Camino de Santiago: The French Method (Camino Francés)

Lately the pilgrimage route from St. Jean Pied de Port, in France to Santiago de Compostela, within the North West of Spain, often known as The French Method or Camino Francés, has grow to be more and more fashionable. Satirically most individuals are tackling the Camino de Santiago, not for non secular causes however slightly to check themselves or simply merely to get away from all of it. And the excellent news is that you just get a certificates displaying you’ve accomplished the stroll on the finish.

The “Method of St James”

Camino pilgrim

Camino pilgrim (c) Rupert Parker

In English, it is called The Method of St James, because the bones of the disciple are supposedly buried within the cathedral of Santiago, however to the hikers, it’s simply the Camino. In actual fact, there’s not only one route, however many coming from throughout Europe, and the preferred is The French Method. It climbs the Pyrenees, winds its approach throughout Navarre, Rioja, Castile and Leon, earlier than getting into Galicia and arriving in Santiago. With a good wind behind you, it takes simply over a month.

I wish to get a style of the route, with out doing the entire trek. In actual fact, many individuals don’t have the time to do the whole thing, so return 12 months after 12 months to do their lacking sections. Lodging varies from dormitory beds in Albergues, typically costing a couple of Euros, to luxurious rooms in Paradors, with a substantial amount of alternative in between. There’s at all times meals alongside the way in which with most locations providing a three-course pilgrim menu for round ten euros.

Be taught every little thing it’s essential to know in regards to the Apostle St. James the Better right here.

The Pyrenees

The trail climbs steeply because it traverses the Pyrenees and this is likely one of the hardest sections of the stroll. It reaches 1050m earlier than dropping into Spain and reaching Roncesvalles, the place there’s an enormous abbey church and the primary in a single day cease. Regardless that it’s April, there are already lots of people on the path, all plodding purposely ahead and, in comparison with me, utterly overloaded.

St Jean Pied de Port

St Jean Pied de Port (c) Rupert Parker

Within the subsequent few days, there are some stunning sections, significantly as I stroll down from Roncesvalles, via beech and oak woods, passing via immaculate Basque villages, homes all in white with purple or inexperienced shutters. However there are a variety of huge cities, like Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and Leon the place the tramp via sprawling suburbs on the aspect of busy highways is barely gruelling.

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral (c) Rupert Parker

Nonetheless, the rewards come within the form of magnificent cathedrals, ruined castles and medieval streets, to not say glorious foods and drinks.

Stroll the Camino Francés

Frances Follow the Camino

We suggest utilizing Observe The Camino to help you in planning your strolling vacation on the Camino Frances. Observe The Camino offers customised itineraries to swimsuit you. You resolve if you’d like a guided or self-guided package deal, when to go, what distance you wish to cowl every day, and if you wish to journey solo, in a gaggle, or with household or pals.


Trials of the Meseta

After leaving Burgos there are the trials of the Meseta, a barren tableland at 800m, with no shade and howling winds. There’s little respite till town of Leon the place the panorama begins to vary and snow-capped mountains loom on the horizon.

Iron cross

Iron cross (c) Rupert Parker

You start to climb and at last attain the very best level on the Camino, marked by an iron cross. You’re supposed to go away a stone you’ve carried from residence at its foot which, in idea, will absolve you of a few of your sins.


At Sarria, in Galicia, I’m simply 100 km from Santiago and it will get even busier. For individuals who desire a certificates, they’ll begin right here, stroll the final 5 days and nonetheless qualify. It’s a chilled part of the stroll, via inexperienced rolling hills and broad meadows, the wooded pathways offering loads of shade.

Galicia wooded pathways

Galicia wooded pathways (c) Rupert Parker

I start to sense muted elation among the many pilgrims since they’re close to to reaching their closing vacation spot. A few of them seem like conflict veterans, with couples supporting one another as they limp ever additional forwards.

On my final day, I arrive in Santiago simply in time for the noon pilgrims’ mass within the Cathedral. On the finish of the service, eight red-robed males swing the well-known Botafumeiro, an incense burner weighing 80 kg.

incense burners in Botafumeiro

incense burners in Botafumeiro (c) Rupert Parker

It flies via the air dishing out holy smoke to the multitude. For these medieval pilgrims, it should have been heartening to know you’d halved your time in purgatory by going the space. For me, although, I’m simply glad that I don’t need to stroll any additional.

READ ALSO: Camino de Santiago: The Authentic Method

READ ALSO: Camino de Santiago: Finisterre Method (Camino de Fisterra)

Reality File

Tour operator: Observe the Camino affords customised/versatile strolling and biking vacation packages on 9 major routes to Santiago and offers comfy non-public en-suite rooms, baggage transfers, 24/7 assist, airport transfers, breakfast & dinners, and different add-ons like meals & wine excursions, excursions, premium lodging and so on.

Fly: Ryanair flies to Biarritz, the closest airport to St. Pied de Port, from London Stansted. EasyJet flies from Santiago to Gatwick.

Disclaimer: this text was sponsored by One Foot Overseas

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