Stage 1 : Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles : 25.7 kms.



This Pyrenean stage, the starting point for many pilgrims, is undoubtedly the hardest and most spectacular of all the French way. Demanding ramps and continuing uphill slopes take the walkers from 180 meters in St. Jean Pied-de-Port to an altitude of 1,430 meters to crown the Cize ports. A difficult climb that is later compensated by stunning views and beautiful natural charm that does not go unnoticed by the pilgrims. There are 2 options for this stage: 1. The Napoleon Route - only for those physically fit and well prepared ( closed from 1st Nov. to 31st March ) and 2. The Valcarlos Route - one that runs at a lower altitude through the valley of Valcarlos and advances to Roncesvalles, parallel to the national road D933.



WARNING: Due to SAFETY reasons, between November 1 and March 31 it is mandatory to do the first stage between Saint Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles using the west variant passing through Luzaide/Valcarlos, which is OPTION 2.
OPTION 1 will remain CLOSED between the dates mentioned.


Saint Jean Pied de Port
Approaching French/Spanish border
Almost in Roncesvalles
Albergue in Roncesvalles

         

Stage 2 : Roncesvalles to Zubiri : 22 kms.



After a mountainous day lacking inhabited areas, the second stage promises a different picture. Until Espinal, passing by Burguete, the profile is flat and wooded sections alternate with extensive meadows. Then into the valley of Erro displaying abundant beech and oak forests and its changing topography. After a short climb to Mezkiritz, comes the descent to Bizkarreta and Lintzoain before crossimg the Erro Pass. For a final, magical and dizzying descent through beech and holly, narrrow passes and steps before you get to the gates of Zubiri and the valley of Esteribar.




What a challenge!
Through Burguete
Wet morning
Puente de la Rabia in Zubiri

         

Stage 3 : Zubiri to Pamplona/Iruña: 20.4 kms.



An early morning start for an early arrival will give you ample time to visit Pamplona ( Iruña in Basque ). Pamplona is the capital of Navarre province in northern Spain. The city is famous worldwide for the running of the bulls during the San Fermín festival, which is held annually from July 6 to 14. This festival was brought to literary renown with the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises.
From bridge to bridge. The Rabies in Zubiri, the Bandidos in Larrasoaña, Iturgaiz in Irotz and Magdalena in Pamplona. All crossing the Arga river that irrigates the valley of Esteribar and leads to the first city on the Way.




Bridge at Trinidad de Arre
On the way
Entering Pamplona
St. Mary's Cathedral, Pamplona

         

Stage 4 : Pamplona/Iruña to Puente La Reina/Gares: 24 kms.



After crossing the town, along the small River Sadar, the route crosses the town of Cizur through cereal fields and reaches the heights of the Sierra del Perdon, a natural barrier between Pamplona and Valdizarbe. On the descent, Uterga and Muruzábal give way to Obanos, where many pilgrims coming from Somport ( Aragón Route ) join those on French Route and acts as a springboard to Puente la Reina, "the crossroads of the ways", a medieval town where the two main routes on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela converge. The constant transit of pilgrims, the scallop shells and the walking sticks all form part of the urban landscape of this town, a magnificent example of a "street-based" town just 24 kilometres south-west of Pamplona.




Approaching Cizur
Alto del Perdón
Roadside bar - Monte del Perdón
Puente la Reina, Romanesque bridge across the River Arga

         

Stage 5 : Puente La Reina/Gares to Estella/Lizarra: 22 kms.



A red dawn over the cobbled street, the Romanesque bridge that has survived the challenges from the river, landscapes of cereal and vineyards, a path full of pilgrims moving towards a medieval village, a Roman road, a river of salt water and a holy benefactor.
A hearty breakfast will surely help to get over the steep climb at the beginning of the stage.
Picturesque all the way. Have your cameras fully charged..




Cirauqui in the distance
On the way to Lorca
On leaving Lorca
When the going gets tough, the tough get going

         

Stage 6 : Estella to Torres del Rio: 29 kms.



This stage runs through towns, forests, mountains and desert-like terrain and acres of vineyards and olive groves. The only complication is the ascent to Monjardín.
From this point and right to the end of the stage, the route is on good ground, but during the hot days the absence of shade makes it difficult to take a break.
Just past Ayegui visitors can enjoy a good glass of wine from the wine and water fountain, thanks to the Bodega of Irache. Farewell to Navarra and La Rioja, the land that boasts the best wines in the country.




Wine and water fountain for pilgrims. Courtesy of Bodegas Irache
Typical scenery - solitary tree
Los Arcos
Albergue Casa Mariela Torres del Rio

         

Stage 7 : Torres del Rio to Logroño: 20 kms.



Logroño is just a short distance away, almost within reach of your hiking staff, but before saying farewell to the region of Navarre, the pilgrim will have to move between ravines until Viana.

After having travelled from north to south and east to west covering a distance of 142 kilometers through Navarre, La Rioja ( land of the famous wines ) welcomes you.




Your friendly companion
Get a stamp here - Doña Felisa
Entering Viana
Bridge over River Ebro, Logroño

         

Stage 8 : Logroño to Nájera: 29.6 kms.



The park of San Miguel and the natural surroundings of the Grajera reservoir culminate your stay in Logroño and open the doors to the mild Rioja landscape, soaked with vine and fruit trees.

Navarrete, of pottery tradition, and later Ventosa and Alto de San Antón bear witness to the valley of the River Najerilla, where Nájera is located, coveted place during the reconquest and dominated by the hills of the Castilla and Malpica.




Logroño - the wine capital
The CAMINO on leaving Logroño
River Najerilla with Nájera in view
Altar - Santa Maria la Real - Nájera

         

Stage 9 : Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada: 21 kms.



The Camino Frances leaves Najera behind the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real. The route goes uphill along a dirt track through pine trees and across farmland heading towards Azofra, the first place to stop for breakfast and coffee. Most of the walking today is through farmland well away from any roads.

After Azofra there is a choice to walk the diversion to visit the Monastery in Canas. Pilgrims often decide against walking up the hill to pass through Ciruena, and walk alongside the N120 straight into Santo Domingo, which is a less scenic and noisier route.




The long and winding way
Smelly boots kept away from sleeping area
Spanish potato omelette
Santa Domingo de la Calzada