THE FRENCH WAY

The Camino Francés or French Way is the most famous of all the Camino de Santiago routes, featuring in many documentaries, books and movies such as ‘The Way‘ and ‘I’ll Push You’. While St Jean Pied de Port marks the starting point of the Camino Francés, you can start your Camino from any town or city along the way. In fact, most pilgrims start their Camino journey from the town of Sarria, in Galicia, and walk the last 111kms to Santiago.

OVERVIEW - FIRST STAGE

The first stage of the Camino Francés, the French Way, starts in the pretty walled town of St Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque Country and takes pilgrims across the Pyrenees, into the city of Pamplona and finally to the picturesque medieval town of Estella Lizarra.

This is one of the most challenging stretches of the Camino de Santiago but also one of the most spectacular ones, particularly if you take the ‘Napoleon Route‘ over the Roncesvalles Pass (1450m). The views of the Pyrenees are definitely worth the effort!

QUICK FACTS

 

Duration: 8 Nights

Distance:  162 km

Difficulty:   Medium

Best Time:  All year round

OVERVIEW - SECOND STAGE

This section of the Camino de Santiago along the French Way, the famous Camino Francés starts in the city of Pamplona (Iruña in Basque), world famous for its San Fermín running of the bulls festival, taking place from 7th July every year. From Pamplona, the Camino takes pilgrims to the photogenic pilgrim sculpture at Alto del Perdón, where you will enjoy fantastic 360 panoramic views of Pamplona, the valley and the vast countryside ahead, before continuing on your way.

On this section of the Camino, you will walk across the mountains of Navarra and the red earth vineyards of La Rioja, passing medieval bridges, castles, churches and picturesque villages along the way, such as Puente de la Reina, Cirauqui, Estella-Lizarra and Viana. Stop at Bodegas Irache for a rest and a quick sip at the free wine fountain!

This section of the Camino finishes in Logroño, capital of La Rioja wine region, and a fantastic city to discover authentic Spanish ‘tapas’.

ITINERARY

This is the most popular itinerary; you may be able to combine or split the distance for each day.

Saint Jean Pied de Port

You arrive in Saint Jean Pied de Port.

Roncesvalles

The French Way, Camino Francés, starts in St Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque Country. Your Camino begins after your night in Saint Jean Pied de Port.  This is one of the most challenging but beautiful parts of the route, especially if you take the ‘Napoleon Route’ over the Roncesvalles Pass (1450m). The ‘Napoleon Route’ starts with a steep climb past country houses before reaching mountain meadows, the cross and some spectacular mountain views. The views of the Pyrenees are worth the effort!

Easy Option: You can split the long stage from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles into two stages of 12km and 13km, if you would like to walk at a more relaxed pace. You would stay overnight in the village of Valcarlos. We would recommend taking this option during the winter months when snow can make the higher route impassable...

25 km

Zubiri

Roncesvalles (‘Orregaga’ in Basque) is a popular Camino starting point for Spanish pilgrims. Here you should visit the St James chapel, as well as the Royal Collegiate Church of Saint Mary. After your night in Roncesvalles, the Camino de Santiago French route continues through beech and oak woods before entering Espinal. You will also cross two mountain passes: Alto de Mezquiriz and Alto de Erro. You will then descend towards the village of Zubiri and its medieval ‘Puente de la Rabia’ (the Rabies Bridge) over the River Arga

21 km

Pamplona

After your night in Zubiri, the Camino de Santiago follows the river Arga to the town of Larrasoaña, an important stop for pilgrims in Medieval times. The second half of the day will get busier, as you approach the bustle of Pamplona city. Famous for its Running of the Bulls festival, San Fermín, taking place in July, Pamplona has many other attractions to visit. Explore the city’s medieval streets, visit the cathedral, taste some of the fantastic local food and wine and Hemingway fans can go for a coffee in one of the writer’s favourite haunts in the main square: Plaza del Castillo..

21 km

Puente de la Reina

After your night in Pamplona, you will leave this beautiful city behind you as the Camino takes pilgrims towards the ‘Alto del Perdón’ (Hill of Forgiveness) pass. Get your picture taken with the photogenic pilgrim sculpture at the ‘alto’ and enjoy fantastic 360 panoramic views of Pamplona and the valley. From there, you will begin your descent towards Puente la Reina (Queen’s Bridge) with its quaint medieval alleys and impressive 11th century bridge over the River Arga.

24 km

Estella

After your night in Puente de la Reina, your Camino de Santiago route continues along peaceful tracks for most of today to Estella. You will walk along rolling farmland, passing small towns and villages nested among olive groves, cereal crops and vineyards. Cirauqui (Zirauki), perched on a hilltop, is a pretty little village of winding medieval streets where you will find one of the best preserved stretches of Roman road. Estella-Lizarra is your finish point for today, a nice historic town with plenty to do and see

22 km

Los Arcos

After your night in Estella where you will hopefully had a few moments to explore the town and its many monuments, your Camino to Santiago continues to the town of Los Arcos. Just outside Estella you will find Bodegas Irache, the Wine Museum and its free wine fountain, stop for a rest and sip of the local Rioja! Most of your walk today will be along nice tracks, among vineyards, olive trees and cereal fields. From Villamayor de Monjardín to Los Arcos, you will cover approximately 12kms without passing a single village so make sure you have plenty of water and a few snacks.

21 km

Logroño

After your night in Los Arcos, you will continue your Camino on a very enjoyable track across rolling countryside, leaving Navarra and entering the world-famous wine making La Rioja region.  You will pass the dramatic ruins of Clavijo Castle before entering the city of Logroño, capital of La Rioja and home to some of the best tapas scene on the Camino. Head for Calle Laurel to sample the local Rioja-style specialities.

Easy Option: You can split your long stage from Los Arcos to Logroño, into two stages of 18km and 10km, if you would like to walk at a more relaxed pace. You would stay overnight in a period hotel in the lovely hilltop village of Viana..

28 km

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

All our trips include selected accommodation with private bathroom, holiday pack with route information, maps and GPS files; and 24/7 support number providing assistance during your trip, for instance organising support vehicle if needed.

 

OPTIONAL: You will also have the option to add or remove the Luggage transfers (one bag up to 20kg per person), dinners (where available), bike rental and airport transfers.

 

NOT INCLUDED: Flights, drinks, city tax, Travel Insurance (Recommended)

 

ACCOMMODATION: We aim to book you into each of the towns listed on the itinerary, however in case of low availability we may book you 2 nights in the same town with provided transfers. If you are booking Superior collection or Country cottages, please note it is subject to availability and therefore cannot be guaranteed. Superior/Country cottage accommodation may be away from the route with included transfers.

*This year, important restoration works continue at Santiago Cathedral in order to get the cathedral fully restored ahead of Holy Year 2021.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Porto Airport 12km: The easiest connection between Porto airport and the city center is by metro. The purple metro line (line E) has regular departures; frequency between 5-9 minutes approx. We we can also assist with transfers from the airport.

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©2020 by Shoshin Walks