As of now, Orisson has a new procedure for booking a bed. Someone on the Camino forum’s made up this great instruction guide.
Travel from Barcelona to St Jean Pied de Port
What is the best way to get to St Jean Pied Du Port from Barcelona airport?
If you want to travel by train, the best route is to take the RENFE train from terminal 2 to Sants Estació (Barcelona Sants train station)
The RENFE train travels from Barcelona Airport to Santa. It takes about 20 minutes from the airport to Santa Estació.
If you are arriving into Terminal 1 of Barcelona airport you will need to catch the free shuttle bus from the terminal to the train station.
The train departs terminal 2 approximately every 1/2 hour starting at 6:08 am.
From the train station, you can take a train to Pamplona. There are 3 to 5 departures daily.
ViBaSa( Monbus) is the bus company that goes from Barcelona to Pamplona. The bus departs from the Sants Estació (Barcelona Sants train station) and travels to Pamplona. There are 2 to 4 departures daily.
ALSA operates a bus to Zaragoza with a transfer to a bus to Pamplona from Barcelona Estació Nord. You must purchase the tickets separately as they are considered two journeys.
There is a bus that travels from Pamplona to SJPP. From March to the end of October there are usually 2 buses per day. In the winter the bus only goes to Roncesvalles.
For Winter Walkers or those who arrive in Pamplona to late to catch the bus.
From Pamplona, you can take the bus to San Sebastian/Donostia. From San Sebastian/Donostia you can take one of two bus companies ALSA or PESA to Bayonne. The SCNF train runs 4 times per day from Bayonne to SJPP.
More people walk the last 100km of the Camino Frances than any other part of any Camino. If you only have a short period of time or you just want to experience a bit of the Camino this is a very common route. The actual distance is approximately 115km.
Day 1 Sarria to Portomarín (22km)
Day 2 Portomarín to Palas de Rei (25km)
Day 3 Palas de Rei to Aruza (29km)
Day 4 Aruza to Rua-O Pino (18km)
Day 5 Rua-O Pino to Santiago de Compostela (20km)
The above is only an example of what you can choose to do. There are many ways to walk the Camino. If you would like there are transport services that will carry your backpack or luggage from place to place so that you only need carry a day pack.
There is a pilgrim’s Mass every day in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It begins at noon. You are not allowed to bring your backpack into the Cathedral so you will need to check into your lodging or store your pack prior to entering. The pilgrims Mass is very moving experience whether you are Catholic or not it does not matter.
It is best to make reservations for your stay in Santiago de Compostela as it can be very crowded depending on the time of the year that you arrive. Booking.com is an excellent resource for making reservations.
This article was posted by Sylvia Nilsen in the Pilgrim Camino Discussion group on Facebook. I consider Sylvia somewhat of an authority on all things Camino.
Detours from the Camino Frances
When planning to walk the Camino Frances, allow a few extra days for detours from the Camino path. There are many interesting, historical places just a few kilometers off the actual path that are not on the modern Camino but which probably were a part of alternate trails in the Middle Ages. Some will add a few kilometers to your walk, others you can reach by bus or take a tour.
If you start in Roncesvalles, try to get there early enough to take a 3 km walk up to the 1 300 m Ibaneta Pass and look into France from the top. The famous monastery and Hospice of San Salvador once stood here. There is a modern chapel here dedicated to Charlemagne and a monument to Roland. This is where the Route Napoleon and the Val Carlos Route join.
Many pilgrims start at Roncesvalles (or stagger in late from St Jean Pied de Port!), but because they arrive on the evening bus, they don’t have time to explore this historic monastery complex. Try to get there the day before, or take a taxi from Pamplona (share the fare with other pilgrims) so that you have time to visit the cloisters and the museum with its extraordinary reliquaries and other artifacts. Scan the church walls for mason signs; visit the old walls of the original hospice opposite the church and the monastery ossury that is said to hold the remains of Charlemagne’s soldiers.
From Muruzabel, about 3 km off the Camino path, is the octagonal church of Santa María de Eunate. Built around 1170 it has been associated with the Knights Templar and excavations close by having revealed numbers of graves with scallop shells suggesting that it could have been a funerary church. The walls have many mason signs that you will see all along the Camino.
18 km south-west of Logroño is the ruined castle of Clavijo, the site of the legend that Sant Iago appeared out of the clouds on a white horse to help the Christian soldiers against moor invasions. The battle did not actually take place and some historians say that the story of Santiago Matamoros was started even before the claim that his body was discovered near Compostela.
You can take a taxi there or walk there and back in two days.
San Millán de la Cogalla :
14 km south-west of Azofra is the magnificent monasteries of Suso and Yuso, the first built between the 5th and 6th centuries and the Yuso around the 16th century.
Book a guided tour to the fascinating archaeological site which lies within a military zone about 40 km from the village. Atapuerca is one of Europe’s most important archaeological sites.
It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001.
(No private visits allowed.) [email protected] Santo Domingo de Silos :
Take a bus from Burgos to the monastery where the Gregorian chants were made famous a few years ago. (The trip itself is an experience, along narrow winding roads, through stunning, rock-face scenery.) The cloisters are unique and the pharmacy museum is worth a visit. Plan on spending at least two nights. The bus leaves Burgos at 17h30 and returns at 08h30 the next day – not leaving enough time to see the village, hear the chanting and visit the museum. www.hotelsantodomingodesilos.com
Castrojeriz Climb the hill and visit the ruins of the castle Mirador with spectacular views of the valley below. Visit the Convent of Santa Clara about 2 km south of the village – a closed order – where you can buy biscuits and other baked goodies bypassing your money through a revolving serving hatch.
About 60 km from Astorga and 20 km from Ponferrada, the fantastical landscape of the Medulas used to be the most important gold mining area in the Roman Empire. Las Médulas landscape is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Vega de Valcarce :
You will see the Castle Sarracin squatting on the high hill to your left on the way to O Cebreiro. Originally built in the 9th century, it was owned by the lords of Sarracin who also owned 35 small towns in the area. This 14th century was one of eight castles owned by the Marques de Villafranca. A round trip of about 45 minutes will reward you with extensive views and an impressive ruin that has sheer cliffs on three sides.
A 6 km detour to the recently restored, spectacular Monasterio de San Salvador at Vilar das Donas.
Finisterre and Muxia: About 90 km west of Santiago is the small fishing village of Fistera or Finisterre, known as The End of The World in medieval times. The bus takes about 2.5 hours or you can walk there in three to four days and earn the Fisterrana certificate.
25 km north of Fistera and the final destination of Santiago pilgrims, legend has it that the Virgin Mary appeared to an evangelic apostle. The Celtic stones near the church are said to be remains of the Virgin Mary’s stone boat.
South-west of Santiago visit the church of Santiago which contains the ‘Pedron’ stone under the altar. This is the stone where Saint James’ disciples tied their boat when they came ashore with his body which they had brought from the Holy Land.
This is a step by step map and directions to walking along the river along the way into Burgos. It is a beautiful walk along the river as opposed to walking through the industrial area. Both will get you to Burgos.
This is the list of the stages that the Pilgrims Office in Saint-Jean-Pied-du-Port gives each pilgrim who visits them. It is an excellent view of the walk ahead.
The French Route – Camino Frances
When most people talk about the Camino de Santiago they are referring to the Camino Frances. It is the most traveled and most well-organized of the Camino routes in Spain. Roughly 75% of all people who make a pilgrimage to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela travel the French route.
The traditional starting point for the Camino Frances is Saint Jean pied du Port France. A small French Basque village at the base of the Pyrenees mountains in southwestern France. There are also many locations in France where you could start your Camino if you wished. Some actually start at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and walk all the way to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally back in the middle ages you began your pilgrimage at the front door of your home wherever that might be and walked all the way to Santiago. Unfortunately, back in those days there were not trains, bus’ or airplanes so after successfully reaching Santiago you had to turn around and walk back home. It was very dangerous and many either choose to stay or never made it home.
The first day out of Saint Jean pied du Port you can travel one of two different routes. The first and most famous is the route Napoleon which goes directly up and over the Pyrenees. It is of course a beautiful if not strenuous 27 km walk up and over the mountains. The other choice is the Valcarlos route which follows the road up the mountain although you will not walk directly on the road. It is also very beautiful and as strenuous as the route Napoleon. So why would you choose one over the other? Primarily because during the winter, early spring and sometimes the late fall the route Napoleon is closed due to Snow. Normally it is closed from the end of October until sometime in March or later. It is very important to go to the pilgrims office in Saint Jean pied du Port to check on the status of the route Napoleon. If they tell you it is closed, please listen to them and walk the Valcarlos route. At least one or two pilgrims die each year due to becoming lost or disoriented and falling off the mountain during inclement weather. The pilgrims office has the most up to date information in the status of the route. One more warning, should you ignore the pilgrims office and need to be rescued, you can expect a bill for a minimum of €5,000 and we have seen charges as high as €15,000 as the rescue team will deploy helicopters during the search.
Roncesvalles is the first stop after going over the Pyrenees. Roncesvalles is a very small village nestled in the Pyrenees on the Spanish side. The next big city is Pamplona, which is a wonderful place. Most well know around the world for the festival of San Fermin or even better know as the running of the bulls. After Pamplona the next large city is Burgos. The Cathedral in Burgos is not to be missed. It is one of the largest Cathedrals in Europe. Once you leave Burgos you will walk across the meseta which is an area full of fields of grain, vineyards and fields of different plants and vegetables. Many will tell you it is flat. While it is relatively to what you have already been exposed to, it is more like undulating ups and downs. it’s a beautiful part of the Camino. the next large town will be Leon. Leon is also a beautiful city. The Cathedral of Leon is also not to be missed. After Leon you will begin to walk back up into the mountains and eventually cross over into Galicia which is the region of Spain where Santiago de Compostela is located. Galicia is very near the sea so the weather, even in the summer months is unpredictable.
Of course the final destination is the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Total distance from Saint Jean pied du Port is roughly 800 km or about 480 miles.