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Camino de Santiago from Sarria

Travel the last 100km of the Camino de Santiago and get your Compostela!

From Sarria you can travel the last 100 km of the French Way, the minimum to achieve the long-awaited Compostela. One of the positive aspects of an experience like walking the Camino de Santiago is the possibility of getting to know cities, towns and villages that would not otherwise be common to visit, such as Arzúa.

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Where to start Camino de Santiago from Sarria ?

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

Sarria
Founded by Alonso IX, it has an exquisite medieval architectural legacy and is a strategic starting point for pilgrims on the Camino.

the Camino de Santiago from Sarria will trake you to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from this small town in the interior of the province of Lugo. To reach the city of the Apostle, we will have to walk five days, doing an average of 20 km/day. Let’s get ready for the Camino and let’s go!

From Galiwonders we recommend you to do this route in spring and autumn. This time of the year is a unique opportunity to walk along the most famous route of the Camino de Santiago with a tranquility that normally would not be possible to experiencie. Along the wonderful French route from Sarria, in the forests and natural spaces of Galicia, you will meet pilgrims from all over the world.

Last year alone more than 96,000 pilgrims chose the French route from Sarria!

To facilitate the experience of its customers, Galiwonders offer you a complete service from the beginning of the way to your final destination.

We will book all the hotels and restaurants for you. And every morning, our transporters will pick up your luggage from your hotel and drop it off at the next hotel so that all you have to worry about is enjoying your trip.

An experience that will allow you to clear your mind and immerse yourself in a natural environment far from the noise and full of peace. You will find beautiful nature, vast open spaces, charming villages, encouters with local people with whom we can talk about our journey and time to go deep inside yourself.

Route map Camino de Santiago from Sarria

Map of the French Way from Sarria

Stages Camino de Santiago from Sarria

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 Camino de Santiago from Sarria

Although the French Way of Saint James is considered one of the most demanding routes of medium-high difficulty, the stages of this last section Sarria – Santiago de Compostela have a medium-low difficulty. In principle, it is a route that is suitable for everyone, but you should bear in mind that the level of difficulty of this route may vary depending on the starting point, your physical condition and the weather conditions at the time of the journey.

Distance

The French Way from Sarria is approximately 116 kilometres long. The distance covered can affect the level of difficulty, so it is important to plan stages that are suitable for your level of fitness.

Terrain

During the route you will find different types of terrain such as rural roads, asphalted roads, mountain trails or forest areas. In some sections you may encounter cobbled or uneven paths, but these will not make it difficult to continue the route.

Slope

The Sarria-Santiago section of the French Route combines uphill and downhill stages. However, these ascents and descents are not very steep and will not pose a demanding physical challenge. It has a positive difference in altitude of approximately 250 metres.

The route and signposting on the French Way from Sarria

The French Way is the best signposted of all the routes that make up the Way of St. James. This is largely due to Elías Valiña, the priest of O Cebreiro, who signposted with yellow arrows the entire French Way from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela.

The most common signposting on the French Way from Sarria are the milestones with tiles and arrows painted at the crossroads. Although in urban and rural sections you can find signs between the geography and buildings.

Look carefully. Sometimes they may be hidden or obscured by something such as cars or people, causing you to follow the wrong path. If you arrive at a junction without any indication and you don’t know how to continue, we recommend you go back to the last sign you saw to try to reorient yourself.

Important note:

You may come across signage in the shape of the iconic scallop shell. If it is not accompanied by a yellow arrow, you should follow the shell along its open side, i.e. the semi-circular part with the largest diameter, as if it were an imaginary arrow.

What to see and do in Camino de Santiago from Sarria?

The French Way from Sarria is one of the most famous routes of the French Way, as it comprises the last 116 kilometres of the French Way. This means that its location meets the minimum 100 kilometres for pilgrims on foot to obtain the Compostela at the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago.

Currently, more than 350,000 people from all over the world walk the routes of the Camino de Santiago every year. The French Way from Sarria is the most popular, as according to the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office of Santiago 96,124 people made this route in 2019, which represents 27% of all pilgrims who came to Santiago de Compostela that year.

This route was the first itinerary of the Camino de Santiago to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the first European Cultural Itinerary. Furthermore, this route is characterised by its variety of landscapes and its extraordinary wealth of monuments, culture and gastronomy.

Where does the French Route from Sarria go?

The French Way from Sarria is one of the most popular routes of the Way from Sarria is one of the most popular routes of the Way of St. James and runs through the autonomous community of Galicia, more specifically the provinces of Lugo and A Coruña. This route has a length of 116 kilometres and is especially known for being the minimum stretch required to obtain the Compostela, the pilgrimage certificate, because it exceeds the 100 kilometres required.

Portomarín

Portomarín is a village 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 Portomarín 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.

Palas de Rei

Palas de Rei
Palas de Rei, of medieval origin, is a town with a great cultural and monumental heritage.

Also located in the province of Lugo, this town has mediaeval origins, as it was founded at a crossroads that formed part of the network of trade routes and pilgrimage routes that converge in Santiago de Compostela.

The town has a series of churches and religious monuments that reflect its history linked to the pilgrimage. The Church of San Tirso, of Romanesque origin, is one of the main examples. This church has an impressive Baroque altarpiece and has been restored to preserve its historical beauty.

Arzúa

Arzúa
Arzúa calls itself the “land of cheese” in reference to the cheese made from cow’s milk with the Arzúa-Ulloa designation of origin.

Arzúa is a small rural village in the province of A Coruña. With the rise of pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, pilgrim hospitals were built in this village, such as the hospital of Ribadiso da Ponte or the convent of Magdalena, which provided assistance to pilgrims. Since the 20th century, this village has owed its economic development to the expansion of the dairy industry and the production of cheese and cheese-by-products. It is also one of the best-known points on the French Way, due to its proximity to Santiago de Compostela.

Arzúa is one of those small towns that help pilgrims to get some rest when they are about to finish walking the full French Way. After so many days, we can feel that Santiago de Compostela is getting closer, and words seem to say: And suddenly… Arzúa!

There are really nice walking days on the way to Santiago, but the one to Arzua is kind of special: impressive houses, lovely country cottages, chapels and churches to visit… it is a very special town, with a peculiar architecture, all surrounded by pure nature. Do not hesitate to stop, and enjoy this hidden corner of Galicia.

Last 100km of the French Way

Arzúa is located in the province of A Coruña, in the south west region (the French Way and Northern Way join together in this town). We strongly recommend all pilgrims to try one of the most valuable exquisites of the region: the cheese Arzúa-Ulloa. It is so popular, that there is even a “Cheese Festival”, that takes place the first Sunday of March. During the festival, all visitors will be more than welcome to join the events around the town, such as folk concerts, cultural functions, and other ceremonies.

If you are walking the French Way during a different period of the year, don’t worry, since you’ll always be able to try the cheese, and enjoy the pilgrim vibes.

What to see

We must not forget about the cultural legacy of Arzua: here we can find relics from the prehistory, the Bronze Age… and of course Medieval. The presence of pilgrims during this period of history was so intense that the route did not experience so much “attendance” until the

90’s (when it was the first route to be designated European Cultural Itinerary by the UNESCO).

All those pilgrims interested on the way of life of the inhabitants of Arzua, may visit the “Museums of the Identity” (“Museos de la Identidad” in Spanish). People from Arzua have always been linked to the Camino de Santiago (both the French and the Northern Way).

cheese arzúa galiwonders

It is quite easy to be dazzled by this land and its people: it can be considered as sort of enchantment, that usually encourages visitors to come back.

 

 

We recommend to visit: *Chapel of A Magdalena; *Church of San Paio de Burres; *Church of San Cristovo de Domdob¡n;*Church of San Pedro de Mella;*River Beach Ri­o Oso;*A Fontesanta Natural Area;*Romería of A Mota;*Pazos: Pazo de Brandeso; Pazos de Outeiro; Pazo de Castañeda; Pazo de Mangul¡n; Pazo de Ardans; Pazo de Rosende; *Casas grandes: Rectoral de Branz¡; Casa de Maroxo: Casa de Solar de Riva; Casa de Fondevila.

O Pedrouzo

Also known as “A Rúa do Peregrino”, it is a small village 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 experience, where pilgrims can rest and connect with other travellers on the imminent arrival in Santiago de Compostela.

Places and monuments to visit on the French Way from Sarria

Church of San Nicolás de Portomarín

Iglesia de San Nicolás
The Church of San Nicolás preserves two rose windows which clearly show the transition between the Romanesque and Gothic periods in which the construction was completed.

This church was built in the 12th century. Formerly the church was located in the old part of the valley of Portomarín, but during the construction of the Belesar reservoir in the 1960s it was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt in a higher location to prevent it from being submerged under the waters.

Its bell tower is one of its most notable elements, as it offers panoramic views of the Belesar reservoir and the surrounding area.

Castro de Castromaior

This castro is in the municipality of Castromaior. Its location of the stage between Portomarín and Palas de Rei allows you to enjoy a panoramic view of the right bank of the river Miño. It also has an intricate system of moats, walls, ramparts and palisades surrounding the access to the settlement.

The castro has been fitted out for the visit of tourists and the curious interested in archaeology. In addition, restoration and conservation work has been carried out at the archaeological site to preserve its structures and allow visitors to better understand its history.

The Cabazo and the Church of Santa María de Leboreiro

The Church of Santa María has a gothic style, although characteristic concepts and decorative motifs of the Romanesque style persist. On its façade there is a sculpture of the Virgin in high relief and just opposite is the façade of the old pilgrims’ hostel founded by the Ulloa family in the 12th century.

In front of the church is the Cabazo, which is a granary in the shape of a basket that was used to store corn, like a primitive hórreo. This building is an example of traditional Galician engineering, which is adapted to the environment and to the needs of preserving the crop.

Ribadiso Bridge

This bridge of mediaeval origin dates from the 12th century and has been an essential crossing point for pilgrims on the Camino over time, as its strategic location over the river Iso contributes to its historical importance. It consists of a single semicircular arch and is built with granite masonry.

Hermitage of San Andrés in O Pedrouzo

The Hermitage of San Andrés is of mediaeval origin and dates back to the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th century. It is built in Mudejar style and has a solid and massive appearance. Inside, the sculpture of San Andrés and a 17th century Baroque altarpiece stand out. Its architecture and location in a natural setting highlight the connection between faith, history and nature that characterises the Camino de Santiago experience.

Alternative places to discover on the French Way from Sarria

Monforte de Lemos

Located in the Ribeira Sacra, a land where the mencía grape reigns supreme, is this town that still preserves echoes of the great city it was in the Middle Ages. Monforte de Lemos also preserves the mediaeval walls of the old castle of San Vicente and boasts an impressive Parador hotel that houses the palace of the powerful Counts of Lemos.

You can visit it on your arrival in Sarria, as it is half an hour’s drive from the centre of the town.

Lugo

The city of Lugo is located in the province of the same name, although its origins date back to Celtic times, the city experienced its period of maximum splendour during the Middle Ages. Today Lugo is a contemporary city that still preserves elements of this period integrated with the city. The Wall of Lugo, which borders the city, its Cathedral, the Domus del Mitreo or its Roman bridge are some of them.

You can visit Lugo on your way through Portomarín, as it is just 28 minutes by car from the centre of this town.

The History of Camino de Santiago from Sarria

Although the French Way is the most popular route, it does not mean that it is the oldest, in fact this honour is held by the Primitive Way as its name indicates.

The French Way was born as a gateway for pilgrims coming from France (and other Northern European countries) and during the period of the Reconquest. From the 11th century onwards, this itinerary became the busiest route. This was no coincidence, as the kings Sancho III El Mayor and Alfonso VI took advantage of the old Roman road from Astorga to Bordeaux, modifying the route to reinforce the Christian frontier against the Muslim kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula after the recent conquest of these territories.

With the birth of new towns along the route, a call effect was created by new Frankish settlers who brought crafts and trades, enriching the economy of these towns and fostering their development. The creation of infrastructures that this entailed facilitated the transit of pilgrims from all over Europe, leading to social, economic, artistic and cultural development.

The fame of the French Way became more popular from the 12th century onwards, when the French monk Aymeric Picaud wrote the Codex Calixtinus (Codex Calixtinus in Latin), which is considered the first guide to the Camino de Santiago. This book describes the route, the starting and finishing points of the stages, the sanctuaries, the hospitals for pilgrims, the character of the locals and the customs of each territory.

From the 17th century onwards, the Camino de Santiago went into decline due to events such as Luther’s Protestant Reformation, which caused a crisis of faith in Europe, or the liberal confiscations of the 19th century, which brought famine, plagues and political unrest. The pilgrimage and the resources allocated to it took a back seat.

Last decades of the 20th century have been fundamental for the revival and strengthening of the Camino de Santiago. This route has recovered all its vitality thanks in part to the work of public entities and associations of the Camino, which improved signposting and structures.

Tips if you are going to do Camino de Santiago from Sarria

What is the best time of the year to do this route?

Pilgrims in Sarria
Spring and autumn offer the most favourable weather conditions for walking.

Spring and autumn offer the most favourable weather conditions for walking.

The best time to do the Camino del Norte depends on the personal preferences of each pilgrim and their travel conditions. Each season has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Our recommendation is to do he French Way from Sarria in spring or autumn. At this time the influx of pilgrims is less than in summer and services are running at full capacity and finding accommodation and transport will not be a problem. In addition, in these two seasons the weather conditions are more favourable for walking.

The autonomous region of Galicia is influenced by the oceanic climate. Temperatures are mild in the coastal areas and more extreme inland, both in the summer and winter months. On some days in January and February temperatures can drop to 0ºC. On the other hand, rainfall is light and intermittent in autumn and spring and heavy in winter.

Doing this route is a manageable experience for everyone if it is properly planned. In addition, you should take into account several things before embarking on this adventure:

  • Train physically if you are not used to walking long distances. Take a daily walk 2 or 3 months before starting your pilgrimage.
  • Don’t load your backpack with unnecessary things, take only the essentials. This will help you avoid fatigue and stress.
  • Choose footwear that you have used before. The best option is a pair of light, comfortable, low or mid-calf hiking boots.
  • Drink 250-500 ml of water half an hour before you start walking. Also, try to eat foods rich in carbohydrates and minerals that will help you recover your energy after a long day of physical exercise.

If you need more detailed information, you can access it here. Remember that each pilgrimage is unique and personal, take your time to enjoy this experience.

Training for the French Way from Sarria

Although on the French Way from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, we will have to walk “only” 100 km, we advise you to be ready and to train a little before starting your route. It is always a good idea to walk a few routes, with increasing distances and gradients, to start the route in full physical shape.

Moreover, in Galiwonders we always suggest to our pilgrims to take into consideration the temperatures of the month when they decide to walk the Way.

For example, we will do the Camino at the end of July. Therefore, we will have to start walking early in the morning to avoid the hottest hours, we will have to hydrate all the time, carrying with us a lot of water and using a cap and a lot of sunscreen!

YouTube video

 

Buen Camino!

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.

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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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