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which route from SJPdP?


I gather that there are two routes from St Jean PdP to Roncevalles. One seems to follow the main road and the other (called the Napoleon Route?) goes on smaller tracks via Huntto. Does anyone have any recommendations as to which one will be the most fun - bearing in mind that it will be my first day on the Camino. (15th May by the way).

Look forward to meeting people. I did a 2 day trial from Pamplona last April and loved it.
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Hi Paul,
The road route is the original camino route. You can break your walk by staying at Valcarlos on the way up.
The Route Napoleon is the GR 65, cross country route and is tougher than the road route. However, you can stay at Huntto - 5kms away or at Orisson which is 8kms from St Jean. You can even book ahead at
If the weather is bad, do not walk the route Napoleon.
If you decide on the route Napoleon, leave St Jean early, take it slow and rest often.
Have a good one!
er, actually, there are 3 routes. Go to ... oller/Maps and type in 'St Jean Pied de Port' and France.

The main road route is the D933 via Valcarlos (the Carlos concerned is Charlemagne, who is supposed to have used this route - and been ambushed on it - on the return from his Hispanic campaign). As Sil says, this is the bad weather route, as it's much lower.

The 'Camino route', waymarked with yellow arrows, is the D428 via the Col Bentarte. This is the route most people use, and as you can see is also on a road for most of the way up. It was used by Napoleon in the Peninsular Wars - coming from Bayonne, and rather better documented than the Charlemagne one. :)

You can see that the GR65, red/white stripes, uses a different exit from St Jean and joins the Camino route further along, though I don't think many people use it.

The 'original route' was the Roman road; this came up the valley to St Jean le Vieux (Imus Pyrenaeus) and continued in a straight line to St Michel (which is where the Codex Calixtinus route starts) and on to the Bentarte route and the Port de Cize (Summus Pyrenaeus).


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Routes from St Jean

Don't confuse the poor pilgrim Peter! Let's rephrase the info.

Paul, there are two BASIC routes. The Route Napoleon and the road route. If you have time to get the Confraternity of St James Guide No.1 Camino Frances, follow either of the routes described in their book.
Whichever you decide on - have a wonderful walk!


Thanks both!

It sounds as though the Route Napoleon is favourite. I won't have a tent, but otherwise I'm well protected and like to get off main roads when I can.

I'm sure that it will all make sense on the day!
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The Route Napoleon is the only route worth considering unless it is snowing (& it won't be). On arrival in SJPP go to the Camino office to get your sello (Pilgrims Passport) & access to the Refuge. They will tell you if the high route is OK/open. Start early & take it easy. The views are superb as are the eagles, horses.... There are plenty of water fountains. The refuge in Roncesvalles doesn't open until 4pm & has over 100 beds, so no point in rushing. It's a long climb but if you are reasonably fit, young & slim you'll be fine - only the 1st applies to me & I didn't struggle.


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Route Napoleon

Hi. I'm debating on the route from SJPP also. I have little (basically no) walking experience in mountains and will be walking alone for the first two weeks. Needless to say I'm a little nervous about taking the Napoleon route but don't want to miss out either. I have the confraternity guide and the first day looks the toughest. It says it's a 12 hour walk. I'm not planning on stopping in Huntto after 5 km as it's not that far from SJPP and a waste of a day. Any feedback would be appreciated. :?
Also - this forum is excellent :D


Napolean vs. Charlemagne

What a discussion! as an historian...BOTH appeal! But I too prefer getting off the asphalt whenever possible...there seems to be so much during the last 120 kilometers!

Still, I think I will go the Napolean because it IS off the main route. The thing is...I am coming from Pamplona that morning via cab, AND have to pick up my credencial AND want to see the town for an hour or two before I begin....
when I read that it says 12 hours....
well, I am asking "Y'all" if YOUR experience is really that many...I know...going up all the way, etc.
I figure that if I don't get far, I can stay at the Orisson albuerge, having their address already from a previous pilgrim.

What d'y'all think? 12 hours? (I figure I will end up starting at noon or 1:00 p.m.)

I leave this Tuesday!!!!!

Muchisimas gracias, fellow peregrinos!


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Time of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Route Napoleon

Now listen to all the old mother Grundies Mabel - DO NOT START on the Route Napoleon any later than 08h30 if you intend going all the way to Roncesvalle.
Stay over at Hunto or Orisson and have a fresh start the next day.

The CSJ guide book has this added warning:
"Even in summer do not attempt it (the Route Napoleon) in low cloud, high winds or bad weather and even if fit - do not start later than 10am.

Have a safe walk.

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