More than 277 thousand pilgrims arrived to Santiago de Compostela after walking the Camino during the year 2016.
The French Way, or “Camino Frances”, is by far the most traveled of the many different routes. Last year 63% pilgrims used the French Way as a route to Santiago. However, one fourth of them just walked the last 100 km (63 miles) in order to obtain “the Compostela”, it is officially given to those who walk 100km or more of any route of the Camino.
During the middle ages, the French Way became the main way for all pilgrims from Europe to Santiago; different routes in France met in Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port and then cross the Pyrenees’ mountains to Roncesvalles in Spain. Starting in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the French Way is a 770 Km (480 miles) journey to the west, crossing the amazing north of Spain into the region of Galicia.
Historically, the French Way has left a lasting impression in all the people and places on its path and it has been an excellent way of communication, commerce and cultural exchange, which contributed to the development of a Medieval Europe paralyzed by its fears.
Although the current French Way has obviously lost most of its harshness and danger, it continues to impact profoundly anyone who walks it. Even those who walk it for cultural or sporting purposes, confess that there is something magical and spiritual in this millennial route.
There are many interesting places that the pilgrims will encounter along the French Way; some of them are not exactly on the official route but close enough to go see them.
You should also have in mind that although most of the current path of the French Way is like the original, over the years, it has changed. These changes are due to the construction of new roads and buildings, and adjustments in the Catholic Church and public administration.
Some of the villages with the strongest links to the French Way, and most popular among the pilgrims are: Pamplona, Estella, Nájera, Burgos, Frómista, Sahagún, León, Rabanal del Camino, Villafranca del Bierzo, Triacastela, Palas de Rei and Arzúa.