The Camino Francés | French Way

A route that will take you to discover the true essence of the Camino de Santiago.

The French Camino de Santiago is the most social and well-known route of the Camino de Santiago. It is the path chosen by more than 60% of pilgrims, and the protagonist of multiple books and films, such as “The Way”.

Featured travel packages for the French Way

Astorga
254 Km
Astorga
11 Stages
12 Nights
from 935 €
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camino-de-santiago-desde-león
308 Km
León
13 Stages
14 Nights
from 1072 €
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camino-de-santiago-desde-burgos
485 Km
Burgos
22 Stages
23 Nights
from 1870 €
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Camino de Santiago desde Logroño
533 Km
Logroño
27 Stages
28 Nights
from 2227 €
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Camino Francés últimos 200 km en bici
203 Km
Ponferrada
5 Stages
6 Nights
from 730 €
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The French Way
106 Km
Sarria
10 Stages
11 Nights
from 870 €
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Camino Francés en bici
700 Km
Roncesvalles
15 Stages
16 Nights
from 1935 €
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Camino de Santiago Superior
106 Km
Sarria
5 Stages
6 Nights
from 750 €
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Camino Francés Pet Friendly
111 Km
Sarria
6 Stages
7 Nights
from 870 €
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Pilgrims on the French Way
740 Km
St. Jean P.P.
34 Stages
35 Nights
from 2765 €
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El Camino Francés | Sarria a Santiago
106 Km
Sarria
5 Stages
6 Nights
from 470 €
See Tour

Where to start The Camino Francés | French Way ?

Many pilgrims are worried about the level of difficulty that the Camino Francés could represent for them. If you don’t feel so trained, if you walk with children or with your dog, if you simply want to enjoy a stress-free experience and are looking for a more simple route, you can choose to walk a Camino Francés Easy. Let’s see the distances and the stages along this route and why it could be a great choice.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
773 Km 36 Etapas 37 Noches 5/5 Saint Jean de Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port
Nestled in the French Pyrenees, this charming village is the main starting point of the French Way.

This small fortified medieval village is one of the most popular starting points on the French Way. It is located in the south of France, close to the Pyrenean border with Navarre. Its narrow, cobbled streets and emblematic architecture led to this citadel being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For centuries, many pilgrims have chosen to begin their pilgrimage here, adding a sense of historical continuity and tradition to this place. In addition to its Jacobean importance, a few kilometres away is Ostabat, the point where three of the main routes through French territory converge, those from Le Puy, Limoges and Tours.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
750 Km 32 Etapas 33 Noches 5/5 Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles
A historic enclave on the Camino de Santiago, Roncesvalles is one of the main starting points for pilgrims.

It is a city located in the north of Spain, in the Navarrese Pyrenees, near the border with France. The scene of epic battles and a prime example of French Gothic architecture, it has now established itself as one of the main points of departure for pilgrims.

During the Middle Ages, Roncesvalles became an important enclave on the French Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela. A hospital was established to provide assistance and accommodation for walkers along the Way; and the church of Santiago, also known as the “Church of the Pilgrims”, which houses a sculpture of the apostle St. James inside.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
685 Km 30 Etapas 31 Noches 5/5 Pamplona

Pamplona
Pamplona is a city of history, culture and tradition. Its old quarter preserves an important monumental ensemble of churches and medieval walls.

Pamplona is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Navarre in north-western Spain.

Located in the heart of the Pilgrim’s Way to Compostela, Pamplona is the first city from Roncesvalles. In this city you can visit Ultreia, a Pilgrim Welcome and Interpretation Centre on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago that presents the history of the city and its relationship with the Pilgrim’s Way through interactive and audiovisual resources.

In addition, as a curiosity, Pamplona was chosen by the writer Ernest Hemingway as a place of residence during the Spanish Civil War in search of inspiration for several of his reports and novels, in which he wrote about its San Fermín fiestas.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
500 Km 22 Etapas 23 Noches 5/5 Burgos

Burgos
Located in the heart of the city of Burgos is the Cathedral, declared a World Heritage Site for being an architectural landmark and a sanctuary of art and spirituality.

The city of Burgos is a city in the autonomous region of Castile-León whose origins date back to the Middle Ages. There you can visit numerous historic buildings and castles as well as its Cathedral, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a symbol of Spanish Gothic architecture.

It is one of the most important towns on the French Route. Such was the importance of the city of Burgos in the first centuries of pilgrimage that it is estimated to have had as many as 32 hostels for pilgrims, making it the most hospitable city in Europe.

All its religious institutions and buildings, including its Cathedral, revolved around the pilgrims. If you like history, you will find it everywhere in Burgos. The city evokes a host of historical figures through its monuments and corners, where the figure of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador, born nearby and whose remains rest in the capital’s Cathedral, stands out.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
306 Km 16 Etapas 17 Noches 5/5 León

León
León Cathedral, declared a World Heritage Site, is one of the most emblematic Gothic cathedrals in Spain and the most visited monument in the city.

It is the capital of the province located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most popular starting points among pilgrims when starting their journey on the Camino de Santiago. Arriving or starting in this city means having completed almost half of the route, as it is located halfway between Saint Jean Pied de Port and Santiago de Compostela.

It has a valuable historical and artistic heritage and is home to countless stories and legends. Of particular note is the Royal Convent of San Marcos, now a Parador de Turismo, which was a former pilgrims’ hospital and a prison where the writer Francisco de Quevedo stayed for almost four years.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
200 Km 10 Etapas 11 Noches 4/5 Ponferrada

Ponferrada
Ponferrada’s timeless charm it’s captured in its stone streets and medieval grace

Ponferrada is a municipality and city in the province of León, capital of the region of El Bierzo. Surrounded by mountains and located in the heart of the Camino de Santiago, it is also known as “The city of the Templars” because of its castle, one of the most spectacular fortresses in Spain, declared a National Monument. It is said that one of the reasons why the castle was modified on numerous occasions was in order to provide greater security for the route and for pilgrims passing through the city.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
100 Km 5 Etapas 6 Noches 3/5 Sarria

Sarria
Sarria is the starting point for many pilgrims, as it comprises the last 100 kilometres of the French Way.

Located in Lugo, Galicia, it is one of the most popular points on the French Way of St. James. Here thousands of pilgrims decide to begin the pilgrimage every year to make the popular route Sarria-Santiago de Compostela. This Galician town is about 100 km from Santiago de Compostela, the minimum distance required to obtain the Compostela.

In Sarria you can visit dolmens and petroglyphs around the town that show the human presence in the area since prehistoric times.

Route map The Camino Francés | French Way

Map of the French Way

Stages The Camino Francés | French Way

Stage 2
21 km
3/5
5h15m
Stage 3
20 km
1/5
4h30m
Stage 4
24 km
2/5
5h45m
Stage 5
22 km
2/5
5h
Stage 6
21 km
2/5
5h
Stage 7
28 km
2/5
6h15m
Stage 8
29 km
2/5
6h30m
Stage 9
21 km
1/5
4h45m
Stage 10
22 km
1/5
5h
Stage 11
24 km
2/5
5h30m
Stage 12
26 km
2/5
5h45m
Stage 13
20 km
2/5
5h15m
Stage 14
20 km
2/5
4h30m
Stage 15
25 km
2/5
5h30m
Stage 16
19 km
1/5
4h15m
Stage 18
25 km
2/5
6h30m
Stage 19
18 km
2/5
4h
Stage 20
19 km
2/5
4h15m
Stage 21
18 km
1/5
4h15m
Stage 22
31 km
2/5
7h40m
Stage 23
21 km
2/5
5h9min
Stage 24
21 km
2/5
5h50m
Stage 25
32 km
4/5
6h 30m
Stage 26
24 km
2/5
5h30m
Stage 27
28 km
4/5
7h30m
Stage 28
21 km
2/5
4h45m
Stage 29
18 km
2/5
4h15m
Stage 30
22 km
2/5
5h
Stage 31
25 km
2/5
5h45m
Stage 32
28 km
3/5
6h45m
Stage 33
19 km
2/5
4h30m
Stage 34
19 km
2/5
4h30m

Difficulty level The Camino Francés | French Way

Difficulty profile route French Way

Distance

Doing the complete French Way is one of the most difficult routes, especially because of the physical demands of walking 800km for approximately 35-40 days.

Terrain

Most of the route takes place on the plateau, which is straight and flat.

The route through the plateau offers a unique experience to pilgrims, as they can enjoy wide horizons and open landscapes that stretch for miles. This geography facilitates walking along well-defined and, for the most part, flat paths, which allows for a more comfortable and fluid progress.

Although the plateau can be hot in summer and cold in winter, the weather is generally stable and conducive to walking.

However, as the route approaches the last stages in Galicia, the topography changes, becoming more undulating and mountainous, which adds an additional challenge to the route. The paths are channeled through lush green forests, rivers and streams crossing on small stone bridges, and charming Galician villages of stone and tiles.

Unevenness

The French Way is varied, including hills, valleys and mountains. It has a total gradient of 3,000 meters, which means that some stages have steep slopes, especially in mountainous areas such as the Pyrenees and Galicia. However, the effort will be worth it, as the views from the top (at these altitudes) are spectacular.

Climate

The climate along the French Way varies according to the season and the region you walk through. Here is a summary of the weather conditions and some advice for pilgrims:

1. Spring (March to May): The weather in spring can be variable. Temperatures tend to be mild, with pleasant days and cool nights. However, there can also be occasional showers. Fields are green and landscapes are in bloom, making it a popular time to walk the Camino.

Tips:

  • Wear clothing suitable for layering, including a light mackintosh.
  • Pack warm clothing for cool evenings.
  • Make sure you have waterproof and comfortable footwear

 

2. Summer (June to August): Summer can be hot, especially on the plateau. Daytime temperatures can reach high levels, especially in the southern regions. However, in Galicia, the weather tends to be milder due to its proximity to the ocean.

Tips:

  • Start walking early to avoid the intense midday heat.
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Book accommodation in advance, as this is the busiest time of year.

 

3. Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another popular season for the Camino. Temperatures are pleasant, and the landscapes become golden and beautiful. Rainfall can also be frequent, especially in Galicia.

Tips:

  • Pack warm clothes and a good rain jacket.
  • Wear suitable footwear for walking on wet and slippery surfaces.
  • Enjoy the colours of autumn, but be prepared for changing weather conditions.

 

4.Winter (December to February): Winter can be cold, especially on the plateau, where temperatures can drop below freezing. In Galicia, it is wetter and milder.

Tips:

  • Take warm clothes, gloves, scarf and hat to protect yourself from the cold.
  • Consider shorter stages due to limited daylight hours.
  • Check that accommodations are open, as some may close during the low season.

Regardless of the season you choose to walk the Camino Francés, it is essential to be prepared for various weather conditions. Checking the weather forecast before setting off and carrying the right equipment will help you to enjoy this unforgettable pilgrimage experience.

What to see and do in The Camino Francés | French Way?

This route was the first itinerary of the Way of St. James to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the first European Cultural Itinerary. It is where most of the medieval European pilgrimage routes converge, being the route of greatest historical relevance and the one most pilgrims travel each year. Approximately 50% of pilgrims on the Camino follow this route.

Pilgrims in the Camino frances

The route of this ancient pilgrimage route starts in the French city of Saint Jean de Port and crosses the Iberian Peninsula for 800 km from west to east until it ends in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.

This route is characterized by its  landscape variety  and its extraordinary monumental wealth and its route leads us from the Pyrenean landscapes of the north to the plains of the middle zone where beech forests, cereal fields and vineyards will be part of this extraordinary journey.

Towns through which the French Route passes

This route starts in the French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port, located in the Pyrenees, and crosses the Iberian Peninsula from east to west on its way to Santiago de Compostela. The route covers a total of 800 kilometers and passes through the autonomous regions of Aragon, Navarre, La Rioja and Castile-León until it enters Galicia.

Although many pilgrims choose this French town as their starting point, others begin the Camino from intermediate points such as Burgos, León or Sarria. Other pilgrims decide to complete the entire French Way in several years, an ideal option for those who do not have enough time to complete the route at once.

Logroño

Logroño is the capital of La Rioja and one of the most important stops on the French Route. It was founded in Roman times and has witnessed important historical and military events over the centuries, such as the Conquest of the Visigoths and the War of Independence.

In the Middle Ages, it became an important point for the production and trade of wine, which continues to be an essential part of its economy today. In addition, this city has been chosen on numerous occasions as one of the cities where its inhabitants live the happiest lives.

Astorga

Astorga is a municipality in the Maragatería region, one of the most emblematic places in the province of León for its history, artistic heritage and gastronomy. A city on the French Way of St. James, here the French Way converges with the Silver Route to share the same route to Santiago de Compostela.

It is considered the city of art, having been declared a Historic-Artistic Site, where the Cathedral of Santa María, which encompasses various architectural styles, from Gothic to Baroque, and the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, the work of the Catalan architect Gaudí, among others, stand out.

O Cebreiro

O Cebreiro
The pallozas are traditional houses of pre-Roman origin built with stone and straw, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.

Located in the mountains of Lugo, this small village is a treasure trove of Galicia’s ethnographic heritage. Its pallozas, traditional stone houses with thatched roofs, have been recognised as an Asset of Cultural Interest, adding historical and cultural value to this picturesque village.

One of the most notable of its monuments is the Church of Santa María la Real, one of the oldest churches preserved along the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago, dating from the 9th century. It also houses a fascinating mystery inside: the Holy Grail, adding a touch of mysticism over the centuries.

Portomarín

It is a village located in the province of Lugo. It was a crucial point on the Way of St. James during the Middle Ages, as in this small rural village pilgrims crossed the river Miño in boats to continue their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

One of the most significant milestones in the history of Portomarín occurred in the 1960s, when it was decided to build a reservoir on the river Miño to generate hydroelectric power. This meant that Portomarñin would be submerged under the waters of the reservoir. As a result, the town was moved to a higher and safer location. To preserve its history and heritage many of its historic buildings, including the Church of San Juan, were dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt in the new location.

Today, this same church remains an important landmark and the ruins of the old fortress are a reminder of the town’s strategic history.

O Pedrouzo

Also known as “A Rúa do Peregrino”, it is a small village located in the province of A Coruña. It is located on the last stage of the French Way. Its history is closely related to the path of the Camino de Santiago and the flow of pilgrims over the centuries.

Over time, the arrival of pilgrims in large numbers also contributed to the development of the area. Hotels, hostels, restaurants and other services for pilgrims were established to meet the growing demand.

Today the municipality remains a vital point in the Camino de Santiago experiencie, where pilgrims can rest and connect with other travellers on the imminent arrival in Santiago de Compostela.

Places and Monuments you can’t miss on the French Route

Following the iconic yellow arrows of the French Way you will discover monuments, architecture and natural sites that are part of the historical heritage of Spain and Galicia: churches and monasteries; religious symbols such as crosses; or archaeological sites such as necropolises, medieval bridges…

We recommend the following points along the route that you should not miss along the way.

Royal Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles

This Gothic temple was built on the XIII century, by order of the King Sancho VII the Strong. It is considered to be the best Gothic building in Navarra region. Inside, you will be able to contemplate the sculpture of Our Lady of Roncesvalles, that was elaborated in Toulouse on the XIV century.

The church also has a defensive tower built in the 14th century, on the left side of the facade. Thousands of pilgrims choose this enclave of the Camino de Santiago as the starting point of their Jacobean Route (more than 4,000 pilgrims started here in 2019). The collegiate church, which underwent many reconstruction works over the centuries, is today witness to the recovery of this millennial pilgrimage and the great success of the Camino Francés.

Real Colegiata (Roncesvalles)

Romanesque Bridge (Puente de la Reina)

This Romanesque bridge has six semicircular arches and five pillars, and it is one of the nicest and most iconic constructions of the whole Camino. It is located in Puente de la Reina, where the French Way and the Aragonés Way join together. The name of this town (Puente de la Reina means Queen´s Bridge) finds its origin on the XI century, when the wife of the King Sancho García’s II ordered to built it, in order to help Pilgrims to cross the bridge.

The Puente de la Reina gives its name to this town, capital of the valley of Ilzarbe in the Middle Zone of Navarra.

In the past, the bridge had 3 defensive towers, two at its ends and another central one, where the image of the Virgin of Puy or Txori was located. Today you cannot find this Renaissance image on the bridge, because it was moved to the church of San Pedro in 1843.

Puente Románico (Puente de la Reina)

San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (San Millán de la Cogolla)

These monasteries were declared a World Heritage Site in 1997 after almost 1,500 years of monastic life in these places. Not only because of their architectural beauty, but also because it is considered to be the place where Spanish language was born (the first manuscript in Spanish was found there). You will need to walk about 15 extra km, but it is really worth visiting. We remind you that they are two different monasteries so you have to organize two separate visits.

The oldest is the Monastery of Suso, whose original monastery was built in the 6th century, representing the first pilgrimage sanctuary in the region. The oldest part of this monastery is made up of caves, and in one of them, called the Oratory of San Millán, is located the tomb of the saint and the altar, considered by many to be the oldest in Spain. Gonzalo de Berceo, born around 1196 and first known Spanish poet, received here his first education. The Monastery of Yuso was built during the 16th and 17th centuries and its sacristy is one of the most beautiful in Spain. The 18th century ceiling frescoes maintain the great beauty of their original colors. A visit not to be missed on your French route!

Monasterios de San Millán de Suso y Yuso (San Millán de la Cogolla)

Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos

This Benedictine monastery was built on the VII century. Many historical events took place there, like the Muslim invasion, but it is still in perfect condition. During the 12th and 13th centuries, which represented the golden age of pilgrimages, Silos was considered one of the most important centers after Santiago. Its cloister is a representative sample of Romanesque art in Spain. This incredible double floor cloister forms a quadrilateral with slightly unequal sides. The lower floor is the oldest and of greatest merit as it consists of a spectacular collection of 64 capitals representing different themes. In addition, it saw up to 6 masters involved in its creation, although only two of them stood out.

It also has a museum, where you will be able to see the holy chalice used by Santo Domingo de Silos, and the tympanum of the door, that was the origin of the whole Monastery. Pilgrims can also visit its exceptional library, which has nearly 180,000 volumes. This place undoubtedly has something special since thousands of pilgrims consider Silos an obligatory stop in their route.

Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos

Burgos Catedral

Burgos Cathedral is a World Heritage Site and Nacional Monument. This is one of the most popular buildings of Spain. Its construction started in 1221, and nowadays it is one of the most representative buildings of the French Gothic in Spain. Previously, there was another Romanesque cathedral on the same site, built between 1080 and 1095. Inside, we can find work of art made by great artists, such as Gil de Siloé.

From the Plaza de Santa Maria you can contemplate the majestic main facade, inspired by the Cathedrals of Paris and Reims. Over the centuries, it underwent major renovations (in the XY-XVII centuries) that continued until the twentieth century, making the Cathedral the European monument that has received more funds for its restoration (with a total investment of 30 million euros).

Catedral de Burgos

Virgin of Biakorri

About 12 km after leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port and about 14 km before reaching Roncesvalles, at the top of a rocky ridge, stands the Virgin of Biakorri with the Child Jesus in her arms. Protector of shepherds and pilgrims, she is adorned with flowers, necklaces and shells by the locals and walkers, as a result of their faith and devotion. So if you pass by here, don’t forget to leave a souvenir of your time on the Camino!

Santo Domingo de la Calzada (La Rioja)

This is one of the most important points on the Pilgrim ‘s Way to Santiago de Compostela in La Rioja. It is located on the banks of the River Oja and was the site of a hostel for pilgrims seeking rest in the town. This is where the curious legend of the cockerel and the hen was born, one of the best known and most popular stories in the region. This fable tells how a pilgrim was saved from the gallows after the rebirth of a roasted rooster and hen that were ready to be eaten.

Catedral de León

Leon Cathedral

As you pass through León, you will come across one of the monumental jewels of the French Route, its Cathedral. This Gothic basilica dates back to the 13th century and is one of the city’s most important points of historical relevance and interest. One of the treasures of this cathedral are its stained glass windows, one of the most outstanding collections of Gothic art in Europe, which create a mystical and luminous atmosphere inside. An unforgettable visit for pilgrims.

Episcopal Palace in Astorga

This Palace was built by Antoni Gaudi between 1989 and 1915 using grey granite from El Bierzo region, following a neo-gothic style. The Catalan architect was chosen by his great friend, the bishop of Astorga, Joan Baptista Grau i Vallespinós. He did commission him this project to to be his residence after the previous one was destroyed by a fire in 1886. The Cathedral of Astorga is just beside it, another place you must visit if you are doing the French Way.

The Episcopal Palace of Astorga, which in 1969 was catalogued as an Asset of Cultural Interest, leaves visitors speechless and since 1962 houses a museum dedicated to the Camino de Santiago, the Museum of the Ways. Gaudí was in charge of 65% of the construction but did not finish the project (Ricardo García Guereta did it between 1907 and 1915 following Gaudí’s layout). Gaudí’s interpretation of Gothic-medieval art was always free and personal. Around the Palace there are beautiful gardens, with 3 statues representing angels.

Palacio Episcopal de Astorga

San Julián Samos Monastery

This Monastery from the VI century is located in the province of Lugo. This is the oldest inhabited monastery in Spain and one of the most important ones in Spain, due to its various styles: pre-Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and neoclassical. This is because it experienced many different restorations throughout the years after the medieval wars and conflicts that affected the monastery on numerous occasions..

The monastery has two cloisters of different dimensions. The Big Cloister, built between 1685 and 1689, which is the largest in Spain as it has 3,000m² and the Small Cloister which was built between 1539 and 1582. The complex also has a library, with more than 25,000 volumes, and a chapel dedicated to San Salvador.

Abadía Benedictina de San Julián Samos

Cruz de Hierro

Also known as La Cruz de Hierro, Cruz do Ferro or Cruz de Fierro, it is located between the villages of Foncebadón and Manjarín, in the province of León. It is a mound of stones deposited by the pilgrims who pass through this place during their pilgrimage, and is crowned by a large wooden mast.

It is located in the highest region that pilgrims pass through on their way to Santiago and marks the beginning of the final stretch of the Way, which is why it is considered an important landmark on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela.

Castillo de los Templarios

Templars' Castle

Approaching the end of the route, we arrive at Ponferrada. Situated on a hill, we find the Templars’ Castle, a Romanesque-style building dating from 1187 and one of the wonders of the Middle Ages, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and a National Monument.

This historic site has a special relationship with pilgrims. During the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar were known for their work protecting and lodging travellers on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

We don´t need to say that the most iconic jewel of the whole French Way is the Santiago Cathedral itself, the final destination of all Pilgrims. According to the tradition, the remains of Saint James the Apostle were found in 813, on the same place where the Cathedral was built. An authentic work of art, outside but also inside especially after the incredible restoration works that finished just before the Opening of the Holy Door and the beginning of the Xacobean Holy Year.

Arriving at the end of the Camino, you can admire the majestic facade of the Plaza del Obradoiro, in baroque style and built in the eighteenth century. Its main mission was to protect the Portico de la Gloria. The Cathedral of Santiago is one of the most famous and beautiful of all the Iberian territory and certainly its interior will leave you speechless. Here, in addition, you can see the imposing censer called botafumeiro, which weighs about 100 when full.

santiago de compostela catedral galiwonders

This is the end of our 10 essential places on the French Way, although we could list many.

Galicia’s lush forests

This route passes through a diverse range of landscapes including rural areas, mountains, meadows and mixed forests. Each section has unique characteristics, so pilgrims can enjoy these natural landscapes while making their way. In its last kilometers, the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago passes through lush native forests of oak, chestnut, pine and eucalyptus trees. These groves have a special atmosphere, with a distinctive aroma and a different appearance to the rest of the native vegetation, providing shade and protection from the wind and a unique visual and sensory experience.

Other places of interest that you can visit if you walk the French Way are: The Royal Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles, the Roman Bridge of Puente La Reina, the Cathedral of Burgos, the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña in Aragón or the Church of San Martín de Frómista in Palencia.

Royal Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles

Camino de Santiago Tours Galiwonders

This Gothic temple was built on the XIII century, by order of the King Sancho VII the Strong. It is considered to be the best Gothic building in Navarra region. Inside, you will be able to contemplate the sculpture of Our Lady of Roncesvalles, that was elaborated in Toulouse on the XIV century.

Romanesque Bridge (Puente de la Reina)

This Romanesque bridge has six semicircular arches and five pillars, and it is one of the nicest and most iconic constructions of the whole Camino. It is located in Puente de la Reina, where the French Way and the Aragonés Way join together. The name of this town (Puente de la Reina means Queen´s Bridge) finds its origin on the XI century, when the wife of the King Sancho García’s II ordered to built it, in order to help Pilgrims to cross the bridge.

San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (San Millán de la Cogolla)

These monasteries were declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. Not only because of their architectural beauty, but also because it is considered to be the place where Spanish language was born (the first manuscript in Spanish was found there). You will need to walk about 15 extra km, but it is really worth visiting.

Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos

This Benedictine monastery was built on the VII century. Many historical events took place there, like the Muslim invasion, but it is still in perfect condition. Its cloister is a representative sample of Romanesque art in Spain. It also has a museum, where you will be able to see the holy chalice used by Santo Domingo de Silos, and the tympanum of the door, that was the origin of the whole Monastery.

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral is a World Heritage Site, and one of the most popular buildings of Spain. Its construction started in 1221, and nowadays it is one of the most representative buildings of the French Gothic in Spain. Inside, we can find work of art made by great artists, such as Gil de Siloé.

Leon Cathedral

It is also known as the Santa María de la Regla Cathedral; this impressive building was built on the XII century, and its stained glass windows are really well known (some of them are still preserved from its origins). It has 134 large windows and 3 rose windows.

Episcopal Palace in Astorga

This Palace was built by Antoni Gaudi between 1989 and 1915 using grey granite from El Bierzo region, following a neo-gothic style. The Cathedral of Astorga is just beside it, another place you must visit if you are doing the French Way.

Samos Monastery

This Monastery from the VI century is located in the province of Lugo. It is one of the most important ones in Spain, due to its various styles: pre-Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and neoclassical. This is because it experienced many different restorations throughout the years.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

We don´t need to say that the most iconic jewel of the whole French Way is the Santiago Cathedral itself, the final destination of all Pilgrims. According to the tradition, the remains of Saint James the Apostle were found in 813, on the same place where the Cathedral was built. An authentic work of art, outside but also inside.

Alternative places to discover on the French Way

Las Médulas (León)

Las medulas in the French Way

Las Médulas is a landscape environment formed by an old open-pit Roman gold mining operation located in the vicinity of the region of El Bierzo. This area was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1996 for its archaeological interest; it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Natural Monument in 2002.

Although it is not directly on the French Way route, many pilgrims choose to visit this impressive site for its historical importance and natural beauty.

Atapuerca (Burgos)

If you are a lover of history and archaeology, you must make a stop in Atapuerca on your way through Burgos. This archaeological site, the cradle of the oldest human beings in Europe, is located in the Atapuerca mountain range and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Despite not being a common place to visit for pilgrims on this route, many of them choose to make a detour to visit this important palaeontological and archaeological site.

If you wish to visit Atapuerca, you should take into account that the site is located about 15 kilometers east of Burgos, so it will require additional time. To get there, you can consider taking public or private transport from Burgos, such as a bus or taxi.

The History of The Camino Francés | French Way

The French Way: its origins

French way origins Galiwonders

After the death of Saint James the Greater (the Apostle), who had carried our part of his evangelizing mission in the territory known nowadays as Spain, his remains were transporter by boat from Jerusalem to Iria Flavia, in Galicia, an finally buried in Santiago de Compostela. These events took place between year 41 and 44 after Christ.

It wouldn’t be until 812 year of the ninth century that these relics would be rediscovered in Santiago de Compostela, when the shepherd Pelayo saw a shower of stars on a hill for several days.  Some days later, Pelayo had a dream in which the apostle St. James appeared to reveal to him that those stars indicated the place where his grave was located.

Thus, Pelayo removed the soil, found his remains and proceeded to inform the bishop of Iria Flavia, who in turn informed King Alfonso II El Casto. The latter travelled from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela on foot (today this route is known as the Primitive Way) to verify the facts. He is considered to be the first pilgrim.

After verifying that the remains belonged to the apostle, construction began on a small church on the site of the tomb, which over the centuries would become the Cathedral. After this, the settlement where he was found became the city of Santiago de Compostela (in Latin Campus Stellae), referring to the shower of stars that indicated the location of the apostle on a hill.

This discovery attracted the attention of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, who began to travel to the capital to visit the grave of the saint via an ancient Roman road.  In this way, the French Way established itself as the main pilgrimage route during the Middle Ages, assuming an important channel of cultural, intellectual and commercial exchange between pilgrims and local communities.

Although the French Route suffered various ups and downs due to social changes, wars or epidemics, it has always managed to recover thanks to the institutions dedicated to its promotion and preservation. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world, as thousands of pilgrims walk its paths every year for various reasons such as religious, spiritual or cultural.

Tips if you are going to do The Camino Francés | French Way

What is the best time of the year to do the French Way?

Our recommendation is to do the French Way in spring or autumn. At these dates the influx of pilgrims is less than in summer and tourist services are working at full capacity and finding accommodation and transport will not be a problem.

In spring, temperatures tend to be more pleasant and milder than in summer, which will also allow you to carry lighter luggage. The autumn months, especially September and October, are also increasingly chosen by pilgrims to do the Camino. Temperatures are milder than in summer (18ºC- 25ºC), making it easier to do the long walks.

Tips for walking this route of the Camino

Hydration and nutrition while walking the Camino is key to maintaining a good state of health and energy. It is advisable to drink water every 15-20 minutes and eat five high-energy, high-protein meals.

Clothing should be light, breathable and insulating. As for footwear, we recommend waterproof trekking boots with good cushioning and not wearing new ones to avoid chafing.

Bring a raincoat. The weather conditions in Galicia are variable at any time of the year, so we recommend that you always carry a raincoat in your backpack. It takes up hardly any space and is very light, so you won’t feel any extra weight.

Lightweight luggage. Organizing your backpack for the Camino is a challenge, especially if you are going to carry it on your back. The ideal is to carry luggage that does not exceed 10% of your body weight and organize the inside of the backpack properly, to prevent your joints from suffering. If, on the other hand, you have neck problems, or if you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of carrying so much weight while walking, we have a luggage transport service that will take your backpack or luggage from accommodation to accommodation. This way, you can fit everything you want in your backpack without worrying about carrying it for so many hours.

Why book with Galiwonders?

Your way. Tailor-made.

We will design an itinerary tailored to your needs, preferences and budget and book all services for you. You enjoy the road.

We are on El Camino

Galicia is our home. We have traveled all the routes of the Camino and we have direct contact with the service providers on the Camino.

We are travelers too

We speak several languages, have lived abroad and have years of experience in organizing trips for people from all over the world.

An unforgettable experience

Hundreds of pilgrims repeat year after year the experience of traveling with us. We want you to be one of them. And that is why we will strive to make your trip unique and unforgettable.

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