The Route of St. James - French Route or Camino Francés
|No. of days:
||13 days - 11 nights
|First & Last Cities:
||San Sebastian, Santiago de Compostela
||St. Jean Pied-de-Port, Roncesvalles, Ponte La Reina, Pamplona, LogroÃ±o, Burgos, Leon, Lugo, Sarria, PortomarÃn, Palas de Rei, ArzÃºa, O Pino
The French Route is the one with the greatest tradition and is the one that is best known internationally. Important cities with centuries of history and art (Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León) alternate with lesser towns and villages, many founded in the shadow of the Camino, rich in traditions and accommodations for pilgrims. The best of Romanesque and Gothic architecture in Spain is found along this itinerary, and the greatest epic literature is set in these places. The French Route enters Galicia from O Cebreiro, a town that maintains its medieval aspect. Continue, visiting villages and towns, many of which are listed in the “Liber Sancti Jacobi” or “Codex Callixtinus”, until reaching Sarria, the most important town in this part of the Route.
Day 1: USA, Madrid
Depart the USA on an overnight flight to Madrid. Dinner and breakfast served on board.
Day 2: Madrid, San Sebastian, St. Jean Pied-de-Port
Arrival in Madrid and connecting flight to San Sebastian. Here you’ll be met and assisted on your transfer to St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France Start of the French Route or Camino Francés on your quest for Saint James (Santiago). Dinner and overnight at the hotel. [D]
Day 3: St. Jean Pied-de-Port, Roncesvalles, Ponte La Reina, Pamplona, Logroño
St Jean Pied de Port is one of the most significant towns on the Camino de Santiago. Not only is it the finishing point for Le Puy Way, Vezelay Way and the Paris-Tours Way, it also marks the start of the French Way. For pilgrims arriving to the town after one of the three walks which end here, they will pass through the wonderful Porte St. Jacques (St. James Gate). The 15th century gate is UNESCO World Heritage listed and sits just below the Citadel, which was built in the 1700’s. Today, your Camino continues to the peaceful mountain village of Roncesvalles (‘Orregaga’ in Basque), 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. Then, follow the river Arga to the town of Larrasoaña, an important stop for pilgrims in Medieval times, as you approach the bustle of Pamplona city famous for its Running of the Bulls festival. Explore the city’s medieval streets, visit the cathedral, taste some of the fantastic local food and wine. In the afternoon, leave Pamplona behind, continuing 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, begin your descent towards Puente la Reina (Queen’s Bridge) with its quaint medieval alleys and impressive 11th century bridge over the River Arga. Leave Navarra and enter La Rioja region, world-famous for its red wine. You will pass the dramatic ruins of Clavijo Castle before entering the city of Logroño. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. [B/D]
Day 4: Logroño, Burgos, Leon
Leave Logroño after breakfast on your way to Burgos, marked by its intact medieval architecture. The French Gothic Cathedral of St. Mary is the city’s most recognizable landmark. Inside you’ll find the Chapel of Condestable, decorated with figures of saints and the tomb of El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar), the 11th-century military commander. In the afternoon continue to artistic city of Leon, home to many churches and cathedrals. Among them is the Romanesque 10th-century San Isidoro Basilica, known for its frescoes and royal tombs, and the Gothic Cathedral, built in the 13th century, with its towers and flying buttresses. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. [B/D]
Day 5: Leon, Lugo, Sarria
After breakfast visit other monuments in Leon such as the San Marcos Convent, Palacio de los Guzmanes and Casa de los Botines designed by Antonio Gaudi. In the afternoon continue to Lugo the only city in the world surrounded by intact walls. These walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were built in the 3rd century, are crowned by 71 towers and make the city accessible through 10 gates. Then continue to Sarria the starting point for the walking part of your quest for St. James. Arrival and reception. Transfer to the accommodation booked on the Camino. Dinner and overnight. [B/D]
Day 6: Sarria, Portomarín (14 miles) – Start of 70-mile walking Pilgrimage
Travel towards Barbadelo where it is possible to visit the Romanesque church of Santiago. Continuing through the town of Paradela arrive to Ferreiros which has a 12th century Romanesque church dedicated to St. Mary. Descend towards the town of Portomarín, meeting place of the knights of Santiago and later those of San Juan de Jerusalem. Last stop: Church of San Juan di Portomarín. [B/D]
Day 7: Portomarín, Palas de Rei (13.5 miles)
Travel through many small towns: Gonzar, Ventas de Narón (Chapel of the Magdalen), Lameiros (Chapel of St. Mark) and Ligonde where Charles V and later Philip II stayed during their pilgrimages to Compostela. Visit the Romanesque church of “Vilar de Donas”, the chapter church of the Knights of Santiago and home of the women’s lay order (the “Orden”). Last stop: Church of San Tirso at Palas de Rei. [B/D]
Day 8: Palas de Rei, Arzúa (17 miles)
The camino goes through Leboreiro, a medieval town with a Romanesque church, Furelos with the medieval bridge, to reach Melide, the main stop on this stage. The Camino becomes urban and winds through a historical city with a strong devotion to St. James. The historical center features many precious art treasures: the church of Sancti Spiritus, a Franciscan foundation established as a resting place for pilgrims, the Romanesque church of Santa Maria. Then comes Boente, with the church dedicated to Santiago and Castañeda. Continuing across the River Iso over a little medieval bridge, encounter another important pilgrims’ resting place: the “hospital de Ribadiso”, today a hostel for pilgrims. Last stop: Church of Santiago de Arzúa. [B/D]
Day 9: Arzúa, O Pino (13 miles)
Cross farms and cultivated fields to Arca, the capital of the municipality of O Pino. Last stop: Albergue de peregrinos de O Pino. [B/D]
Day 10: O Pino, Santiago (12 miles)
A pleasant rural path to Lavacolla, where pilgrims washed themselves and their cloaks in the river as a means of physical purification, of the spiritual journey they would be completing in Compostela. Nearby is Monte do Gozo, hill from which pilgrims would see the Cathedral of Santiago for the first time. Last Stop: Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. [B/D]
Day 11: Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela has drawn for thousands of years pilgrims to the tomb of Saint James from all over Europe because of its miraculous origins and subsequent renown. Great Saints like St. Francis and St. Bridget of Sweden have also made pilgrimages to Santiago. At the Cathedral are housed the relics of St. James and a gigantic thurible or censer, known in Spanish as botafumerio, which will incense the entire church and congregation. After the Holy Mass for the pilgrims, embrace the bust of St. James, which has been hugged for centuries by pilgrims. All of these pious practices assist in creating an unforgettable spiritual experience. [B/D]
At the end of pilgrimage after covering 100 km (62 miles), pilgrims can obtain a ‘certificate’ from the office of Pilgrims verifying the completion of the pilgrimage up to the tomb of the apostle. Make sure you keep stamps along your route in order to obtain your certificate.
Day 12: Santiago the Compostela, USA
After breakfast you may have some free time before your transfer to the airport for your connecting flight back home. [B]
[B] = Breakfast | [D] = Dinner | [B/D] = Breakfast and Dinner
- Airfare between USA and Spain
- Arrival transfer from San Sebastian to St. Jean Pied-de-Port
- Departure transfer in Santiago de Compostela
- 10 nights’ accommodation:
- St. Jean Pied-de-Port – 1 night
- Logroño – 1 night
- León – 1 night
- Sarria – 1 night
- Puertomarin – 1 night
- Sobrado dos Monxes – 1 night
- Arzua – 1 night
- O Pino – 1 night
- Santiago de Compostela – 2 nights
- Breakfast daily
- Dinner daily
- Visits as described in the itinerary
- Reception, explanation of the program and distribution of credentials
- A/C transportation up to the walking pilgrimage start point
- Private transportation daily from the arrival point of the Route to the accommodations in a rural house or hotel and vice versa
- Guided tour of the city of Santiago
- English speaking guide during the tour
- Technical assistance during the program
- Document pouch and technical assistance
Not included in tour
- Airport and security taxes and related fees
- Travel Insurance
- Extras and anything not mentioned as “included”
Hotels in your Tour
|St, Jean Pied-de-Port
||Hosperia Monastica Pax
|Sobrado de los Monxes
|Santiago de Compostela
MEAL PLAN: Normally we include daily breakfast and dinner for all groups. However, the meal plan may vary depending on the organizer's request
The price for the group will be quoted based on the number of passengers, season, hotel type and meal plan.
Group organizers always travel for free if the group has 15 or more paying passengers.
Inclusion of tour conductors must be considered at time of request.
- If you wish to use this program for your group please either call us (1-855-55-TOURS or use the web Group Quote Request.
- In either case our specialists will work with you to refine all the details and they will get you a quote with 2 business days. Quotes may be obtained for the air and land portions of just for the land journey.
- Booking both air and land with us will represent savings for you because of our special Leisure Fares, buying power and longtime relationship with the airlines.
- We will also may have the choice between regular fares and special leisure fares not available to the public.
Tour Code: SJ03EAS20VT
- Lunches and dinners can be arranged for groups at top restaurants or any restaurant requested by you.
- We can revise the itinerary to spend more time and provide more depth in those areas that you are interested on.
- Any other changes to the itinerary will be accommodated depending on the facilities available in the area.