Most pilgrims -especially the ones on foot- start their journey in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (or afterwards). The first stage, crossing the Pyrenees, is immediately one of the toughest. Especially after a long journey and with a backpack which is still too heavy.
A good alternative is to warm up, by walking two days through the Basque Country, from Saint-Palais to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. (More alternatives > crossing the Pyrenees).
The route is well signposted, especially from the “stèle de Gibraltar” (> photo above), just outside Saint-Palais. Then you follow the famous GR 65, from Le Puy-en-Velay.
There is good accommodation in Saint-Palais and Ostabat, but also in villages in between, e.g. the Gîte de l'Escargot in Uhart-Mixe or hotel Espellet in Larceveau.
Last but not least, the route goes through a beautiful part of the Basque Country, with a rich pilgrimage history.
The distance from Saint-Palais to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is about 33 kilometers.