Julian Lord – The French Camino (post #3)

The French Way

The title to this piece may be confusing, so let’s clear it up right now — I mean the Camino in France, and not the Camino Francès. And I mainly mean my own Camino from Lourdes to Somport than anything else.

About the Camino itself, the thing that has really struck me is how Catholic the Way from Lourdes to Somport actually is — I have never seen such a strong Catholic presence anywhere else along any Camino routes, and I do not mean just locally, but over this entire section of the Way.

This did not strike me simply as some sort of anthropological curiosity — No.

My passage from Lourdes to Spain has truly been a passage from the familiar to the foreign via the religious and via the spiritual that makes all of these disparate things, from whichever modern point of view of our minds, into the deeply religious Christian Worship of God as He provides us with such a simple Wealth.

I cannot help but be delighted that somewhere, at least, on this Camino, its Catholic Christian nature is openly celebrated, and not hidden away.


As for the Somport Way in and for itself, in its non-religious aspects, there are around 1% of the Pilgrims at SJPP and &c. The GR version of this Way is even more annoying than usual, as the French Hiking Federation volunteers seem as keen as always to send their victims into sundry mud slides, up some uselessly difficult 5 km detours up whichever mountain madness, and to generally assume that all Santiago Pilgrims are lunatic masochists. Except no, some of us aren’t !!!


My days seem to be gradually lessening in difficulty, though it’s a long slog — I am nevertheless very pleased to report that my knees appear not to be bothering me on this Camino too much …

So Far !!!

I have feasted my departure from France as well as my arrival in Spain — these Borderlands may be spiritually nourishing, as suggested hereabove ; but they also mess up your normalcy !!!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

28 thoughts on “Julian Lord – The French Camino (post #3)

  1. The knee is understandably a little more delicate today, after yesterday’s ascension from 500 to 1600 metres altitude.

    It’s a joy though to be in Spain, as well as being off the frequently horrid French GR system, where all too often, your choice is between tarmac or massive, pointless detours.

    The walking seems to be getting gradually less difficult, though I’ve yet to have a non-tough day so far, which is to say that the hard fatigue seems gradually to be hitting me slightly later each day — but the last few kilometres of each day’s walking have always been hard for me, probably because I keep on pushing my limits.

    I’ve been wondering about my standard daily Camino menu for the past few days, as I seemed to have just plain old completely forgotten what it was that I’d eat — but the answer is now here before me : the 1 € tin of sardines !!! (plus of course all the usual cheese and sausage and tomatoes, and the odd cooking a meal at the Refugio and, yes, sometimes even a Menu del Peregrino)

    Not sure how far I’ll make it today — and there are still fewer pilgrims and therefore fewer Refugios than on the Way down from SJPP, so that the matter of where to sleep is not a no-brainer.

    Despite the few pilgrims, there are however some large hordes of holiday hikers and people who are pure and simple on their walking holidays, as this part of Aragon is covered all over with a complex web of hiking trails — also, luckily for me, with a complex web of free Wi-Fi LOL

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  2. Julian, each day you get closer to Santiago. And each day you learn more about the wonders of humanity and the workings of the universe, and of yourself. Each day must be a quiet joy for you.


  3. Funny, this Camino is starting to feel strangely like my 1993 one.

    I suppose the pre- 40 km/day Julian of that year has something in common with the post- 40 km/day Julian of 2014


  4. Having one of those strange days when I wake up super late, feeling simultaneously relaxed and dog-tired.

    I’ll get going eventually of course, but right now I’m having myself a Spanish breakfast.

    The idea of trudging along the Camino carrying all that load feels like something foreign when I get into this sort of fatigue and this sort of mood, though I also know from experience that it’s a way that my body has to help prepare itself for more walking.

    My pack just looks like a big lump of stuff, that it would be lovely to just magic away. Not that I am in any particular pain or anything, nor am I even demoralised nor depressed, I’m simply in the mood for a rest.

    So I guess this will be my first slow day this Camino, so maybe just the 12 K down to Jaca.

    We’ll see …

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  5. Cripes, I may even not be walking anywhere today except just ’round town …

    Which is fine, as I do tend to lecture others on the utmost importance of these rest days for a successful Camino 🙂

    Feel half asleep hehehe

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  6. In general Camino news, yesterday at Compostela, the Pilgrims Office issued over *2700* certificates, which is the new record.

    Marie-Do tells me that around 300 pilgrims are still streaming through SJPP daily, so this Camino Aragónes with its half dozen pilgrims / day is like being in a parallel dimension.

    It’s expected that there will be as many Pilgrims this year as in the Holy Year 2010

    It looks increasingly likely that within a decade, Pilgrim numbers might reach the same level as the 13th century of half of a million every year, and then surpass even that massive number !!!

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    • Oh, and it seems that all of the Refugios between O Cebreiro and Santiago have reached burst level, and many Pilgrims find themselves sleeping outdoors — I remain astounded that so many people at Ivar’s forum keep on advising first-timers not to carry a sleeping bag …


  7. Well, I managed after all to make my way out of Villanúa — halfway to Jaca.

    Need to sleep outside.

    Hmmmm, starting to feel the need to be with other Pilgrims …


  8. salut julian, est ce que je t´ai dit que je me suis acheté un magnifique matelas qui se gonfle tout seul. au cas ou je dois dormir dehors. au fait je ne connais pas de denis au bureau de saint jean. J´ai mon billet de train, je pars mardi pour Léon et j´irai piano piano. a plus.

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    • Cool !! Denis, je sais qu’il allait bosser à SJPP sur un plan hospitalero ou assimilé, mais je sais pas du tout dans quel établissement …

      Je commençais malgré tout à yenavoirmarre des Pyrénées …


  9. Made it out of Villanúa anyway late last afternoon, just a little 8 km whatsit to the next pueblo, where I slept by the ruin of a small country church, after refusing the offer of the nearby campsite to sleep outside at their place for 11 € …

    Fairly normal walk to Jaca this morning, and just managed to catch the Mass of the Assumption at the Cathedral.

    It really is starting to feel really weird to be on the Camino in Spain with virtually no other Pilgrims, particularly with the news that’s been coming out regarding the record crowds on the Francès …

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    • Julian, when you say you sleep outside, how does that work? Are you on some kind of mat? And do sleep under cover away from the dew? And are you cold at night? Bill


  10. It really has become the Tourigrino Way — no cash, no Refugio.

    I will simply do what I did last time I was in Roncesvalles, and sleep on their front porch.

    They likely will not care.


    • Hey julian, it would be interesting to get your thoughts on how things have changed from the last time you walked the Camino – particularly if there are any attitudinal changes from those operating the infrastructure. Bill


      • I’ll rework the thing I sent, to make it readable, as I was in a truly foul mood yesterday.

        I was refused entry to the Refugio yesterday, got treated like a dog by the “hospitalera”, and it was only after some extremely heavy and unpleasant insistence and some help from a Camino Angel that the woman arranged for a bed — NOT at the Refugio, at the vagrants hostel …


        Oh well, the Camino after Jaca is superb, and almost exactly my favourite walking surface 🙂

        The weather is superb, and I am moving Ultreia and Sus Eia from that bad experience …

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