Day 1 of the Camino would be a short day for us, our plan was to hike 8km from St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson. We woke up bright and early around 6 am. The other pilgrims were already downstairs having breakfast in the kitchen, slowly getting ready to start they’re day. We met a mother and daughter duo, a French man who started his walk in La Puy (approx. 650 km from St. Jean) and another French man from Bourdeux, who started his walk in… Bourdeux (approx. 250km from St. Jean). It amazed us, the distance that they already travelled. Feeling a bit inadequate, I was still nevertheless super excited to start my Camino.
I still remember stepping out of the albergue and following the other pilgrims out of the town. We passed the short bridge across the river and I took a picture of a spider web. Passing by a bakery, we wondered if we should pack some cakes. They looked delicious!
Orisson was only 8 km. away and we were blissfully ignorant of the steep climb ahead of us. However, it soon became apparent, as the hike increased in difficulty. We would gain an elevation of 944 meters in 8 km as we hiked up St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson. The Camino started as a slow uphill walk on paved road. Then it climbed up steeper, taking you through a beautiful dirt path and then back on to paved road to Orisson. I still remember a paved portion of the trail which felt practically vertical. Out of breath we took plenty of breaks, soaking in the scenery of the Pyrenees. The morning fog, gave way to lush green mountains and we were blessed with beautiful sunshine for the whole day.
The path eased up as we arrived in our destination for the day. Not knowing that there was just one building in Orisson, we almost walked passed it. This was also the first bar on the Way and the place was full of pilgrims stopping for lunch and some staying for the night. It’s no wonder you had to book ahead, there were only 28 beds available at the Refuge Orisson. We checked in and received our one shower token. Each person gets one 10 minute shower and, no you cannot purchase an extra token. We had asked 😉
The refugio served a delicious Basque dinner at 7 pm and we sat around two tables, banquet style. The owner of the albergue encouraged everyone to introduce themselves. It was a great way to break the ice and get to know our fellow pilgrims. To name some, there was a couple from Korea on their honeymoon, two cousins from Germany that had been walking portions of the Camino every year, another lady from Germany who had just arrived in St. Jean that day and a couple of Americans. We would later find ourselves running into the same people for the next 4 days. That’s one of beauties of the Camino. You may be walking by yourself but you aren’t necessarily alone.
I highly recommend a stop in Orisson. It was a fantastic way to start the Camino. Being the only building in the area, you get sweeping views of the Pyrenees mountains, unobstructed views of the sunset and sunrise. Knowing now what the following day would be like, I was very glad to have rested in Orisson. We were able to introduce ourselves to our fellow pilgrims and it gave us more time to slow down and appreciate the views of the Pyrenees as we hiked from St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson.
Camino Tips – St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson:
– Take your time, this is not a race
– Bring snacks and water
– If you have time, stop for a night in Orisson
– Book ahead if you are planning a stop at Orisson (36 euros for bed + dinner + breakfast). Click here for more information www.refuge-orisson.com
– Orisson offers a lunch sandwich for the following day for 5 euros. I recommend that you get the sandwich. It will be a long day and there are not many places to buy food.