i did it.

after eihartze though i took the national road with my bike, because i wanted to reach SJPdP faster the last 10km so i cant say, if there is good hiking way to walk, but before that, it was beautiful for bike and hiking.

If the accomodations wouldnt be so expensive in france in comparison to spanish ones, i would walk the route to SjPdP next year, when i plan to do the camino again but walking this time.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
+ I will do a single post summing up the Nive River route under its proper name (Voie de Le Nive) so it’s easier to access for future walkers.
+ It’s a pleasantly challenging route in terms of terrain, food, accommodations, etc, but a little planning and a smartphone make it easily doable.
That's fabulous information, @Vacajoe ! Thank you very much.
Did you end up doing a single post summing up the Voie de la Nive?
My wife and I will be volunteering for a week in SJPdP at the Pilgrim's Office from 4 to 11 May 2020, and one of the options we are considering is to walk from Bayonne to SJPdP. So we'll be walking towards the end of April.
For various reasons (health and enjoying our walk), we try to keep our daily stages to an average of 10 to 15km. Am I correct that we might find it difficult to do so on the Voie de la Nive?
My plan at this stage (and finding accommodation will be the crucial part) is to walk:
Bayonne - Ustaritz
Ustaritz - La Place/Macaye
La Place/Macaye - Helette
Helette - Irrissarry
Irrissary - SJPdP
I look forwards to your comments and suggestions.
Bide On, as they say in the Basque Country, Bon Chemin, Buen Camino!
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
I DID do a single post....but where did I post it!?!?! 👴🏻 Old and forgetful. It’s a beautiful, though greatly underutilized, route. May is a wonderful time to walk it since facilities are open and you are between the rainy and hot seasons.

If you are flying into the Bayonne/Biarritz airport early enough, you can bypass Bayonne altogether and walk to Ustaritz from there! I’d only advise that to folks who have visited Bayonne previously, though. I’m not familiar with La Place since we walked directly from Bayonne to Cambo. Be aware that you may have to get non-pilgrim accommodations as gites are sparse on the route.

I’ll find my post and link it here.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
If we take this option (the other being walking down the last part of the Voie de Vezelay), we'll be arriving by train in Bayonne, and we have never visited Bayonne previously.
La Place is between Cambo and Helette. There's a hotel there, but I am struggling to get in touch with the owners (no email).
Do you know if there are GPX tracks of the Voie de la Nive?
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
I utilized the app maps.me and basically blazed my own pathway. While there are trail markings, many of the signs are very small and inconsistently placed. To paraphrase one local, “We do not pollute our countryside with yellow arrows like the Spanish!” Most of the route is via roads, so you have multiple options to connect each stopping point. It is VERY different than the Camino Frances in that it does not cater to pilgrims (infrequent water, food, lodging). However, that’s what makes it so special - it’s a gorgeous, lonely walk through Basque Country!

Definitely spend a night in Bayonne. The pilgrim desk at the cathedral has credentials and good advice about the route. Nearby Biarritz and it’s beaches is even more beautiful if you have an extra day or two. We stayed there two nights, then walked to Bayonne (visiting the Decathlon store halfway to pick up some walking sticks!). An easy walk through mostly suburban housing tracks.

Perhaps look at Macaye instead of La Place - it’s a dot of a village, but we had one of the best meals of all our travels in a tiny restaurant there (it’s the only one there, so you won’t miss it!). There were two small B&Bs here, too. It’s a 16km walk between Ustaritz and there, with Helette a nice walk the next day through sparsely populated countryside. You could stop for lunch in Cambo les Bains, perhaps, on the way to Macaye.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Perhaps look at Macaye instead of La Place - it’s a dot of a village, but we had one of the best meals of all our travels in a tiny restaurant there (it’s the only one there, so you won’t miss it!). There were two small B&Bs here, too. It’s a 16km walk between Ustaritz and there, with Helette a nice walk the next day through sparsely populated countryside. You could stop for lunch in Cambo les Bains, perhaps, on the way to Macaye.
La Place is part of the Macaye 'commune'. I found one B&B, but they want two nights, I'll have to find the other one. I might email the Mairie.

I know what you mean by the special nature of walking in the Basque Country: last year we walked the Voie Nive-Bidassoa from SJPdP to Hendaye, and it was fabulous!
 

rometimed

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(SJPdP: 2015, June2020!) (Eng Way: 2015)
OMG HOW DID I MISS THIS?!?! :O

This is exactly what I plan to do this coming May!

I am desperately trying to avoid your photos lol but the advice is wonderful. Excited to start my Camino from Bayonne and I am hoping to find a new scallop shell there.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Excellent! It was great fun, even when we got lost on the last stage and wandered through through the business end of a sheep ranch! You can get a shell at the Pilgrim Donativo inside the Cathedral) small desk to the left at the main entrance to the church in Bayonne. They also have credentials. Buen Camino!
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
When I walked the wonderful Báztan last May I stayed in Bayonne at Maison Aguirre (?) with the amazing host Socorro. Room with bunks a bit cramped but the food and hospitality was fantastic. I found it on the Buen Camino app.
Bayonne is such a clic city!
 

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