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The French Way: What is the best known Jacobean route?

By Xunta de Galicia | 18/03/2017

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The French Way is the route with the most historical tradition of the Camino de Santiago. And also the most renowned by walkers from all over the world. In this article you will learn when the French Way was first described, how it is and what its main routes are.
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The French Way: centuries of history

The French Way is the route of the Camino de Santiago par excellence: the Jacobean itinerary with the most historical tradition and the most internationally recognized. The French Way was already described in 1135 in the 'Codex Calixtinus', a fundamental historical Jacobean book, a true medieval guide to the pilgrimage to Santiago.

It already collects the sections of the French Way from French lands and provides detailed information on the sanctuaries of the route, hospitality, people, food, sources, local customs, etc. Everything is written with the synthesis and clarity that needs a practical response to a concrete demand: the pilgrimage to Santiago.

This guide, attributed to the French cleric Aymeric Picaud, evidences the political and religious desire to promote and facilitate access to the Compostel shrine. When this book is prepared, the French Way and pilgrimages reach their peak and the French Way the greatest influx, if we exclude the present moment. Santiago becomes the goal of pilgrims.
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Where does the French Way pass?

The French Way acquires a precise route in France through the four main routes already described in the 'Codex Calixtinus'. Three of these routes (Paris-Tours, Vézelay-Limoges and Le Puy-Conques) enter Spain through Roncesvalles, in Navarra. The fourth one (Brussels-Toulouse) enters the port of Somport and continues to Jaca in Aragon. The itinerary of Roncesvalles, which crosses the city of Pamplona, joins the Aragonese in Puente la Reina (Navarra).

From Puente la Reina, the French Way maintains a unique itinerary that crosses towns and cities in northern Spain as significant as Estella, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, Castrojeriz, Frómista, Carrión de los Condes, Sahagún, León, Astorga, Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo.

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