Saint Jean Pied de Port is the traditional starting point for the Camino de Santiago. It is a quaint old town, and normally fairly busy. There are a few outdoor markets around the town, a good place to get anything that you have forgotten to bring, e.g. a hat.
For travel directions to St Jean see this page – How to get to St Jean Pied de Port
As you go along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela you will be asked by others where you started, one of the common questions when strangers meet. When pilgrims tell you they started in St Jean, there is often a slight note of pride in their voice. And quite rightly, the walk from St Jean to Roncesvalles is the hardest one day of the whole Camino. It is a great accomplishment for all who walk from here. My hat off to everyone that has the time and starts here.
There are a few Albergues in St Jean Pied de Port, all but one are private. During July and August it can be hard to get a bed, however many people, full of enthusiasm, turn up at St Jean and start their Camino within an hour of arrival.
At the office in St Jean you can collect you credential, (pilgrims passport), this is required for staying in albergues, and to collect your stamps (sello) along your Camino to Santiago. Additionally the pilgrims office have some maps and a list of albergues, this will be the most up to date list. They are a very helpful crowd who speak many languages between them, but having a few French words to mind will always be helpful.
In 1998, the Porte St-Jacques (city gate) was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as part of the sites along the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
For more information on St Jean and a list of accomodation see the St Jean tourist web site.