Hiking The El Camino de Santiago Frances
The 8th most popular hiking trail in Spain.
Tuesday 6 November 2018 04:07 GMT
Traversing across northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago Francés is a 937km hiking trek from St. Jean Pied de Port in the east to Faro de Fisterra in the west. There is a slightly shortened tourist route from Roncesvalles in the east to Santiago de Compostela in the west. The full route has over 18,700m of ascent and 17,800m of descent. The popular and scenic route first traverses a portion of the Pyrennes before entering farmlands and rolling plains. Along the way, it passes through several historic villages and cities with many historic monuments, monasteries and cathedrals to explore.
There are many Camino de Santiago routes throughout Europe, but this Camino de Santiago Frances is by far the most famous route. Also known as the “Way Of Saint James” or the “French Way”, the Camino de Santiago Frances is part of a historical network of ancient pilgrim routes across Europe leading to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. This multi-week, east-to-west trek is typically broken into 30+ stages and is completed in about 35 days for most hikers. There are about 100,000 walkers annually, and the route is well-marked that most hikers don’t even carry maps.
Once down out of the Pyrennes, the pastoral scenery can become quite monotonous to most hikers. With few trees, the sun beating down on you every day can become quite brutal. To the surprise of Camino de Santiago walkers, only about 1% of the route is a narrow trail, while the other 99% is dirt or paved road that could easily be biked. On a typical day, expect to pass through 5-15 villages along with hundreds of other hikers.
This isn't a remote, solitary hike. In fact, nearby road traffic can be heard about 95% of the time. There are numerous hostels or albergues found throughout the length of the Camino de Santiago, so there is no need to even consider camping. With that in mind, a backpack can be kept quite light in the range of 1kg to 3kg since food can be found in each village along with potable water (purification would be smart just in case). Even with all the English-speaking tourists, it can be rare to find an English-speaking local, so make sure to learn some Spanish before setting out.
Overall, El Camino de Santiago Frances is the 8th most popular hiking trail of all 21 hikes in Spain.