Crossing into Southern France

Maybe you’ve heard of the Camino de Santiago or the Way of St. James, a 800+km pilgrimage across Northern Spain. There are multiple different routes of varying length/difficulty, one of which passes through Logroño– The Camino Francès. I walk along the path on my way to work. Pretty cool, eh? Pilgrims aquire a “pilgrim’s passport” to record their progress at each hostel along with way, and anyone who can complete a minimum of 100km will receive a certificate of completion in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.

I have a goal to complete the Camino before leaving Spain and I hope to leave from Logroño because it’s meaningful to me. It´ll be like a goodbye of sorts. However, many pilgrims choose to begin from France. During a weekend away on the Spanish-French border I got a sneak peak of a couple of cities along the path, which makes me look forward to the Camino even more!

Roncesvalles, Navarra, Spain
Nearing the French border in Northern Navarra, you’ll pass through Roncesvalles. This town seems to be solely used as a stop along the Camino, as the main attractions are a cathedral and the ginormous albergue. I found the surrounding countryside especially pretty in autumn! In reality it was only a 10-minute stop… but hey, look how nice.

Valcarlos, Navarra, Spain
Valcarlos was the closest town to our casa rural and has typical Basque-style homes with side molding and brightly-painted shutters. It’s located deep in a super-green valley. We found some odd additions to some yards there… mannequin heads on poles? Maybe could have been functioning as scarecrows, except we found heads in a van, too. Creepy! I wonder if people enjoy living in such a small town. After our weekend away, I was thinking I could definitely live out there with just the countryside and a big fireplace.

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France
After we all left the casa rural, I got to ride across the border of France with Guinness and a couple of friends. It was raining when we reached St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, but that didn’t spoil it’s charm. Three cheers for me making it to a city in France other than Paris (and Guinness’ second country in Europe)! The town of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is beautiful and quiet on a Sunday. Most of the people we passed seemed to be pilgrims or tourists passing through. We walked around the center of town window shopping a little bit.

One of the shops we went into was a very full spice shop. Am I the only one who dreams of having a pantry full of French spices, yet never cooks with them…?

As soon as we made it back, I couldn’t help but laughing with Jay because Guinness made it to France before he did! Poor Jay. Don’t feel too bad for him though, we’re visiting Chantilly and Paris in one week!

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