Classic French Way – Full Camino

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  • Start Saint Jean Pied de Port, France
  • End Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • DateMarch to November
  • Duration 36 - 80 night tailored itineraries
  • Distance770 km / 480 miles
  • GradeMainly Moderate - Some Ascents

Detail

This is the iconic Camino de Santiago route, extending 480 miles / 770 km, from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Our tailored itineraries allow you to walk it all in one or in shorter stages as your time permits.

Your full Camino journey begins in the French Pyrenees border town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. From here the Way of St James takes you across the majestic Pyrenees mountains – providing a thrilling start to your epic journey.

Your Way – we make sure your Camino itinerary goes at the right pace for you, with the odd rest day to give body and soul a chance to rest, refresh and take in some of the iconic places of the Camino.

Our Expertise – the WTC Camino team has more than a dozen years of experience on the Camino. We will help you plan the best route possible to suit your needs and expectations.

Your Timeframe – typically you will need around 5 to 8 weeks to walk the full Camino, which is where our expertise comes into its own. We will help you judge the right pace and time frame. Tackle the Camino in one go or take on shorter sections over a period of time. Many of our clients complete the entire French way over a period of 2-3 years. Some will also add on the extension to Finisterre on the Atlantic coast and the 0 km waymarker.

Your Memories – Filled with a thousand years of pilgrimage history and culture, the Camino attracts both spiritual and secular travellers by virtue of its religious heritage, personal challenge, famous camaraderie and wonderfully varied landscapes. This is an experience that will live with you forever.

Europe’s Most Famous & Ancient Pilgrimage
In the 21st-century people are drawn to the Camino de Santiago for many reasons – spiritual enlightenment, adventure, freedom from routine and to share the famed camaraderie of the Way. There are many aspects that make this experience so special.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela was proclaimed the first European Cultural itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987 and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Camino is one of the major themes of medieval history in Europe.

Known as the French Camino, starting from the French-Spanish border, it has been followed by pilgrims to Santiago for more than one thousand years. Christians have made their way here, travelling a wide network of footpaths, from Scandinavia, Britain, Mediterranean lands, Istanbul and beyond. This international web of trails has played a fundamental role in facilitating cultural development in Europe during the Middle Ages.

For the majority of northern Europeans, St Jean Pied de Port in France was the key point for crossing the mighty Pyrenees into Spain. A network of pilgrim hospices and hostelries sprang up – offering, shelter, medical attention and spiritual sustenance for the faithful.

Around the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, one of the great masterpieces of Romanesque art, the city of Santiago de Compostela boasts a magnificent old town worthy of one of Christianity’s greatest holy cities.

Camino Culture, History and Monuments
The Camino de Santiago has preserved a complete material record in the form of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, settlements large and small and ancient civil engineering structures. Some 1,800 buildings along the route, both religious and secular, are of historic interest.

There is no comparable Christian pilgrimage route of such extent and continuity anywhere in Europe. Although interest in the other major Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Rome are developing, these are only recognizable in a rather fragmented fashion.

The three major Camino cities of Pamplona, Leon and Burgos are spread at equal intervals along the road to Santiago de Compostela. But there are many small hamlets, villages and towns peppered in between to explore.

Many Festivals, both religious and secular take place through the year and you may be lucky enough to encounter one of these on your journey. The main festival in Spain is Easter – Semana Santa – and celebrated in every settlement on the Camino.

We will be happy to create a personalised itinerary designed specifically around your needs and interests. From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees, the Camino covers 800 km heading west across the North of Spain. Typically our clients spend between 5 and 8 weeks walking the full Camino.

Price Includes

  • 36 Nights B&B Accommodation
  • Baggage transfers

Price Excludes

  • Driver Service Fee
  • Guide Service Fee
  • Room Service Fees

Single Supplement

£685

Highlights

Crossing The Pyrenees from St Jean Pied de Port

For many this is the most challenging and rewarding day of the entire Camino – with 2 variant paths, firstly the Valcarlos Route is the gentler way and secondly, the Napoleon Route which involves a climb to around 1400m with magnificent views.

Pamplona

You arrive at Navarra’s capital city by way of the 12th-century Magdalena bridge. Enter through the city walls into a maze of narrow streets with the Cathedral, Town Hall, Plaza Del Castillo and Ernest Hemingway’s favourite bar at the art deco Cafe Iruna. The Palace of Navarre and Museum of Navarre add a dash of art and culture. The famed San Fermin festival each July draws huge crowds to witness and participate in the Running of the Bulls (6-14 July 2018). We can book your place on a private balcony for the spectacle.

Alto de Perdon

The Hill of Forgiveness outside Pamplona is a tough climb, but you’re welcomed by a monumental steel sculpture of pilgrims on foot and horseback. Look for the inscription “Donde se cruza el Camino del Viento con el de las Estrellas” – Where the Path of the Wind meets the Path of the Stars – referring to the Milky Way guiding you to Compostela.

Puente de la Reina

Historically a crossroads with the Aragonese route from Somport, the bridge is one of the most beautiful examples of Romanesque architecture on the Camino. In the last week of July, there is a festival in honour of Santiago with music, bullfights, dances and shows. July 25th is St James’ day.

Viana

Surrounded by a medieval wall, Viana has monuments, palaces and stately manors. The majestic church of Santa Maria is the resting place of Cesare Borgia, son Pope Alexander VI – brother of poisoner Lucrezia and a serial murderer himself. This devilish renaissance man was also the inspiration for Machiavelli’s famous work The Prince and patron to Leonardo da Vinci.

Logrono

The famous Stone Bridge takes you across the river Ebro into La Rioja. Logrono is filled with Camino monuments and is a town for gourmet. Do not miss out the chance to enjoy superb wines and tapas as you explore the famous Calle Laurel in the heart of the old town. It’s home to 100 tapas bars, each offering gastronomic specialities.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Founded in the 11th-century by a monk wishing to assist pilgrims on their journey to Compostela. He built a bridge across the river, established a pilgrim hospital – now a Parador – and made a road to Najera. Santo Domingo is the patron Saint of public building works, engineers and Spanish Caminos. 10th – 15th of May is the commemorative Fiesta of the Saint.

Burgos

The superb medieval Cathedral is a Unesco World Heritage Site and holds the shrine of hero-soldier El Cid. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Castile with 35 hospitals for pilgrims, Burgos has so much to delight the Camino traveller. A perfect place to enjoy a rest day, see the sights and enjoy the local cuisine of oven roast lamb, black pudding, cheeses and tapas.

The Meseta

This is the vast, lonely plain of Castile-Leon province – with big skies and huge arable fields changing colour with the seasons. It stretches well over 200km from Burgos towards Astorga and is dotted with welcoming villages, each one an oasis for a weary pilgrim – Hontanas, Hornillos Del Camino, Castrojeriz, Carrion de Los Condes. We do not recommend walking here in high summer unless you are accustomed to temperatures in excess of 35-40 degrees Celcius, as the sun beats down with no shade or cover. But in spring and autumn, this is an atmospheric place, rural, empty and with a haunting beauty of its own.

Leon

Roman walls surround about half the historic city, if you follow them around the outside from the Basilica de San Isidoro, they will take you back to the east façade of the cathedral. The Barrio Humedo in the historic centre is the place to spend an evening sampling the copious tapas and excellent local wines – forget dinner. Convento de San Marcos, once a convent hospital for pilgrims, is now a luxury Parador. Take a close look at the statues & medallions on the Plateresque-style façade, many of which represent Saint James.

Astorga

A very attractive city with Roman and Arab roots, a superb medieval Cathedral and fantastical Episcopalian Place designed by Gaudi. The gastronomy here is rich – look for Cocido maragato, cecina , thick hot chocolate and various desserts, sweets, magnificent mantecadas and pastries.

Cruz de Ferro

A hilly stage takes you over the Cantabrian Mountains after Astorga, through Rabanal Del Camino and from here the climb starts the ‘Iron Cross’ near Foncebaddon (1520m). The famous Cruz Ferro / ‘Iron Cross’ monument is where pilgrims unburdened themselves of any stones they’ve carried. It’s an interesting spot with many mementoes of different sorts.

Ponferrada

Home to the Grand Castle of the Knight’s Templar – the semi-mystical order that once protected Pilgrims on the Camino and the Holy Land. It’s been restored and opened to the public.

O Cebreiro

From Villafranca del Bierzo, a delightful town at the foot of the hills you have a challenging climb up to O’Cebreiro at 1300m. It’s the steepest ascent of the Camino, often taken in 2 stages. This tiny hilltop hamlet is a time-capsule, with stone built, thatched roundhouses – you feel like you’ve gone back to Celtic times. The ancient church of Santa Maria da la Real dates from 836.

Samos

Dating back to the 6th century, the monastery of San Julian de Samos, began as a community of hermits who gradually built the monastery. Razed by fire and rebuilt several times, it has been Benedictine since the 12th century and combines Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. It’s a quiet, contemplative place to visit, on a variant path from Triacastela to Sarria, with fewer pilgrims making the detour here.

Santiago de Compostela

The historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site, with the Cathedral as the jewel in the crown. The discovery of the Tomb of the Apostle in the 14th-century has drawn millions from across the world, and yet it retains quiet and peaceful corners for contemplation as well as jubilant public spaces where you can celebrate the journeys’ end. Holy Years fall when the Saint’s birthday of 25th July is a Sunday and the Holy Door is ceremonially opened for the year. The next Holy Year is 2021.

Food & Drink

For any traveller on the Camino, nourishment and refreshment is an important part of the daily routine. There are many places to enjoy good local dishes to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. We also aim to cater for those with particular dietary needs.

The local bars and cafes offer light snacks, seasonal plates of freshly prepared food, tapas and refreshments. As you pass through the regions you will encounter local specialities – often of the variety that best sustains a weary, hungry traveller.

All our itineraries are booked for Bed and Breakfast. Half board with dinner is possible too, but these set dinners can become repetitive, featuring similar dishes each night. We encourage you to eat out and try a wider range of local specialities.

Breakfast
Where available we always order a full breakfast spread for our clients. But breakfast does vary between establishments – from just a light pastry and hot drink to a full buffet spread. Whether you have a light or substantial offering, you can top up mid-morning at a cafe on the route. The Spanish habit is to have breakfast between 10 and 11 when cafes and bars fill with locals having their “desayuno”.

Lunch
Lunches on the Camino are often taken as picnics and most places have local shops selling items of fresh local produce to purchased each morning before you set out on the trail. Certain lodgings will offer pre-ordered packed lunches. Or check your guide and plan to stop off in a cafe-bar or restaurant on the Way.

Dinner
Spanish people tend to have dinner from 9 pm. But on the Camino, dinner is usually served from 8 pm — so do take advantage of the habitual afternoon “merienda” to keep you going, once you have arrived at your daily destination. That could be cold beer “cerveza” and tapas or coffee and cake.

Pilgrim Menus
Many of our lodgings offer 3 course set menus with water, bread and often a glass of wine for just a few euros. These are advertised locally as “Pilgrim Menus” and available pretty much everywhere along the route. You’ll notice that there are staple common dishes as well as regional recipes according to the season.

Hydration
Hydration is essential — carry between 1.5 and 3l of drinking water, depending on the season, temperatures and distance you plan to cover. Keep a sugary and salty snack handy in your pocket or daypack – this will give you that little extra burst of energy to keep you going.

Merienda
Mid morning/afternoon snacks known as “merienda” are the perfect way to sustain yourself on the Way. Especially if you are not used to the later meal times which are the norm across Spain. It is customary for Spanish people to have a mid-morning stop for breakfast and late afternoon for a bite to keep them going until the traditional late dinner.

Spanish Gastronomy
The larger towns and cities of the Camino have a variety of lively plazas with bars and restaurants, so there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy a wider range of Spanish gastronomy and a variety of local and world-famous Spanish wines.

You can choose to upgrade your accommodation standard, (available in a few selected places along the route), where you can enjoy a la carte menus and fine dining in the hotel restaurant.

Picnic Shopping
Many people enjoy shopping for lunch items and snacks in the local food shops each day. You’ll find many little stores offering local produce, fruits and vegetables, cheeses and cured meats, fresh local baked goods – ideal for making your daily picnic for the daily walk. On certain days, Markets also make an appearance in most villages and towns. Some of our lodgings will provide a picnic lunch by request.

Local Wines
Spain has a great wine making culture. All of the regions you cross produce their own vinos (red and white), cervezas (light beer), and licores (strong spirits). For those looking for non alcoholic drinks have plenty of choices as well.

Gastronomic Experiences
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie, why don’t you try our Gastronomic Camino in La Rioja? You’ll enjoy special places to stay, excellent cuisine and outstanding wine tasting at local vineyards on the route. And a lovely long walk before your next meal.

Itinerary

Walk At The Right Pace
We have the experience to help you judge the right pace to ensure your Camino itinerary is a good fit.

Take as little or as much time as you need to complete the entire Camino. If you can’t take on the full route in one go – no problem. We’ll break the Camino into shorter sections so you can complete the full Way when you have time. You should feel confident before setting out that the pace is manageable for you and not overly demanding.

Fitness – if you are new to long distance walking we provide expert advice and a walkers preparation guide. You certainly need a degree of fitness and stamina to take on this challenge, continuous walking can take its toll on the joints and feet of the unprepared.

Tailored Itineraries – the formula to a successful Camino is getting the itinerary paced right and taking rest days. Your feet, body and soul all benefit from a break – this is the key to arriving in Santiago in good condition. Too often we have seen people crippled by an over-ambitious schedule. We want to ensure your experience is a memorable one for the right reasons.

Our Expertise – we will create a personalised itinerary designed specifically around your needs, interests, budget, timescale and walking capabilities.

Full Camino Highlights Tour is designed just for you, allowing you to experience the best of the entire Camino in just a week or two.

The Full Camino Frances – 480 miles / 770 kms
Starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees heading west across the North of Spain to the Shrine of the Apostle St James in Santiago de Compostela.

Typically our full Camino itineraries range from 35 to 50 nights even up to 80 nights.

Our expert travel managers will make sure you have the correctly paced itinerary to ensure a successful journey.

The Full Camino In Stages
Many of our clients choose to complete the entire Camino Frances, in manageable shorter sections over a longer period of time. You can begin at any point of your choosing. We can arrange all your local transfers, by train, bus or car.

Each stage of the Camino has a character of its own.

The following sections are divided for ease of transport connections along the Camino.

Stage 1: St Jean Pied de Port – Pamplona 90kms / 56 miles
Stage 2: Pamplona – Logrono 95 kms / 59 miles
Stage 3: Logrono – Burgos 122kms / 76 miles
Stage 4: Burgos – Leon 179 kms / 110 miles
Stage 5: Leon – Ponferrada 105 kms / 65 miles
Stage 6: Ponferrada – Sarria 91 kms / 56 miles
Stage 7: Sarria – Santiago de Compostela 115 kms / 72 miles

Extension to Finisterre
Why not take continue your journey from Santiago de Compostela to Cape Finisterre on the Atlantic Ocean, known to the Romans as the “End of the World”. Take a day off in Santiago, recharge your battery, then set off to the 0.0km marker at the “End of the World”. We can arrange your return trip.

Map

Accommodation

Accommodations
Standard Accommodation
Upgraded Accommodation
Meal Options
Baggage Transfers between Accommodation

We strive to offer our clients the best available experience of the Camino and accommodation plays an important part, together with the local food, culture and history. Most Camino itineraries will have a range of levels of accommodation.

When you receive your Camino quotation we include links to visit the hotels websites and get a feel for their quality.

Upgraded hotels are available on roughly 30% of the Camino.

All our accommodations, the owners & staff well known to us. Wherever possible we select small, comfortable, family-run establishments located on or very near to the Camino.

Typical Camino lodgings include a variety of family-run guest houses, historic homes, but mainly one to three-star equivalent pensions, hostals and hotels which all offer private en-suite facilities. These establishments are used almost exclusively by travellers on the Camino.

In the larger Camino centres, we regularly work with the top-end establishments. There are also some opportunities to book upgraded Hotels in rural parts of the Camino.

Sometimes these upgrades require transfers away from the Camino route.

We recommend that you book on a Bed and Breakfast basis. We encourage you to try local eateries offering a wider range of dishes, in the immediate vicinity. It’s also a great time to soak up the local atmosphere, rubbing shoulders with travellers and the local people.

Half Board accommodation is available, including breakfast and dinner of a set 3-course menu in the hotel restaurant.

Our experience is that half board arrangments soon become repetitive, with very similar meal options offered along the route. You will most likely tire quickly of the standard evening fare. You will be glad of the freedom to decide where, what and how much you wish to eat and spend each evening.

You can still enjoy the in-house dinner service without booking half board in advance.

We quote all our journeys with bag transfers as standard.

We heartily recommend that you book your main piece of luggage to be transferred between accommodations. It helps your enjoyment of the Way and keeps unnecessary stress off your back and joints.

We work with dedicated professional companies who do this essential work day in, day out. The system works very well, with bags picked up between 8 and 8:30 am and delivered to the next hotel between 2 and 4 pm.

This daily service is organised so that all you have to worry about is carrying a day sack with your essential items.

If you do wish to carry your own bag that is fine with us. And you can always call us and request to add on the service if you change your mind.

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Classic French Way - Full Camino
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