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Which Is Best: Arriving in Paris or Madrid?

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
I know that others have given helpful advice about arriving in Paris or in Madrid en route to St. Jean Pied du Port to begin their Caminos.
My question is this: Has anyone arrived in both airports before (on different trips, of course!) and if so, which in-bound route do you find preferable? Which location offers the best and easiest transportation options for getting to SJPP?
I would assume arriving in Paris and departing Madrid would be the most logical, but sometimes, what sounds the best isn't always the best.
I plan on departing Dallas the end of May/first of June 2016 and taking the Camino Frances route.
Thank you for any advice Camino alums would like to offer!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I've done it both ways and find it easier to arrive in Madrid, catch a bus directly from the airport to Pamplona where I adjust to the time change for a day or two, then bus or taxi to SJPP. The Paris route, I found expensive and exhausting. That said, if you want to see Paris...
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
Welcome to the forum Joe!

I think Annie response is good, but really funds may dictate a persons route in as well. I think for simplicity of flight Madrid is an idea. The issue many of us discover is that there really no start point or route that should be the primary. As it is the simple journey we get an education. If this is a spiritual journey even more so the education. The Francis is by far the most traveled. But there is no rule you must start in SJPDP. Pamplona or for many Spanish Roncevalles becomes the start. Just as the end does not have to be Santiago, as you will find even after you are back home the journey continues.
Buen Camino
Keith
 

norelle

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011 April, 2014 March) San Salvador, Primitivo, Finisterre, Muxia (June 2015) Del Norte (Sept/Oct 2016)
I have also arrived in both cities (as well as Barcelona) and have found Spain easier to access the camino.

buen camino
 

RobertS26

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, (2013)
Camino Frances, (2014)
Camino Frances, (2015)
I have done both and prefer Paris for two reasons. The first is sentimental. I enjoy walking into Spain. If you fly into Madrid, your firsts steps in Spain are at the airport. If you fly into Paris, your first steps in Spain come in the Pyrenees as you step out of France. In my opinion nothing beats that feeling.

The second reason is practical. I fly in from Seattle. I can fly non-stop to Paris. If I fly into Madrid I have to change planes somewhere. When you add in the time to change planes on the way to Madrid I find it's quicker to fly into Paris, take the TGV to Bayonne, and then grab a taxi to SJPP.

And like I said, there's that magical moment the next day when your first step in Spain is on a dirt path high up in the Pyrenees.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Like RobertS56 I, too, always have felt a shiver of delight crossing on foot that old frontier into Spain although I took the lower Valcarlos alternate route and not the Napoleon route. ...Ancient borders are weighted with such memories.
 

koknesis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances June/July 2014
Camino Aragones August 2015
Camino Sanabres (Ourense-SdC) August 2015
VdlP 2017
if starting from SJPP, then landing in Biarritz (BIQ) appears the closest. Ryanair and EasyJet fly there from Dublin and London, so these might be the destinations for transatlantic then. again both have flights back from SdC (SCQ) as well.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I flew Air France from Toronto to Biarritz (with a stop and easy airport change in Paris). I stayed a relaxed night in Bayonne/ Biarritz and another in SJPP to recover from the journey and jet lag. I found that worked well, and I preferred to walk into Spain without retracing a route done by vehicle the day before! If starting at Roncesvalles or Pamplona I'd go through Madrid.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
I know that others have given helpful advice about arriving in Paris or in Madrid en route to St. Jean Pied du Port to begin their Caminos.
My question is this: Has anyone arrived in both airports before (on different trips, of course!) and if so, which in-bound route do you find preferable? Which location offers the best and easiest transportation options for getting to SJPP?
I would assume arriving in Paris and departing Madrid would be the most logical, but sometimes, what sounds the best isn't always the best.
I plan on departing Dallas the end of May/first of June 2016 and taking the Camino Frances route.
Thank you for any advice Camino alums would like to offer!
Joe:

I have arrived via London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. I have found Madrid to be the Cheapest, easiest and quickest ingress and egress to the Camino. Paris, I took the TGV train (5+hours) from Montparnesse (sp?) train station to Bayonne and then the bus (1+hour) (local train was out of service) which was right outside the train station to SJPdP. Madrid, I take a cab (30 euro's) to Puerta de Atocha train station. Then a (3 hours) train ride to Pamplona. If you want to take all the stress out I would recommend Corazonpuro.es, they will pick you up at train or bus station, put you up for the night and drive you to SJPdP the next day. Leaving Santiago, I take the overnight Trenhotel (train) to Madrid. It arrives 8:00am at Chamartin station and has a variety of sleeping accommodations. Then the Cercanias train from Chamartin to airport, runs every half hour. You could also travel by bus or plane. Lots of options.

You could also get a Multi-city ticket and enter through one city while departing through another.

That said, your choice of entry could change with ulterior motives. Someone might want to visit Paris, London, Madrid or Barcelona. These are all great cities with a lot to offer almost anyone.

Whatever point of entry you choose, I am sure it will work and you will have a great Camino.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
I've done it both ways and find it easier to arrive in Madrid, catch a bus directly from the airport to Pamplona where I adjust to the time change for a day or two, then bus or taxi to SJPP. The Paris route, I found expensive and exhausting. That said, if you want to see Paris...
I've only done it once, and that was like Anniesantiago, fly to Madrid, bus to Pamplona, lay over for a night there to adjust to the time change, then bus the next day to SJPP.
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
Whenever I do my next CF, I would definitely repeat what I did in Sept this year; flew to Madrid from Vancouver BC, took Renfe train to Pamplona where I was picked up by the good folks who own the Corazon Puro pension (mid way between Pamplona and St. Jean). I enjoyed a beautiful dinner with a few others, overnight in a lovely room, woke to a scrumptious breakfast, then Istvan drove us to St. Jean via San Carlos, which was beautiful. I won't quote the cost only to say it was more than reasonable. I couldn't imagine a better way to begin my journey.
 

koknesis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances June/July 2014
Camino Aragones August 2015
Camino Sanabres (Ourense-SdC) August 2015
VdlP 2017
Whenever I do my next CF, I would definitely repeat what I did in Sept this year; flew to Madrid from Vancouver BC, took Renfe train to Pamplona where I was picked up by the good folks who own the Corazon Puro pension (mid way between Pamplona and St. Jean). I enjoyed a beautiful dinner with a few others, overnight in a lovely room, woke to a scrumptious breakfast, then Istvan drove us to St. Jean via San Carlos, which was beautiful. I won't quote the cost only to say it was more than reasonable. I couldn't imagine a better way to begin my journey.
actually Madrid-Pamplona-SJPP route was the one I considered before walking CF. just could not accept the fact walking then to Pamplona again, once I have been there. I know it is more about Camino walking than destination, but modern logistics like arriving first in SdC and then jumping to some point, just to get back there, simply does not make sense for me. Perhaps it's a wierd attitude by myself or something?
 

Joodle

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 10th- June 21st 2016
VDLP March-April 2017
CF coming up April-May
I have done both and prefer Paris for two reasons. The first is sentimental. I enjoy walking into Spain. If you fly into Madrid, your firsts steps in Spain are at the airport. If you fly into Paris, your first steps in Spain come in the Pyrenees as you step out of France. In my opinion nothing beats that feeling.

The second reason is practical. I fly in from Seattle. I can fly non-stop to Paris. If I fly into Madrid I have to change plans somewhere. When you add in the time to change planes on the way to Madrid I find it's quicker to fly into Paris, take the TGV to Bayonne, and then grab a taxi to SJPP.

And like I said, there's that magical moment the next day when your first step in Spain is on a dirt path high up in the Pyrenees.
I will be flying out of Seattle either this April or late September. What search do you use to find your tickets?
 

koknesis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances June/July 2014
Camino Aragones August 2015
Camino Sanabres (Ourense-SdC) August 2015
VdlP 2017
I will be flying out of Seattle either this April or late September. What search do you use to find your tickets?
So far skyscanner has worked well for me .
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
We fly to Madrid with IBeria and a connecting flight to Pamplona. Return from Santiago to Madrid and back home. Any other options prove to be too time consuming, more expensive and without guarantee in case of airline "problems". Pamplona-Roncesvalles-SJPP is an easy ride after all.:cool:
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
We fly to Madrid with IBeria and a connecting flight to Pamplona. Return from Santiago to Madrid and back home. Any other options prove to be too time consuming, more expensive and without guarantee in case of airline "problems". Pamplona-Roncesvalles-SJPP is an easy ride after all.:cool:
Adriaan ( fraluchi) didn't mention that we get an incredibly economical additional leg ( Madrid to Pamplona) because we fly Iberia. Therefore no hassle getting either a bus or train to Madrid centre to then catch transport to Pamplona. We have never considered going to SJPP, but always start in Roncesvalles ( and once in Jaca). Frankly, it doesn't matter where you start.
The fact that we only fly Iberia also offers an exceptional open jaw return, Santiago, Madrid, San José.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
Many thanks to everyone for your sage advice--and for taking the time to share your experiences/thoughts with me. RobertS26 and MSpath's comments about there being something special coming into Spain the first time from France without doubling back is good food for thought--thank you! It may come down to the best flight connections I can get as I plan to use air miles I've accumulated over the years--and American Airlines doesn't always offer many good options when it comes to international flights. That's my next task now! Thank you again everyone!
 

El Condor 2014

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I plan to walk El Camino (2014)
dris
I've done it both ways and find it easier to arrive in Madrid, catch a bus directly from the airport to Pamplona where I adjust to the time change for a day or two, then bus or taxi to SJPP. The Paris route, I found expensive and exhausting. That said, if you want to see Paris...
Yes, I agree with you Anniesantiago, Madrid, catch a train or Bus to Pamplona, Bus to SJPDP ( no bus on Sanday )
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
actually Madrid-Pamplona-SJPP route was the one I considered before walking CF. just could not accept the fact walking then to Pamplona again, once I have been there. I know it is more about Camino walking than destination, but modern logistics like arriving first in SdC and then jumping to some point, just to get back there, simply does not make sense for me. Perhaps it's a wierd attitude by myself or something?
Koknesis:

I am not sure I understand this logic. The route from Pamplona by bus, cab or an overnight stay in Corazon puro is not the Camino route. The walk from SJPdP to Pamplona is not even remotely the same. It is not like you are following the same route back. Pamplona is also a large city with a lot to offer.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Many thanks to everyone for your sage advice--and for taking the time to share your experiences/thoughts with me. RobertS26 and MSpath's comments about there being something special coming into Spain the first time from France without doubling back is good food for thought--thank you! It may come down to the best flight connections I can get as I plan to use air miles I've accumulated over the years--and American Airlines doesn't always offer many good options when it comes to international flights. That's my next task now! Thank you again everyone!

Joe:

American and Iberia are alliance partners.

Joe
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances [2015]
Camino Frances [2016]
For my first Camino, I decided to travel via Madrid, because my rudimentary Spanish is stronger than my few words of French. Walking the Camino was a significant challenge and I did not want to exacerbate it by dealing with another country and language. After I decided to go through Madrid, I also decided to start Camino Frances in Roncesvalles.

In 2016, I will return to Camino Frances but will start at St Jean. Still, I decided that Madrid-Pamplona-SJPP will work just fine. If I remember correctly, there are two buses from the Pamplona bus station to SJPP and only one to Roncesvalles.
 

Thomas Hourihan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept23-Oct25, 2015
STJPdP- SdC
I know that others have given helpful advice about arriving in Paris or in Madrid en route to St. Jean Pied du Port to begin their Caminos.
My question is this: Has anyone arrived in both airports before (on different trips, of course!) and if so, which in-bound route do you find preferable? Which location offers the best and easiest transportation options for getting to SJPP?
I would assume arriving in Paris and departing Madrid would be the most logical, but sometimes, what sounds the best isn't always the best.
I plan on departing Dallas the end of May/first of June 2016 and taking the Camino Frances route.
Thank you for any advice Camino alums would like to offer!
There is an alternative to Madrid and Paris. I flew from Boston to Dublin, Ireland. Ryanair has an inexpensive direct flight from Dublin to Biarritz - easy train/bus to St Jean.
 

Joodle

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 10th- June 21st 2016
VDLP March-April 2017
CF coming up April-May
There is an alternative to Madrid and Paris. I flew from Boston to Dublin, Ireland. Ryanair has an inexpensive direct flight from Dublin to Biarritz - easy train/bus to St Jean.
Except I would want a one week layover in Dublin!:D
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Joe,
I did the camino frances this fall, flying American Airlines from Calgary to Dallas/Fort Worth to Madrid. I booked through British Airways and returned through London. I would assume that you could book through American Airlines directly to Madrid. I took the bus from Madrid Airport to Pamplona, where I was picked up, taken to Corazon Puro for the night, and driven to St Jean to begin my pilgrimage in the morning. I could also have taken the bus all the way to St Jean, as I discovered that the bus that I transferred into in Sorria was going to St Jean after Pamplona. Depending on your airline arrangements, this routing or some version of it might be the best way to begin your camino. Buen camino.
 
C

Castilian

Guest
There is an alternative to Madrid and Paris. I flew from Boston to Dublin, Ireland. Ryanair has an inexpensive direct flight from Dublin to Biarritz
From May 1st till September 2016, British Airways will fly from London Heathrow (LHR) to Biarritz (BIQ) twice a week what will allow you to fly from most destinations served by British Airways to Biarritz with a single change of planes at London Heathrow airport. The same would apply to many destinations with direct flights to LHR operated by BA partners with a codeshare agreement with BA. For example, the OP, who is flying out of DFW, could fly from DFW to Biarritz with a single change of planes in LHR. The leg from DFW to LHR can be operated either by BA or by American Airlines depending on the specific flight preferred by the OP.

The scheduled arrival time to Biarritz is 19:15 what can be late for onward connections to SJPP on the same day but you could stay overnight in Biarritz or Bayonne traveling to SJPP (early) next morning.
 
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Joodle

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 10th- June 21st 2016
VDLP March-April 2017
CF coming up April-May
Joe,
I did the camino frances this fall, flying American Airlines from Calgary to Dallas/Fort Worth to Madrid. I booked through British Airways and returned through London. I would assume that you could book through American Airlines directly to Madrid. I took the bus from Madrid Airport to Pamplona, where I was picked up, taken to Corazon Puro for the night, and driven to St Jean to begin my pilgrimage in the morning. I could also have taken the bus all the way to St Jean, as I discovered that the bus that I transferred into in Sorria was going to St Jean after Pamplona. Depending on your airline arrangements, this routing or some version of it might be the best way to begin your camino. Buen camino.
Thank you. I will check into this. You were able to catch a bus right from the Madrid airport? And when you transferred, you could have stayed on that bus all the way to SJPP? That would be great!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Thank you. I will check into this. You were able to catch a bus right from the Madrid airport? And when you transferred, you could have stayed on that bus all the way to SJPP? That would be great!
Yes,
Alsa bus lines has a route from Terminal 4 at Madrid Airport to Pamplona, with a change at Sorria to a bus which continues on to St Jean Pied de Port in the summer season. American Airlines, as well as its partners, British Airways etc., fly into Terminal 4. However, the bus to St Jean appears to only run in the summer and there is no information on the Alsa web site about that connection when the bus is not running. That is why I made arrangements to be picked up in Pamplona, as I was making all my bookings long ahead of time.
 
C

Castilian

Guest
Alsa bus lines has a route from Terminal 4 at Madrid Airport to Pamplona, with a change at Sorria
...and PLM autocares (http://plmautocares.com) has a direct (i.e.: no changes required) bus from Terminal 4 at Madrid Airport to Pamplona. I think that it runs daily except Sundays but verify it on the web of PLM. If the schedule of the only bus that PLM has from the Terminal 4 at Madrid airport to Pamplona suits your arrival time to the airport, it might be a better alternative than the Alsa changing in Soria.
 

Joodle

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 10th- June 21st 2016
VDLP March-April 2017
CF coming up April-May
...and PLM autocares (http://plmautocares.com) has a direct (i.e.: no changes required) bus from Terminal 4 at Madrid Airport to Pamplona. I think that it runs daily except Sundays but verify it on the web of PLM. If the schedule of the only bus that PLM has from the Terminal 4 at Madrid airport to Pamplona suits your arrival time to the airport, it might be a better alternative than the Alsa changing in Soria.
Thanks. I have a little time to make arrangements, as my Daughter and I have finalized our trip for September 20th through October. Yahoo and Yippity Skippity!!! I'm not excited or anything!
 

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