Since the beginning of pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, the French Way is the most popular of all the routes of the Camino de Santiago.
During 2019, the 55% of the pilgrims opted for this Way. Considering that the Pilgrim’s Office offers data on ten different routes of the Camino de Santiago, and that the Portuguese Way occupies the second position with 20% of pilgrims, you can imagine how the rest of the distribution looks like.
But why do most people decide on the French Way and not another route on the Camino de Santiago?
Historical importance of the French Way
Traditionally, this was the route chosen by pilgrims from central Europe to reach Compostela. Goethe already said it, that Europe was made on the pilgrim road to Compostela.
It is only a matter of statistics that most pilgrims arrived from this way than from the rest of the routes. Pilgrims from Portugal entered through the Portuguese Way, those from the South of the Peninsula through the Vía de la Plata, those from northern European countries (including, of course, the United Kingdom and Ireland) through the English Way, etc. So the network of towns that were created to serve the many pilgrims who came along the route of the French Way was also much more solid.
It must also be considered that the French Way is the route of the Camino de Santiago that was already reflected in the Calixtino Codex, the most famous medieval codex of the Jacobean pilgrimage.
Reasons to choose the French Way
Currently, there are many reasons for choosing the French Way. One of them is that, being the most popular, it is the one that most people know, so, generally, it is the first that comes to mind when you consider doing your first Camino de Santiago.
This “your first Camino de Santiago” is also very important, since there are many first-time pilgrims who decide on this option, walking the last section from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, because:
- they now people who have done it and draw on their experience and advice
- they understand that it is the best signposted route, which drives away that “fear of getting lost” that some people have the first time they come to the Camino.
- they know that they are going to meet many other pilgrims, and that makes them feel safer before this first experience
- it is the route that offers more services to the pilgrim.
- It is a route of low difficulty
The section between Sarria and Santiago, the busiest one
Although the Camino de Santiago begins at the door of your house, traditionally the starting point of the French Way is established in Roncesvalles. From there, we will walk through many other Jacobean towns such as Pamplona, Puente la Reina, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, Sahagún, León, Ponferrada or O Cebreiro among many others. But this fantastic route, which is an unforgettable experience, has the handicap of time. We will need more than one month on average to walk it, and we face almost eight hundred kilometers. There are many pilgrims who organize this route by sections, and they walk a few stages when they have some time off. But the most common is that pilgrims decide to walk the route from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela.
The reason for choosing this point of origin is neither more nor less than because it matches with the 100 kilometers that are mandatory to get the Compostela. And, as we mentioned before, because it is one of the easiest routes.
For those cycling the Camino, since the hundred kilometers from Sarria are not valid to get the Compostela, the busiest route is the one that begins in León.
Should I do the French Way from Sarria?
The only answer we have to this question is that you should do the Camino de Santiago that you want, the one that best suits you. Of course, the Camino de Santiago from Sarria is a recommended route for many reasons and, if what you are looking for is a route one hundred percent adapted to the pilgrim, feel accompanied and enjoy the environment without excessive physical effort, do not hesitate.
But all the routes of the Camino de Santiago offer you something. You just have to decide what are you looking for.
At Rutas Meigas we can help you choosing your Camino, and we will organize it to suit you. In each stage you will be accompanied by our team, who will give you all the necessary advice to face each stage and enjoy it to the fullest. And we will also be aware of anything you may need.