Camino Francés – Starting in the Pyrenees – St Jean to Los Arcos

2020 rates

Number of days

6 days walking – usually booked as a 7 night package. There is the option of adding an extra day to Logroño at the end.

Description

This is what most see as the first stage of the Camino Francés – passing from St. Jean Pied de Port in France into Spain on the first day’s walk. The scenery on this day is stunning, as you climb up into the Pyrenees before descending into the tiny hamlet of Roncesvalles.

Subsequent days see you climb again up to the iconic Alto del Perdón, the day after walking into the famous city of Pamplona, its bull-running festival immortalised in prose by Ernest Hemingway.

The latter half of the week sees you walk amongst the vineyards of the La Rioja region, finishing up in Los Arcos. You can also finish in Logroño by adding an extra day’s walking.

The first day is difficult and requires plenty of training in advance (but nothing beyond any regular walker!) – the second climb to Alto del Perdón isn’t anywhere near as tough in comparison while the walking in general sees plenty of hilly terrain.

Options – Allow for an extra day (30km) to finish in Logroño, capital of the Rioja region. You have earned your wine by now! This day also sees you pass through the beautiful town of Viana which is 2/3 of the way through your day.

Remember that every trip is unique and we can tailor yours to suit you.

Guideline Cost

€595 per person sharing (based on 4 people sharing double/twin rooms). Flights are extra, but we book those at cost for you.

Group rates available.

Single supplements apply (Accommodation approx. €200 and transfer supplement depends on numbers).

What is included

  • 7 nights’ accommodation in ensuite rooms on a B&B basis (typically 2-3* standard). We choose our accommodations to give you the best value while still maintaining high standards.
  • Private transfer from Biarritz airport to St Jean Pied de Port.
  • Private transfer from Los Arcos (or Logroño) to Bilbao airport.
  • Bag transfer each day.
  • Pilgrim Passport – we use those issued by Camino Society Ireland – the only officially-recognised Irish pilgrim passport.
  • Detailed walking notes for each stage, as well as ongoing advice and 24/7 emergency phone service.
  • The security provided from booking with a licensed and bonded travel agency.
  • Optional extra: Premier Plus travel insurance – the highest level of cover provided by Blue Insurance, Ireland’s largest travel insurance provider. (€25 pp/week, subject to terms and conditions).

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 – Fly from Dublin to Biarritz. Upon arrival, you are provided with a private transfer to St Jean. St. Jean is also the point where French Camino routes beginning in Paris, Vézelay and Le Puy converge before crossing the Pyrenees into Spain.

The Camino passes downhill along the Rue de Citadelle and through the Porte D’Espagne, where it leaves the town to continue the long journey uphill into the Pyrenees. The Porte St. Jacques in the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Citadelle offers further historic feeling to the town.

Day 2 – Walk 24km to Roncesvalles. The accommodation/cafe at Orisson is only 7km from St Jean but it is as steep a walk as you will experience on any section of the Camino and you will be glad of the rest! From here you climb again and witness some incredible views in the Pyrenees, from mountain peaks and low-lying valleys to birds of prey and free roaming livestock. Having crested at the Col de Lepoeder, descend into Roncesvalles, dominated by the Augustinian monastery.

Day 3 – Walk 21km to Zubiri, entering this small town via the quirkily-named Puente de la Rabia (the Rabies Bridge) over the Rio Arga. It’s so-named because it was believed that any animal crossing it 3 times was cured of rabies! You are now in Basque country and you will see this on all the signs having dual-language placenames.

Day 4 – Walk 19km to Pamplona. Today is an easier and shorter walk than the first couple of days, finishing up in the first big city of the Camino – Pamplona. Famous for the festival of San Fermín, the centre of the city is quite compact and well worth exploring (never mind sampling some of the delicious tapas-style food in its bars!).

Day 5 – Walk 25km to Puente La Reina. Today is dominated by two very different iconic sights of the Camino. The views from Alto del Perdón (The Mountain of Forgiveness) are beautiful in 2 different directions, as you admire the cast-iron cut-out statues of the pilgrims at the top. You also see the villages of Uterga, Murazabal and Obanos in the valley below – you will walk through each of these on your way to Puente La Reina, famous for its 11th century pilgrim bridge.

Day 6 – Walk 24km to Estella. Other than a climb up to the village of Mañeru in the early part of the day, the walk is relatively straight forward. In Estella, the picturesque Plaza de los Fueros off the Calle Mayor marks the centre of the town and is a relaxing place to sit out and watch the world go by.

Day 7 – Walk 23km to Los Arcos, a small town named for the Portal de Castilla gate by the church of Santa Maria. Enjoy dinner in the plaza by the church, while earlier in the day, Villamayor de Monjardín (10km into the day) is a beautiful village in which to stop for a break and some lunch.

Day 8 – Private transfer to Bilbao airport for your return flight to Dublin.