walking The Camino Frances to Santiago
The Camino Frances is the most popular of the routes of the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The route runs from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and over the Pyrenees into Spain and then onwards to Santiago de Compostela covering 800km.
It takes roughly 30 days dependant on your walking pace as well as things like the time off work you etc. I did my Camino pilgrimage in 28 days and you can start reading about my journey on Day 1 of the Camino Frances.
Table of Contents
Where does the Camino de Santiago start ?
The French Way Camino traditionally starts in Saint Jean Pied de Port. It differs from the Camino del Norte which has tougher sections and is quieter, especially if you like the camaraderie of being around lots of Pilgrims. In conclusion, its a long hard slog but I guarantee you will love the journey.
I have detailed my day by day blog with the stages I walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela which took me28 days to walk. I used the Camino de Santiago forum extensively as part of my research and was a great aid in my planning regime as well as the American Pilgrims on the Camino website.
The Camino Frances Terrain
The walking terrain on The Camino Frances can be tough at times especially the first few days walking up and over the Pyrenees. During the journey there are many peaks to climb that will definitely test any Pilgrims and I would advise anyone to train and plan before undertaking this amazing walk.
Most days have some ascents and descents as well as road and path walking through glorious forests, golden wheat fields and amazing fields of Rioja wine grapes.
I recently walked the best 9 days on the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied du Port to Burgos which is my favourite section of the Camino de Santiago.
When is the best time to walk The Camino Frances
I walked The Camino Frances in late May and the weather was fantastic. The heat in the main part of the day is very hot so an early start at 6-7am is needed. We also had very little rain on our journey although it can get wet in the Galician region as you get near to Santiago de Compostela. In my experience walking the route in May through September would be the best time to enjoy this amazing camino experience.
Accommodation on the Camino Frances
There are numerous hotels in St Jean Pied de Port at the start of The Camino Frances that make the evening before you start your journey relatively easy to organise and I would recommend booking something before you arrive just for peace of mind.
Along the ‘French Way” there are public and private Albergues and some hotels. From my experience I always found a bed for the night and had no worries about accommodation. I always suggest walking with a guidebook to help with accommodation identification at your destination.
My only other recommendation is for your Day 1 destination. If you are planning on staying in Orisson or Roncesvalles I would book ahead as these 2 locations can get very busy and booked up in advance. The albergues in these 2 locations are excellent
After that enjoy The Camino as it happens and wherever you end up staying each night.
Do I need a Camino Frances Guidebook ?
I have walked numerous Camino’s and always take a guidebook on the walk with me. After days walking I always like to plan out my route and destination for the next day as well as choosing my accommodation.
Top Tip: Talking with other pilgrims is also a great source of information to help with planning. If you are struggling with your planning every Albergue has a Hospitalero who can help with any questions and point you in the right direction. I find them invaluable.
On The Camino Frances I used A Pilgrims guide to The Camino Frances by John Brierley. In my opinion its the best guidebook on the market. I have also written an article on the Best Camino Frances guide book.
Is there a backpack transfer service on the Camino ?
Whilst the majority of pilgrims walk with their backpacks the whole way to Santiago there are services to help walkers who need some help getting their backpack or luggage from town to town. Its a simple service and works effortlessly.
All you need to do when leaving your Albergue or Hotel is fill out a form letting the delivery service know which Albergue or Hotel you are heading for and then tag your bags with the fee as well. The delivery service will pick up the bags and deliver to your destination leaving you to walk at your leisure. A couple of these services are as follows:
The Spanish Postal Service, El Camino Con Correos, has a baggage transfer service covering all Camino routes.
JacoTrans also has a transfer service covering The Camino Frances.
Camino Frances Walking Stage Itinerary
I’ve detailed the the day by day walking stages of The Camino Frances from my experience and you can read about each stage, distances and accommodation recommendations as I walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. My stage profile was as follows:
Camino Route Stages
- Arrival Day – St Jean Pied de Port to Huntto
- Day 1 – Huntto to Roncesvalles
- Day 2 – Roncesvalles to Zabaldiki
- Day 3 – Zabaldiki to Puente la Reina
- Day 4 – Puente la Reina to Azqueta
- Day 5 – Azqueta to Torres del Rio
- Day 6 – Torres del Rio to Navarrete
- Day 7 – Navarrete to Azofra
- Day 8 – Azofra to Viloria del Rioja
- Day 9 – Viloria del Rioja to Villafranca Montes de Oca
- Day 10 – Villafranca Montes de Oca to Burgos
- Day 11 – Burgos to Hornillos del Camino
- Day 12 – Hornillos del Camino to Itero De la Vega
- Day 13 – Itero De la Vega to Villalcazar de Sirga
- Day 14 – Villalcazar de Sirga to Terradillos de la Templarios
- Day 15 – Terradillos de la Templarios to El Burgo Ranero
- Day 16 – El Burgos to Mancilla de las Mulas
- Day 17 – Mancilla de las Mulas to Leon
- Day 18 – Leon to Hospital de’Orbigo
- Day 19 – Hospital de’Orbigo to Santa Catalina
- Day 20 – Santa Catalina to El Acebo
- Day 21 – El Acebo to Cacabelos
- Day 22 – Cacabelos to Las Herrierias
- Day 23 – Las Herrierias to Triacastela
- Day 24 – Tricastela to Barbadelo
- Day 25 – Barbadelo to Ventos de Naron
- Day 26 – Ventos de Naron to Melide
- Day 27 – Melide to Salcede
- Day 28 – Salcede to Santiago de Compostela
- Day 29 – The day after…..
Want to walk The Camino Frances ?
I’d like to hear from you and let me know when and which route/section you are going to walk.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below
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