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Self-guided holidays
12 nights - 11 walking days
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Itinerary : Hotel to Hotel
Holiday code : FR2PUS4
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Compostella Camino: Crossing The Pyrenees to Rioja

Start here: a marvellous, once-in-a-lifetime walk on an iconic route that rightly has UNESCO Heritage status. This itinerary is for 11 days walking, but you can begin with a week, or more: it's up to you.

A summary of your journey

The Spanish call the Camino de Santiago the Milky Way (a medieval fable said it was created from dust rising from pilgrims), the French call it The Road Of Stars, and in English it is often The Way of St James. What's for sure is that since the 9th century, pilgrims have visited the supposed grave of St James (Saint lago = Saint James), his shipwrecked body found covered with scallop shells.
Routes started from all over Europe, and coalesced the closer they got to Santiago, and today people come from all over the world, many to do the last 100 kms to get a pilgrim's certificate, but walkers start from much further away as indeed we do. We offer a complete 45 day walk you can begin at any point you choose, and do in as many sections as you wish. We are presenting it in three long walks, but you certainly don't have to.
This first camino section begins in the beautiful fortified medieval town of Navarrenx near Pau, and takes you via St Jean Pied de Port up to Roncevalles, and down wonderful Logrono, capital of the Rioja region, through Pamplona (bull free except for one week a year), and many other magical villages you may well never have heard of like Viana and Estella.The walking is comfortably challenging with ever changing scenery including rolling Basque hills, high mountains, canyons, forsts, woods, rivers and vineyards.
With over 20 years of offering camino walks, you can be sure we know the best places to stay, and can support you every step of the way if needed.

The Plus Points

  • All the satisfaction of crossing the Pyrenees
  • Magnificent and varied scenery with attractive, unspoilt villages
  • Authentic, quality accommodation - great food too!
  • Pleasantly challenging walking for those who walk regularly

Le programme

Day 1

There can be no better place to start such an historic and iconic journey than the 2,000 year old fortified village of Navarrenx, south of Pau, which is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France.
The two star Hotel du Commerce is exactly the sort of typically and traditionally French hotel you imagine staying at. Within the walls, well appointed rooms, good food and genuine hospitality. Just right!

Day 2

From Navarrenx to Aroue. As you walk out of the fortified gateway, the beauty and magnificence of the Pyrenees is laid out before you. That's where you are going. That's what you are going to walk across, but, taken day by day, it's going to be full of pleasures and pleasant surprises. In fact, it's going to be one of the most memorable things you will ever do, and that's a promise. You'll cross the river Gave, and enjoy the easy walking along historic paths and lanes through typically rolling Basque countryside until you arrive at the 13th century fortified chateau of Montgaston. We will meet you here for the short transfer to your hotel - and that's what we do to make sure you get to walk all the 'good bits', but few of the 'boring' bits.
The three star Domaine Agerria is a truly privileged place to stay. It's a converted monastery, complete with central cloister, that has been beautifully and tastefully adapted to ensure guests benefit from the sense of tranquillity surrounded by many acres of private land preserved in its natural state. The 17 rooms are large, superbly appointed, and are matched by a cuisine that we are confident will fulfill your expectations.
Walking time: 4h 30 to 5h 30. Distance: 20 kms (12.5 miles). Transfer time: 14 minutes.

Day 3

From Aroue to Ostabat. Today's walk is just 3 miles longer, and takes you across unspoilt Basque countryside to the famous medieval hillside village of Ostabat-Asme. Famous because it is here that three French Camino routes meet - from Tours, Vezelay and Le Puy - and hereafter all follow the same route you do. This historic rendezvous is marked by a modest stone monument, and from near here we will pick you up to take you to tonight's hotel - another rather special one we hope you'll agree.
Dominique Lalanne and her team will make sure you enjoy staying in the traditional village of Saint Palais, and at her superbly updated three star Hotel de la Paix with its contemporary and well equipped rooms, and cuisine that balances traditional recipes with modern interpretations using local produce, and, frankly, without getting too fussy about it! You can also eat on the terrace if you so choose.
Walking time: 6 - 7h. Distance: 25 kms (15.5 miles). Transfer time: 30 minutes.

Day 4

From Ostabat to Saint Jean Pied de Port. We take you back to Ostabat to follow the "true path" that leads you ever closer to the real mountains, which appear ever more magnificent. You walk through a series of lovely villages including Larceveau and Saint-Jean-le-Vieux before arriving at today's destination Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port - your last night in France with the border and mountains on this historic and attractive town's doorstep.
You face the 13th century ramparts of St Jean Pied de Port across from the appropriately named Hotel Central, which was completely renovated in 2015 and offers a terrace overlooking the Nive river, a good restaurant, and well equipped rooms, but the big plus is being able to wander round this historic town right from the hotel's front door. You will soon see why it has been designated one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Walking time: 5h 30 to 6h 30. Distance: 22.5 kms (14 miles). Transfer time: 15 minutes.

Day 5

From Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. Today is the big up and over day - a truly memorable and satisfying day, if, to be truthful, a fairly demanding one. It's a long steady climb up over the border (5 miles) and on to the Col de Roncevaux (or Roncevalles, or Ibaneta in Spanish, and Ibañetako Mendatea in Basque - take your pick). At 3,000 feet, it's not particularly high, but you're starting from close to sea level. We'd recommend a fairly early start so you avoid time pressure, and midday heat. It's been a significant point on the pilgrimage route because of its geographic location, but in July 1813 Napoleon's army defeated an Anglo-Portugueses army here, and, more famously, in 778 a major part of Charlemagne's army was ambushed here, the attackers hiding in the woods, and this resulted in the death of Roland among other supporters of Charlemagne. From the col it is a much less strenuous descent to Roncesvalles, one of the grandest hospices in the Pyrénées.
You stay at the prestigious and delightful Hotel de Roncevalles, once a pilgrim hospice run by monks, and it preserves that ambiance today. The rooms are spacious and well appointed, the restaurant very good - but you will immediately notice that you are now in Spain, the food being traditional Navarre cuisine nuanced with contemporary Slow Food principles. It will be a well deserved dinner, and we're sure you will enjoy it - like the whole of your stay here.
Walking time: 7h. Distance: 26 kms (16 miles).

Day 6

From Roncevalles to Zubiri. This is an altogether more relaxed day spent ambling through delightful forests and traditional mountain villages, many featuring typically Navarrian houses, before arriving at the village of Zubiri renowned for its Roman bridge and fortified houses.
Tonight it is the charming, family run Hosteria de Zubiri, a real mountain hotel that has been welcoming pilgrims and walkers for hundreds of years. It is truly bucolic. Relax. Eat well. Sleep well!
Walking time: 6h. Distance: 22 kms (13.5 miles).

Day 7

From Zubiri to Pamplona. It's a lovely walk through woods, meadows and villages down to fascinating Pamplona. Despite its bull running reputation, you will only see bulls en route not in the city unless it is the second week of July, It's the historic capital of the ancient kingdom of Navarre, originally founded by the Roman general Pompey (hence its name), and has all the trappings of a long time capital city from medieval alleys and lanes through to its magnificent cathedral (remarkable Gothic cloister), grand squares and palaces.
The four star Cathedral Hotel is a smart contemporary boutique hotel in a converted convent right in the heart of the city. Just right for a city stay. We like it a lot as do our customers.
Walking time: 5h 30. Distance: 21 kms (13 miles).

Day 8

From Pamplona to Puente La Reina. You can wave farewell to the Pyrenees to the north from the panoramic observation point on the Sierra del Perdon, and also see south to the drier, rolling Spanish landscapes you will now be walking through. Here you might also have been surprised by the life size pilgrims on foot, donkey and horseback that are silhouetted against the horizon - surprised if we hadn't told you about it here! The sense of participating in an age old experience becomes ever stronger particularly when you arrive in the lovely riverside medieval town of Puente La Reina, famous for its impressive Romanesque bridge, and for being where all routes to Santiago finally converge.
Tonight you stay at the charming and unpretentious El Cerco, which calls itself a rural hotel because of its values and attitudes, although it is located right in the heart of this medieval town. We like it, and it is undoubtedly the best place to stay and eat here.
Walking time: 6h. Distance: 24 kms (15 miles).

Day 9

From Puente la Reina to Estella. The very names fo the villages you pass through seem to resonate with historical significance: Mañeru, Cirauqui, Villatuerta...and, finally, Estella, the so-called Toledo of the North, a most attractive town rich with medieval houses, spacious squares, impressive churches and aristocratic palaces, all testifying to Estella's long history of regional and national importance.
The four star Hotel Tximista in Estella is a thoroughly contemporary hotel converted from a 19th century flour factory that has made best use of its high ceilings, large rooms and riverside location to deliver both tranquillity and style. Good food too! Everything you want, except a name that's rather difficult for English speakers to pronounce!
Walking time: 5h 30. Distance: 23 kms (14.5 miles).

Day 10

From Estella to Los Arcos. The walking is now easy and ejoyable as the miles disappear under your feet as your eyes feast on landscapes and authentic villages, the highlight today being Irache with its huge 8th century monastery, next door its interesting wine museum (weekends only) and famous free so-called wine fountain. Actually a tap, it dispenses free wine to worthy pilgrims like yourselves! Enjoy - but perhaps in moderation? Your destination is the historic town of Los Arcos, enriched by centuries of pilgrims as the camino runs along its main street, which is lined with houses, hotels and minor palaces that all attest to its wealth. Charming as it is, there is not a hotel we think is good enough for you, so we have organised a short transfer to Mues.
Latorrién de Ane is a delightful rural hotel in the unspoilt village of Mues that features bare stone walls, ancient timber shutters, and a restaurant in the atmospheric wine cellar. Good country dinners, satisfying breakfasts, and a pleasant buzz as this is also the centre of village life. Well worth the ten minute transfer.
Walking time: 5h. Distance: 20.5 kms (13 miles). Transfer time: 10 minutes.

Day 11

From Los Arcos to Viana. Although not long, there are many hilly sections today, but also olive groves, ruined farmhouses, streams, rivers, traditional villages and interesting ravines to walk through between Sansol and Torres del Rio (where there are neither bulls nor a river). What's for sure is that arriving in Viana is a great pleasure. Founded by King Sancho VII 'the Strong' in 1219, Viana reached its wealthy apogee between the 16th and 18th centuries as can be seen by the mansions, wide streets and, above all, the opulence of the church of Santa Maria.
The aristocratic Pujadas family arrived in Viana in the 17th century, and, right in the centre of town, built the palace that the family converted into a marvellously characterful boutique hotel in the 21st century. The public rooms are redolent with history and luxury, while the bedrooms are spacious as well as well designed, and the restaurant is in the beautifully converted wine cellar. Enjoy!
Walking time: 4h 30. Distance: 18 kms (11 miles).

Day 12

From Viana to Logroño. A short but interesting day's walk that leaves you with plenty of time and energy to explore the medieval city of Logrono built on the banks of the river Ebre, which you can walk across on a lovely medieval bridge. But there's much more: an impressive cathedral, an historic quarter with numerous arts and crafts shops, and plenty of bodegas where you can explore the differences between Riojas (2 colours, 3 growing zones, four categories - Rioja, Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva) because you are now in Rioja, and wine is of no little significance here.
Another historic city, another centrally located boutique hotel in another 16th century palace with marvellous wine cellars. Oh well! Hotel Calle Mayor is, as its name suggests, on the most prestigious street in Logrono, and has beautifully contemporary rooms that complement the historic building itself. As this is a city with a wide range of interesting places to eat - from tapas bars to high quality restaurants - we leave you free to choose where to dine tonight.
Walking time: 2h 45. Distance: 12 kms (7.5 miles).

Day 13

After breakfast, you can begin your journey onwards or homewards as you choose.
The next section of the Compostella Camino is from Logrono to Leon.
  • Détails Pratiques
  • Formalités et Santé

DATES

You can start on any day from 1 April to 8 October.

MEETING POINT

Standard option: You make your own way to Navarrenx

With extra airport pick-up: We will pick you up at Pau airport and take you to the hotel (contact us for details of transfers from other airports).

END OF YOUR TRIP

Standard option:
Your holiday ends after breakfast.

With extra airport pick-up:

After breakfast, we will pick you up and take you to Logroño airport (if you choose another airport, please consult us for prices).

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

This holiday features fairly long days, but with comfortable rather than challenging walking, and is suitable for anybody who enjoys "a good walk". The only exception is the walk up and over the Pyrenees on Day 5, but that is tiring rather than difficult. On some days there are choices of itineraries, which you can decide for yourselves each day. It can get very hot in July and August as well as much more crowded. We would recommend May, June and September as the best months.

MINIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS REQUIRED

1

LUGGAGE TRANSFER

We will transfer your luggage between each hotel, so all you need to carry when walking is a daysack with whatever you regard as essentials.

TRIP FORMAT

This is an independent, self-guided holiday.

ACCOMMODATION

You stay in double-twin rooms in good quality hotels with en suite facilities as described. On some days we will arrange a transfer to and from a suitable hotel when there is none where you end your walking day.

MEALS

You will eat well. Dinners are based on set menus featuring regional specialities. Breakfast is included every morning, but lunches and picnics are not because there are places to make your own choices, although the night before you can ask hotels for a picnic, which you can pay for locally.

YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

When we have received your balance of payment for your holiday, and in the month before departure, we send you all the documentation you need: detailed itinerary showing dates, times, contact details etc; a detailed guide to your walking route (with options) and lots of cultural, historical and nature background information; formal documents (invoices, contracts etc); luggage labels etc. If you book at the last minute, we can send this information to your first night hotel.

To make the right choice

Have a look at our detailed explanations on the types of hiking, the standards of accommodation, and understand baggage transport... How to choose your trip ?

FORMALITIES

You need to keep your passport with you at all times, and ideally insurance information. You need to make your own arrangements to claim local healthcare. There are requirements in France and Spain for all vehicles to carry safety equipment.
Click on the price that corresponds to your choice.
FromToStandard priceWith extra airport pick-up
Wed 01/04/2020Sat 31/10/20201 350 €  (₤ 1 127) 1 430 €  (₤ 1 194)
 
List of additional options (to select later)
TitleTime periodPrice
Single room supp. / pers. from 01/04/2020 to 31/10/2020465 € (₤ 388)

THE PRICE INCLUDES

10 nights dinner, bed and breakfast, plus 2 nights bed and breakfast (7 at Pamplona and 12 at Logrono because they are cities); daily people transfers as specified; daily luggage transfers; detailed walking instructions; maps; 24/7 English speaking phone service.

THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

The journey to the start point or from the finish point; lunches; drinks with meals ; non-standard menu items; dinner in Pamplona and Logrono; entry fees; personal and travel insurance, booking fee.
Provided by TransferMate

You can change the itinerary, and receive revised information

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"This is a question often asked but there is no one simple answer . The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St James, has a history that reaches back into the depths of time. It is also surrounded by myths, legends and stories…. Here we explore what we know about these ancients pilgrimage routes."
Sally Simmonds
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