The French camino to Santiago de Compostela

The French camino to Santiago de Compostela

Presentation of the Camino Frances

THE Camino francés (the French Way) was so called because it was mainly traveled by pilgrims coming from beyond the Pyrenees, but also because many Franks came to settle there. The multiple hospitals, bridges and monasteries that line this road bear witness to its prestigious past.

It is the most popular of the Spanish paths. In 2009, of 145,877 pilgrims arriving in Santiago, 113,001 took this route. As rich in monuments as in encounters, it leaves an unforgettable memory for those who have visited it, despite the importance of its attendance.

Good to know

In Spain the path is fully signposted yellow. However, the GR 65 markings (in red and white) extend to Logroño: the two markings then overlap.

We also encounter the logo of the Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, composed of a stylized yellow shell on a blue background.

THE lodges are generally open from mid-April to mid-October, the season when the Spanish paths are most often used. Outside of this period, snow and fog can make certain stages difficult (for example the crossing of the Pyrenees and the Montes de León).

THE Camino francés being very busy in the summer (so much so that it is called the “pilgrims’ highway”), it is advisable to do this route in May, June or September. You will thus avoid the “race to the lodge” to find a bed in the evening…. This choice will also make it possible to avoid the period of extreme heat, which makes crossing Castile particularly difficult.

On these three paths, the accommodation network is dense. Pilgrims will be able to choose between:

  • L” albergue peregrino where the refuge (pilgrims’ hostel or refuge), traditional accommodation for the pilgrim. They can be managed by the municipality, the region, the parish, an association, or even individuals, and are most often run by a hospitalist ( hospitalero Or hospitalera ). They primarily welcome pilgrims on foot. Some have a fixed price (3 to 8 euros), others are donative (free participation in costs). As for sleeping, it is essential to bring a sleeping bag, as not all shelters provide blankets.
  • Christian accommodation (monasteries, parishes, etc.)
  • there fonda (low cost hotel) or the hostel (standard comfort hotel)
  • there pension (accommodation in a private home, equivalent to a B&B)
  • there rural house (accommodation in a private home, equivalent to a B&B but especially located in the countryside and in mountainous areas)
  • the Centro de Turismo Rural (often bringing together a stopover lodge, hotel rooms, a bar and a restaurant, in disadvantaged areas)
  • the campsites

A precision : on the Camino francés, accommodation is so numerous that it is customary not to book, at least for accommodation specific to pilgrims. On the other hand, the credencial (or the credit) is necessary to sleep there.

These different accommodations are listed in the guides indicated in the bibliography. Only the list of Christian receptions and accommodations, listed and kept up to date by Webcompostella, appears here.

As the markings are continuous on these paths, and the guides are generally provided with stage maps, it is not necessary to bring maps. These are, however, useful for pilgrims who want to chart their own route.

The 1/150,000 maps appear in a new publication, which also includes the list of refuges, stage profiles and detailed plans of the towns crossed:

  • Camino de Santiago. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port-Saint-Jacques-de-CompostelleMichelin, 2010
  • The paths of Compostela, Alain de La Porte, Les Films du Clos-Lucé, s. d

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