The start of El Camino de Santiago

Posted
May 5, 2014

Author
Martin Fuggle

Categories
Access

The journey from Biarritz to Mazamet took in Cambo les Bains, St Jean Pied de Port and Oloron Sainte Marie. Quite a journey in one day.

We stopped off at Cambo les Bains to see Villa Arnaga but unfortunately it was shut until later that afternoon, but we didn't have time to wait! So we drove through some of the most spectacular countryside to St Jean Pied de Port. The Pyrenees were constantly on our right hand side and there was still plenty of snow on the peaks. St Jean Pied de Port was a pretty town and the starting point for many who want to walk, or cycle, El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St James. We had no intention of doing the walk but there were quite a number of people who were kitted out with packs, poles, walking shoes and socks and presumably a lot of energy since they were about to embark on a six to eight week trek. With the weather starting to warm I imagine one would need to be well prepared. Most of the people we saw seemed to be in the final stages of their life, in fact maybe in the last six to eight weeks of their life!

We moved on from St Jean to Oloron Sainte Marie. The drive became less spectacular but the views of the Pyrenees were still with us all of the way. It was getting towards late afternoon when we arrived and with a good four hours traveling ahead of us we just took time to see the church on the top of the hill (well aren't they all there!). The church, the Eglise Sainte Croix, has recently been fully restored, at considerable expense, and is worth a detour for those interested in such things and is reputed to be 12th​ century. The restoration was good and they had found in the catacombs the preserved body of St Clement, a 14 year old martyr. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the cathedral so we just headed off towards Pau and all stops on the way to Mazamet.

On another occasion we would take a liitle more time in the Basque country since there is much to see and we just scratched the surface.

About the Author

Martin Fuggle has long been interested in travel, photography and website development as a way of recording travel experiences and other miscellany.

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I am on the committee of Harlequin Rugby Union club but no longer play rugby union. However I thoroughly enjoy royal tennis at the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club in Richmond.

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