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Starting from...Paris?

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by muppet, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. muppet

    muppet New Member

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    Hi folks,

    I'm going to be a first time walker, looking at beginning in mid-October of this year. In some random searches online I came across a site that suggested a route from Paris to Santiago, although I've had great trouble finding any other source of information on this route (that goes via Saint John Pied de Port at around the halfway point). I'm assuming this is because the mere notion is sheer madness but I figure, if I'm going to travel across the globe to walk for a few months, why not really go walking?

    My question is has anyone here done that, contemplated that, heard of that or thinks it's something that would be worthwhile (from an interesting walk perspective - not much point if the first half is walking a busy highway for instance!) and if so, know where I might track down a little more information on route maps, information or anything else.

    Many thanks,
    Craig
     
  2. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

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    Hi Craig ~
    Welcome to the Forum. Your idea of walking from Paris is not at all unusual. I haven't done it, but I've contemplated it and have met pilgrims who've done it and offered a few tips.

    First, Paris is actually one of the traditional medieval starting places of the Camino in France. There's a door of Notre Dame Cathedral dedicated to starting the Camino and there's a famous tower (Tour St. Jacques) that's the remnant of a church that is the traditional starting place in Paris. Walking through the city on the traditional Camino route one can apparently see many scallop shells on old buildings marking the way.

    Second, the walk through Paris, after a good start, is apparently true drudgery. I've heard pilgrims describe it as "bleakly suburban" and "depressing." After Paris the traditional Camino route is covered by modern freeway. One pilgrim strongly advised me to start at Chartres instead of Paris in order to avoid this bad start. After Chartres apparently the route opens out into great countryside and the Camino becomes enjoyable.

    Finally, because of the above the other traditional French starting places are more popular -- Vezelay, Arles, Le Puy. I don't know the statistics but by my own observation I'd have to say the Le Puy route is easily the most common route starting from w/i France. People describe it as "magical" and, though the terrain is bumpy, the route takes pilgrims through great mountain scenery and beautiful vistas. Le Puy itself is quite a sight. Here's a link to a site that describes the Le Puy route.

    One final note: if you begin in October you'll be crossing the pass over the Pyrenees in late fall/early winter. Do be careful and watch weather reports. Even a "low" mountain pass like SJPP/Roncesvalles can be dangerous, with quick weather changes. You'll potentially have snow not only there, but in several other high points along the Camino and much cool weather all the way to Santiago.

    Hope this helps. Buen Camino!
     
  3. muppet

    muppet New Member

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    Thanks so much HuskyNerd, a wealth of information! The link you mention down the bottom doesn't seem to be there, would you mind reposting that?

    And thanks too for the tip about the weather, I've been looking through weather posts and thought it might be okay, it seems it's not an overly uncommon time of year to be hiking, but I will definitely keep your words in mind. Colder weather normally doesn't bother me, but then I am an Australian with few dealings with snow, so I shouldn't get too cocky. This has been a very last minute decision for me, I literally decided to walk it about three days ago and thought there's no time like the present!
     
  4. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

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    Apologies for neglecting to include the link: The Camino to Santiago de Compostela . There are many good sites for the Le Puy route, some much better than this one. But at least it's a description of the route and a start for you as you think and plan.

    Buen camino!
     
  5. muppet

    muppet New Member

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    Awesome, thanks for that!
     
  6. Sil

    Sil New Member

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    In 2004 I walked the Via Turonensis to Spain and the last 100km from Sarria.
    The Via Turonensis is one of four routes through France to Santiago described by Aimery Picaud in the 12th Century Latin manuscript known as the Codex Calixtinus or Liber Sancti Jacobi. In the middle ages it was the busiest pilgrim route in France but, compared to the other three routes in France today, is one of the least travelled. Statistics issued by the Santiago pilgrim office show that only 44 pilgrims out of over 150 000 who received the Compostela in 2004 started their pilgrimage in Paris.

    The CSJ-UK offers a 1998 Paris Pilgrim City Guide and Pilgrim Guide from Paris to the Pyrenees with updates on their website. I bought the book ‘Walking to Santiago’ by Dr. Mary E Wilkie who walked from Paris to Santiago in 1998 . I also downloaded the walking schedule of Philippe Du N’goc from his website on the Internet.

    As we intended walking ± 28kms each day I pre-booked most of our accommodation. We booked five Youth Hostels that cost ± €9 each. I did ‘Google.com’ searches for hotels and used the LOGIS and Federal Hotels web sites to book online. The average cost of a double room in France was €40 - €50 and in Spain €30 - €40. We only managed to stay in one refuge in France, a charming little gité in St Martin Lacaussade outside Blaye which we had all to ourselves. There are more now, mostly in the South.

    Our journey started in Paris. We got our first ‘tampon’ (stamp) at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. We then visited the tower of St Jacques (all that is left of the huge church of St Jacques-de-la-Boucherie) Rue St Jacques and St Julien-le-Pauvre. The CSJ guide book starts the walk in Orleans so we took a one-hour train trip to Orleans where we started our pilgrimage on 13th May 2004.

    The route from Orleans to Spain is nothing like the Camino Frances. Until one reaches Aulnay – about 300km from Orleans – there were no pilgrim signs and no places of refuge. We did not see another backpacking pilgrim until we reached Ostabat on our 26th day.
    Much of our route was done on tarred roads, some frighteningly busy but we did try to take the petit rues suggested to us by locals. St James is evident in churches and cathedrals all along the route, especially in the church of St Jacques in Chatellerault which displays one of the most familiar, brightly coloured effigies of the saint with his hat and cape encrusted with scallop shells.

    Between Aulnay and Mirambeau one can follow the ‘Les Chemins de St Jacques’ path with scallop shell steles for about 115km. We found it overgrown, indistinct in places and often difficult to follow. From DAX we did a side trip to Lourdes and spent a few hours there before returning to Peyrehorade to continue our walk. Four days later we reached Roncesvalles.


    1. The Pilgrim’s Guide. Translated from the Latin by James Hogarth. ©
    2. Paris City Guide and Paris to the Pyrenees. Available from the CSJ-UK. www.csj.org.uk
    3. cranleigh@northnet.com.au Mary Wilkie’s Book
    4. www.philippe@doph.net Philippe Du Ngoc
    5. www.federal-hotel.com Federal Hotels
    6. www.logis-de-france.fr Logis Hotels
    7. Websites: http://www.amis-st-jacques-tours.org/ Via turonensis : la voie de Tours vers Compostelle
    8. Amawalker: 2004: Via Turonensis 913 kms and Camino Frances 114kms

     
  7. muppet

    muppet New Member

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    Wow Sil, thank you so much for all that information! I'll spend a nice afternoon scouring all those sites and working out what I'll do. Very much appreciated!
     
  8. JoPerreault

    JoPerreault New Member

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    I'm planning my first Camino for mid-May. I will be in Paris and just wondering if it's a good idea to start from there or if going down to St Jean is a better idea. I have a limited budget and it will be my first time doing serious hiking. I'm very nervous. Also because I may have to do it alone (which in some ways is good I'm sure) but I'm not good with navigation so I'm terrified of getting lost somewhere and not being able to find my way. Any suggestions would be very helpful?
    Thank you!
     
  9. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

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    Hi Jo ~
    The word is that starting from Paris is difficult -- several days of getting through suburbs and walking along highways. If you do this you'll definitely want patience and a good guidebook. Walking from St. Jean is much less difficult due to good waymarking -- a person barely needs a guidebook, plus there are other pilgrims to walk with. A more common French route is through LePuy, which is part of a French national hiking system, goes through countryside, and is apparently well marked.
    Buen camino ~
    Husky
     
  10. Sil

    Sil New Member

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    I walked from Paris in 2004. The CSJ Guide actually starts from Orleans or Chartres. We spendt two days walking the two Paris Pilgrim itineraries in the CSJ's Paris Pilgrim book and then caught a train to Orleans and started walking from there. It is flat, flat, flat until you reach the south. There aren't many pilgrim places to stay and not many people walk this route.
    Walter Starkie (and Michener) claim that the Camino Frances starts in Paris so if you really wanted to walk the 'whole' route, you would start there!
    Via Touronensis profile.JPG
     
  11. muppet

    muppet New Member

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    Late last year I walked from Le Puy after considering going from Paris. I flew into Paris, trained to Gare de Lyon, then in the midst of public transport strikes and imminent rioting, lucked out on a hire car and drove eight hours to Le Puy. It was such a beautiful walk from there, and really well marked. I got lost a couple times but that was usually due to paying too much attention to the landscape and not enough to the markings! I'm really glad I took this route, it was fantastic.
    Craig
     
  12. Stefanie

    Stefanie Guest

    Craig,

    How long did it take you to get to Santiago from Le Puy?
    I am dreaming of doing this route and wonder approximately how much time I'll need.

    Thanks!
     
  13. Kiera Taylor

    Kiera Taylor New Member

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    Hi Craig, I realise you posted this seven years ago but thought it worth checking: did you end up making this trip? If so, where did you start off from? I'm currently looking into starting from Paris as well. I'd love to know how you ended up!

    Cheers.
     
  14. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi Keira and welcome to the forum. :)

    As you already realise, this thread is over 7 years old and many of the posters that replied no longer participate on here, therefore, to get the best response from your question, you will probably be better posting a new question.

    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
  15. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    If you don't get a reply here on the forum try a PM directly. PMs go directly to the posters email address and that might be still active. Good luck.
     
  16. Galloglaigh

    Galloglaigh Member

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