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French Way Pyrenees 1st Week

St Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona

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  • Pyrenees CaminoWays.com Camino de Santiago
  • Zubiri CaminoWays.com
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  • Pamplona CaminoWays.com

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The first section of the French Way, the famous Camino Francés starts in the walled town of St Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque Country, and takes pilgrims across the Pyrenees and into the city of Pamplona, world famous for its San Fermín running of the bulls festival. This is one of the most challenging sections of the French Way Camino route but also one of the most beautiful, especially if you follow the ‘Napoleon Route‘ over the Roncesvalles Pass (1450m). The views of the Pyrenees are definitely worth the effort! Along the route, you will meet fellow pilgrims from all over the world, as St Jean is the second most popular Camino starting point.
Click on ‘booking’ or ‘get a quote’ to customise your Camino trip.

Trip highlights

  • Join fellow pilgrims in St Jean Pied de Port
  • Breath in the beauty of the Pyrennes
  • Discover the flavours of Navarra
  • Trace Hemingway's steps in Pamplona

1 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

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Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is the second most popular Camino starting point for pilgrims. 20,000 people each year choose to start their Camino de Santiago in this walled town in the French Basque Country. Take the opportunity to explore this picturesque town, its citadel and the St James Gate, arrival point for pilgrims coming from other Camino ways in France.

2 St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles - 25km

St Jean to Roncesvalles CaminoWays.com

8h | +1601m / -786m
Today you leave St Jean Pied de Port and start the ascent to the famous Roncesvalles Pass across the Pyrenees. This is a challenging day, probably the most difficult of the whole French Way Camino route. The ‘Napoleon Route’ starts with a steep climb past country houses before reaching mountain meadows, the cross and some spectacular mountain views. The Camino will then take you through woodlands towards the French/Spanish border and descend into Roncesvalles. There is also an alternative trail along the valley, passing the town of Valcarlos. Take some time to visit the Collegiate Church and St James chapel in Roncesvalles.

Easy Walking Option Stay in Valcarlos - 12km & 13km

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4h | +301m / -186m & 4h | +601m / -286m
You can split the long walking day from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles, into two stages of 12km and 13km, if you would like to walk at a more relaxed pace. You would stay overnight in a charming 2* hotel in the village of Valcarlos. We would recommend taking this option during the winter months when snow can make the higher route impassable. Read our blog post: Route Napoleón or Valcarlos?

3 Roncesvalles to Zubiri - 22km

Pyrenees CaminoWays.com Camino de Santiago

6h | +234m / -329m
Today, your Camino continues from the peaceful mountain village of Roncesvalles (‘Orregaga’ in Basque), a popular Camino starting point for Spanish pilgrims. Here you should visit the St James chapel, as well as the Royal Collegiate Church of Saint Mary. From Roncesvalles, the Camino de Santiago French route continues through beech and oak woods before entering Espinal. You will also cross two mountain passes: Alto de Mezquiriz and Alto de Erro. You will then descend towards the village of Zubiri and its medieval ‘Puente de la Rabia’ (the Rabies Bridge) over the River Arga.

4 Zubiri to Pamplona - 21km

Zubiri CaminoWays.com

6h | +234m / -329m
From Zubiri, the Camino de Santiago follows the river Arga to the town of Larrasoaña, an important stop for pilgrims in Medieval times. The second half of the day will get busier, as you approach the bustle of Pamplona city. Famous for its Running of the Bulls festival, San Fermín, taking place in July, Pamplona has many other attractions to visit. Explore the city’s medieval streets, visit the cathedral, taste some of the fantastic local food and wine and Hemingway fans can go for a coffee in one of the writer’s favourite haunts in the main square: Plaza del Castillo.

5 Pamplona

Pamplona CaminoWays.com

Today is the last day of your Camino self-guided trip. Enjoy the sights of Pamplona city before heading back home. World famous for its San Fermín festival, the running of the bulls taking place in July, Pamplona is a lively city with plenty to do, see and taste. Hemingway fans can have take a tour of the city inspired by the American writer, a frequent visitor to the city.

Ext. Guided Tour Pamplona to Puente de la Reina - 23km

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6h15 +442 m / -525 m
Our Camino guided tour for this section continues to Puente de la Reina. As you leave Pamplona behind you, you will begin an ascent towards the ‘Alto del Perdón’ (Hill of Forgiveness). Get your picture taken with the photogenic pilgrim sculpture at the ‘alto’ and enjoy fantastic 360 panoramic views of Pamplona and the valley ahead. From there, you will begin your descent towards Puente la Reina (The Queen’s Bridge) with its medieval alleys and impressive 11th century bridge over the River Arga.

Ext. Guided Tour Puente la Reina to Estella - 22km

Camino-de-Santiago-French-Way-Camino-Ways

6h15 | +466 m / -405 m:
The Camino de Santiago continues along peaceful tracks for most of today, from the towns of Puente la Reina to Estella. You will walk along rolling farmland, passing small towns and villages nested among olive groves, cereal crops and vineyards. Cirauqui (Zirauki), perched on the hilltop, is a pretty little village of winding medieval streets where you will find one of the best preserved stretches of Roman road. Estella-Lizarra is your final point for today, a nice town with plenty to do and see.

Ext. Guided Tour Estella

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This Camino guided tour finishes after breakfast. There are many transport options to Santander and Bilbao airport, check the ‘Access’ tab or ask the CaminoWays.com team for advice.

We have handpicked our hotels on the Camino de Santiago based on their character, facilities and comfort. You will usually arrive at your accommodation in the afternoon giving you plenty of time for a refreshing shower and a visit to the local village, or maybe just to unwind and relax. Please note: Accommodation is subject to availability.

St. Jean Pied de Port - Standard / Superior

Standard: For our Standard Accommodation, we have hand-picked family-run hotels and guesthouses along the Camino de Santiago for their character and warm hospitality. Up to 3-stars, you will be staying in the centre of town and close to the Camino de Santiago trail.
Superior Collection: Stay in the best hotels on the Camino de Santiago: we have selected luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels, boutique guesthouses, relaxing country homes and stunning heritage ‘Parador’ hotels so you can feel pampered.

Roncesvalles - Standard

Standard: For our Standard Accommodation, we have hand-picked family-run hotels and guest houses along the Camino de Santiago for their character and warm hospitality. Up to 3-stars, you will be staying in the centre of town and close to the Camino de Santiago trail. Our first choice  in Roncesvalles is the original 15th-century monastery, which has been beautifully renovated. There is free wifi in common areas, as well as a washing machine and a dryer.

Zubiri - Standard

Standard: For our Standard Accommodation, we have hand-picked family-run hotels and guest houses along the Camino de Santiago for their character and warm hospitality. Up to 3-stars, you will be staying in the centre of town and close to the Camino de Santiago trail.

Pamplona - Standard / Superior

Standard: For our Standard Accommodation, we have hand-picked family-run hotels and guest houses along the Camino de Santiago for their character and warm hospitality. Up to 3-stars, you will be staying in the centre of town and close to the Camino de Santiago trail.
Superior Collection: Stay in the best hotels on the Camino de Santiago: we have selected luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels, boutique guest houses, relaxing country homes and stunning heritage ‘Parador’ hotels so you can feel pampered.

St Jean Pied de Port Average Temperature & Rainfall

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Pamplona Average Temperature & Rainfall

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pamplona-average-rainfall-caminoways

How to Get There

Live information on Rome2Rio. We can also arrange private transfers if you prefer, just ask us.

 

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Biarritz Airport 55km: You can take a shuttle bus from Biarritz Airport (25 min approximate travel time) to Bayonne Gare (station). From there, you can take a train to St Jean Pied de Port five times a day (approx. total journey time. 1h40 – 2h25 in total). See www.voyages-sncf.com and http://en.biarritz.aeroport.fr/. Alternatively, contact the team for airport transfers.

Pau Airport 90km: Airport Shuttle bus is available from the airport to the town’s train station every hour (except Sundays and public holidays). See http://www.pau.aeroport.fr/. From the town you can take a train to St Jean (up to 5 times/ day; not on Sunday), with a change in Bayonne. Travel time is about 3h-5h, depending on the time you need to wait in Bayonne. See: www.bonjourlafrance.com/.

Bordeaux Airport 235k: Shuttle bus to the train station (45min), then train to St Jean Pied de Port via Bayonne See www.voyages-sncf.com.

Pamplona

Bilbao Airport 155km: The Burundesa bus company links Pamplona with Bilbao (2h) with 10 departures a day. It is possible to fly from there with Aerlingus.
See: http://laburundesa.com/pamplona-bilbao/

Biarritz Airport 103km: Train from Pamplona to Biarritz airport (2:15min) http://alsa.es

Santander Airport 253km: The Burundesa bus company links Pamplona with Santander (2h) with 2 departures a day. From the bus station in Santander, simply get a direct city bus to the airport (20min), and Ryanair operates flights from there. See: http://laburundesa.com/pamplona-santander-2/

Madrid Airport 391km: Train 3h renfe. Metro to the airport (45min)