Walking from St Jean to Roncevaux is quite a challenging day and there is just one stop that you can make at a small Albergue called “Orrison”. However, you can break up this section by taking an overnight stay and this will certainly make things easier. At the same time, this will also make for a very short first day and most walkers choose to push on to Roncevaux.
While there is sometimes a small coffee tuck shop near the top of the climb, you cannot rely on same. After this truck, you will climb a grassy verge and eventually pass a small hut which is close to the top. From here, the path descends for quite a bit to the Albergue at Roncevaux.
About the Route from St Jean to Roncevaux
Depending on the weather, it can get quite cold near the top and gloves might come in handy. Also, the path divides in two for the descent with the path to the right being much more safe and gentle. Don’t miss this junction. You walk down a small side trail from the road and there is a signpost. The steep, muddy trail is to the left and the grassy path to the right is the safe/gentle one.
Where to stay in Roncevaux
Definitely stay at the Albergue in Roncevaux. It’s right at the foot of the climb and one of the best on the camino. I absolutely loved this place. I also recommend that you buy the group dinner which is held at a restaurant across the road. You buy a ticket for this dinner at check in for the Albergue. While you can choose breakfast, I decided to skip same and found a nice coffee shop just 4km down the road in the next town.
Camino Frances Tip – Enjoy coffee and a snack at Orisson but buy a packed lunch in St Jean which you can eat near the top of the climb.
Don’t worry if you struggle on this day as it’s much harder than anything that follows. In fact, this might just be the hardest day on the Camino and the scenery is excellent if the weather is clear.
Distance: 27 km
Time – Approx 7/8 hours
Difficulty – 9/10 (for the Camino)