The Camino Frances
The Camino Frances is it the number 1 route?
Camino Frances is the most popular route on the Camino de Santiago. It starts in Saint Jean Pied de Port and weaves its way across northern Spain. It goes over the Pyrenees, through the wine region of Rioja, along the vast Meseta, ascending the beautiful mountain range in Galicia to O’Cebriero before descending into Santiago de Compostela.
You can get a flavour of the Camino Frances in books and movies, most recently with “The Way” and “6 Ways to Santiago”.
The Camino Frances is well equipped to host pilgrims along the way with numerous cities, towns, and villages with ample albergues, restaurants, abarrotes, farmacias, culture and historical sites.
Where to walk on the Camino Frances is often paired with how long you have available. Both of those combined will determine where you start and end your Camino Frances.
2018 Most Popular Routes
2018 Top Ten Starting Points
- Camino Frances 56.8% 56.8%
- Camino Portuguese 20.72% 20.72%
- Camino del Norte 5.82% 5.82%
- Camino Ingles 4.32% 4.32%
- Camino Primitivo 4.32% 4.32%
- Camino Portugues de la Costa 4.23% 4.23%
- Vila de la Plata 2.97% 2.97%
- Muxia-Finisterre .35% .35%
- Camino de Invierno .21% .21%
- Otros Caminos .10% .10%
- Sarria 27.04% 27.04%
- Saint Jean Pied de Port 10.05% 10.05%
- Oporto/Porto 8.2% 8.2%
- Tui 6.51% 6.51%
- Ferrol 4.07% 4.07%
- Leon 3.33% 3.33%
- O’Cebriero 2.81% 2.81%
- Oveido – C.P. 2.69% 2.69%
- Valenca do Minho 2.67% 2.67%
- Ponferrada 2.20% 2.20%
The Camino Frances Major Towns
770 km from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.
Acquire a Compostela
Walk 790 km minimum with 1 stamp per day on your credentials.
The Camino Frances is 770 km from Saint Jean Pied de Port
- 33 days walking no rest days.
- Average 23 km a day with no rest days.
- OR it can be broken down into 3 different stages of two-week sections easily.
- Saint Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
- Burgos to Leon
- Leon to Santiago.
If time is not of the essence to you then walking the Camino Frances for forty-four days is ideal. It includes a few rest days and some shorter days to enable you to tour points of interest. Of course you can add days as you wish.
Acquire a Compostela
Walk 100 km minimum with 2 stamps per day on your credentials.
The Camino Frances starting point and how to Get to Saint Jean Pied de Port
From Paris: Option: fly to Biarritz (EasyJet). Bus/taxi or train to Bayonne. Train to SJPDP.
Option: Train to Bayonne. Train to SJPDP. This is an early morning train, departing at 7 am arriving in SJPDP at 1 pm. Check the schedules.
Bayonne: There is a direct train from Bayonne to SJPDP.
Biarritz: you can take the train or the bus from Biarritz city or airport which will take you to Bayonne, where you will transfer to the train to SJPDP.
San Sebastian: Train (Eskotren) to Hendaye. Train to Bayonne. Train to SJPDP
Bilbao: Bus to San Sebastian. Train (Eskotren) to Hendaye. Train to Bayonne. Train to SJPDP
Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid: Travel to San Sabastian. Train (Eskotren) to Hendaye. Train to Bayonne. Train to SJPDP.
There are several types of accommodations in SJPDP albergues/gites, hostels, Casa Rurals, and hotels. It is recommended to book in advance to ensure the accommodation of your choice.
Restaurants and Shops
Several restaurants, cafes and shops (a few very good pilgrim shops).
The Boutique de Pelerin offers on-line and in-store pilgrim necessities. Very convenient hours 7 days a week. 6:30 – 20:30.
Pilgrim Office/Accuiel and waymarks
The pilgrims’ office will register you as a pilgrim, give you a Pilgrim Passport/Credentials and first stamp/sello and pilgrims scallop shell. They will also provide you with helpful information about the weather, accommodations and routes to Roncesvalles. CAUTION: Please adhere to their advice before heading out to Roncesvalles as the route can be very dangerous due to inclement weather.
The way is marked fairly well but keep your eyes open for the yellow arrows. Do not blindly follow other pilgrims as they might not be watching as carefully.
If you are planning on walking to Roncesvalles in one day it is important that you leave early in the morning, bring lunch and a snack (there is a restaurant in Orisson which is about 8 km but no food beyond that point). There is also a water font in Orisson, and one at the Spain/France border but it is recommended you bring sufficient water for your journey. The walk directly to Roncesvalles in one day is the most challenging of the Camino. Take care as the descent into Roncesvalles is steep and can be very slippery if you go through the woods. Alternatively, you can take the paved route that is a much safer and gradual descent which adds about 1 km (20 minutes) but is worth it.
Points of interest
The Camino Frances is filled with beautiful scenery, history, artifacts, culture and ancient ruins. It is impossible to list them all as every day there are so many wonderful things to behold. Below is a list of must-see/do things along the way.
- Orisson-the patio at Orisson Albergue floating amongst the clouds of the Pyrennes.
- Roncesvalles-The medieval albergue (where the movie The Way was filmed and Tom (Martin Sheen slept at night).
- Pamplona-Tapas bars, pilgrim hostel in the old church. Buy a sim card.
- Eunate-church linked to Knights Templar.
- Puente La Reina-bridge
- Logrono-tapas and wine scene-Calle Laurel and Calle San Juan
- Navarette- Begonia y Antonio Bar in the plaza. She’s a character.
- Najera-church and ruins
- Santo Domingo De La Calzada-Parador
- Belorado-old ruins of church-eat or stay at Quattro Cantones…tell Jana Sharon sent you.
- Burgos-cathedral-museum of anthropology
- Castrojeriz-castle ruins
- Leon-roman walls-Santa María de León Cathedral, Casa Botines – by Antoni Gaudí. Tapas is free with drinks at the bars in Barrio Humedo try Jamon Jamon, Cerveceria Las Tapas, Bar La Sachristia, and Bar Miche.
- Astorga-Guadi palace
- Foncebadon-cruz de ferro-pilgrim statue
- Ponferrada-Knights Templar Castle tour
- O’Cebriero-town, Casa Vuelta restaurant-soups-stew and cheese with honey is fantastic. The scenic wall overlooking the mountains. If you stay overnight get up to see the sun rise. Breathtaking with the fog and clouds.
- Monte Gozo-monument- 1.5 kms the pointing pilgrims monument.
- Santiago de Compostella- excellent tapas-cathedral-
- Finisterre-sunsets on the beach
- Muxia-church on the ocean-stunning sunsets.
Hundreds of gems awaiting you along the Camino Frances.
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