When you make the decision to take the Camino de Santiago it can be for many reasons, and whatever they are the Camino Frances -or the French Way- is a great place to start.
Perhaps it is for spiritual growth and reflection. It may be a chance to feel closer to something bigger than us, or you may simply wish to escape the rat race and bring some peace and harmony to your life along with the challenge of a physical test, and whatever your reasons are, the French way is a great place to start.
The Camino Frances is one of the most popular routes on the Camino de Santiago. The Camino itself has many different options as it is a network that all end at the shrine of the apostle St James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
Some routes are more difficult than others, but the Camino Frances has amazing scenery and is brilliant for beginners as an introduction. Plus you can always build the itinerary to meet your needs with Santiagoways, and have all you travel worries, such as luggage transfer along each leg, where to eat and where to stay taken care of by the experts.
Sarria is a great start point for first-timers
The minimum distance for a pilgrim to be eligible for the traditional ‘compostela’ certificate is 100 km, and the Camino Frances from Sarria, is around 111 km from Santiago.
Sarria has many beautiful sites to see, from the churches, chapels and monasteries, to the pilgrim hospitals, but the great thing about this route is how you can really get into the feel of the Camino de Santiago. There are so many beautiful hikes through forests, farmlands and rustic villages. You may even meet fellow pilgrims along the way.
For a bigger challenge, there are many other start points on the Camino Frances
If this pilgrimage is not your first rodeo, or you are a seasoned hiker used to journeys spanning weeks rather than days, then there are other start points worth considering. The official start point for example is the St Jean Pied de Portal in France, but there are other options along the way, such as Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León or O Cebreiro.
The towns and cities you can visit along the way are amazing. St Jean Pied de Port is in the French Basque country and the route heads through the Pyrenees mountains to reach Pamplona. Pamplona itself is incredibly famous for the running of the bulls each year at the San Fermin festival. This is a difficult hike, and best tackled in Summer for obvious reasons, but the views will make it all worth it. You can also pass through the world famous Rioja wine region, and head up to the beautiful city of Bilbao. The scenery across the north of Spain will take your breath away – it feels like another world.
Time to start planning your trip of a lifetime
The Camino de Santiago will leave you with memories that last forever, whether travelling as part of a group, with friends and family or solo.
You just need to decide where you would like to start your journey depending on how much time you have available to complete the pilgrimage. From there you will need to plan each stage and stop point, where you will stay and where you will eat.
The best bet is to find a company that specialises in this and has relationships with the small local B&B’s or restaurants that exist in the quiet little villages and impressive towns along the way. Then you will also have the backup of 24 hour assistance by telephone, and someone to courier your bulkier luggage from stop point to stop point.
This especially applies if you are booking for a larger group. You will not regret choosing the Camino Frances for your pilgrimage route. It truly is a magnificent journey in so many ways. What are you waiting for?