Day 37: Larceveau to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Day 37: Larceveau to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Yesterday we saw the sunrise twice which was lovely. Our focus (at least mine), though, was all about the “moment of arrival” in St. Jean Pied de Port. It came in the early afternoon when we entered through the same city gate on Rue de la Citadelle that we walked through at the start of our first Camino on my 70th birthday, September 10, 2015. Eight years later, we have come full circle and are celebrating Dave’s 85th birthday. 

In 2015 we watched pilgrims arriving from the east and wondered where they were coming from. We knew nothing then about the five Camino routes in France that go through St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. Now we know at least one of them.

The steep, cobblestoned main street was bustling with fresh faced pilgrims excited at the prospect of starting the Camino Frances. Many were clustered around the Pilgrim’s Office where they would get their first stamp in their new Credencials. We stopped to get our second to last stamp and then Joseph at Gite d’Etape Beilari gave us the last one.

Beilari is a favourite place to stay in St. Jean and Joseph is a host who is dedicated to seeing pilgrims off to a good start (or in our case, a good end). Beilari means “pilgrim” in the Basque language. Their sign reads: “In Beilari, we divest ourselves of the character we have believed we are, of all the social rules, work, family, and feel ourselves seated together at the same table. We are invited to exchange a glance, open ourselves to the stranger, and share the essence of whom we are. And just for a few moments, we understand that this ‘unknown person’ is really a part of ourselves, that separation does not exist, that we are all part of a unique and planetary family. You have taken the first step. And now you are here…” 

This was a perfect place to celebrate Dave’s 85th birthday, with new pilgrim friends, champagne, and traditional Basque cake. After dinner “Happy Birthday” was sung in at least four languages: English, French, Dutch, and (maybe) German. We were all asked to give a word to describe our Camino. Dave’s word was “Nature” and mine was “Celebration.” We could put both words together and say: Celebrate Nature! We can also celebrate our good fortune to have completed this 766 km journey.

Everything I think of saying about this journey along the Via Podiensis from Le Puy-en-Velay sounds so ordinary – amazing, beautiful, challenging, etc. It was all those things but it was anything but “ordinary.” We walked under cliffs, through fairytale villages, saw awesome 30,000-year-old cave paintings, and met many people of various nationalities. Some were Camino Angels that showed up exactly when they were needed. Every day was an adventure that added up to the adventure of a lifetime.  

We had time to spare this morning before heading to the train station so we walked up the hill with the pilgrims who were beginning their journey. The sun came over the hill, then it was time for us to go. We were off to Bayonne and Paris. “Wow” to both cities! We just finished dinner at a cafe open to the street while jazz musicians played to their audience. It was so… “PARIS!” ♥️We’ll see more during the next two days and then will be homeward bound.

Guillaume, our host at Chambre d’hôtes Maison Hego Alde in Larceveau
September 10, 2015 – Leaving St. Jean-Pied-de-Port
October 7, 2023 – Arriving at St. Jean-Pied-de-Port
Dave and Joseph at Gite d’Etape Beilari

16 thoughts on “Day 37: Larceveau to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

  1. Judy & Dave,
    As I was reading this post, I was thinking that your journey is such a great example of ‘living your best life’! Thanks for sharing your joy and inspiring us to do the same, whatever that means to us!
    Belated Happy Birthday to both Dave and you! We will raise a glass upon your return.
    Enjoy the remainder of your trip!
    Diane & Ron

  2. Beautifully written Judy and congratulations to you both. For the milestone birthday for Dave, the milestone in completing your journey and your dream and for the actual accomplishment. The trip of a lifetime is an understatement. Safe trip home. It will take a long time to over that one. My best to you both.

  3. Congratulations on achieving this goal and Happy birthday to Dave. Thank you for sharing a wonderful journey and inspiring me and others to continue living a full life. May you both stay strong and healthy.

  4. Well done Judy and dave
    Having done the first third of your trip myself just last month I know what you mean by all those wonderful adjectives.
    Hearty congratulations on a magnificent trip and so many thanks for documenting it all for the rest of us. Looking forward to seeing you back in Victoria. Enjoy yourself in Paris in the meantime.

  5. Congratulations on arriving in SJPdP and Happy Birthday to Dave. Your blog has been so interesting, and every day I have looked forward to hearing about your adventure and seeing the pictures. I feel a sense of loss now that the trip is over, and I dont think we have ever met! I really enjoyed your stories and now I want to follow in your footsteps. Enjoy Paris and returning home.

  6. Simply awesome, you two! I love the picture of both of you with the cake, for such a memorable occasion. I have enjoyed all your posts and wish you the best and great fun in Paris.

  7. Congratulations Judy and Dave. And Happy Birthday Dave! I am so thrilled for you, two. What a gorgeous adventure you’ve been on! Safe travels home. And Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to boot!

  8. Happy belated birthday from the other side of the Pyrenees. I have so enjoyed following you both on this very special Camino.

  9. Dear Dave and Judy,
    Congratulations on Dave’s birthday celebration, and for completing another Camino. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your progress, and seeing all the lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!
    Best regards,

  10. Dear Judy & Dave. By far this recap of your last day on the Camino Frances has been my favourite, not only the celebration of Dave’s 85th birthday, the beautiful photos but your
    description of what was not so ‘ordinary’ about this last day and in fact your whole journey’s !
    Huge congratulations from us on achieving one of your life’s most memorable trips.
    See you soon.
    Maggie & Gary

  11. Congratulations on the completion of another amazing Camino! And, Happy Birthday Dad! You’ve inspired many, I am sure, through your journeys. I look forward to visiting and hearing all about it in person soon. Love you both! Tania.

  12. Thank you Judy, for sharing this incredible journey with us. I’ve loved your daily summations and your phenomenal photos. So clever of you to discover an activity that you both love to celebrate two milestone birthdays. Happy travels and homecoming now.
    My best to you both, Pat

    1. Thanks so much, Pat! I often thought about you celebrating your Mom’s 100th birthday on Dave’s 85th. Congratulations to your Mom, too! 🎉 I’m so glad you enjoyed following our journey. It was different from the others we’ve done – most challenging and rewarding at the same time.

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