Walking the Via Podiensis from Air-sur-l'Adour to Saint-Jean
The Via Podiensis or Le Puy Route was taken for the first time in 950 AD when the archbishop of Le Puy-en-Velay walked to the tomb of Saint James, opening the first non-Spanish route to Santiago. Along Via Podiensis, modern walkers enjoy various incredible landscapes and a rich medieval architectural heritage, as the Camino runs through some of the most typical rural French areas, and crosses towns and cities full of history.
Via Podiensis begins in Le Puy-en-Velay, a city set in a volcanic landscape, 130 kilometres South West of Lyon, in France. It continues through south-western France to the foothills of the Pyrenees, where this Camino joins up with the French Way.
From Aire-sur-l’Adour to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the 6th and final section of Via Podiensis will surely bewitch you. It starts in Les Landes and hikers quickly enter the French Basque Country. Charming French villages, beautiful forests, great scenic views, history: this section combines it all as you get closer to the Pyrenees, never far ahead in the distance. Finally, you reach their foothills in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, both the end of Via Podiensis and the beginning of the Camino Frances, to Santiago. This walk can be physically demanding and requires a reasonable level of fitness. However, it’s a highly rewarding walk including numerous cultural highlights.
The pretty town of Aire-sur-l’Adour, gateway to Les Landes département, is split between two parts: the lower section lies by the river Adour and is home to the 12th century cathedral. In the upper town, the Eglise de Sainte Quitterie is also a must-see. This medieval market town is the perfect start to experience the region’s peaceful way of living.
Aire-sur-l’Adour to Arzacq-Arraziguet (35km, 8h30)
As the kick-off to the final section of Via Podiensis or Le Puy Route, we spend our first day walking through les Landes département and its crop fields. Cultivated landscapes are dotted with hamlets with different ancient buildings, from well-conserved stone chapels to washhouses. This first day is demanding, mostly because of its length rather than the difficulty of the terrain.
Arzacq-Arraziguet to Arthez de Bearn (29km, 7h15)
The beauty of the route today lies in the lovely paths taken along hillsides from where, from time to time, we can see a steeple reaching up to the sky, from the valley below. The route runs through the rounded hills, passing by numerous villages and as many old churches, such as in Luvigny, Larreule or Caubin.
Arthez de Bearn to Navarrenx (30km, 7h30)
Today is a long day, going through the attractive undulating countryside of Le Bearn area. After crossing over the river Gave de Pau, there are a few long uphill stretches which add some difficulty to this stimulating walk. One of the best rewards of the day comes after the uphill, when arriving in Navarrenx, a beautiful fortified city which was the first bastioned city of France.
Navarrenx to Saint-Palais (25km, 6h45)
Soon after Navarrenx, we find ourselves walking through the countryside and attractive woodland. Then we reach Lichos, marking the entrance of the Camino into the Basque Country. Passing via the village of Aroue, we continue our way up and down with the Pyrenees getting closer and closer with each step. Finally, we reach Saint-Palais.
Saint-Palais to Larceveau (21km, 4h15)
This is another incredible walk, passing through few villages but offering beautiful views all the way. Walking through the peaceful countryside, we gradually make our way up to the chapel of Soyarce with its wonderful views over the Pyrenees. We pass the typical village of Ostabat and continue to Larceveau.
Larceveau to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (19km, 4h15)
The last day of the final section of Via Podiensis runs through the hilly countryside of the Basque Country, with its grazing sheep and red-roofed houses. The Camino goes up and down all day long, offering great views over the verdant countryside and passing through villages with typical Basque names like Bastida Xoko, Utxiat or Bussunaritz. The journey ends up in the beautiful medieval Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, at the foothills of the Pyrenees and starting point of the French Way to Santiago.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. End of the Camino
After breakfast, we bid you farewell. If you wish to continue and experience crossing over the Pyrenees on the Camino, have a look at our French Way, from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona. You can also stay overnight in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
- 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
Option 1 – Pau
Ryanair fly direct to Pau from the UK. They operate year round from London and Bristol.
Option 2 – Bordeaux
Bordeaux airport with Aerlingus, Ryanair or Easyjet.
Option 3 – Toulouse
BA, Aer Lingus and Easyjet fly to Bordeaux from UK & Ireland. Other companies fly from major cities in Europe (can book return flights).
1 – Pau. Train to Tarbes train station (Approx. 45min). Then SNCF “T.E.R” bus to Aire-sur-l’Adour by bus (Approx. 1h15). Several departures a day. Transport information
2 – Bordeaux. Train to Mont-de-Marsan (Approx. 1h20). Then SNCF “T.E.R” bus to Aire-sur-l’Adour (Approx. 45 min). Several departures a day. Transport information
3 – Toulouse: Bus to Aire-sur-l’Adour (Approx. 3h30). Several departures a day.
Option 1 – Pau
Train to Dax (Approx. 30min). Then train to Pau (Approx. 1h). Taxi to Airport (Approx. 20min & 20€).
Option 2 – Biarritz
Train to Bayonne (Approx. 1h15). Then train to Biarritz (Approx. 10min). Then STAB bus line 6 to Biarritz Airport (Approx. 30min). We do not advise flying to there though as it is then a complicated journey to reach the beginning of the trip.
Option 2 – Bordeaux
Train to Bayonne (Approx. 1h15). Then, train to Bordeaux train station(Approx. 1h45). Then Jet’Bus to Bordeaux Airport (Approx. 45min), departure every 45min. More information.