The Ways of Saint James are world-famous. There are many reasons for walking them — visiting heritage sites, both natural and manmade, a sporting challenge, a spiritual quest or wanting to meet others.
One point walkers all have in common is a sense of shared fraternity. The atmosphere on the Way is friendly, propitious for unforgettable moments. The Voie du Puy is the name of one of the four routes in France. It starts in Puy-en-Velay and crosses the country to reach the Basque village of Ostabat, where two other routes meet, coming from Tours and Vézelay.
Following the Voie du Puy, you arrive in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques via Béarn. The fifth stage in the department — from Navarrenx to Aroue — brings you to the Basque Country. You head towards Ostabat, a village holding a strategic position on the Ways of Saint James. You will meet pilgrims from all over the world, identifiable by the shell hanging from their backpack. Leave this meeting point and head for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
From there, you have a choice of three routes. The most symbolic is the Napoleon route. This stage is very long and there are great differences in altitude.
The Ways of Saint James are a great way to get a taste of the Basque country, find out about its culture, gastronomy, lifestyle, dour yet welcoming inhabitants and diverse scenery.
From Bidart to San Sebastian in Spain, this easy walk covers 54 km. It is to be completed in stages, and is a lovely way to explore the Basque coast, coastal villages, mountains and panoramic views of the immense Atlantic ocean.
Hendaye, on the coast, is the starting or finishing point of the Grande Traversée hike along the length of the Pyrenees. There are plenty of thrills and spills in this first stage! The GR 10 route is an alternative way to visit the Basque country, its villages, flora and fauna.