Spain, The Way of St. James – The French Trail
The Camino Francés has the oldest tradition, artistic and landscape riches, and many places on this trip have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the most popular and sought after "newbie". At the same time, it is also quite physically demanding, as it measures more than 700 km.
Most of the pilgrims leave the picturesque town of Saint Jean Pied de Port, where there are several hostels and also a pilgrim's office, where they will give you a pilgrim's card and a map of hostels. The path leads through the ridges of the Pyrenees, so the first stage is one of the most difficult. Of course, you don't have to go the whole route, so you can safely skip the Pyrenees. For a certificate of fulfillment, you only need to walk 100 km.
Around 950, the first pilgrim set out on this journey to Santiago de Compostela. And in the 12th century, the French monk Aymeric Picaud, when he returned, summed up his experiences in a guide.
What You Can See on Your Journey?
This route certainly has the largest number of accommodation, but also a number of monuments.
E.g. in the province of Navarra you will see the Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Eunate from the 12th century. It is located just a few km from the city Muruzábal. Also interesting is the Holy Trinity Bridge in the cities of Arre and Pamplona, where bulls roam the streets in July.
The province of La Rioja is again a region promised wine. The historic center of Logorň is definitely worth seeing.
Another province you will go to is Burgos. Here you will find a stunning cathedral, made entirely of white stone, and the village of Castrojeriz, where perhaps the largest concentration of monuments.
Many pilgrims leave Palencia and take a bus to Leon. This is a rather desolate region. But Leon is worth it!
The province of Lugo is different from the others, is green and leads through a wild forest. You will also find the city of Portomarín, which has been moved due to rising water levels. Historic buildings were dismantled and rebuilt. It is, for example, the Romanesque church of St. Nicholas.
And that is only a tiny bit of what you will see.
What to Eat?
Always bring water, cookies, energy bars and fruit with you, that's for sure. In the evening, however, treat yourself to a good dinner. Most bars and restaurants along the way offer a special pilgrim menu, soup, main course, dessert and wine. You can buy water, but also take it in fountains and tap it. Attention, it is very chlorinated.
What to Take with?
Take a sleeping bag, a headlamp, a water bag, a raincoat, boot shoes and blister patches, you may quite like them. We also recommend wrapping trekking poles, they will lighten your legs and back.
Text: Daniel Fernández Cantalapiedra
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