The French Camino de Santiago

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The French Camino is among the routes of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle St.James in Santiago de Compostela. It’s the preferred Camino route. In keeping with the Pilgrims’ Reception Workplace in 2023 219 792 individuals walked the French route. Pilgrims begin their stroll from completely different cities alongside the Camino. 60% of all pilgrims on the French Camino stroll the final 100 km from Sarria

Alto del Perdon, a metal monument showing pilgrims on the French CaminoAlto del Perdon, a metal monument showing pilgrims on the French Camino
Alto del Perdon is essentially the most recognizable landmark on the French Camino de Santiago

Yow will discover extra data on strolling levels, distances, elevations, stops alongside the route, and albergues in our publish “Camino Frances strolling levels“.

The French Camino overview

  • Complete distance – 770 km/478 mi
  • Variety of days required – 30-33 days
  • Strolling on asphalt – 290 km/180 mi
  • Strolling on the highway – 70 km/43,3 mi principally quiet roads with virtually no automobiles
  • Common value – 30 Euro per individual per day
  • Lodging – albergues, motels, guesthouses
  • Route marking – yellow shells and arrows

A video capturing my day on the French Camino de Santiago

Insurance coverage for the Camino

You’ll be able to learn extra data on journey insurance coverage for the Camino Frances in our devoted publish on Camino journey insurance coverage or get an on the spot quote proper now.

Issues can and do go flawed while you journey. World Nomads affords protection for greater than 150 actions in addition to emergency medical, misplaced baggage, journey cancellation and extra.

Free downloadable PDFs

To make your planning simpler we’ve created free downloadable PDF recordsdata that comprise detailed strolling levels and locations to remain on the French Method of St.James.

What’s the French Method of the Camino de Santiago?

The French Method of St.James is the preferred Camino de Santiago long-distance pilgrimage route. The historical past of the Camino dates many centuries again. For the reason that twelfth century, the French Camino has been utilized by a whole bunch of 1000’s of pilgrims from throughout Europe as the primary path to the tomb of St.James in Santiago de Compostela. As a consequence of its recognition, the French Camino has the very best infrastructure and essentially the most albergues in comparison with the opposite routes. Many pilgrims select it as their first Camino stroll.

How lengthy is the route?

The space of the French Method of St.James from St.Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela is 770 km/478 mi. One wants 30-35 days to finish the route. There are many lovely cities on the French Camino if you’ll want to take a relaxation day.

The place does the French Method begin?

The French Camino de Santiago begins within the small city of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, close to the border with Spain. St.Jean is the official begin of the route however you can begin strolling from anyplace alongside the Camino route. Many individuals don’t stroll your complete Camino and do solely part of it relying on how a lot time they’ve and the way far they need to stroll.

The beautiful Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in SpainThe beautiful Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela the tip of the French route

The place can I begin strolling the Camino?

Identify of the place Distance to Santiago
Le Puy (France) 1490 km
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 770 km
Roncesvalles 746 km
Pamplona 702 km
Logroño 606 km
Burgos 483 km
León 319 km
Astorga 267 km
O Cebreiro 162 km
Sarria 116 km
Distances to Santiago from the primary cities and cities of the French Camino

When you have a whole lot of time and are eager on strolling for a few months beginning the French Camino in Le Puy (France) is an efficient choice for you. Le Puy is 1500 km from Santiago, and St.Jean Pied de Port is about midway. I haven’t walked the French half but however I’ve met some individuals who have. From what I’ve heard the French a part of the Camino is kind of completely different, to begin with, as a result of there are only a few individuals which is likely to be nice should you’re looking for solitude. Second, there are fewer albergues which implies your lodging bills might be greater.

Many individuals begin the French Camino from Roncesvalles (746 km from Santiago) skipping the primary stage from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I suppose the primary motive is that everyone is aware of concerning the robust stroll with a really steep ascent and a subsequent descent from St.Jean to Roncesvalles. My recommendation is should you begin in Roncesvalles and get there by bus e book your lodging forward, there’s one enormous albergue for 200 individuals, one or two fancy motels and nothing else. You’ll be able to e book it on-line.

Beginning in one of many huge cities like Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, or Astorga (examine distances from these cities to Santiago within the desk above) is kind of a well-liked choice. You’ll be able to select any of those cities relying on how a lot time you’ve got and the way far you need to stroll. It’s fairly straightforward to get to any of the cities from anyplace in Spain or from different European international locations.

One other widespread level to start out the French Method is O Cebreiro although attending to this little village hidden within the mountains is likely to be a bit difficult. Public buses don’t go to O Cebreiro the most suitable choice is to get first to Lugo, then to take a bus to a small city Pedrafita do Cebreiro which is 4,5km away from O Cebreiro, and from there stroll or take a taxi. There are a few each day buses from Lugo going that approach.

If you wish to get the Compostela (the certificates that claims that you just’ve walked the Camino) the required minimal is to stroll no less than the final 100 km to Santiago de Compostela or to cycle 200 km, not any 100 km on the Camino however the final 100km. Because of this, many individuals begin strolling the French Camino in Sarria, a city that’s 116 km away from Santiago. It’s an choice should you don’t have a lot time.

Route marking on the French Camino de SantiagoRoute marking on the French Camino de Santiago
Yellow arrows and shells mark the route on the French Method of St.James in Spain

The most effective guidebook

If you wish to purchase a guidebook for the French Camino I can advocate A Pilgrim’s Information to the Camino de Santiago; Camino Frances by John Brierley. We used his guides for a number of Camino routes together with this one. They’re straightforward to make use of, very detailed, and useful.

Is the French route arduous?

Sure, the French Camino is tough like several one-month stroll. It has some difficult components with steep ascents and descents or lengthy strolling distances. It’s particularly arduous for a first-time pilgrim who has by no means carried out a long-distance stroll. So coaching for the Camino de Santiago is essential.

Easy methods to get to the place to begin?

St.Jean Pied de Port is the official begin of the French Method of St.James. It’s a small city on the border between France and Spain getting there may look a bit bit difficult at first I attempted to place collectively the very best transportation choices from Spain and France.

A simple info graphic with the best way of getting to St.Jean Pied de Port by public transportA simple info graphic with the best way of getting to St.Jean Pied de Port by public transport
Finest methods of attending to St.Jean Pied de Port from France and Spain

Both approach through France or Spain you’ll need to make no less than one change to get to St.Jean there are not any direct transport choices. Departure instances and ticket costs can change at any time, you possibly can verify the knowledge on the businesses’ web sites (the hyperlinks are offered beneath). We have now an in depth publish explaining easy methods to get to St.Jean Pied de Port from completely different cities in France and Spain.

Our video on the Meseta a part of the French Camino de Santiago

Backpack supply on the French route

It’s doable to stroll the French Method of St.James with no backpack a number of baggage switch providers can ship your backpack between lodging (door-to-door service) each day. You’ll be able to stroll with a small day pack carrying solely valuables and water and your baggage might be delivered to your resort/albergue. The service prices between 7€ per backpack per stage. The backpacks are picked up within the morning on the reception and delivered by lunchtime. Correos, Pilbeo, and Xacotrans (from O Cebreiro to Santiago) are some firms providing baggage transfers.

What’s the greatest part of the route?

The reply to this query relies on your preferences. I take pleasure in mountainous surroundings and don’t thoughts steep ascents and descents for me the start of the French Camino from St.Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona and the center part to and from O Cebreiro are the very best components of the route.

In case you want strolling on flat floor then the a part of the French route between Burgos and Leon, the well-known Meseta is the very best part for you. It’s most likely the commonest surroundings of the Camino.

If you wish to do a shorter stroll and get your Compostela certificates for finishing the Camino then the French Camino from Sarria is the very best part so that you can stroll.

The surroundings at first of the French Camino on the way in which from St.Jean to Roncesvalles

What’s the greatest month to stroll?

If you wish to have the very best climate not too wet and chilly and never too scorching Might, June, and September are the very best months for strolling this route. Temperatures are comfy round 25°C and never many rainfalls. Spring on the whole and Might, particularly, is, in my view, the very best time for strolling the Camino. Along with the nice climate and lengthy days, you get to see fields coated in flowers. September is an efficient month too however the day is getting shorter and should you like to start out strolling early within the morning you’ll need to stroll in the dead of night for an hour or so.

After all, the nice climate attracts many individuals. Might, June, and September are the busiest months for the French Camino. You might need to e book lodging in some locations prematurely and take care of many individuals on the route however on the brilliant aspect, it’s a really social good for individuals who stroll alone.

In August and July, it’s scorching and dry, particularly within the a part of the Meseta, you’ll have to start out strolling early to be completed earlier than noon. I used to assume that August was the height season for this route (perhaps as a result of August is the height vacationer season for Europe on the whole) nevertheless it’s not. There are not many individuals strolling the Camino in August. Everyone is aware of it’s scorching, and other people don’t need to stroll within the warmth.

Strolling in October, March, or April you possibly can be fortunate and get good climate although it’ll be fairly chilly and darkish, or very unfortunate and get a whole lot of rain. There might be some pilgrims however considerably fewer than in the summertime months. 

As for strolling utterly low season from November to February, it’ll be chilly and moist, some albergues is likely to be closed in addition to some components of the Camino, two particularly the place you need to go over the passes; from St.Jean to Roncesvalles and thru O Cebreiro. You’ll need to take an alternate winter route or skip the stage. The one benefit of strolling the French Method in winter is that there might be no individuals in case you need a solitary stroll. 

The Camino in fall vs spring

How a lot does it value?

The Camino may be carried out on a really tight price range spending 25€ each day. In case you don’t thoughts paying extra and need extra consolation your value may be between 40 and 50€ per individual per day. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the Camino value.

Lodging

The most affordable lodging choice on the French Camino is municipal albergues (a dormitory with bunk beds) which value round 8€, personal albergues (a dormitory with bunk beds or regular beds) are between 13€ and 16€. Costs for personal lodging begin from 30€ for a single room and 40€ for a double room.

The lodging makes an enormous distinction to your price range. In case you keep in municipal albergues your stroll might be low-cost and quite the opposite, should you select to remain in personal rooms your price range might be corresponding to a standard vacation price range.

Sleeping each evening in a dormitory with many different individuals and utilizing shared services is kind of tiring, everyone wants some privateness generally. I used to e book no less than as soon as per week (each fourth or fifth evening) a non-public room the place I might relaxation, take an extended bathe, and luxuriate in being alone.

Consuming out

Not surprisingly consuming out is costlier than making meals however generally on the Camino, you’re too drained to cook dinner or need to exit with different pilgrims. Apart from attempting native meals on the Camino is part of the expertise so I’d recommend consuming out now and again to get a style of Spain.

An ordinary breakfast (espresso, orange juice, croissant/sandwich/toast) you will discover all over the place on the French Method prices 4€. A lot of the day I finished for breakfast as a result of I didn’t really feel like making meals at 6 am.

Menú del Día or Menú del Peregrino is the preferred lunch choice on the French Camino, you get it all over the place within the afternoon, and a few locations serve it for dinner. It’s a set lunch with the primary (soup, salad, or pasta), the primary (meat, hen, fish, vegetarian with garnish), wine/beer/water/cool drink, dessert, or espresso, and bread. Menú del Día normally prices 12€ generally it’s good and massive, and generally it’s not superb and never that a lot. Ask your albergue/resort a couple of good place to eat they normally know.

Espresso, beer, and wine are fairly low-cost in Spain even should you’re on a good price range you positively will be capable of afford a each day cup of espresso or two and a glass of wine or beer. A cup of espresso is 1,5€, and a glass of wine/beer – 2€.

Grocery purchasing

The most affordable choice is shopping for meals in supermarkets. Staying in albergues will assist with spending much less on meals as a result of a lot of the albergues have a kitchen, in contrast to motels. Most locations you cease on the French route have supermarkets, outlets, or no less than small grocery shops. Relying on what you purchase put together to spend between 8€ and 10€ per individual per day on groceries.

Additional providers on the Camino

The backpack supply service that many individuals use on the French Camino, prices 7€ per backpack per stage. You don’t have to make use of it on daily basis I do know some pilgrims use it when it’s an extended strolling day or a tough one with many hills or a steep climb.

Many pilgrims wash their garments on daily basis by hand many albergues have washing machines in addition to driers that work with cash. One load of washing is normally 3€, drying – 3-4€. These machines are normally huge you possibly can share one load between two or three individuals. 

Average cost of accommodation, food and services on the CaminoAverage cost of accommodation, food and services on the Camino
A desk with common costs of lodging and meals on the French Method of St.James

My price range breakdown for the French Camino

In 32 days on the French route I spent;

  • Lodging – 494€, 8 nights in personal rooms (together with 1 evening in a spa resort), 8 nights in municipal albergues, and 16 nights in personal albergues. In case you keep in albergues solely you are able to do it for below 350€ per individual for 32 days.
  • Grocery purchasing – 178€
  • Consuming out – 298€, should you make your meals and eat solely breakfast or a sandwich it can save you about 100€.
  • Espresso, wine, beer – 49€
  • Transport – 84€, bus Barcelona – Pamplona – 28€, bus Pamplona – St.Jean Pied de Port – 22€, prepare Santiago – Madrid – 34€.
  • Laundry – 23€
  • Different (SIM card, entrance charges, toiletries, and many others.) – 50€

Complete: 1152€ or 36€ per individual per day.

A pie-chart with a breakdown of my expenses on the French WayA pie-chart with a breakdown of my expenses on the French Way
A pie chart of all my bills on the French Method in 32 days, in Euro
The beautiful Gothic cathedral of Burgos, SpainThe beautiful Gothic cathedral of Burgos, Spain
Beautiful Cathedral of Burgos, one of many highlights of the French Method of Santiago

What to pack for the stroll?

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My primary tip right here is to not pack an excessive amount of until you’re planning to make use of a backpack supply service then it doesn’t matter and you’ll take your complete closet with you. Two important issues that you just need to be good and cozy are footwear and a backpack. Be sure you put on your footwear earlier than and your toes are used to them should you purchase a brand new pair of footwear your probabilities of getting dangerous blisters are fairly excessive. Discover out extra particulars on the greatest footwear for the Camino de Santiago.

We have now an in depth Camino packing publish the place you will discover what to pack for the Camino for various seasons for women and men.

What’s the lodging like on the Camino?

Discovering lodging on the French Camino could be very straightforward, there are many albergues, motels, and pensions alongside the route. As I already talked about albergues are the most affordable lodging on the Camino. Albergues may be municipal and personal. Municipal albergues are cheaper, larger, and fewer comfy in comparison with personal ones.

Most albergues have a few dormitories with bunk beds (generally one enormous room with many beds) and shared services like a kitchen, bogs, and showers. In municipal albergues, you typically get disposable bedding (a mattress sheet and a pillow casing).

Challenges it’s possible you’ll encounter in albergues, particularly in municipal as they’re normally larger and accommodate extra individuals;

  • Snorers, be certain to pack earplugs you’ll have individuals loud night breathing in your dorms.
  • Lining up to make use of showers, washing machines, cooking utensils, checking in, and many others. My recommendation is after you check-in don’t make your mattress or unpack your backpack, seize your stuff, and go to the bathe generally there are solely two or three of them for 30 or 40 individuals.
  • Being woken up at 4.30am as a result of some individuals begin strolling at 5am and even when they attempt to be quiet they nonetheless wake you up. 

If staying in dormitories doesn’t sound very interesting and also you moderately pay extra cash to have extra consolation and privateness you possibly can keep in motels and pensions. In case you’re planning to stroll the French route in excessive season (Might to September) I’d advocate reserving motels prematurely from my expertise (I walked the French Method in September) personal rooms had been normally totally booked and in lots of cities, it was tough to discover a properly priced personal room on arrival. You’ll have extra consolation should you keep in motels however only for the expertise, I’d recommend spending no less than one evening within the albergue.

Services Municipal albergues Non-public albergues Motels
Just for pilgrims sure no no
Want a Credential to remain sure no no
Sizzling bathe sure sure sure
Kitchen normally normally no
Wi-fi normally sure sure
Blankets generally normally sure
Washer normally normally generally
Restaurant no normally normally
Superior reserving hardly ever sure sure
Baggage supply generally sure sure
A desk evaluating services and necessities to remain in public or personal albergues and motels on the French Camino

As for reserving prematurely, I’d advocate doing it within the peak season, significantly in some locations. To begin with in Roncesvalles (there is just one albergue for 200 individuals and two costly motels) particularly should you’re ranging from there and arriving late by bus. Zubiri is a small city and a well-liked cease on the second day. O Cebreiro is one other small city with one municipal albergue and a few pensions. 

The French Camino vs different Camino routes

Our readers typically ask us “What’s your favourite Camino?”. These questions are all the time tough to reply however after strolling seven completely different Camino routes during the last two years we’ve obtained our favorites. We appreciated completely different Camino routes for a number of causes, some for the breathtaking surroundings, some for being off the crushed observe, some for providing an excellent cultural expertise, and many others. Each Camino has one thing distinctive and particular.

If we’ve to decide on we’d say for the surroundings the Camino del Norte might be our favourite. Strolling subsequent to the ocean is a tremendous expertise. The Camino Primitivo was one other route we loved regardless of the wet climate and the muddy path. It’s doable to mix the French Method with the Camino Primitivo. From Leon, you possibly can stroll to Oviedo following the Camino de San Salvador, one of many lesser-known Camino routes, and from there proceed to Santiago on the Camino Primitivo.

We do a whole lot of mountaineering within the mountains and the Primitivo was the closest you will get on the Camino to actual mountaineering. The Portuguese Camino was an excellent expertise since you get to stroll by way of two international locations; Portugal and Spain and should you select the Coastal Route you stroll subsequent to the ocean.

The French Camino affords a tremendous cultural expertise. You stroll by way of unimaginable Spanish cities with nice historical past and structure like Pamplona, Burgos, León, and Astorga. Their astonishing cathedrals and fortresses blow you away.

As for the surroundings on the French route, I loved the start of the stroll, the mountain half from St.Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona, the half from Astorga to Molinaseca, and the stroll to O Cebreiro. I really like strolling within the mountains. As for the well-known Meseta an extended stretch between Burgos and Astorga by way of plains and fields I’m not a giant fan of this sort of surroundings. This half jogged my memory of some levels of the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon and the By way of de la Plata. I do know many pilgrims take pleasure in this explicit half however for me, it obtained fairly monotonous after a few days.

One other motive in favor of selecting the French Camino is the social life you might be by no means alone, it’s straightforward to seek out somebody to stroll with or to speak to within the night. I walked the French Method of St.James alone and was by no means bored or lonely.

French Method FAQ

Will I be lonely if I stroll the Camino alone?

The French Method was one of many few Camino routes I walked alone with out my husband. At first, I needed to modify to it however I positively can say I didn’t really feel lonely. Many pilgrims stroll this route and your probabilities of strolling alone are fairly small. By the tip of the primary week you understand fairly lots of people and all the time can discover someone to stroll with or have lunch.

Is it secure to stroll the French Method of St.James alone as a girl?

Security for feminine pilgrims is among the most ceaselessly requested Camino questions we get. I walked alone for 780 km and by no means felt unsafe on the French Camino. As I mentioned you rarely stroll alone there are normally different pilgrims on the route however even after I had an hour or so strolling by myself I by no means felt any hazard. In case you really feel intimidated or unsafe you possibly can staff up with one other pilgrim many individuals stroll the Camino solo.

Will or not it’s tough to speak on the French Camino if I don’t converse Spanish?

In case you don’t converse any Spanish don’t fear about it most pilgrims should not Spanish. Many individuals I met on the French route might converse fairly good English. The truth is, on this route, there have been many pilgrims from the US, Canada, and the UK in comparison with the opposite Camino routes English right here was most likely essentially the most spoken language. Many locals don’t converse English however there’s all the time somebody round who will help and translate for you.

Which Camino route is the very best to stroll for a first-timer?

Out of the long-distance routes, I’d say the French Method might be the very best as a result of it has essentially the most infrastructure for pilgrims, distances between albergues should not that lengthy you possibly can simply stroll 20km a day and discover a place to sleep. If you wish to attempt the Camino and aren’t able to stroll for one month you possibly can select a shorter route like the Camino Inglés or the Camino Finisterre or stroll the final 100km on the Camino Francés from Sarria.

Really useful books and guidebooks

Planning assets for the French route

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