Camino de Santiago: The French Way
The French way links Europe with North Spain (Aragón, Navarra, Rioja, Castilla and Leon and Galicia). Starting at Saint Jean Pied de Port (Donibane Garazi) or Roncesvalles, the French Way, also known as Camino Real, is one of the most popular pilgrimage route and the busiest, as it is being joined by pilgrims from other parts of Spain. It covers a distance of 750 kilometers and all its sections are well marked thanks to all the French Way Associations.
Roncesvalles – Larrasoaña
Many pilgrims decide to start the Camino in Roncesvalles. It is the first stage in Spain.
Larrasoaña – Pamplona/Iruña
This step will take us to Pamplona, the first of the five cities that we will know before we reach Santiago de Compostela.
Pamplona – Puente la Reina
The third stage begins in the Citadel of Pamplona. We will go through the University of Navarra and will take the road to “Cizur Minor”.
Puente la Reina – Estella
Cereal fields are present in the beginning of this stage. Vineyards also join us in a day without special difficulties.
Estella – Torres del Río
It’s the loneliest day. No towns or services up to Los Arcos. Our only company are the vineyards, grain fields and olive trees.
Torres del Río – Logroño
It is time to say goodbye to Navarra, after covered more than 140 kilometers through her fields. The Way salutes to La Rioja.
Logroño – Nájera
We leave Logroño to get into the natural environment of the reservoir Grajera, which leads us to the first top of this stage.
Nájera – Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Despite starting the journey with a small hill, this step does not present great difficulties.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Belorado
At this stage we leave La Rioja to enter into the vast Castile-Leon, which we will cover for a couple of weeks or so.
Belorado – Agés
We leave Belorado to Tosantos, Villambistia, Espinosa del Camino and Villafranca. The beginning of this stage is simple but it becomes complicated by the rise of the “Montes de Oca”.
Agés – Burgos
Stage begins and take us to the first Castilian capital, Burgos, famous for its Gothic cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Burgos – Hontanas
We cross the Arlanzón river to leave Burgos city. The arable lands and small towns like Rabé de las Calzadas will accompany pilgrims to the end of the day.
Hontanas – Boadilla del Camino
Once again we face kilometers of road with few trees to allow protect us from cold or heat.
Boadilla del Camino – Carrión de los Condes
Today we will meet the “Canal de Castilla” waterway and after reaching the village of Frómista we will start again a monotonous stretch through Palencia plain.
Carrion de los Condes – Ledigos
Loneliness is again the protagonist in this stage, especially during the first 17 km from Carrión to Calzadilla de la Cueza.
Ledigos – Bercianos del Real Camino
We leave Ledigos to get Terradillos de los Templarios. Once we go through “San Nicolás del Real Camino” we will leave Palencia and we take the first steps in the province of León.
Bercianos del Real Camino – Mansilla de las Mulas
We are facing another difficult period for the solitude of the landscape. A very quiet way without villages.
Mansilla de las Mulas – León
We leave Mansilla de las Mulas through the famous medieval bridge over the Esla river. There is a footpath along the N-601 road that avoids any danger.
León – Villar de Mazarife
We cross the stone bridge of San Marcos to leave León. We walk a few urban kilometers until “ Virgen del Camino”.
Villar de Mazarife – Astorga
Several kilometers of grown fields until Hospital de Órbigo, where we cross the “Paso Honroso” bridge. Here we have again two options to get to Astorga.
Astorga – Rabal del Camino
We say goodbye to Astorga and León plain. We will know some nice villages in the region called “la maragatería”. Then we start to climb up to the “Cruz de Ferro” but we will stop 8 kilometers before it.
Rabanal del Camino – Molinaseca
We face a difficult period. Several kilometers up to the Cruz de Ferro, one of the most emblematic places of the Way.
Molinaseca – Cacabelos
A few kilometers after leaving Molinaseca we reach Ponferrada, the last major urban area before Santiago. The rest of the day holds us through a typical vineyards landscape of the region El Bierzo.
The vineyards continue to accompany us to Villafranca. Here we take a tough climb: 3 kilometers through the “Cerro del Real” to Pradela. No cars. Only you. The landscape is awesome.
Trabadelo – O Cebreiro
And finally we come to Galicia. We have to climb up to O Cebreiro, where the stage ends. It is one of the most beautiful stages, but also the hardest.
Cebreiro – Triacastela
We are facing a short and not so complicated as the previous step, but we must not be complacent. The difficulties, the two climbs of the day
are the “Alto do Poio” and “Alto de San Roque”, but overall it’s a step down to Triacastela.
Triacastela – Sarria
This stage have two possible paths: the one we show you goes close to Ouribio river and visit the monastery of Samos. If you choose the other route advancing further north, you’ll know San Xil. Both routes are pretty.
Sarria – Portomarín
This stage is the first one for many pilgrims because it starts close to the last 100 kilometers, enabling to achieve the “Compostela”, the official certificate of your pilgrimage.
Portomarín – Pontecampaña
The paths or “corredoiras” lead us among many villages in this stage. We will see ”hórreos”( typical barns in the area) and romanesque churches in our way. The highest point of the day we will find it to 756 meters.
Portecampaña – Arzúa
Called by pilgrims as a ‘leg-breakers’ due to the orographic difficulty with continuous ups and downs. It would be nice to taste octopus in Melide. On this day we leave Lugo.
Arzúa – Santa Irene
There are only 40 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. We are in the final stretch. We walked through forests of oak, eucalyptus and many villages.
Santa Irene – Santiago de Compostela
We are 20 kilometers far from Plaza del Obradoiro. In this last stage we will be accompanied by eucalyptus and oak. A special place is “Monte do Gozo”, from which we can see the Cathedral of Santiago. And we got to Santiago!