Links to english websites for my foreign friends…
The Confraternity of Saint James –
A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Frances –
The French Way (Spanish: Camino Francés) is the most popular of the routes of the Way of St. James, the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It runs from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles on the Spanish side and then another 780km on to Santiago de Compostela through the major cities of Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and Léon. The pathway is marked with yellow arrows painted on the side of boulders, the bark of trees, and buildings. Miss a waymark and a townsman or farmer will smile warmly and point you in the right direction. At day’s end Pilgrims sleep in refugios jammed wall to wall with bunk beds. For dinner it’s common to share a potluck of thinly sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, rice, beans, pasta and slices of ham, all washed down with vino tinto. Gathered together around a common table, tired souls talk about walking in the sun, how badly the feet hurt and why they’re traipsing across the north of Spain. When one person can’t speak the language of the moment, another translates. It’s as if the Camino is a Rosetta stone. Paths from the cities of Tours, Vézelay, and Le Puy-en-Velay meet at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. A fourth French route originates in Arles, in Provence, and crosses the French-Spanish frontier at a different point, between the Pyrenées towns of Somport and Canfranc. This fourth route follows the Aragonese Way and joins the main Way of St. James at Puente la Reina, south of Pamplona, in Navarre, about seven hundred kilometres from Santiago de Compostela.