"The French Way"
El Camino de Santiago de Compostela is one of the most important medieval Christian pilgrimages, which can be traced back to the 9th century. A movement so extraordinary that millions of people have travelled on foot to the sacred shrine of St James the Apostle, mostly for religious purposes. Today’s motifs for embarking on the journey tend to differ. Contemporary pilgrims travel the Way to break free from the ties of the modern world, live an authentic moment in life, allowing time for mindful reflection.
On this carefully researched tour we trace back along the ancient route starting from the quaint town of St Jean Pied de Port on the French border in the Pyrenees. We then cross into Spanish territory and head to Pamplona, an ancient roman city made famous by Hemingway and its running of the Bull festival. On our way to Santiago we pass through the wine region of Rioja and the incredible cities of Burgos and Leon with their imposing Gothic Cathedrals. From Leon to Astorga we are rewarded with ancient roman ruins and spectacular Gaudi Palaces, before crossing the Montes de Leon, and descending with spectacular views to the Knights Templars Castle of Ponferrada.
As we enter Galicia and make for Santiago we stroll through traditional farming villages, hilly pastures and many rivers. Arriving in Santiago de Compostela and gazing at the ancient Cathedral is like a dream come true, an unforgettable and rewarding experience. But our Journey is not over yet, on our last day we make our way to the coast of Finisterre, in ancient times known as the end of the world, where strolling bare foot on the beach you will find scallop shelles, the symbol of the Camino, to take home as memories.
from € 4,795
per person shared occupancy
Included in the Tour:
♦ All accommodation
♦ All meals – except one lunch
♦ Wine, water & coffee with meals
♦ All transport within the tour
♦ Everything except postcards, stamps and phone calls
♦ No hidden extras!!
| DAY 1 | Bilbao – St Jean
We meet at 14.00 at Bilbao Airport and drive along the Spanish northern coast to St Jean Pied de Port. Here we enjoy a leisurely stroll around the town’s medieval streets and up to the citadel where you can view the Pyrenees. After collecting our pilgrim passports we head to our hotel and then get together for a lovely welcome dinner.
| DAY 2 | St Jean – Roncesvalles
We begin El Camino de Santiago tracing the steps of ancient pilgrims, heading up into the Pyrenees for breathtaking views and our first picnic. After lunch we cross over the Spanish border and descend into one of the oldest and most important stops on the Camino, the 11th century monastery of Roncesvalles. Here the Basques defeated the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, spawning the famous epic poem of chivalry “La Chanson de Roland”. Tonight’s hotel is located inside this historic building. (5-8h/options to walk 18-26km) (Elev. +1400m/-600m)
| DAY 3 | Pamplona – Estella
A short drive takes us to the ancient city of Pamplona, which with its Fiesta de San Fermin and beautiful architecture has captured the eye of many artists. Enjoy a pleasant walking tour of the city following the route of the famous running of the bulls and tracing Hemingway’s footsteps. We enjoy lunch and wine-tasting. At the Bodegas Irache (where for many years its famous wine fountain has been offering pilgrims wine and the strength to continue their pilgrimage) our afternoon walk follows an alternative route under the shade of a forest from which we emerge to see the whole valley spread out below us. Return to Pamplona. (4h/14km)
| DAY 4 |Pamplona – La Rioja – St Domingo de La Calzada
Today we step into Rioja country, home to Spain’s finest and most renowned wine. We walk through gently rolling hills and vineyards towards the beautiful town of St Domingo de La Calzada. Admire its enchanting cathedral and spend a relaxing evening in the towns streets busy with many pilgrims. (4h/14km)
| DAY 5 | St Domingo – Burgos
We leave St Domingo and move on along a quiet mountain path through oak and pine woods and emerge in St. Juan de Ortega. After lunch we walk on to the quaint village of Ages, before driving on to Burgos. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore the city’s beautiful streets and visit the spectacular Cathedral before meeting up to share our experiences over dinner. (3.5h/13km) (Elev. +/-400m)
| DAY 6 | Burgos – Leon
Today we experience life in the heart of Castilla y Leon, walking through the mesetas and small, slow paced villages. This plateau region 800m above sea level is entirely covered in cereal crops which form endless horizons broken only by the occasional view of a bell tower in the distance. Pilgrims walk along this path for many days and have been known to describe these endless silent stretches as the most thought provoking and spiritual of the whole Camino. After lunch we enter the picturesque streets of Leon with time to enjoy the city and its many streets, boutiques and squares. (3.5h/13km)
| DAY 7 | Leon – Astorga
Our day starts crossing over the longest and best preserved medieval bridge in Spain, the Puente de Obrigo where we walk through the town of Hospital de Obrigo and across open countryside to our destination city, Astorga, where there is time to stroll among the different periods of architecture existing in perfect harmony- ancient Roman walls, a gothic cathedral and the modern Gaudi palace – contrasting and complimenting one another. (6h/17km)
| DAY 8 | Astorga – Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
One of our favourite walks of El Camino de Santiago! We head up into the mountains, over the pass of Irago, through the beautiful towns of Rabanal del Camino and Foncebaldo and descend to Ponferrada to visit the ancient Castle of the Knights Templar. This ancient order was devoted to protecting pilgrims along the way and preserving the true spirituality of the Camino. We spend our evening and dinner relaxing in Villafranca tasting some excellent Bierzo wines. (4h/16km) (Elev. +/- 500m)
| DAY 9 | Villafranca del Bierzo – O’ Cebreiro
We leave Villafranca and walk along a spectacular and quiet alternative route over the Alto Pradela. After a picnic lunch we head up into the high mountains of Galicia to famous O’ Cebreiro. Here still standing is one of the oldest surviving churches associated with the Camino, the Iglesia de Santa Maria Real, dating as far back as the 9th century. We return to spend another evening in the beautiful town of Villafranca. (4-6h/12-20km) (Elev. +/-900m) (afternoon is optional)
| DAY 10 | O’ Cebreiro – Portomarin
Today we walk through the beautiful hills and forest of Galicia, past traditional farming villages to the town of Portomarin which sits on the hillside overlooking a spectacular river. Relax and enjoy the slow pace of the streets, take your time to reflect on what you have lived and the personal aspects of the Camino. Tomorrow we shall arrive in Santiago de Compostela! (16km/4.5h) (Elev. +/-200m)
| DAY 11 | Portomarin – Santiago de Compostela
We enter the city of Santiago de Compostela, home to the shrines of St. James, the raison d’etre of El Camino de Santiago. The final leg of our pilgrimage starts in Monte del Gozo and from here we descend into the streets of the city. We arrive in the Praza Obradorio and Cathedral in time for the 12.00 am mass to see the swinging of the famous Botafumiero, giant incense burner. You are free to explore the city and shop in its many streets. (6km/1.5h)
| DAY 12 | Santiago de Compostela – Finisterre
Our journey does not end here, as true pilgrims we must continue to Finisterre and the lighthouse at the end of the world. We walk into Finisterre along a spectacular, 2km stretch of the Playa de Langosteira beach and head on a further 3km to the famous lighthouse. Here, having lunch in the lighthouse, staring over the ocean, our pilgrimage ends. From this point we can go no further! We return to spend another evening in Santiago.(2h/7km)
| LAST DAY |Depart from Santiago
Departure at 9.00 from our hotel to Santiago airport. Alternatively you can make your own way at your leisure.
St Jean Pied de Port (French border): 1 night
Roncesvalles: 1 night
Pamplona: 1 night
Santo Domingo de la Calzada: 1 night
Burgos: 1 night
Leon: 1 night
Astorga: 1 night
Villafranca del Bierzo: 2 nights
Portomarin: 1 night
Santiago de Compostela: 2 nights
The secret of our small group walking tours lies in choosing exciting itineraries and turning them into relaxing vacations for others to enjoy. A journey with us is like a chapter in a good book you cannot put down, a discovery trail of treasures, an active vacation outdoors where you meet like-minded people and create wonderful memories to take home.
• WHAT WE OFFER YOU •
We offer you the luxury to relax, be carefree and totally immerse yourself in the local atmosphere, making the most of your precious time.
We take care of all the logistical arrangements and tiny details you would hope to think of if only you had the time.
• VALUE FOR MONEY •
Our priority is to give you a tour of the highest standard and excellent value for money; prices are fully inclusive with no hidden extras. We believe you will only need to buy postcards and the occasional cappuccino.
• WE ARE UNIQUE •
We are unique through our personal devotion to your tour. We don’t rely on others to provide the quality and service we expect, we make sure it happens ourselves.
We spend a lot of time finding attractive walks and seeking the best places to visit. We take small groups and guide all our own tours employing local experts where detailed knowledge is beneficial.
Other small group tour ideas:
See the treasures of two rural regions: Timeless Tuscany, a textured painting of rolling hills with sunflowers, olives and vines and unspoiled Umbria, the ‘green heart’ of Italy and birthplace of St Francis of Assisi featuring the pilgrimage paths of the Via Francigena.
Enjoy the landscape of soaring peaks and glaciers, deep valleys and lakes and alpine meadow where deer, chamois and marmots live. Invigorating walking and hiking in some of the most spectacular scenery in northern Italy.