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Camino Aragonnes Poorly Marked

Discussion in 'Camino Aragones' started by howardd5, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. howardd5

    howardd5 Member

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    I just returned from hiking from Pau to Santiago and felt that the Spanish portion was well marked , but the French section was poorly marked . While in France I spent alot of time and energy going the wrong way. I met numerous housewives there that showed me the trail when i got lost. Friendly people but they need better markers . Be aware , Darrell
     
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  2. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Darrell - Most interesting! The Aragonnes is on my hiking list hopefully for next fall. Can you share more information with us about the French portion of the walk from Pau? I was going to start there or in Oloron Sainte Marie.
     
  3. howardd5

    howardd5 Member

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    Wiley, I got to Orolon St Marie after dark and tried for an hour to find "Realis Baskit" which was the local Albergue. I don't speak too much French ,but could not find the place , most didn't know or couldn't explain to my understanding. I was giving up about 9 pm looking for a hotel when i ran across it behind a church. I had to wake up the manager at 10:00, she was not pleased, but i got a dark bed. In the morning ,i figured i was okay now , but was soon lost after going thru an arch by a shoe store to "nothing" no indications at all ,three options, i lost an hour there trying all three, then going back to the first one, up a steep hill. Any way be prepared, i could not get a decent map and the accent is harsh,though the locals were pleasant ,from what i could understand.
    Darrell
     
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  4. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Darrell - I appreciate the extra information. How was the walk from Pau to Oloron? And, once you got out of Oloron, did things get better? From what I can tell, it takes about 4 days to do from Pau to Somport on the border. Have you hiked the Napoleonic Route out of SJPP? I'm curious if the crossing is any more harsh on the Aragonnes Route. One last question (for now), did you visit the monestary at San Jusn de la Peña?
     
  5. Marion

    Marion Marion

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    Your misadventure sounds like no fun, Howard. I find cities are always tricky...


    Coming from Arles, I only once had trouble finding my way, but it was before Auch, which is way before Pau. I also skipped some cities, including Pau and Oloron.
    The Camino doesn't go through Pau, it only passes North of it, in the surrounding villages. I wanted to avoid urban areas, so I "bus-ed" my way to Lescar. @Wily, if you start in Pau, you'll have to either walk or take a bus to reach the Camino.

    I think the stage from Lescar to Oloron was really worth it. It's a nice walk, mostly in the forest. The Camino also goes through Lacommande, a little village with a great albergue in an former hospital.

    Crossing to Spain is harder than from SJPdP. There's a gentle and easy climb up from to Urdos, then a steep one to Somport pass (850m up in 11km). Here are denivelations: Oloron-Bedous and Bedous-Somport.
    Most of the Camino is a nice path through the woods (be very careful if it rained/rains!), but there's a fair amount near the road too. Sometime, on the road, with cars and trucks: dangerous! The French hiking federation (FFR) has unlisted most of the trail from the GR list because of that and encourages people to take a bus to reach the pass. I walked it and it's doable: I would have been sorry to miss it. Still, it's dangerous sometimes, very dangerous in certain places. I wouldn't advise walking from Bedous to Urdos in winter or throught the rain.

    I found the making well done and easy to find. It's both the GR paintings (2 strips, one above the other, white and red) and signs (with directions, following villages and distances)

    Here are some links, if you want some pictures and maps:
    Morlaas (and Pau) to Lescar --- Lescar to Oloron --- Oloron to Bedous --- Bedous to Somport
    There is a guide book with topographic maps, but it starts in Arles... not sure it's a worthy investment if you start in Pau.
    There's also great maps at the French map institute, easy to "print screen" from. The only thing is, you'll have to deal a bit with French on the website:
    - look for "Oloron Sainte Marie" with the top, middle search bar
    - click the "carte" menu (top, left-corner), in the side bar that appeared, click "voir tous les fonds de carte" blue button, click "carte topographique IGN", click again on the "carte" menu (top, left-corner) to wrap the side bar
    - eventually, set the parameters with the right-side menu
    The Camino is the GR653, traced in bright pink and signaled with the yellow scallop on blue squares :)


    Then, the Camino Aragones was no trouble. Just don't trust the distances on the signs and make sure you go through Arres (yep, climb that mountain!).
    I didn't go to San Juan de la Peña, but I wish I did...

    Buen Camino!


    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Marion - Thank you so much for the great information. I will definitely now research starting in Lescar instead of Pau. Except for the road sections, it sounds like great hiking along the paths through the woods. Thanks, too, for all I links. I look forward to checking them out.
     
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  7. howardd5

    howardd5 Member

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    Wiley- I walked from Pau via Lescar & lacommande to Orolon in one long day , running in the woods parrell to the river it was not too hilly. yes it was about four walking days to the top at Somport(nice albergue there- AYSA.after that a long day down to Jaca there is a good albergue down town (municipal).
    But back to the Aspe valley, one day to Sarrance and a good Albergue with meal at the church.Then across the river in the woods toward Bedous. I never found Bedous myself ,came down off the west side ridge and walked to village that was on a parrell track so i hit the main road after Bedous and trudged on to Borce. There is no store in Borce only a donativo albergue, pretty grim ,so i hobbled on to Urdos by dark. The next day was steep but quiet to the top.Very few pilgrim the whole way. I have walked the Napoleonic route five times and everyone pretty tough. i suspect the Aragonnes is longer and in two days not one. I walked from Somport down to Puente de La reinna once before and some parts are pretty lonely . never went up to La Pena ,but wish i had . Didn't fit in the days. Too close to Jaca and "saint Silly" too close. Darrell
     
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  8. Marion

    Marion Marion

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    We really had different experiences... I find it very interesting!
    Bedous is the biggest village on the way since Oloron, quite nice for night, break and/or supplies... Did you miss the marks turning there or chose to go on the other itinerary?
    Then Borce was a nice place to stay. The pilgrim's albergue is actually quite cozy, but there's also a communal gite if one doesn't want to stay there ;) The GR10 that crosses the Pyrenees passes through the village (lots of hikers!); for what I got, it's a stage not to miss. The bar is the place to go: it's altogether the bar, the snack, the shop, the key-keeper of the communal gite. But like it's written on the front, it's "open everyday, from 9am until whichever I decide".
    How was your experience of Borce-Urdos by dark? I hope the road was not too busy... It's only 4-5km but it was the most stressful stretch of my whole Camino!


    [​IMG]
     
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  9. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    I also walked The Camino Aragonés, but only from Oleron Ste Marie to Obanos and from there backtracked to Pamplona (As I had already walked The Camino Frances and didn’t want to walk the same “Way” a second time)

    I had no problems with route finding and had a wonderful Camino – So I was sorry to hear about your own difficulties.

    I wrote up my own trek notes on http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/2c/ If anyone wants to take a look

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  10. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Rob - Thanks for your link. I still have the Aragonés in my agenda for September starting in Lescar and then backtracking to Pamplona. Your information will be very helpful. Looking forward to hiking in France for a few days and crossing the Pyrenees again. Love those mountains! Enjoyed your photos of the Midi-Pyrénées. Buen Camino!
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  11. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Marion - I was looking for information on the albergue/gite in Lescar. Wasn't sure from your post if you stayed the night in Lescar. Do you have any information on it?
     
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