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Which trail from SJPDP

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#1
There’s two trails to Roncesvalles. Both about 23km. So which one for a first timer fairly fit 62 in one stretch. Please
 

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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
#2
The Napoleon Route is the most popular choice. Its overall elevation gain is greater by about 200 meters than via Valcarlos. However, the Valcarlos Route climbs, descends, climbs again, descends again, etc. , and the final elevation gain is at a steeper gradient than on Napoleon.

The elevation gain on Napoleon is consistently upward, so you are not constantly gaining and losing elevation as part of the route; and after Orisson, it becomes a more gentle gradient to the top at Col de Lepoeder

Here's a video showing the Valcarlos Route:
 

RJM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#3
They are both lovely routes, and unique in their own ways. In good weather they are also very doable in one day all the way to Roncesvalles for an average, healthy fit person of many age ranges who has packed wisely and reasonably.
If you are looking to walk with more fellow pilgrims, the Napoleon route is more popular.
 

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#4
The Napoleon Route is the most popular choice. Its overall elevation gain is greater by about 200 meters than via Valcarlos. However, the Valcarlos Route climbs, descends, climbs again, descends again, etc. , and the final elevation gain is at a steeper gradient than on Napoleon.

The elevation gain on Napoleon is consistently upward, so you are not constantly gaining and losing elevation as part of the route; and after Orisson, it becomes a more gentle gradient to the top at Col de Lepoeder

Here's a video showing the Valcarlos Route:
Thanks Dave.
 

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grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#6
They are both very doable by anyone who is reasonably fit.
The difficulty pretty much depends on your actual level of fitness. Most pilgrims walk through to Roncesvalles on the same day.
It has become a mantra here and on the APOC Facebook site to insist that you need to stop at Orisson or Valcarlos. The vast majority of pilgrims walk on to Roncesvalles without even knowing that it is possible to stop after 7km in Orisson.
I have walked both routes several times and, in my opinion, there really is not a whole lot of difference in difficulty between the two routes....despite the myths about the horrible "climb over the Pyrenees" regarding the Napoleon Route.
I suppose my advice would be to take the Napoleon if the weather is decent...just to say you did....but the ValCarlos route is a very good choice and in no way a lesser route.

Personal opinion, of course.
 

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 :-)
#7
We came over the Napolean route today Frank. Along with about 300 others!

Sadly no views due to weather.
 
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Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#8
We came oveer the Napolean route today Frank. Along with about 300 others!

Sadly no views due to weather.
Hey Robo did you go all the way to Rocesvalles? Shame about the weather.
 

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 :-)
#9
Hey Robo did you go all the way to Rocesvalles? Shame about the weather.
No we broke the journey in two. Used express bouricott 'mountain shuttle'. Great service. They are a few doors down from. Pilgrim office.
 

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#10
No we broke the journey in two. Used express bouricott 'mountain shuttle'. Great service. They are a few doors down from. Pilgrim office.
Taking it easy eh! Lol. Buen Camino Pal.
 

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 :-)
#11
Lol
...

You don't know the half of it!

The menu del dia at casas sabina (roncesvalles close to albergue) was awesome! And only 14 euros. Three courses with wine.

For those who recommend eating a main meal at lunchtime (menu del dia) , rather than pilgrim menu dinners.......we are sold!
 

Cicada

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
#12
There’s two trails to Roncesvalles. Both about 23km. So which one for a first timer fairly fit 62 in one stretch. Please
Hey Frank my wife and I walked last April.The napoleon was tough but we took our time and arrived safely although exhausted The weather was fantastic. We found the most difficult part was the decent into Roncesvalles take it easy, it's very steep.The following day we only walked as far as Espinal stayed in a Casa Rural and rested up for half a day. After that we were fine. Not being on a tight schedule helped! We were both 67 years young. Pa
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#13
I can only speak for the Napoleon, and I'm probably influenced by the fact we had a nice day and the views were to die for. And the horses, the sheep, the alpine plants and heather, and birds (eagles?). Doing the whole thing in one stretch is fine, and I will do that again. We took the road option down into Roncesvalles to save our knees and I'll do that again too.
I thought it was a wonderful way to start a Camino, starting with something challenging and dramatic.
But do stop at the Orisson cafe, its situated for amazing views and that coffee and breakfast/early lunch will be very welcome by then.
,
 

John Sikora

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese/Coastal Sept
(2019) Via de la Plata - Seville to Santiago May
#14
I walked the Valcarllos route to Roncessvalles. It is as billed, a little less elevation but steeper at the end near Roncesvalles. Did it in two days because I had the time. The route was very nice, didn't run into many people on the trek up.
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
#15
There’s two trails to Roncesvalles. Both about 23km. So which one for a first timer fairly fit 62 in one stretch. Please
Hi Franck when you arrive at SJPP go to the pilgrims office 39 rue de la citadelle : the volunteers will help you to choose the way according to the weather report and they will answer all your questions. All volunteers are old pilgrims. They will give you all information you need to start your Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
#19
There’s two trails to Roncesvalles. Both about 23km. So which one for a first timer fairly fit 62 in one stretch. Please
High route. Not really that much harder and you will look back afterwards and regret not doing it. Try to stay at Orisson othwise it is very tough but if you can do that it’s a great experience.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - June 2018
#20
Heading out from SJPDP to Roncesvelles and taking the Route de Napoleon, where would one stop for breaks /water/ food?? Recommendations Please
 

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
#21
Heading out from SJPDP to Roncesvelles and taking the Route de Napoleon, where would one stop for breaks /water/ food?? Recommendations Please
This section is sparse for stops for food and water. Huntto is not far out of SJPdP. Orisson has food service and snacks and beverages. Water sources are minimal on, but you can refill at Orisson, at Rolands Fountain, and there may be a couple of food trucks along the way for bottled water and food.

I carried 1.5 liters of water -- and was happy I did -- and some high calorie snacks. Stopped for a bocadillo and juice at Orisson, and carried another bocadillo from there for my son and I to split later on.
 

Danela

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
20 May 2018 Dor 9 days starting in st Jean pied
#22
So happy to have found this site even though I have been researching online since booking my flights in December. What wonderful detail about eating and drinking from Davebugg . 1.5 litres sounds a good idea then .I start at SJPdP on the 21st this month on my own, never done it before. I can hardly find my way around in my own neighbourhood without a garmen so pretty scary to be doing on my own. If it so happens that I dont meet any fellow pilgrims on Napoleon route how easy is it to follow without getting lost (realsing a little lost might do me good but only a little!).
 

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 :-)
#23
You won't be alone ;)
And unless the weather is really bad, hard to miss the trail
 

Dorpie

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#25
So happy to have found this site even though I have been researching online since booking my flights in December. What wonderful detail about eating and drinking from Davebugg . 1.5 litres sounds a good idea then .I start at SJPdP on the 21st this month on my own, never done it before. I can hardly find my way around in my own neighbourhood without a garmen so pretty scary to be doing on my own. If it so happens that I dont meet any fellow pilgrims on Napoleon route how easy is it to follow without getting lost (realsing a little lost might do me good but only a little!).

Welcome to the forum Danela,

Do not fear, unless you plan on leaving SJPdP in darkness there will be many, many people crawling walking the route Napoleon with you. And thanks to the work of wonderful volunteers the markers will guide you all the way to Santiago de Compostella 800km away, just imagine if every day some helpful person laid a trail of helpful arrows to help you to your destination, suddenly no need for a Garmin :).

But mistakes do happen. Last year a friend and I accidentally walked 20km of the Camino San Salvador after missing a junction leaving Leon (towns are far easier to get lost in than the Pyranees). It was the best mistake ever! Beautiful scenery, a break from the busy Camino Frances and a wonderful family took us in, gave us a wonderful lunch and then helped us get back to Leon, a day I will always remember.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
#26
I am preparing for my next Camino right now...so I don't want to give advice because I am not following my own advice right now...but I will give you a map that will help you make your own choice...but I will tell you that my personal experience on the Route de Napoleon was bad and I would not do it again.
Don’t agree. Check the weather and if it’s ago the high route is stunning with an incredible sense of history and achievement.
 

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 :-)
#27
I am preparing for my next Camino right now...so I don't want to give advice because I am not following my own advice right now...but I will give you a map that will help you make your own choice...but I will tell you that my personal experience on the Route de Napoleon was bad and I would not do it again.
Why was it bad? What happened?
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPDP & Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 - Future: Camino del Norte 8/18 (All Mountain Bike)
#28
Why was it bad? What happened?
Don’t agree. Check the weather and if it’s ago the high route is stunning with an incredible sense of history and achievement.
Fair question...I have crossed the Pyrenees Mountains twice in different years and different locations...and the weather is as unpredictable and dangerous as crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains...basically I saw numerous Pilgrims end their Camino Frances on the first two days due to injuries...so I will never cross the Pyreness Mountains again...and I also recommend starting the Camino Frances in Roncesvalles.

Day 1 - SJPdP to Orisson: Started in the early afternoon...100 degrees F...100% sunshine...100% humidity...no wind...no shade...drank 4x litter bottles of water and then missed the only water tap where the dirt trail reconnects to road...the only Pilgrims I saw hiking all day were going downhill back to SJPdP to hire a taxi...also passed numerous Pilgrims stalled on the side of the road resting from the heat...finally passed out from heat exhaustion on the side of the road near the treeline...30-minutes later...I got up and started walking again only to find out that I was 200-yards away from Refuge Orisson, a cold beer, and 10-minute cold shower.

Day 2 - Orisson to Roncesvalles: Started early morning...very cold, wet, and windy...then the chinook 30+ MPH constant winds started throwing Pilgrims to the ground...every time I saw a grave marker along the road I kept thinking that it must have been on a day like today...I finally made it to the top of the mountain pass and the rain started hard...finally arrived in Roncesvalles over an hour later looking like a large wet fuzzy cotton ball.
 

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 :-)
#29
Sounds rough Kurt!
And bad luck.
My two crossings have been great.
Cold,wet and windy this time ( last week) but OK.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - June 2018
#30
I will totally play it by ear with weather but still hoping for the challenge of doing the Napoleon Route. Thanks for the advice ! Will pack lots of water!
 
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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
#31
I will totally pay it by ear with weather but still hoping for the challenge of doing the Napoleon Route. Thanks for the advice ! Will pack lots of water!
Sherry, I drink lots of water, and I found that 1.5 liters was sufficient for getting to Orisson.... If you find you are needing to guzzle a bit more, you can stop at Huntto and top up prior to Orisson. From Orisson, 1.5 liters was good and I topped up at Roland's Fountain. That seemed sufficient to Roncesvalles.
 

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
#33
Is Roland's fountain early to locate? thanks for tips
If you mean 'easy', yes it is; it's right on the Camino at the French/Spanish border crossing. :)
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#34
There’s two trails to Roncesvalles. Both about 23km. So which one for a first timer fairly fit 62 in one stretch. Please
It really depends on the weather that day. Pop into the pilgrim's office on arrival and get the weather forecast - Fine, calm and dry - Route Napoleon. - Anything else - Off to Valcarlos.

Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - June 2018
#36
It really depends on the weather that day. Pop into the pilgrim's office on arrival and get the weather forecast - Fine, calm and dry - Route Napoleon. - Anything else - Off to Valcarlos.

Buen Camino, SY
will do for sure! Thanks
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - June 2018
#37
On another note has anyone had any issues with water quality on route? Was thinking of packing the Lifestraw that attached inside my normal water bottle but adds just a bit more weight - worth it???
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - June 2018
#38
No we broke the journey in two. Used express bouricott 'mountain shuttle'. Great service. They are a few doors down from. Pilgrim office.
Robo - did you use this service to take your pack ahead or is there a service for this first leg ?? A lighter load doing this leg would be nice!
 

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
#39
On another note has anyone had any issues with water quality on route? Was thinking of packing the Lifestraw that attached inside my normal water bottle but adds just a bit more weight - worth it???
Spain's water is of high quality, just as with the rest of the EU. At public fountains, if the water is not potable it will be labeled as such. I do a lot of wilderness backpacking and am generally cautious as to waterborne illnesses; I don't worry about water on Camino at all.
 

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
#40
Yes - Easy LOL -Found it on map - Frontera-Fuente! good to know - seems like lots of places to load up
There are a few, but the distances between these sources is quite a bit further than with the other stages you'll be walking. After the SJPdP - Roncesvalles stage, you will be able to carry a lot less water as the towns and villages are much closer together.
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
#41
I am preparing for my next Camino right now...so I don't want to give advice because I am not following my own advice right now...but I will give you a map that will help you make your own choice...but I will tell you that my personal experience on the Route de Napoleon was bad and I would not do it again.
There is a copyright on this map that is now obsolete !
 

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 :-)
#42
Robo - did you use this service to take your pack ahead or is there a service for this first leg ?? A lighter load doing this leg would be nice!
Yes. Sent a zip- up nylon bag with heavy stuff to roncesvalles. We are not fit and have foot injuries so need to ,ease into it....

Only made it to Navarette so far for day 12 !

Still easing in to it ! :oops:
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPDP & Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 - Future: Camino del Norte 8/18 (All Mountain Bike)
#44
It really depends on the weather that day. Pop into the pilgrim's office on arrival and get the weather forecast - Fine, calm and dry - Route Napoleon. - Anything else - Off to Valcarlos.
An albergue owner in SJJPdP gave me a warning before I started on the Route de Napoleon...and it was the same warning that local President of American Pilgrims on the Camino gave me and his personal recommendation was to start in Roncesvalles.

So my advice if you really want to cross the Pyreness Mountains...take a taxi to the Croix (Cross) so you will miss all of the road trail where the French taxis drive up the road way to fast and the chinook wind areas where most of the Pilgrim injuries occur...then follow the trail over the Spanish boarder to the choice in trails at Col de Lepoeder...and then take the longer and safer trail to the right into Roncesvalles...because if you take the shorter trail to the left the competition European mountain bikers will run down on the narrow steep decent into Roncesvalles...so that is my opinion and the choice is yours...Buen Camino.​
 

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