Camino Frances

The French Way

Stretching the full width of Spain, the Camino Frances remains the most famous and most popular of the Camino routes. Beginning in the historic French town of St Jean de Pied Port, the French Way climbs steadily over the Pyrenees before winding through delightful landscapes and extraordinary cities for 769 kilometres before arriving at Santiago de Compostela.

The route passes through the Navarra region and the famed city of Pamplona, home to the running of the balls, before heading west through the wine country of La Rioja and cities of Logrono and Burgos as it continues through the bleak, yet alluring landscape of the Meseta. The final major city before Santiago is the stunningly gothic Leon before the route arrives in wet, wild and very green Galicia, where the Camino Frances ends at the doors of the Cathedral in Santiago.

While there are certainly many who choose to complete the Camino in one go, the majority of pilgrims focus on a particular stage, with some choosing to begin in St Jean de Pied Port and completing the Camino over several years. While others walk the final 100 km into Santiago that ensures that you receive your Compostela certification and provides the unforgettable experience of arriving in the city.

Our self-guided walks are broken into six different stages, which each include between 6 and 8 nights stay along the Camino. For further information, you can find a detailed breakdown of each stage on their respective pages, but why not also check out our places of interest to see what piques your interest.

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Camino Frances Final Stage

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Sarria to Santiago (115 Km)
7 Nights from €519 per person
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Camino Frances Stage 1

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St Jean Pied du Port to Estella (112 Km)
6 nights from €459 per person
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Camino Frances Stage 2

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Estella to Burgos (161 Km)
8 nights from €598 per person
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Camino Frances Stage 3

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Burgos to Calzadilla (101 Km)
6 nights from €445 per person
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Camino Frances Stage 4

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Calzadilla to Astorga (125 Km)
7 nights from €525 per person
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Camino Frances Stage 5

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Astorga to Sarria (153 Km)
8 nights from €598 per person
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Camino Frances Final Stage Group Departure

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Sarria to Santiago (115 Km)
7 Nights from €550 per person

Camino Frances Highlights

  • The historic starting point of the Camino Frances in the quaint French town of St Jean de Pied Port.
  • The jaw-dropping views of the Pyrenees as you cross the international border between Spain and Portugal
  • Pamplona, the famed city that sees the running of the bulls.
  • The region of La Rioja, home to the world-famous wine and delightful landscapes filled with vineyards and sprinkled with many a historic village along the way.
  • Enjoy the splendid city of Burgos and visit its 800-year-old cathedral, often considered one of Spain’s most beautiful.
  • Cross the foreboding, yet strangely captivating La Meseta, Spain’s central plateau and one of the quietest stretches of the Camino Frances.
  • Embrace your modernist side with a visit to Gaudi’s Episcopal Palace in Astorga.
  • Place a stone (ideally one you’ve brought from home) on the mound of rocks below the Cruz de Ferro.
  • Work your legs with a climb to the highest point of the Camino Frances, O Cebreiro, a tiny village lost in time that’s well worth the effort.
  • Experiencing the magic of entering the famed city of Santiago de Compostela and finally standing in front of the cathedral, like so many have done before you over the last 1,000 years.

Stage 1 - St Jean Pied de Port to Estella - (6 nights & 112km)

There is nothing quite like the excitement of walking out from St Jean de Pied Port, the traditional start of the Camino Frances. There is always a feverish anticipation, perhaps mixed with a slight apprehension at what lies ahead. From there the path climbs steeply over the spectacular Pyrenees before stopping at first Roncesvalles and then Zubiri.

The fourth day sees pilgrims pass beneath the historic gates of Pamplona, one city that never fails to excite, before continuing to Puente La Reina via its iconic Romanesque bridge and ending in the elegant small town of Estella.

You can find more detailed information on Stage One here

Camino French Way – Stage One – U Walk

Stage 2 - Estella to Burgos - (8 nights & 161km)

This stage includes nights in two of the four major cities along the Camino – Logrono and Burgos – so if you’re looking for more of a lively experience, this stage might be for you. From Estrella, the Camino stops first in the town of Los Arcos before continuing to Logrono, the capital of the La Rioja region.

Over the next few days, the route meanders through vineyards and the kind of scenery that will no doubt leave you daydreaming about a little rustic house and a new life in Spain. The Camino makes stops in Najera, Santo Domingo, Belorado and San Juan de Ortego, before entering Burgos, home to what is widely considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all of Spain, and which has just celebrated its 800th birthday. A fine place to end your walk and reward yourself handsomely with the local delights on offer.

You can find more detailed information on Stage Two here

Camino French Way – Stage Two – U Walk

Stage 3 - Burgos to Calzadilla - (6 nights & 101km)

Stage 3 begins with a stretch of the Camino that some pilgrims choose to bypass. Depending on your point of view, La Meseta can either be a place of wonderful isolation and one of the quietest stretches of the entire route, or a desolate, barren stretch that tests even the strongest of wills. The area that carries more than a hint of a lunar landscape at times, comes with delightful old villages, beautiful Romanesque churches and a sense of adventure that feels very different from any other stage.

The route stops first in Hornillos del Camino before continuing to Castrojeriz and its famed hilltop castle. From here, the Camino passes over the Puente de Itero bridge, which dates back to the 11th Century, before passing through Frómista, Carrión de los Condes and Calzadilla de la Cueza then ending in the tiny town of Calzadilla de la Cueza after passing along the old Roman road known as the Vía Aquitana.

You can find more detailed information on Stage Three here

Camino French Way – Stage Three – U Walk

Stage 4 - Calzadilla to Astorga - (7 nights & 125km)

Continuing along the Vía Aquitana, a Roman road dating back to 118 BC, the Camino first arrives in historic Sahagún with its fine architecture and bustling market in the main square. From here we pass through Burgo Ranero and on to Mansilla, passing through the small village of Reliegos along the way.

The route between Mansilla and the city of Leon may not be among the prettiest days on the Camino, but as you take a seat at a restaurant in one of Leon’s fine plazas it will certainly have all been worth it. Darkly gothic Leon is a spectacular city with insatiable energy running through it and home to the 13th-century Catedral de Léon. From the city, the route snakes west stopping in Villadangos del Páramo before ending in Astorga, home to the Cathedral of Santa María and the Episcopal Palace of Gaudí, one of only three buildings by Gaudí outside Catalonia.

You can find more detailed information on Stage Four here

Camino French Way – Stage Four – U Walk

Stage 5 - Astorga to Sarria - (8 nights & 153km)

Stage 5 begins in stunning Astorga, a relatively small medieval town that packs a hell of a punch and includes the Cathedral of Santa María and the Episcopal Palace of Gaudí. The Camino then passes through the small villages of Rabanal del Camino and Molinaseca, with a stop at one of the most iconic spots along the whole Camino in-between. The Cruz de Ferro is one part of this famous walk you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The iron cross sat atop a mound of stones is where pilgrims traditionally place a stone they’ve brought from home – a way of unburdening yourself of your troubles. It’s an emotional spot for many and as you gaze at the enormous mound of individual stones, each brought here by a different person, there is an overwhelming sense that you are part of something much bigger.

From Molinaseca, the route continues to Cacabelos and Ambasmestas before climbing steeply to the highest point along the Camino Frances, O Cebreiro, a tiny village frozen in time with plenty of beautiful old stone roundhouses. The penultimate stop of stage 5 is Triacastela before finishing the following day in Saria, an ancient town situated on the banks of the Sarria River and a perfect place to experience the typical Galician cuisine, including stew, octopus and plenty of grilled meat.

You can find more detailed information on Stage Five here

Camino French Way – Stage Five – U Walk

Stage 6 - Sarria to Santiago - (7 nights & 115km)

The final stage of the Camino Frances begins in the Galician town of Sarria before continuing through a landscape that often looks more Ireland than Spain. Galicia, with its green hills, thick forests and frequent wet weather, may not be what many expect on the Iberian Peninsula, but it is an area of astonishing beauty that receives far fewer visitors than almost any other part of Spain.

We make stops in Portomarín, Palas de Rei and Arzúa as the Camino winds through eucalyptus forests that have become symbolic of Galicia but are not in fact native, before arriving in Arca, your penultimate stop. The following day the Camino reaches its dramatic conclusion as the route approaches Santiago de Compostela. Winding through the old city, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the emotion as you enter the Praza do Obradoiro, the grand square in the city where pilgrims congregate in front of the Cathedral gates.

You can find more detailed information on Stage Six here

Camino French Way – Final Stage – U Walk

6/7/8 nights accommodation (depending on which stage you choose) in private hotels/pensions

Daily baggage transfers are included so you don’t need to worry about lugging that bag along with you each day. Simply leave it with your hotel in the morning and it’ll be waiting for you when you’ve finished your days walking.

We provide all of our customers with walking notes that give a detailed description of each day’s route and points of interest along the way.

A pilgrim passport will be ready and waiting for you when you arrive, so all you need to do is get it stamped at the end of each day.

We also provide full emergency support in the event of a problem and can help to organise transportation should you not be able to continue the walk.

The Pyrenees

While it’s difficult to single out specific days, the first day lives long in the memory of those who walk the Camino Frances. The excitement of leaving St Jean de Pied Port is soon replaced with an awe-inspiring route up and over the Pyrenees that leads past a small sign that announces you have just entered Spain. It’s not the easiest of walking days, but one you’ll never forget.

Pamplona

Whether you think that the running of the balls is barbaric cruelty or a time-honoured tradition, you can’t help but fall in love with Pamplona. With cobblestoned streets, quaint bars and restaurants and an abundance of history, this is the first city on the Camino Frances and an absolute delight.

La Rioja

A familiar name for many, this is where Spain’s iconic Rioja wine is made – though remember, here it’s about walking rather than drinking, at least until the evening anyway. The Camino Frances passes countless vineyards and winds through picturesque villages that look like they haven’t changed in hundreds of years.

Burgos

The grand cathedral in Burgos has just celebrated its 800th birthday and is considered one of the finest anywhere in Spain. But the city is much more than just that. With beautiful squares complete with restaurants churning out more excellent food than you’ll ever be able to fit in, Burgos is a medieval gem that’s certainly worth a visit.

Astorga

One of the lesser known pearls along the Camino is the small town of Astorga, which was once connected to Bordeaux with the Via Aquitania, a Roman road that still forms part of the Camino Frances today. Rich in medieval history, Astorga is a delightful town to stop for lunch and is also the home of Gaudi’s Episcopal Palace, built between 1889 and 1913. As you walk through its cobblestoned streets, narrow historic alleyways and dine in its splendid main square in front of the town hall, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Astorga.

La Cruz de Ferro

One of the most iconic spots along the entire route is also one of the most remote. Standing in front of the famed Cruz de Ferro, an iron cross that sits atop a mountain of small stones that have been carried here by pilgrims over hundreds of years, it’s impossible not to get lost in the moment. As you place your own stone on this rocky mound of history and step back, you’re a true pilgrim now.

O Cebreiro

First things first, the tiny village of O Cebreiro is the highest point on the Camino Frances at nearly 1,300 metres, so expect to work for it. But your reward for the climb is one of the most picturesque villages anywhere along the route, a place that feels frozen in time, where the thatched stone roundhouses give a strong sense of the Flintstones.

Santiago de Compostela

No list about the Camino Frances would be complete without the final destination – the holy grail. Whether you’ve walked 100 km or 769 km, approaching the city by foot is an experience that will live long in the memory. As the cathedral spires come into view you can’t help but be caught up in the excitement as Camino paths converge from all directions and lead you through the city to the Praza do Obradoiro, the square in front of the cathedral.

Once your walk is complete, you can turn your attention to the city itself which offers a staggering selection of restaurants and bars serving mounds of delicious food to the many celebrating pilgrims, along with an array of smaller churches and of course the famed cathedral itself.

 

Which airport you fly into really depends on which stage you’ll be walking, but we can coordinate with you regarding your best options. The same goes for when you leave, but considering all of the stages about between 101 km and 161 km, it may make sense to fly in and out from the same airport.

Transfers to and from the airport and typically not included, but again, we will work with you to find the quickest and most convenient way to get to your starting point and away once you’ve completed the walk.

We have chosen popular family-run hotels/pensions along the route. Accommodation is simple and follows the character of the area