Archives For St. Jean Pied de Port

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From Cirauqui to Lorca was the most important stretch of Roman road left on the French Way. The path started gently rolling through vineyards and farmland… The original road was not always clear, but when I saw the laid-out stones, I slowed and watched every step… Millions of pilgrims had walked on this very road, and I felt special and honored to be able to join them… From Page 53, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days.

At the end of my last post, On The Camino de Santiago in Spain, Uterga to Puente la Reina, I looked back at the magnificent bridge that spanned the Arga in Puente la Reina. I was in such awe, but that was only one of many incredible features on this memorable day. Now, I’ll continue with my journey on the Camino de Santiago, in the chapter, Day 3: Canadian Boy. Even if you don’t have my book, you can still enjoy this post, and learn more about walking the French Way or Camino Francés (map from Wikipedia Commons).

The poppies in full bloom adorned this part of the Camino.

Photo of red poppies along the Camino the Santiago near Puente la Reina, Spain

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About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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Just ahead stood the concrete border marker between France and Spain, and I was excited to enter a new country. Although I had never expected a border guard or someone to stamp my passport, it felt odd to simply walk into Spain. If I ever tried walking from Canada into the United States in a rural or mountainous area wearing a backpack, I would have helicopters, the National Guard, and a pack of foxhounds hunting me down. There was not a “Welcome to Spain” sign, but the marker simply stated the region – “Navarra” and “Nafarroa” in Basque. From Page 31, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days.

Now, I’ll continue my journey on the Camino de Santiago. If you have my book, I’m in the chapter, Day 1: Having Flesh Torn From My Body By A Pack of Wild Dogs. Even if you don’t have my book, you can still enjoy this post, and learn more about walking the French Way or Camino Francés (map from Wikipedia Commons). I left my last post, On the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean Pied de Port to the Pyrenees, near the base of the Pic de Leizar Atheka. From this point on, there would be no pavement until Roncesvalles, about 12 kilometres away.

From the Pic de Leizar Atheka, the Camino flattens out. The hand-painted French flags and yellow arrows show the way.

Pyrenees Pic de Leizar Atheka Camino Frances

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About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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St. Jean Pied de Port literally means “St. John at the Foot of the Mountain Pass,” and I began the gentle ascent through the Pyrenees along the side of the paved road. A small, unassuming metal sign showed the “Route de Napoléon,” and I was thrilled to walk where Napoleon had long ago. There were many more pilgrims than I had expected – young, old, skinny, fat, and everywhere in between. Some carried giant backpacks resembling ones I would normally see on a multi-day wilderness backpacking trip. Others carried ones so small, I wondered where all their gear was. My forty-five liter backpack was about average size, and it was full. So full that, with embarrassment, I had to carry a shopping bag containing food. From Page 28, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days.

Now, I’ll begin my journey on the Camino de Santiago. If you have my book, I’m in the chapter, Day 1: Having Flesh Torn From My Body By A Pack of Wild Dogs. Even if you don’t have my book, you can still enjoy this post, and learn more about walking the French Way or Camino Francés (map from Wikipedia Commons). On my last post, A Walk In St. Jean Pied de Port, France, I spent an afternoon touring around the Basque town. I would recommend that you to save some time for relaxing, and even arrive two days prior to your start if possible. St. Jean Pied de Port is a lovely town, rich in history, and the start of the French Way.

On a pleasant, late April morning, I began my journey on the Camino de Santiago. Outside the Pilgrim Office on the Rue de la Citadelle, in the old town. The buildings along the narrow, cobbled street framed the Pyrenees in the distance.

St Jean Pied de Port france Camino de Santiago

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About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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Nestled at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in southwest France is the Basque town of St. Jean Pied De Port. In fact, its name literally means “Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass.” It’s an ancient town, and the traditional start of the French Way or Camino Francés of the Camino de Santiago. The French Way travels 800 kilometres, or 500 miles, to Santiago de Compostela in the west of Spain. Other routes from points in France join the French Way in St. Jean Pied de Port, most notably, the one from Le Puy which travels 740 kilometers. The Caminos through France are far less utilized than the Camino Francés.

Before I began my journey on the Camino de Santiago, I had a wonderful afternoon and evening in St. Jean Pied de Port. If you read A Walk In Biarritz France, Part One, I discussed how I arrived to St. Jean, and included links to the schedule for the train that departed the station in Bayonne. I left my last post, The Cathedral, Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne, Bayonne, France, at the train station, just before I boarded a bus to St. Jean. Pied de Port At that time, the train tracks were undergoing maintenance so the bus was the only choice. The trip from Bayonne was picturesque through valleys, villages, deciduous forests, and farmland. The train ride will take you about 1hr 20min.

The city gate, Porte St-Jacques, is the beginning of the Camino Francés, and leads to the Rue de la Citadelle through the old town. In 1998 these gates were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

City gate, Porte St-Jacques, St. Jean Pied de Port, The French Way

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About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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A visit to the Basque city of Bayonne in the southwest of France is not complete without a stop at the Gothic Bayonne Cathedral. It’s a short walk from the train station, and sits on a hill above the confluence of the Adour and Nive Rivers. Nearby are numerous shops, the botanical gardens, and the Château Vieux. Construction of the cathedral, Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne, began in the early thirteenth century but wasn’t completed until the seventeenth. The cathedral is on a little known route of the Camino de Santiago, la Voie de la Côte, or the Way of the Coast, which joins the Camino del Norte in Irún, Spain.

I visited the cathedral on a beautiful spring evening and following morning. Because of the close proximity to the adjacent buildings, it was difficult to take good photos of the exterior. The brick and stone of the front façade glowed in the evening sun.

Photo of front façade, Bayonne France Cathedral, Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne

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About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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The Basque city of Bayonne sits just north of Biarritz in the Southwest of France, and about six kilometres from the Bay of Biscay. Bayonne was occupied by the Romans in the third century A.D., and was visited by the Vikings in the ninth. England occupied the city as the southern point of its lands from 1151 to 1452, and it was important during the Franco years as a place for Basques to seek refuge.

Bayonne’s festival, Fêtes de Bayonne, takes place in early August, and the city is one of the few left in France that still has bullfights. Bayonne is famous for chocolates and ham, Jambon de Bayonne. I also found out, along with a tasting, that jams and honey are produced locally, and important to the area.

On my last post, A Walk in Biarritz, France Part Two, I concluded my beautiful afternoon walk in the seaside resort city before boarding a bus to nearby Bayonne. Now, I’ll continue in the medieval city of Bayonne, where I spent a glorious evening and morning. As for the night, I have had better accommodations. However, I survived my stay at a hotel, and didn’t get accosted by ghosts, bed bugs, or anything else. If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, I arrived in Bayonne on page 20. If you don’t have my book, you will still be able to enjoy this post.

The Adour River has long been commercially important, and for the defence of the city and region. It rises in the central Pyrenees and flows 335 kilometres to the Bay of Biscay. This photo, taken near the Hotel Loustau in Sainte-Bayonne (not where I stayed), facing southwest. Petit-Bayonne is across the river, on the left, and Grand Bayonne is on the right. The Pont Saint-Esprit links Sainte-Bayonne to Petit-Bayonne. The cathedral, Cathédrale Sainte-Marie, is in the distance and is situated in Grand Bayonne.

Photo of Bayonne, France, Bridge and Cathedral and the Ardour River

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About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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