46-Day SELF-GUIDED French Way: Starts St Jean Pied de Port

 

CAMINO de SANTIAGO - FRENCH WAY (France & Spain)

St Jean Pied de Port - Santiago de Compostela - Finisterre

A life changing pilgrimage. 46-days covering 890 kilometres, ascending the Pyrenees, walking across Spain to complete your journey at the end of the world in Finisterre!

SELF-GUIDED - DEPARTURE DATE: Date to suit you - between May and October

TRIP LENGTH: Up to 46 days, or longer if more rest days included  BREAKFAST: Included daily   

 TRIP GRADE: Moderate to Challenging  OTHER: Luggage transfer - 20kg

PRICE FROM (Dinners not included): Euro3,550 per person twin share
PRICE FROM (Most dinners included): Euro4,375 per person, twin share
All subject to availabilty

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: On request DEPOSIT: AUD1,500

BRIEF HISTORY

One of the world’s great historical trails, El Camino de Santiago, also known as the “Camino trail” or the “Way of St James”, is an epic 800km walk across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. It began as a religious pilgrimage to the relics of the Apostle James, interred in the grand old Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and since the ninth century hundreds of thousands have made the life-changing journey. It can take between 35 and 45 days on average if you choose to do it all in one go, however many also do a portion at a time, and some only walk the last 100km's as this entitles the pilgrim the Compostela recognition.

There are many varied reasons that people walk the Camino, which is renowned as one of the most religious, inspirational and rewarding experiences. Some people do it simply for health and wellbeing, whilst many refer to it as a religious or spiritual journey. There is an enormous depth of history and everyday learning’s, as people of all ages from all over the world come together to walk the paths that so many have done before them.  The small villages along the way would not exist if it wasn't for the Camino, and the Camino wouldn't exist if it wasn’t for the villages. The local people who are proud of their country and their culture, readily offer their hospitality and their generosity is overwhelming.  

The countryside is extremely picturesque. The rolling hills are often dotted with a church steeple on the horizon, which may look close, but quite likely may be two or more kilometres away.  The daily walk provides plenty of thinking and reflection time and the challenge of walking distances of 20 to 30 kilometres per day becomes easier as fitness increases with each step. Engaging with the locals is most rewarding and at times quite emotional, with many elderly ladies in the local churches keen to stamp your pilgrim’s passbook in recognition of your visit.  

Walking the Camino is a time for reflection and recognition and a time to shake your worries for another time and place. It provides thinking time to crystalise the 'where to from here', or if you prefer, don't bother thinking at all.  

SELF-GUIDED WALKING

Our self-guided itineraries are ideal for groups and independent travellers who prefer to navigate their own way in their own time. The Camino de Santiago is well suited for self-guided walking, as the paths and tracks are well-marked with yellow arrows showing the way.

You will be provided with a pack of easy to read maps and instructions, complete with directions to guide you, which will be available at your joining hotel on the first day of your trip.

And you can be confident that ‘you are not alone’ as we monitor your arrival at your accommodation each day and provide you with contact details for your journey.

This itinerary is carefully designed for easy to manage walking days. There is a basic level of fitness required and some uphill stretches in part, however, given you only need carry a lightweight day bag and your water supply, which can be replenished in the various villages on route, and other essentials such as snacks, it makes this trip very manageable for any inexperienced walker    


ACCOMMODATION & LUGGAGE TRANSFER

Your stay will be in an excellent combination of centrally located hotels and charming village accommodation dotted along the Camino.

The character, comfort and often the uniqueness of the accommodation all adds to the experience. In some villages you will stay in ‘Casa Rurals’, which are bed and breakfast style accommodation.

Your private accommodation is pre-booked in advance and is on a twin share basis with private en suite facilities. Single supplement is on request and where possible we will offer a gender share option as requested. 


The local cuisine is also a highlight. On occasion, mama will be in the kitchen preparing a three course hearty meal known as the pilgrim’s staple,which comes complete with a bottle of wine, (which can be returned to the kitchen if you wish, or if you are under age!). The cook, or regular chef will not disappoint, and all dietary requirements are taken care of in advance. The language is French and Spanish. English is difficult to find, which adds an exciting dimension and a great reminder that you are travelling in a foreign land.

Your luggage is transferred daily which means you are carefree to enjoy the walking, with no need to worry about your bed for that night, nor straining your body from carrying too many kilos on your back.

ITINERARY

This itinerary presents the entire Camino, starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port, the old capital of the traditional Basque province of Lower Navarre, the official starting point for the Camino-Frances at the bottom of the Pyrenees. Winding eastward to Santiago de Compostela and onto Finisterre which adds a further 90km to the 800km journey. In Roman times, Finisterre was believed to be the end of the world, today it is a quaint seaside town at the most western point of the Iberian Peninsula.  It is worth the 890km pilgrimage to see the famed lighthouse, and the 0.00 bollard signifying you can walk no further, however… the journey never ends.

A suggested pace to complete the 890km pilgrimage, is to take a rest day on the 7th day, or have an easy walking day during the week.  Additional days can be included or excluded as you wish.

HIGHLIGHTS

ARRIVE SAINT JEAN PIED DE PORT - Day 1/Night 1

St Jean Pied de Port is a beautiful bustling French market town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, which creates a natural border between France and Spain.  It is the traditional starting point for the French Way, the most popular of all the Camino routes.

Your Buen Camino (good walk) starts here. Checking in at the Pilgrim office is an invigorating experience as the volunteers are keen to impart the local advice to get you on your way.  It is usually a sleepless night with an adrenaline rush of knowing…I am about to walk the Camino de Santiago!    


SAINT JEAN PIED DE PORT - ORRISON 8km. Estimated walking time 2 to 3 hours - Day 2/Night 2

Orrison is a quaint introduction to the Pyrenees on the Napoleon Route.  Take advantage of the only stop along the way to Roncesvalles by breaking the challenging journey across one of the toughest parts of the Camino.

ORRISON – RONCESVALLES 16km. Estimated walking time 4 hours - Day 3/Night 3

A great spot to wake, stunning views stretch into the distance as far as Pic d’Aspe and the Somport Pass where the Camino Aragones passes from France into Spain. The sound of bells ringing simultaneously from around the neck of sheep as they move over mountain and across dale can be heard for miles.

RONCESVALLES – AKERRETA 28km. Estimated walking time 7 to 8 hours - Day 4/Night 4

A tough day of up and down, making Roncesvalles a welcome sight.  There are plenty of outside tables to share a drink or a pintxos as it is known in the Basque Region, Tapas to the Spanish.

AKERRETA – PAMPLONA 15km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours – Day 5/Night 5

A sense of achievement and satisfaction after crossing the Pyrenees, the journey is well and truly underway.

PAMPLONA – EXTRA NIGHT – Day 6/Night 6

It is worth congratulating yourself on your achievement thus far, for getting over the Pyrenees, and celebrating in Pamplona is ideal and worth spending the extra night. The city is famous worldwide for the running of the bulls during the San Fermin festival held annually in July. Another of Spain’s culinary capitals, the narrow streets offer plenty of variety when it comes to food.    


PAMPLONA – PUENTE LA REINA 22km.  Estimated walking time 5 to 6 hours – Day 7/Night 7

A picturesque walk out of Pamplona, make sure you watch for the yellow arrows as you head out of town crossing some parks and heading to a small valley, pausing at the monument for Pilgrims, a cast iron sculpture at the top of the hill.    

PUENTE LA REINA – ESTELLA 20km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 8/Night 8

Some beautiful stops along the path to Estella, grab a snack, pause and enjoy the countryside. The village life is frequent before you arrive at the gorgeous Estella, known in the 15th century as Estella the Elegant.

ESTELLA – LOS ARCOS 23km.  Estimated walking time 5 to 6 hours– Day 9/Night 9

A few kilometres out of Estella is a wine fountain that was constructed in 1991 for the pilgrims. It operates from 8 in the morning to 8 at night, and you are welcome to help yourself!    

LOS ARCOS – LOGRONO 27km.  Estimated walking time 7 to 8 hours– Day 10/Night 10

Leaving the ancient lands of Navarra and La Rioja, that boasts the best wines in Spain, you face a long day with a constant uphill climb accompanied by steep descents. All will be forgotten arriving in Logrono, a city rich in history and traditions since the middle-ages.


LOGRONO – EXTRA NIGHT – Day 11/Night 11

If ever a place embodied the spirit of Spain’s tapas tradition, the unsung hero is Logrono.  The tradition here is a Spanish-style bar crawl to experience the city’s authentic charms combined with some of the tastiest and original treats.    

LOGRONO – NAJERA 28km.  Estimated walking time 6 to 7 hours – Day 12/Night 12

Make sure you have some snacks for today. The first 17 kilometres of today’s walk provides beautiful countryside, but without any villages along the way.

NAJERA – SANTO DOMINGO 21km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 13/Night 13

If there was one night that you might want to steer away from your tasty Pilgrim’s meal, it would be to enjoy one of the renowned Michelin Star Restaurants -  that won’t break the bank, in the enchanting town of Santo Domingo. It is also worth treating yourself to a pre-dinner drink on the verandah of the nearby Parador, after visiting the chickens in the cathedral to learn the myth of their existence.    

SANTO DOMINGO – BELORADO 22km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 14/Night 14

Belorado is a village and municipality, belonging to the Province of Burgos. At the last count there were on 2,100 inhabitants.

BELORADO – ATAPUERCA 30km.  Estimated walking time 7 to 8 hours– Day 15/Night 15

Magnificent scenery is in store today, passing through the archaeological site of Atapuerca. Depending on the time of year, the rolling hills are an extraordinary rich green.

ATAPUERCA – BURGOS 20km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 16/Night 16

Possibly the least interesting stretch of the Camino is the road to Burgos, however it is worth the effort to spend the extra time in this charming town.

BURGOS – EXTRA NIGHT – Day 17/Night 17

The medieval town of Burgos has many historical landmarks including the Cathedral and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. It is a town of palaces, churches and striking buildings, great markets and plenty of entertainment.

BURGOS – HORNILLOS 21km. Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 18/Night 18

The next major village from Burgos is Hornillos, which is a beautiful walk through open plains and fields of crops.  

HORNILLOS – CASTROJERIZ 20km. Estimated walking time 5 hours - Day19/Night 19

Your walk today has a gentle climb, before continuing on through the peace and tranquility of the plains. The Castle of Castrojeriz is worth a visit. 

CASTROJERIZ – FROMISTA 25km.  Estimated walking time  6 hours - Day 20/Night 20

Leaving Castrojeriz, you pass the highest point of the Meseta - Alto de Mostelares. The surrounding landscape is one of vast fields of crops and as you approach Fromista the path follows a stretch of an 18th century canal.


FROMISTA – CARRION DE LOS CONDES 20km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 21/Night 21

You are well and truly on the easy flat walking part of the Camino known as the Meseta -  which is Spanish for plateau.

CARRION DE LOS CONDES – CALZADILLA DE LA CUEZA 17km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours - Day 22/Night 22

Another day of flat paths, whilst some people find it a little dull, there is beauty for as far as the eye can see.

CALZADILLA DE LA CUEZA - SAHAGUN 22km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 23/Night 23

The infinite views continue today, Sahagun is named after Bernardino de Sahagun, born in 1499, his extraordinary work devoting his life to missionary tasks.

SAHAGUN – BURGO RANERO 18km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours – Day 24/Night 24

A pleasant village of less than 1,000 people, a very hospitable and welcoming place for a rest.

BURGO RANERO – MANSILLA DE LA MULAS 19km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours – Day 25/Night 25

Today you will pass through the medieval town of Puerta del Castillo, where there are plenty of temptations for sweet tooths. Mansilla de la Mulas is just up the road, the towns arms is proudly displayed at the entrance of the once known ancient mule market town.

MANSILLA DE LA MULAS – LEON 18km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours – Day 26/Night 26

Today there are some not so attractive parts of the walk, however the destination makes up for it with arriving at the impressive city of Leon.  There are numerous shopping options especially if you want, or need, to replace or add to your walking gear.    


LEON –EXTRA NIGHT – Day 27/Night 27

Leon is a wonderful city, combining stunning historical architecture with an irresistible energy. Its standout attraction is the cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Spain.  There is the walled old town and the modern living is alongside. The oldest church in Leon has Vespers every evening and despite the service being solely in Spanish, it is worth a visit just to hear the nun’s choir. 

LEON – VILLADANGOS DEL PARAMO 22km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 28/Night 28

An easy walking day, but do bear in mind that the outskirts of Leon do not offer the rolling green hills of many other parts of the country.  However, this changes the following day.

VILLADANGOS DEL PARAMO – ASTORGA 26km.  Estimated walking time 6 hours – Day 29/Night 29

The trail is well marked as you head west, through some glorious scenery, where Astorga can be seen way before you arrive.  You enter the village by crossing a quaint bridge that takes you to the township, positioned beautifully on a hilltop.  Here is our chance to see the genius work of Antoni Gaudi.  Gaudi’s work was influenced by his passions in life, architecture, nature, and religion.  The impressive cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace is his design.

Here you can sample a mantecadas, famous in Astorga and seen in all the bakery windows.  Mantecadas is a Spanish sponge pastry, a cross between a muffin and a scone.

ASTORGA – RABANAL DEL CAMINO 20km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours – Day 30/Night 30

Heading back into the countryside pause at one of the most magical places on the Camino. History has it that there was once a former cross on a Roman altar in worship of Mercury, the god of the road; the said cross was put there by the hermit called Gaucelmo, who devoted his life to protecting the pilgrims on route.

RABANAL DEL CAMINO – MOLINASECA 25km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 31/Night 31

Leaving Rabanal del Camino with its well-crafted cobble stone streets and traditional houses made of stone. Today’s path is through several villages, churches and coffee stops before reaching Molinseca.

MOLINASECA – VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO 32km.  Estimated walking time 7 to 8 hours - Day 32/Night 32

Spoilt again today with the views of rolling hills and friendly local villages, there are a variety of places to stop for lunch or collect some tasty local produce for a picnic.

VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO - HERRERIAS 23km. Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours - Day 33/Night 33

A day of varied terrain, before arriving at Herrerias at 702 metres.  Some try to do the trip all the way to O Cebreiro in one go, but is worth the rest in Herrerias to refresh and prepare for the steeper uphill the following day. The walk to O Cebreiro is a special section of the Camino and best not to rush it.


HERRERIAS – O CEBREIRO 10km.  Estimated walking time 3 hours – Day 34/Night 34

Leaving the Region of Castilla y Leon and enter the Region of Galicia, a sunny day is ideal to take in the magic of the mountains.  Without the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago, O Cebreiro is void of meaning and, similarly, the “Camino” would not exist without the town.  On approach the village of stone igloos (pallozas) with straw roofs, usually the smell of pulpo - Galician-style octopus is rife!  There are differing views on the flavor, however, the fresh cows cheese drizzled with honey is a winner every time.    

O CEBREIRO – TRIACASTELA 21km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 35/Night 35

The decent from the mountains is breathtaking and the views will stay in your memory for a lifetime.  The route today is mainly along dirt tracks, through fields, and the small village of Linares, till you arrive at the hill of San Roque, which marks the location of a statue of a pilgrim on his way to Santiago.

TRIACASTELA – SARRIA 17km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 36/Night 36    

A pleasant walk and descent, however not until after a challenging climb to Alto de Riocabo at 905 meters.  Sarria is a key service centre for the Camino.  There are two parts, one being the beautiful historical village which is located in the upper part of town. Here you can visit the Tower of El Batallon and the Convent da Magdalena, once a convent and now a hotel. It is definitely worth a visit to appreciate the architecture.  Sarria is also renowned for its restoration workshops and antique stores.

SARRIA – PORTOMARIN 23km.  Estimated walking time 5 to 6 hours – Day 37/Night 37

Leaving Sarria as the sun comes up (between 7am and 8am from May through October) it is worth the early morning wake up call, for the magical walk through the Rua Major, where the street lamps lining the road bid us farewell to Sarria.

PORTOMARIN – PALAS DE REI 25km.  Estimated walking time 6 hours – Day 38/Night 38

Leaving the town of Portomarin, well known for its tarts and liqueurs, the path weaves through farming regions, fields of sunflowers, and picnic areas.

PALAS DE REI – ARZUA 30km.  Estimated walking time 8 hours – Day 39/Night 39

Today is the second longest trekking day, mainly a decent of just over 500metres, however, with occasional ascents.  Stock up on snacks for this section of your journey.

ARZUA - RUA 20km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 40/Night 40

This is a thrilling day, the excitement mounts as Santiago is just up the road and, one sleep away.  There are smiles on the faces of the pilgrims and the locals.


RUA – SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA 20km.  Estimated walking time 4 to 5 hours – Day 41/Night 41

The walk into Santiago can be an emotional and bitter sweet experience. Even if your feet and legs are hurting a little, there is usually a feeling of not wanting the journey to end. Santiago is visible from about 5 kilometres away, and it is worth the early morning start to arrive at the Cathedral for the pilgrim’s midday mass, making your way past the pied piper (donations welcome), to the final stage at the steps, then to the seats of the congregation.  Following the service, it is a trip to the Compostela office to show your stamp book to the team of volunteers, who are eagerly waiting to hear your story and stamp your certificate highlighting your name in Latin. The sadness of the pilgrimage coming to an end is the uplift of knowing you are walking to the end of the world. 

  
Santiago de Compostela is a special, rare city with a particular magic that can only be enjoyed by walking around its streets.  Its historical centre has been designated a World Heritage Site and offers dozens of churches and religious buildings, including the impressive cathedral, which is both Baroque and Romanesque at the same time and contains the sepulchre of the Apostle St James (known in Spanish as Santiago).  The plazas of A Quintana, Praterias, Acibecheria and O Obradoiro escort the Cathedral and each one stands as an open-air museum.  Plaza de O Obradoiro marks the location of the Hostel dos Reis Catόlicos, which is today a parador hotel, the office of the vice-chancellor of the city’s university and the Pazo de Raxoi, which is home to the regional government and the City Hall.  The cathedral marks the beginning of Rúa da Raiña and Rúa Franco, which are laden with tapas bars and restaurants where you can enjoy all the specialities of Galicia and, at the end of the street, the beautiful Paseo da Ferradura offers impressive views of the city on one side and the university campus on the other.  Another part of the historical centre contains the beautiful marketplace, which is of neo-Romanesque style.  It is impossible to summarise the beauty of this great city in only a few lines.  


SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – NEGREIRA 21km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 42/Night 42

Walking out of Santiago having celebrated the achievement walking ‘The Way’, the icing on the cake is continuing to the end of the world.

NEGREIRA - OLVEIROA 33km.  Estimated walking time  8 hours – Day 43/Night 43

It is very obvious you have moved away from the main thoroughfare. Not everyone has the time nor the opportunity to compete the additional 90km, pilgrims are few and far between on the beautiful walk between Negreira and Olveiroa.

OLVEIROA - CEE 20km.  Estimated walking time 5 hours – Day 44/Night 44

Woods, fields and horses feature on your path to Cee. The farmland offers a scenery landscape.

CEE - FINISTERRE 16km.  Estimated walking time 4 hours – Day 45/Night 45

Arriving into Finisterre is a moving experience, usually very few people take this secluded track, which adds a special touch. There is also an exhilaration that words cannot describe, whilst standing at the end of the world, looking out to sea and reflecting on your journey. Your life has been enhanced forever.


FINISTERRE - Day 46

Although the trip finishes after breakfast today, the memories of the Camino will live on.

Wandering the World hope you have had a journey of a lifetime and welcome your choice to wander with us again. 
   

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A BOOKING:

PHONE: +61 (0) 402 910 552

EMAIL: Glenyce Johnson glenycej@wanderingtheworld.com.au

or Jane Reed janer@wanderingtheworld.com.au

VISIT:  www.wanderingtheworld.com.au

Full booking conditions and payment details available on request.

Wandering the World specialises in creating and tailoring exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays in some of the most beautiful places on earth. This includes both escorted small group and self-guided trips, as well as individually tailored itineraries for privately organised trips.

We are passionate about sharing the places we love and offer our expertise to ensure our travellers enjoy rich and authentic travelling experiences. Wandering the World select authentic and comfortable accommodation and our itineraries are focused on immersing travellers in the local culture and uncovering the hidden gems of a destination. We are committed to ensuring our travellers have a trip of a lifetime. 

   
 

  


*If your printer does not print to pdf, try using Chrome as your browser - download software here