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French Way: Five essential visits of the Camino de Santiago

If you are going to travel the French Way this season, do not miss these essential experiences.

Cinco visitas imprescindibles del Camino Francés

Cinco visitas imprescindibles del Camino Francés

French Way: Experiences that you must live if you go through it

The Camino de Santiago, far surpassing the figure of 300,000 pilgrims in all 2018, is one of the destinations that has grown the most in popularity in Spain in recent years, attracting not only national travelers, but also arrivals from all over Europe, Latin America, the United States, Canada and even Asia. For reasons of faith, cultural, sporting, adventure or simply tourist, each year thousands of pilgrims try the Jacobean experience and 56% of them choose the French Way (data from the Pilgrim's Office).

This route, which runs through the Iberian Peninsula from east to west, from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, crosses seven provinces and four autonomous communities, taking the pilgrim through fascinating landscapes and an amazing variety. The heritage of the French Way, with more than 1,000 years of tradition, is composed of its monuments, its cathedrals or its cities, but also its landscapes and its people. All this forms an indelible experience for the pilgrim who discovers it for the first time.

There is much to discover on the French Way and many places to savor; so you can open your mouth and as an example of what you will find if you go through it, here you will find a selection of some experiences that you should not miss out on in the world.

Sierra del Perdón

Sierra del Perdón

Admire the Sierra del Perdón by walking among the sculptures of the Pilgrim Monument

  • Where?: At the point where the Aragonese Way and the French Way

The most unforgettable moment for any pilgrim who travels the stage of the French Way that connects Pamplona with Puente la Reina is when we complete the demanding climb to the Alto del Perdón.

After touring a landscape populated by imposing windmills, like quixotes, and face a climb of more than 2 km, we will discover at the top the well-known Monument to the Pilgrim and an imposing viewpoint of spectacular views from where to contemplate the entire surrounding valley.

Palacio Episcopal de Astorga

Palacio Episcopal de Astorga

Enjoy the work of Gaudí in the Episcopal Palace of Astorga

  • Where?: Plaza de Eduardo Castro, Astorga, León

In the city of Astorga the pilgrim will find one of the most unique buildings in the entire French Way, a Neo-Gothic building that is reminiscent of a medieval castle and even has battlements and a moat. The so-called Episcopal Palace of Astorga, or simply Gaudi's Palace, is today the headquarters of the Museum of the Ways and was designed by Antoni Gaudí himself.

Started its construction in 1889, it is one of the few works of the modernist architect made outside of Catalonia and even has three sculptures designed by Gaudí himself. Pilgrims visiting the museum inside will find a vast collection of objects related to the Camino de Santiago.

Catedral Gótica de León

Catedral Gótica de León

Descubrir la belleza gótica de la Catedral de León

  • Where?: Plaza Regla, s/n, León

El lugar más visitado de la ciudad es también uno de los templos góticos más destacados de España. La Catedral de León es una visita obligada para todo peregrino que siga el Camino Francés; lo es por su pórtico, por sus impresionantes esculturas y por albergar uno de los más antiguos coros de España, pero sobre todo por sus impresionantes vidrieras. Ver pasar la luz por ellas y apreciar sus cromatismos es todo un privilegio para los sentidos. 

La ciudad de León no puede entenderse sin su 'pulchra leonina' y la Catedral de Santa María no puede entenderse sin su conjunto de vidrieras, uno de los más importantes del mundo (junto a las de la Catedral de Chartres, en Francia) y que representan escenas de la vida de la Virgen, de Cristo y de los santos.

Pedrafita do Cebreiro

Pedrafita do Cebreiro

Admire the pallozas of the village of Cebreiro

  • Where?: O Cebreiro, Lugo

The pallozas of O Cebreiro, a key village that we will reach when entering Galicia along the French Way, are very special and picturesque constructions that are part of an ethnographic group destined to recreate what life was like in the mountains of Lugo. Originally, in these constructions of Celtic origin with thatched roof (to support the weight of the snow) and oval plant lived people and animals and date back to the 10th century.

Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, the whole of Santa Maria do Cebreiro is unique in Spain and contemplating it is an unforgettable experience for pilgrims who travel the Camino de Santiago for the first time and discover it more than 1,000 meters high. The views from the same village of the impressive mountain landscape that surrounds it are one of the most repeated photographs of the entire Camino de Santiago.

Botafumeiro de la Catedral de Santiago

Botafumeiro de la Catedral de Santiago

Take advantage of the visit to the Cathedral of Santiago to see the Botafumeiro flying

  • Where?: Praza do Obradoiro, s/n, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña

The experience of reaching the Plaza de Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela and admiring the facade of the cathedral up close is one of the images that are never erased the first time we finish the Camino Francés. However, it is worth leaving the hurry to go back to the side and spend extra time to enter the temple and enjoy its dimension.

One of the most distinctive elements of the cathedral is its popular botafumeiro, originally used to incense the temple when the pilgrims arrived in the Middle Ages. Today it continues to operate on very specific dates, so it is advisable to consult them if it coincides with our arrival in the city, because the same is true for us.

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