Walking the Camino Frances from St-Jean to Pamplona
From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona, the starting point of the French Way, the Camino Frances.
The Camino Frances, or the French Way, is the most traditional of all the pilgrims’ ways to Santiago de Compostela and is the best known internationally.
This specific route is the starting point of the Camino Frances. It begins in France at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and finishes in Pamplona, the town famous for its Running of the Bulls festival in San Fermin, described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises. At first, it follows the Route de Napoleon over the Roncesvalles Pass (1500m) in the Basque country, and then crosses into more gentle terrain in the great region of Navarra.
This walk can be physically demanding and requires a reasonable level of fitness as you will be crossing over the Pyrenees. However, it’s a highly rewarding walk and includes numerous cultural highlights, as well as a breath-taking scenery second to none. Pamplona is also the home of some of the best tapas and pintxos in Spain.
Additionally, as the beginning of the French Way is in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the atmosphere is very special, full of enthusiasm, spirituality and joy from pilgrims from all around the world!
Day 1 – Arrival in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
You’ll be booked into a hotel in the heart of the small town. The rooms are en-suite.
Day 2 – Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port To Roncesvalles – 25km (8h00)
This first day is considered the most difficult as the Camino crosses the Pyrenees. The ‘Camino Napoleon’ kicks off with a steep climb, on through orchards and past country houses and then, later, through Alpine-style meadows, before weaving its way alongside leafy beech woods towards the Spanish border and the descent into Roncesvalles. The Valcarlos Camino mainly follows the road which runs through the valley alongside the River Nive or River Valcarlos. Don’t miss the Collegiate Church in Roncesvalles.
NOTE: If you would like to walk at a more relaxed pace, we can arrange an alternative route (though not as rewarding) that splits this walking day into two stages (12km and 14km), staying overnight in the village of Valcarlos. Here you will be staying in a two-star hotel. This is route through Valcarols is no the usual Camino itinerary and the walk is not as rewarding as it follows the main road.
IMPORTANT: The Napoleon Route over the Pyrenees is closed for Pilgrims from the 1st November until the 31st March. Pilgrims need to use the alternative route via Valcarlos if they are travelling within these dates. Travelling on the Napoleon Route at this time is forbidden and all pilgrims going over the Pyrenees and having to be rescued before that time will be fined €5,000.
Day 3 – Roncesvalles to Zubiri – 22km (7h00)
The Camino crosses two beautiful mountain passes and continues on through beech and oak woods and meadows before coming to Espinal, where the panoramic views of the countryside, with the Pyrenees in the background, are a sight to behold. The River Arga runs alongside this part of the Camino and continues its course all the way to Larrasoana.
Day 4 – Zubiri to Pamplona – 21km (6h00)
The Camino runs along the River Arga, at the foot of a group of hills covered in beech, oak and Scots pine. As we approach Pamplona, the landscape shows more signs of civilisation, with its reforested conifers and farmlands.
Day 5 – Pamplona, end of the walking holiday
After breakfast, we bid you farewell.
- Great mix of comfortable accommodation in 2-3* hotels or equivalent
- Bed & Breakfast
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
- Our Holiday/ Pilgrim Pack
- 24/7 Customer Service
- Great dinners with local food
- Extra nights
- Upgrade to authentic & luxury accommodation
- Airport transfers
- Try it Heming Way style
- Add 1 Michelin Star dinner in Pamplona
It is best to fly to France (Biarritz or Paris). Biarritz Airport with airlines – Ryanair, EasyJet or British Airways.
Book Airport Transport with us
From Biarritz (2H)
Step 1 – Shuttle bus to Bayonne train station
Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz Airport is located just 3 Km from Biarritz. However, it is a much better option to go to Bayonne train station (not Biarritz). Take the STAB line 6 to Bayonne train station (direct). The journey takes approx. 20 minutes and will cost €1.20. The bus stop is in front of the terminal.
Alternatively, there is a taxi rank in front of the terminal; cost is €25-€30.
Step 2 – Train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
There are direct trains from Bayonne to Saint Jean Pied de Port at 18h13 (1h22 travel).
From Paris (6H30)
Take a train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Departs every day at 12.10, arrives at 18:30
Option 1 – Bilbao
The Burundesa bus company links Pamplona with Bilbao (2h) with 10 departures a day.
Bilbao airport with Aerlingus, Easyjet or British Airways.
Option 2 – Santander
Santander airport with Ryanair.