The French Way

The French Way is the Jacobean itinerary with the most historical tradition and is the one most recognised internationally.

Through San Xil:

  • Length 154.7 Km
  • Difficulty Medium

Through Samos:

  • Length 161.7 Km
  • Difficulty Medium
One of the pages of the Codex Calixtinus with a miniature drawing of the Apostle Santiago.

This is the Way par excellence. The Jacobean itinerary with the most historical tradition and it is the one most recognised internationally. It was described in 1135 in the Codex Calixtinus, , a fundamental Jacobean book. Book V of this codex constitutes an authentic medieval guide to the pilgrimage to Santiago. It specifies the stages of the French Way from French territory and provides detailed information on the sanctuaries of the route, the hospitality, the people, the food, the fountains, the local customs, etc. Everything is written down with the synthesis and clarity required of a practical response to a specific request: the pilgrimage to Santiago.

This guide, attributed to the French cleric, Aymeric Picaud, provides evidence of the political-religious wish to promote the sanctuary of Compostela and facilitate access to it. When the book was drafted, the French Way and the pilgrimages reached their highest point and the French Way its highest number of pilgrims, if we exclude the present time. Santiago became the goal of pilgrims from all over the Christian world.

Book V of this codex constitutes an authentic medieval guide to the pilgrimage to Santiago. It specifies the stages of the French Way from French territory.

With the passing of the centuries and the European political and religious vicissitudes, the physical itinerary of the French Way lost its specific weight. It was not until the end of the XIX century that there arose renewed interest in Jacobean matters, which continued in the second half of the XX century with the progressive recuperation of the old itinerary, recognised internationally as one of the historical symbols of European unity.

The French Way acquires a precise layout in France through the four principal ways described in the Codex Calixtinus . Three of these routes (Paris-Tours, Vézelay-Limoges and Le Puy-Conques) enter Spain through Roncesvalles, in Navarra, while the fourth (Arles-Toulouse) enters by the Somport Pass and continues to Jaca, in Aragón. The itinerary of Roncesvalles, which crosses the city of Pamplona, joins the Aragonese itinerary at Puente la Reina (Navarra).

From Puente la Reina, the French Way has a single itinerary which crosses such significant localities and cities in the north of Spain as Estella, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, Castrojeriz, Frómista, Carrión de los Condes, Sahagún, León, Astorga, Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo.

The French Way enters Galicia through the region of El Bierzo.

The French, English, Northern and Primitive Ways, as well as every road entering Santiago de Compostela, are officially delimited by the Xunta de Galicia. Information available at www.cultura.gal/es/caminos-santiago.