the French WAY to Santiago de Compostela

According to tradition, Camino de Santiago is the way that leads right through your home to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Regarding the custom of Middle Age, to get to the tomb of St. Jakub in Santiago de Compostela in a proper way, pilgrimages needed to march from their own hometown.

Discover the Camino of Santiago

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The French way

Nowadays, there is no longer needed. Currently, to get to Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, you can use one of the thousands of kilometres of the Camino de Santiago across Europe, including Spain. 

In that way, tourists, as well as pilgrims of Galicia, are able to meet and appreciate the beauty of the Iberian Peninsula, especially of Galicia.

There are 9 routes de Camino from different parts of Spain. There are called: Camino Frances, Camino Portugues, Camino Portugues Coastal, Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, Via de la Plata, Le Puy Camino, Camino Finisterre and Camino Ingles.

Each of these tracks have its own history, unique meaning and breathtaking views that can never be erased from our minds.

To understand the importance of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, first, we have to take a look at its history.

santiago de compestela and the camino

History of Camino de Santiago

The famous Camino or the Way of St. James, dates back to 8th century. So, the first pilgrimage is over 1000 years old. Interestingly, there is proof that some roads existed there even before B. C. 

In the past, it was a trade route of former Romans. They believed that it is a way that led them to “el fin del mundo”. For this reason, some people called it the “Milky Way”. It is the northernmost point in the west of Europe.

According to tradition, one hermit informed the current bishop that he spotted an unusual glow of the light above the ground close to a small town. They went there together and discover ancient Romanian cemetery with a tumb of St Jacob. 

Then, the king of Asturias moved with all his entourage to that place. That way he became the first pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela in history. 

He advised building the first amazing Cathedral where people around Europe made pilgrimages. 

From that moment on, Santiago de Compostela, meaning in Latin Campus Stellae. It can be translated in English as “the field of stars”. It became a very famous religious destination. However, until after the 12th century Santiago de Compostela and Camino de Santiago gained huge popularity. 

In this article, we are going to focus on the French Way.

Discover the French Way

Camino Frances - the french way

The French Way is one of the nine Caminos available for tourists or pilgrims heading Galicia. It is the way which connects Saint Jean de Pied de Port (Donibane Garazi) with Santiago de Compostela.

It is one of the most popular routes for making a pilgrimage at Camino de Santiago. It also inspired many writers and artists to create their works. For example, a well-known Paulo Coelho wrote “The Pilgrimage” in 1987.

The French way has got 780 km in total.

To walk Camino Frances normally it takes between 30 to 35 days, provided that a pilgrim will do from 25 to 27 kilometres per day.

What is more, the road is adjusted to anyone’s need because it is relatively easy to accomplish. So, no matter the age, strength or health of the tourist, there should be no major problems to walk Camino Frances. 

To start the French Way, you can start from Saint Jean Pied de Port because it is an original point to start Camino of Santiago.

Regarding pluses, it is original point to start Camino Frances. So, you can feel like a medieval pilgrim. The road itself is full of beautiful French sights. People on Camino Frances can also spend some time by walking across the Pyrenees mountains reaching the Spain. They can also start Camino with others who have already begun their journey.

Yet, nowadays, people start their Camino Frances from different starting points, too. Those 6 the most famous places include: Roncesvalles (742 km to Santiago de Compostela), León (with 305 km to Santiago de Compostela), Ponferrada (205 km to Santiago de Compostela), O Cebreiro (152 km to Santiago de Compostela) and Sarria (113 km from Sanitago de Compostela).

Let’s briefly describe all of the following options:

Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela

Each year, a lot of pilgrims decide to go this way to Santiago. It is the second point after St. Jean Pied de Port. It is also the first place on the territory of Spain.

While walking, there are 32 stages of the route of 742km. Starting from  Roncesvalles, we will encounter, among other places, in our way: Pamplona, Puente de la Reina, Los Arcos, Logroño, Burgos, León, Ponferrada, Portomarín, Pedrouzo and many more.

It is possible to accomplish Camino de Santiago by bicycle, too. Then, there are 13 stages to pass, in total. There are many pros to chose that path. 

As pros, it is almost full Camino. You miss only one place – Saint Jean Pied de Port. You can also easily skip the mountains part if you are afraid of.

Camino from León to Santiago de Compostela

The city called León is widely known as another of the most famous points that pilgrims pick to start their adventure with Camino de Santiago. 

Its distance is about 306 km and it is divided into 13 stages, in total. Camino from León is less complicated than the two previous. Among the stages there are: Villadangos, Astorga, Rabanal del Camino a Molinaseca and Villafranca.

In recent years León has become a very important city on Camino Frances. So, it is said to have the best programmes and offers for pilgrims around the world.

Regarding advantages, it is convenient to get to León from the capital of Spain. It also helps to avoid some parts of Camino if somebody wants to.

León is also known for its Cathedral from the 10th century. The pilgrims can also see le Plaza Mayor and Convento de San Marcos. The above are just some of the beautiful places worth visiting in León.

The Camino of Santiago

Camino from Ponferrada to Sanitago de Compostela

Ponferrada is a city with Middle Age roots. From this place, it is more than 200 km of route of Camino de Santiago. It is a perfect starting point for pilgrims as well as cyclists. It is also well connected by bus zone and trains, too. 

It is about 205 km from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. There are 9 stages to visit before the destination. Among them there are: Villafranca del Bierzo, Triacastela, Sarria and Arzúa.

Regarding pros, you will have the time to visit the Templar Castle and you can climb to O’Cebreiro if you desired to.

Camino from O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela

Thanks to choosing Camino from O Cebreiro, you can see many aspects of Galician beauty. That is the point where we are going to start a Galician adventure.

The route is 152 km long and it includes 7 stages. The stops include: Triacastela, Portomarin, Castro de Castromaior, Palas de Rei and Sarria.

Camino from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela

It is the last starting point to begin your Camino. It is 113 km long and it has got 5 stages. It is perfect option for the first-time pilgrims or people who have only a few days for Camino de Santiago. There are many bars, taverns and accommodations on that way, too.

Although it is the shortest way of the French way, doing Camino from Sarria still enough to get the official certification of the Compostela.