The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
The network is similar to a river system – small brooks join together to make streams, and the streams join together to make rivers, most of which join together to make the Camino Francés. During the middle ages, people walked out of their front doors and started off to Santiago, which was how the network grew up. Nowadays, cheap air travel has given many the opportunity to fly to their starting point, and often to do different sections in successive years. Some people set out on the Camino for spiritual reasons; many others find spiritual reasons along the Way as they meet other pilgrims, attend pilgrim masses in churches and monasteries and cathedrals, and see the large infrastructure of buildings provided for pilgrims over many centuries.
Walking the Camino
Walking the Camino is not difficult – most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths. The main difficulty is that few of us have walked continuously for 10, 20 or 30 days. You learn more about your feet than you would ever have thought possible!
Camino Francés (French Way)
From St Jean-Pied-du-Port to Santiago de Compostela (769 km)
The French Way or the Camino Frances is the Jacobean itinerary with the most deep-rooted historical tradition and it is the most popular one. Over 60% of the pilgrims choose the Camino Frances because it is the route where you can get the most of the “pilgrim experience”. There are many pilgrims that you will meet on your journey and there are many facilities that cater to pilgrims. It is also the best waymarked route of all.