The Camino Francés | French Way

Camino de Santiago from León

camino-de-santiago-desde-león

Tour Description

León is one of the main starting points of the French Way, the most famous route of the Camino de Santiago. During this 14-day itinerary, you will cover 308 kilometres in 13 stages. Even so, remember that our itineraries are completely flexible, so if you want to add or remove nights or services, do not hesitate to contact us.

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Experience details

Included Services

Lodging in private room with private bathroom
Luggage transfer between stages
Half board: breakfast and dinner
Travel insurance
Walking notes
Pilgrim passport
24/7 telephone assistance

The Camino de Santiago from León has a total distance of 308 kilometres. If you decide to venture out on the French Way from this city, you will start in the autonomous community of Castile and León, and enter Galicia via Pedrafita do Cebreiro until you finally reach Santiago de Compostela.

Other of the most frequent starting points of the French Way, apart from León, are Astorga, Ponferrada and Sarria, the last two being the most important, as they comprise the last 200 and 100 kilometres of the Way, respectively.

Stage 1: León - Villavante (31 km)

León is one of the major cities on the French Route and our starting point. This stage is fairly flat and quiet. Once you leave the suburbs of León behind, you will pass through rural and cultivated areas.

Stage 2: Villavante - Astorga (21 km)

As you get closer to the Montes de León, the terrain will become more uneven, with ups and downs. Astorga is a stop with many places to visit, closely linked to the architect Gaudí.

Stage 3: Astorga - Rabanal del Camino (19 km)

This stage leaves the Meseta behind and enters the Montes de León through the region of La Maragatería. The route of this stage, which climbs steadily, varies between dirt tracks, rural paths and some secondary roads. The architecture between Astorga and Rabanal del Camino is very unique, as it is characterised by being a land of muleteers and merchants. Likewise, its gastronomy will not leave you indifferent, especially the famous cocido maragato.

Stage 4: Rabanal del Camino - Ponferrada (32 km)

From Rabanal del Camino, you will ascend the Montes de León, which act as a natural barrier between the Maragatería region and Bierzo. In this section you climb 280 metres in one go until you reach what is known as “La Cruz del Ferro”, one of the most emblematic symbols of the Camino de Santiago. From there, the road turns downhill, taking us on what seems like an endless descent to Molinaseca, a town just a few kilometres from Ponferrada, which can be tough after the descent from Cruz del Ferro.

Stage 5: Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo (23 km)

Ponferrada is the starting point of the Camino for many pilgrims who want to do the last 200 kilometres. The walk, through the region of El Bierzo, passes through fields with vineyards and some sections run alongside the river Burbia, which adds a beautiful panoramic view to the stage.

Stage 6: Villafranca del Bierzo - O Cebreiro (28 km)

This stage is called the Queen Stage, as its ascent to O Cebreiro, the highest ascent of the French Way in Spanish territory, is one of the greatest attractions of the Camino de Santiago. The climb, with a difference in altitude of 660 metres over 12 kilometres, is not particularly difficult if done calmly.

Stage 7: O Cebreiro - Triacastela (21 km)

The route from O Cebreiro to Triacastela is not as demanding as the previous day. The first two thirds of the stage are above 1,200 metres and the route generally avoids tarmac. There are no steep climbs, except for the climb to the Alto de O Poio and the Alto de San Roque, where the Pilgrim’s Monument is located. From there, until Triacastela, the descent is continuous.

Stage 8: Triacastela - Sarria (18 km)

The stage between Triacastela and Sarria includes rural tracks, secondary roads and paths through forests, such as the one along the banks of the river Oribio, which is home to oak and chestnut trees, giving us views of the Monastery of Samos. The terrain is varied, but in general it is suitable for walking and not very challenging. Sarria is the starting point of the French Way for most pilgrims, as the last 100 km is the minimum required to obtain the Compostela.

Stage 9: Sarria - Portomarín (22 km)

The stage of the Way of Saint James between Sarria and Portomarín is one of the best known and most travelled stages of the French Way. This section has frequent but moderate slopes, which do not pose any difficulty. During the route, which is characterised by being quiet and peaceful, you can enjoy meadows, lush forests of oak and chestnut trees, small rural villages and Romanesque-style chapels.

Stage 10: Portomarín - Palas de Rei (25 km)

This section is characterised by being one of the most artificial stages of the Camino de Santiago in Galicia. The route, consisting of paths next to the road and paved tracks especially for pilgrims, progresses through rural areas and small villages, as in the previous stage. The gradient is generally moderate, although the first half of the stage rises from 350 metres to 725 metres.

Stage 11: Palas de Rei - Arzúa (29 km)

The stage between Palas de Rei and Arzúa is characterised by a serrated profile, with continuous short but demanding slopes (especially from Melide onwards), due to the numerous streams that run across the route. As it is one of the longest stages of the French Way, you can divide it in two and spend the night in Melide. We recommend a visit to Ribadiso, a medieval village that is well worth a visit. Don’t miss the octopus á feira in Melide and the Arzúa cheese at the end of the stage!

Stage 12: Arzúa - O Pedrouzo (19 km)

This stage runs along long forest tracks, crossing meadows, eucalyptus forests, villages and streams. The section has a gentle profile, which makes it comfortable to walk. Bear in mind that you will have to cross the N-547 on several occasions without the help of pedestrian crossings, so you should pay special attention in these cases.

Stage 13: O Pedrouzo - Santiago de Compostela (20 km)

Difficulty

The French Way from León can be considered a route of moderate difficulty. It presents gentle hills and some unevenness, but in general, it is affordable for most pilgrims with a normal physical condition. Keep in mind that the total length of the route (308 km) and the daily walking days may present physical challenges for some pilgrims.

Route

During the start of the French Way from León, the terrain is usually relatively flat and suitable for warming up and acclimatising to the Camino. As you progress, you will cross hills and mountains. These mountainous sections offer breathtaking views and a more challenging experience both physically and mentally. As you approach Galicia, the vegetation becomes more abundant, with lush forests and shady paths.

Slope

The gradient can vary significantly in different stages. Some stages have flatter sections, while others involve moderate ascents and descents through hills and mountains. The most challenging stage in terms of elevation gain is the Villafranca del Bierzo and O Cebreiro stage, where you climb 660 metres in altitude over 12 kilometres.

Signposting

You can follow the route without any problem by following the signs that indicate the route: stone cairns, the iconic scallop shell tile on the facades of buildings or urban constructions, yellow arrows or bronze scallops embedded in the floors of the streets.

We recommend you to look for these signs among the rural urban geography in order to follow the Camino to Santiago, as sometimes they can be hidden or covered by some element such as cars or people, making you follow the wrong Camino. If you arrive at a crossroads without any indication and you do not know how to continue, we recommend you to go back to the last sign you have seen to try to reorient yourself.

Important note:
You may come across signage in the shape of the iconic scallop shell but it may not be accompanied by a yellow arrow to show you the way forward. If this is the case, you should follow the open part of the shell, i.e. the semi-circular part with the largest diameter, as if it were an imaginary arrow.

Standard Category Accommodations on The Camino Francés | French Way

1* and 2* hotels

These hotels offer private rooms with private bathrooms as well as other additional services that may vary depending on the type of category: restaurant service, television, room service, dry cleaning, ironing service, etc. It is common to stay in this type of hotels in the cities along the Camino.

Hostels and pensions

These accommodations have the necessary services to cover the basic needs of cleanliness and rest at a more moderate price than the hotels . Officially, hostels and guesthouses are 1-star accommodations. However, this rating should not be taken into account when evaluating the level of comfort and quality of their services.

Trip cancellation insurance
Upgrade to superior room
Extra night at the beginning of the tour
Extra night at the end of the tour
Private transfer airport-starting location
Private transfer Santiago-Airport
Other private transfers
Organized visits and excursions
Pilgrim massage

Route map

Touristic information

El Camino de Santiago desde León comienza en la comunidad autónoma Castilla y León y atraviesa Galicia hasta llegar finalmente a Santiago de Compostela.

History of the Camino de Santiago from León

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage route that dates back to the 9th century, when a tomb believed to belong to St. James the Greater was discovered in what is now Santiago de Compostela. This news spread throughout Europe, making it an important centre of pilgrimage for the faithful. León, a historic and strategic city in northern Spain, plays a crucial role in this ancient route. It is a central point for pilgrims, marking the separation of the French and Sanabria routes. The French route, the busiest, passes through the city of León and continues west towards Santiago de Compostela. The Sanabria route, on the other hand, descends southwards to Zamora before heading towards Santiago.

During the Middle Ages, León experienced a period of cultural and architectural splendour, leaving a remarkable architectural legacy. The cathedral of León, an impressive work of Gothic architecture, is a prominent landmark on the Camino. Begun in the 13th century, it is known for its magnificent stained glass windows and the Puerta del Perdón, where pilgrims sought indulgence. At that time, pilgrims regarded the Way of St. James as an act of devotion, penance and spiritual quest.

Today, the Camino de Santiago remains a symbol of spirituality, adventure and community. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world venture along this route, seeking not only a connection with history and faith, but also a journey of self-discovery and personal enrichment.

If you decide to start your pilgrimage in Logroño, you will be following in the footsteps of countless people who over the centuries have undertaken this incredible journey to Santiago de Compostela.

Villages through which the French Way passes from León

The French Way from León passes through several charming villages as pilgrims make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Here are some of the most outstanding villages along this stretch:

León

A large and significant town on the route, famous for its Gothic cathedral and lively atmosphere.

La Virgen del Camino

A small village with a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it is a common resting point for pilgrims.

Rabanal del Camino

A village nestled in the mountains, known for its spiritual atmosphere and the Church of Santa Maria.

Ponferrada

A town with an imposing and well-preserved Templar castle, a must for history lovers.

Villafranca del Bierzo

Located in the hills of Galicia, it is famous for its ancient pallozas and pre-Romanesque church.

O CebreiroA town with an important church and a charming atmosphere, known as “the little Compostela”.

Triacastela

Un pueblo tranquilo y pintoresco en las colinas gallegas, ideal para descansar y disfrutar de la naturaleza.

Sarria

A popular starting point for many pilgrims, as it is the last stage before the final 100km to obtain the Compostela.

Portomarín

A historic place with a Romanesque church and a strategic location next to the river Miño.

Palas de Rei

A typical Galician village with a rich cultural tradition and a charming parish.

Arzúa

Known for its cheese, it is an important point before reaching Santiago de Compostela.

Places and Monuments to see on the Camino de Santiago from León

Las Médulas (León)

Las Médulas is a landscape environment formed by a former Roman open-pit gold mining site 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 route of the French Way, many pilgrims choose to visit this impressive site for its historical importance and natural beauty.

León 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. Its imposing Gothic-style façade, adorned with polychrome stained-glass windows that filter the light in heavenly tones, will leave you in awe.

Cruz de Ferro

The Cruz de Ferro is located between the villages of Foncebadón and Manjarín, in the province of León. The tradition of placing a stone at the foot of the cross is said to come from the ancient Celts, and symbolises leaving sins behind and carrying a new hope as you continue on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Over the centuries, this custom has endured, making the Cruz de Ferro a meeting point for pilgrims.

Castillo de los Templarios

Approaching the end of the route, we reach the municipality of Ponferrada. Situated on a hill, we find the Castle of the Templars, 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.

Other places of interest to visit if you are on the French Route are: Burgos Cathedral, the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña in Aragón and the Church of San Martín de Frómista in Palencia.

What to do the French Way from Logroño?

It’s not just about walking. You can add extra activities to your trip to make the pilgrimage experience to Santiago even more enriching.

Wine testing

Many of the places that make up the Jacobean routes have an extensive tradition in the production and marketing of exquisite wines. The French Way, in particular, is one of the most famous routes in this sense, given that it crosses three important wne.growing areas such as La Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Ribeira Sacra.

Cultural Exploration

Visit churches, cathedrals, monasteries and villages along the way. Learn about the history, architecture and culture of the region.

Tasting of local food

Try the local cuisine in every region you pass through. Each place has delicious local dishes that are part of the experience.

Visit Cocinandos

Considered one of the best restaurants in Spain for its value for money. Awarded a Michelin star since 2009, it marks a turning point in Castilian cuisine. You can visit it on your visit to León.

Frequent questions

From León airport

By car or taxi: 8.6 km with an estimated time of 19 minutes.

From Oviedo airport

By car or taxi: It is 176 km with an estimated duration of 1 hour and 56 minutes.
By bus: From Oviedo Airport, walk approximately 1 minute to the “Aeropuerto Salidas” bus stop and take a bus (ALSA) towards Oviedo bus station, journey time 45 minutes. At this station, walk approximately 1 minute and transfer to a bus (ALSA) in the direction of León, a journey time of 1 hour and 30 minutes. For timetables and more information visit www.alsa.es

From Santiago de Compostela airport

By car or taxi: 306 km with an estimated duration of 3 hours and 19 minutes.
By bus: From Santiago de Compostela airport, take bus line 6A (MONBÚS) towards San Caetano, a journey time of 20 minutes. From San Caetano, take a bus (ALSA) towards León, journey time 6h. For timetables and more information visit www.monbus.es and www.alsa.es

FromMadrid airport

By car or taxi: It is about 348 kilometres with an estimated duration of 3 hours and 19 minutes.
By train: From T4 take a train line C10 (RENFE) to the train station Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor, a journey time of 16 minutes. There, transfer to a train (RENFE ALVIA) towards León, a journey time of 2 hours and 12 minutes. For timetables and more information visit www.renfe.com

Our costumers reviews

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TOUR SUMMARY

DISTANCE: 308 Km
STAGES: 13 Stages
DURATION: 14 Nights
DIFICULTy: 3/5
START: León
PRICE: desde 1078€

Why book with Galiwonders?

Taylor-made Camino

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 the 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 also travellers

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

An unforguettable 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.

If you have any questions or want to plan your Camino de Santiago trip, our team will assist you in a personalized way!

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