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The Way of Saint James. French Route

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  • Royal Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles © Turespaña

    Royal Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles © Turespaña

  • Plaza de España. Santo Domingo de la Calzada, La Rioja © Turespaña

    Plaza de España. Santo Domingo de la Calzada, La Rioja © Turespaña

  • Pamplona Town Hall © Turespaña

    Pamplona Town Hall © Turespaña

  • View of the Roman wall and the Episcopal palace Astorga © Turespaña

    View of the Roman wall and the Episcopal palace Astorga © Turespaña

  • Botafumeiro. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral © Turespaña

    Botafumeiro. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral © Turespaña


The European path

Thousands of persons each year discover the cultural diversity of Spain by travelling on the Way of Saint James. Declared by UNESCO to be a World Heritage, this route became one of the most import European pilgrimage routes during the Middle Ages. The surrounding areas have developed into quite the cultural phenomenon, procuring the exchange of ideas, birth of cities and the construction of incredible monuments.

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The origins of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela go back to the 9th century. Since then, it has become an experience that combines culture, spirituality and sports. There are several routes, divided into stages, which traditionally can be covered on foot, by bike or on horseback. Whichever means of transport you choose, the route offers the chance to discover interesting monuments and buildings.

The route we present here is the French Route. It starts in the Pyrenees and crosses the regions of Aragón, Navarre, La Rioja, Castile-León and Galicia. Depending on the chosen starting point (Navarre or Aragón), there are two options that converge in the town of Puente la Reina, in Navarre, with a route that goes through mountain landscapes and idyllic valleys.

French Route through Aragon
This version of the route starts in the town of Somport. Amongst other places, it is worth stopping off in Jaca, where there is a cathedral full of decorative elements that are typical of "Jaca Romanesque" style. We also recommend making a detour to see the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, a Romanesque work of art. In Navarre, on the way to Puente la Reina, don't miss the Monastery of San Salvador in Leyre, the Church of Santa María la Real in Sangüesa and the unique Church of Santa María in Eunate.

French Route through Navarre
This other option begins in Roncesvalles. Its collegiate church is the first interesting building we'll find. Amongst others, the Cathedral of Pamplona and the Romanesque bridge in Puente la Reina are worth seeing. Further along there are interesting buildings such as the Church of San Román in Cirauqui, and we can take a walk in the beautiful medieval town of Estella, see the Monastery of Irache and go inside the Church of Santo Sepulcro in Torres del Río.

French Route through La Rioja
The route continues through La Rioja, where we'll be able to see other places such as Logroño Cathedral. The Monastery of Santa María la Real in Nájera is also worth visiting, especially the pantheon and the cloister. Nearby we can make a detour towards San Millán de la Cogolla, the cradle of the Spanish language: the Monasteries of Yuso and Suso, World Heritage Sites. If we return to the route, we'll go past Santo Domingo de la Calzada Cathedral. This area is known for its vineyards, so we can visit any of the wineries to learn about the wine-making process.

French Route through Castile-León
On this route we'll encounter a large number of historic quarters and magnificent buildings while we travel through the vast fields in Castile-León. To start off with, the beautiful baptismal font in the Church of Redecilla del Camino and the Monastery of San Juan de Ortega are good places to see. Then, the impressive Burgos Cathedral, which is also a World Heritage Site, will leave you speechless. Another place not to be missed in Burgos is the Cistercian Monastery of Santa María Real de las Huelgas.

Then we'll see the Collegiate Church of Castrojeriz and San Martín de Frómista, a Romanesque work of art; the village of Carrión de los Condes, the Knights Templar Church of Villalcázar de Sirga, and the curious brick churches in Sahagún. The Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of San Isidoro are unmissable in the city of León. The next stop to be considered is Astorga: Beside the Cathedral is the Episcopal Palace, which is a memorable place. Before entering Galicia, other places to be seen are the Castle of Ponferrada and the historic quarter in Villafranca del Bierzo.

French Route through Galicia
The route through Galicia includes several interesting stops before reaching our final destination. The Monastery of Samos, the Church of San Juan and San Nicolás de Portomarín, the Church of Vilar de Donas (near Palas de Rei), and the town of Melide, are just a few examples. However, the best part of the journey is the arrival in Santiago de Compostela, with its cathedral and charming old town.


What to see on the route See more

Other routes of interest

What to do

Cycle touring

Cycle touring
Equestrian routes

Equestrian routes


More information

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