Thursday, May 10, 2012

How do I get to ..........

One of the most frequently asked questions on Camino forums, at workshops and emails is, "How do I get to ......  St Jean, Roncesvalles, El Ferrol, Porto, Sevilla"  etc etc.

The following is an extract from my Camino planning guide, "YOUR CAMINO on foot, bicycle or horseback in France and Spain."

Getting to the start

You can start your pilgrimage in any country, from any place, on any route. 
This guide is focused on the routes in France and Spain but you will find information and advice by going to the links provided for routes in other countries.

Flights to France or Spain 

Most international airlines fly into Paris in France and Madrid or Barcelona in Spain. From the US you might find it cheaper to fly to an airport in the UK and get an economical flight, coach or ferry to France or Spain from there.
The most convenient would be to fly on the Spanish carrier Iberia on a multi-route ticket which means that you can fly to any destination in Europe, walk to Santiago and fly out from Santiago, usually with a stopover at Madrid. 

Starting in France

  The Via Turonensis  -  Starts in Paris, Orleans or Tours  
Most national airlines fly to Paris and then you get a train or bus to Orleans or Tours, or start walking from Paris.

The Via Podiensis  -  Starts in Le Puy
By Air from Paris to Le Puy
Or, you can fly to Lyon airport and take a bus from there to St Etienne and a train to Le Puy.
By Rail: TVG from Paris to Lyon, local train to St Etienne, and a second local train on to Le Puy.

Via Lemovensis - Sarts in Vezelay:
Paris - TGV - Gare de Lyon station to Montbard – connection by bus to Avallon). Connections to Vézelay – Friday evening and Monday morning all year: Every other day only in July and August.
Or: Train from Paris(Gare de Lyon station or Bercy station) to Laroche-Migennes or Auxerre – then local train to Sermizelles (10 km from Vézelay). Taxi to Vezelay. Train

Via Tolosana    - Starts in Arles            
By air: or Airfrance to  Marseilles then train to Arles.
By rail:

Chemin du Piemont   -  Starts in Narbonne- Plage
Via Carcasonne and Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port.  
Ryanair and other airlines fly from various UK airports. The nearest airports to Narbonne Plage are Beziers, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Nimes and Perpignan. The TGV stops at Narbonne and a local bus will take you to Narbonne-Plage.

Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port in France

The most popular and busiest route in Spain is the Camino Frances. Many modern guide book publishers have included a first-day stage from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Roncesvalles on the Spanish side of the border, mainly because of the beautiful mountain scenery.

The most Frequently Asked Question about the Camino Frances is:

‘How do I get to St Jean Pied de Port?’

St Jean Pied de Port (St John at the Foot of the Pass - 163 m ASL) is a small, medieval tourist town at the foot of the western Pyrenees close to the Spanish border.  The Codex Calixtinus (Book of St James chapter) lists St Michel as the starting place to cross this part of the Pyrenees into Spain.  The path went through Val Carlos (valley of Charlemagne) and the Ibaneta Pass to Roncesvalles.  However, St Jean soon became a popular pilgrimage town and link to the Pass into Spain.
There is no direct bus or train service to St Jean from the main cities of France and no bus or rail link between France and Spain, so there is no direct way of getting there from Spain on public transport.
The nearest airport in France is Biarritz and most people travel to Bayonne/Biarritz by train then take the local train or bus to St Jean Pied de Port – about 1.5 hours through pretty countryside.
A quicker and easier way (but obviously more costly) is to take a taxi from Bayonne/ Biarritz to St Jean.   You can book a lift in a shuttle service – Express Bouricott (Smart Donkey) – that operates between France and Spain, transporting pilgrims from airports at Pau, Bilbao, Irun and Pamplona. They also cart pilgrims over the mountain from Roncesvalles to St Jean, charging according to the number of passengers in the vehicle. There is a facility on their website to form a carpool. (They cannot take people from one place in Spain to another place in Spain)
Or you could try the local taxi service in Biarritz:  
A pilgrim hostel in St Jean offers a page on their website for you to put your name down for a ‘carpool’ as well, so that you can share a taxi to St Jean:
They also have a link to the timetable for the rail/bus line to St Jean and a town map ( and information on parking your car in St Jean and walking the Camino from there.
When you arrive in St Jean visit the Pilgrim’s Office to collect a pilgrim passport (Credencial) and find out where to stay the night. Accueil des pelerins de St-Jacques, 39 rue de la Citadelle. The office is open from 7h30 to 12h30 and then from 13h30 to 22h00.
If you go in the busy season (July–September) it is advisable to book a bed ahead in one of the private albergues in St Jean. 
Esprit du Chemin:
Auberg de Pelerin:
There are two routes from St Jean to Roncesvalles – the ‘road route’ which is on the original route through Val Carlos (Valley of Charlemagne), now a small tarred road, and a cross country route called the Route Napoleon which also consists of a tarred road for about 15km and a cross country trail thereafter. 
If it is the first day of hiking many people take two days to walk from St Jean to Roncesvalles. If you are reluctant to cross the Pyrenees on the Route Napoleon to Spain in one day, you can book a bed at the Refuge Orisson which is about 8 km up the hill from St Jean:
If taking the road route you can stay at a pilgrim hostel in Val Carlos (valley of Charlemagne) or in a BandB or Casa Rural.

Starting from France or Spain – in alphabetical order

Arles  Via Tolosana              
Fly to Nimes-Arles (or to Marseilles) Air France – Camargue Airport (FNI/LFTW) and then a train to Arles: Or, TVG from Paris to Avignon and then a local train to Arles.
Astorga - from Valladolid
ALSA bus to Astorga.  

Astorga - from Madrid                      
Travel to Leon by train or bus: You can get the ALSA bus from Madrid Barajas airport. It takes about five hours. 
If you go by train, there is a Renfe office in the airport (on the lower level to the right of where you exit customs). They can sell you a ticket there. There are about eight trains a day to Leon. It takes ± 4 hours.
The train station you need to get to is Madrid-Chamartin. You get there on the metro which leaves from the airport. Once in Leon you can get an ALSA bus to Astorga. There are over 20 buses a day, they take about 50 minutes.

Bayonne - from London                
Eurolines – National Express overnight coach.  

Biarritz  - from Santiago        
Train from Santiago passing Astorga, Leon, Burgos and then going north-east via Bilbao to the border at Irun-Hendaye.  Then another to Bayonne.

Bilbao - by sea                       
Brittany Ferries:  Portsmouth twice a week.

Burgos            - from Madrid
Three trains a day:    About 20 buses per day:

By bus from Burgos

By bus from Pamplona

Ferrol from Santiago or Lugo                       
By bus:   By train:

Irun from  Barcelona             
By train:  Barcelona Nord to Irun
By bus: Vibasa Bus runs an overnight bus from Barcelona Nord to Irun:
Irun - from Madrid               
By bus, seven hours: 
By train, five hours:

Jaca - from Barcelona
Alosa bus   www.alosa via Huesca
Jaca - from Pamplona            
By bus
Jaca - from Madrid
There are 19 ALSA buses a day between Madrid airport and Zaragoza and there are 20 trains a day from Madrid to Zaragoza - on the half hour, every hour - they take between 1h15 and 1hr21 and cost €60.The buses from Zaragoza to Jaca are at 06h30, 08h30, 11h00, 14h00, 15h30, 17h00 and 19h00           
Léon  - From Barcelona                     
By train Or by bus Barcelona/Sants to Leon:

Léon   from Bilbao:               
By train

Léon   - from Madrid                        
By train  ± 4 hours By air, fly to Valladolid. run a direct service from Valladolid airport to Leon – takes 1h45.
Logroño - from Barcelona                
By train:   By bus:
Logroño - from Bilbao 
By bus:
Logroño - from Irun  
Bus to Pamplona and then another to Logroño from there.
Logroño - from Madrid        
When you arrive at Madrid Barajas, you can take either a taxi or the metro (stop at Avenida
de America Station)  to Inter-cambiador de Avenida de América nº 9, and ask for the ALSA
bus to Logroño.  
Another service is PLM which goes between Madrid and Pamplona
via Logroño.
Rail: There are very few trains from Madrid to Logroño.
Logroño - from Pamplona
By bus -

Madrid - from Barcelona                              
AVE – fast train

O Cebreiro – from Bilbao, Madrid and Pamplona           
Bus to Piedrafita   (5 km from Cebreiro) and then you walk up the hill or take a taxi.
O Cebreiro - from Ponferrada                                  
By bus to Piedrafita via Lugo

Oviedo - from Madrid                                   
By train

Pamplona - from Alicante
There are buses from the airport at Alicante to Pamplona. There is one that leaves at 8h15 and
arrives in Pamplona at 18h15 and another that leaves at 20h20 and arrives at 5h35   Bilman
Bus Company
Pamplona from Barcelona                
By bus:
By rail: At the BCN airport, exit the secured area and walk through the sky tunnel to the left
to the Cercania. It  will take you to Sants Estació. Sants Estació has both the train station and
the bus station you need. There are three trains to Pamplona daily.
Or - Train to Irun and then from Biarritz to Pamplona:
By bus:
Or 6h00 bus to San Sebastian (± 1 hour) so that you can get the 10h00 train to Pamplona 
Pamplona - from Madrid                  
By bus:  or PLM
By train:

Ponferrada - from Bilbao                 
By bus:  By train:
Ponferrada - from Madrid,              
By train:   By bus: 

Porto - from Santiago                        
By bus:   By train: to
Vigo and then to Porto
Roncesvalles - from Bilbao               
By bus: Or 6h00 bus to San Sebastian (± 1 hour) and 10h00 train to Pamplona – 2 hours. (Next train is 18h00)
6h00 bus to Roncesvalles.
Roncesvalles - from Paris                  
By rail: high-speed train  south to Bayonne or Biarritz: Train from Biarritz (and Bayonne) to St Jean Pied de Port ± 1hr50. Express Burricot taxi to Roncesvalles –book ahead: Email:  
Roncesvalles - from Madrid              
By bus: to Pamplona  By PLM to Pamplona
By train: to Pamplona
Fly: to Pamplona
Then a 6h00 bus to Roncesvalles or Taxi to Roncesvalles

Salamanca - from Madrid     
By bus from Conde de Casal Station
By train:

Santander - from Plymouth              
Brittany Ferries

Sarria - from Burgos             
By bus to Lugo:   And then to Sarria on
By train:  
Sarria from Madrid     
By overnight train:
Or – fly to Santiago – bus to Lugo and then bus to Sarria. Or train, bus to Santiago and taxi to Sarria
Sarria - from Pamplona
By train: on the LUGO line
Sarria - from Santiago     
By bus to Lugo: and then half an  hour bus to Sarria:

Santiago - from Madrid                    
Fly:   By bus: By train:

Seville from Madrid   By bus:
Somport - from Madrid
You can go to Pamplona and then get a bus to Jaca and then a local bus to Somport.
Or, follow the instructions to Jaca and then:  Bus from Jaca 8:25 h, 12:00 h, 14:45 h, 19:35 h. and 21:45
Somport - from Pau
Pau to Oloron Ste Marie by train - 34 mins  and then to Somport by Bus in 1hr 23 mins  
Book one ticket - bus and train - through sncf -
St Jean - from Barcelona       
By train to Bayonne Then French train to St Jean:
By train to Pamplona and a taxi to St Jean  (Or bus to Roncesvalles and taxi to St Jean)
St Jean – From from Bayonne/ Biarritz       
Taxi: or
By train or bus from Biarritz to St Jean via Bayonne: 
Take the #6 bus from the Biarritz airport to the train station. It leaves about every 30 minutes and takes about 45 minutes.
Or train to Bayonne then bus or train to St Jean Pied de Port. 
St Jean - from Blibao            
By bus:
Or: ALSA buses to IRUN leave Bilbao many, many times a day. The next day you travel
from IRUN to BAYONNE by bus/train and from BAYONNE to SJPP by train:
By train to Hendaya
St Jean - from Madrid   – then SNCF train to St Jean Or by train to Pamplona 
and taxi to St Jean

By bus to Lugo on Freire:  from Santiago and then Monbus to

TGV from Paris: from Paris – Gare de Lyon station to Montbard (connection by bus to
Train from Paris (Gare de Lyon station or Bercy station) to Laroche-Migennes or Auxerre – then local train-stop at Sermizelles (10 km from Vézelay). Taxi from Sermizelles

Walking the last 100km

Many people like to walk the last 100km in order to earn the Compostela ceertificate.  It is much easier to reach the 100km starting points on the different routes from Santiago airport than from other cities many kilometers away.

Camino Frances:                                      
From Sarria to Santiago                                              114 km
Closest airport Santiago
Bus to Lugo and then to Sarria from Santiago

Camino Ingles:                                    
From Ferrol to Santiago                                              108 km
Closest airport Santiago
Bus or train to Ferrol

Camino Portuguese:
From Tui to Santiago                                                  117 km
Closest airport – Porto 
Or, Vigo – Tui

Via de la Plata:
From Ourense to Santiago                                         108 km
Nearest airport Santiago
Bus from Santiago to Ourense

Whichever route you walk, whichever way you get there, wishing you a Buen Camino!

1 comment:

  1. Sil,

    As always with your efforts this an invaluable resource for all pilgrims!

    Bravo, once again.

    Margaret Meredith