The French way from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago - Self-guided Bike Tour

Cycle the entire French Route from France to Santiago in 17 days/16 nights

1230.00 €

French Route by Bike: the Way of Saint James (Camino de Santiago in Spanish) has been travelled by millions of pilgrims from all over the globe since the Middle Ages. This tour invites you to cycle the entire French Route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a village on the French side of the Pyrenees in the French Basque country, to the stunning city of Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral, where St James is believed to be buried.
‘The Way’ will take you through breathtaking scenery and nature, as well as leading you to historic monuments and lively cities such as Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada and Santiago. A life-changing experience for many, the essence of the Camino de Santiago is about enjoying the journey and not just the destination.

This first day is considered the most difficult as the Camino crosses the Pyrenees. *We recommend you cycle the French Way – Full Way Cycling only if you have some cycling experience and if you have essential bike maintenance knowledge.

- ITINERARY -


1st day: ARRIVAL IN SAINT-JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT.
2nd day: ST JEAN – RONCESVALLES (26km- difficulty 3/3)
3rd day: RONCESVALLES - PAMPLONA (48 km - difficulty 1/3)
4th day: PAMPLONA -ESTELLA (44km - difficulty 1/3)
5th day: ESTELLA - LOGROÑO (49 km - difficulty 2/3)
6th day: LOGROÑO - SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA (49 km -difficulty 2/3)
7th day: SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA - BURGOS (75 km - difficulty 2/3)
8th day: BURGOS -FROMISTA (73 km - difficulty 2/3)
9th day: FROMISTA - SAHAGUN (67 km - difficulty 1/3)
10th day: SAHAGUN - LEON (57 km - difficulty 1/3)
11th day: LEON - ASTORGA (49 km  - difficulty 1/3)
12th day: ASTORGA - PONFERRADA (54 km - difficulty 2/3).
13th day: PONFERRADA- CEBREIRO (50 km - difficulty 3/3)
14th day: O CEBREIRO - PORTOMARIN (62 km - difficulty 2/3)
15th day: PORTOMARIN - ARZUA (53 Km - difficulty 2/3)
16th day: ARZUA - SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (39 km - difficulty 1/3)
17th day: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA



The Price Includes:
- 16 nights in handpicked hotels and inns, all with en-suite accommodation, on a bed and breakfast basis
- Luggage transfer from hotel to hotel
- Travel insurance
- Credencial (Pilgrim’s passport)
- Tips & maps.
- 7/24 telephone assistance  (English speaking)


The Price does not include:
- Lunches
- 27 gears disc bike rental from St. Jean to Santiago:€ 300
- 27 hybrid bike rental from St. Jean to Santiago:€ 340
- 29 gears disc bike rental from St. Jean to Santiago:€ 370
- E-bike rental from St. Jean to Santiago:€ 625
- Single room supplement: € 400
- Dinners supplement: € 340
- Transfers from Pamplona or Biarritz airport to St Jean

DAILY DEPARTURES


DAY-TO-DAY ITINERARY

 

1st day: ARRIVAL IN SAINT-JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT.
Fill in your pilgrim’s passport (La Credencial) and visit the stunning monuments in this French Basque village.

2nd day: ST JEAN – RONCESVALLES (26km- difficulty 3/3)
From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, there are two ways to reach Roncesvalles, either via the so-called Napoleon Route across the mountains, or via the hamlet of Valcarlos, down in the valley. Taking the Valcarlos route will mean your ascent will be more gradual and the highest point will be Roncesvalles. The Valcarlos Camino mainly follows the road which runs through the valley alongside the Nive and Valcarlos rivers. Don't miss the Collegiate Church in Roncesvalles.

This day is one of the most difficult on the Way as the route crosses the Pyrenees.

3rd day: RONCESVALLES - PAMPLONA (48 km - difficulty 1/3)
From Roncesvalles, the route continues through beech and oak woods before reaching Espinal taking in two mountain passes: Alto de Mezquiriz and Alto de Erro. The trail then descends towards the town of Zubiri and its medieval “Puente de la Rabia” (Rabies Bridge) over the River Arga. Then the Camino follows the river Arga to the hamlet of Larrasoaña, which was an important stop for pilgrims in Medieval times. The last part of the day gets busier, as you approach the bustling city of Pamplona.


4th day: PAMPLONA -ESTELLA (44km - difficulty 1/3)
Although it is famous for its Saint Fermin bull-running festival, there are many other attractions to visit in Pamplona, such as exploring the city’s medieval streets, visiting the cathedral, tasting some of the local food and wine, or, for Hemingway fans, sampling a coffee in one of the writer’s favourite haunts in the Plaza del Castillo main square.
As you leave Pamplona behind you, you will start your ascent towards the “Alto del Perdón” (Hill of Forgiveness). Get your picture taken with the photogenic pilgrim sculpture at the top and enjoy the views of Pamplona and the valley beyond. From there, you will begin your descent towards Puente la Reina with its medieval alleys and impressive 11th century bridge over the River Arga. The route to Estella is very uneven and quite agricultural. Small towns and villages are dotted amongst cereal fields, vineyards and olive trees. Perched on a hilltop, Cirauqui is a pretty little village with winding medieval streets where you will find one of the best preserved stretches of Roman road.

5th day: ESTELLA - LOGROÑO (49 km - difficulty 2/3)
It’s time to leave Navarre and move into La Rioja with its olive trees, cereal fields and, most importantly, its vineyards. From Villamayor do Monjardin to Los Arcos, you will cover 12 km without coming across a single village. Ensure that you have plenty of water and use sun protection. Expect a pleasant route through undulating countryside. On this route, you will pass the little town of Viana before coming to the town of Logroño, capital of the world-famous wine-producing region of La Rioja.

6th day: LOGROÑO - SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA (49 km -difficulty 2/3)
Today is an easy stage through a vineyard-dominated landscape. You will come to the village of Navarrete after 12 km and will have a chance to stop for some refreshments and visit the fabulous Baroque church of La Ascension. After you will reach Najera where you can enjoy panoramic views from this hill-top town.  Country roads dominate this stage, which runs through the Cantabrian mountain range to the north, and the La Demanda mountain range to the south, perfect for enjoying a day with great views. Later today, you will arrive in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, another milestone on the road to Santiago.

7th day: SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA - BURGOS (75 km - difficulty 2/3)
After a brief route through a wooded area, the Camino takes us through crop fields, interspersed with small brooks and oak woods. This landscape warns us of the approaching mountain range and, indeed, you will soon see the Oca mountains looming on the horizon. Today you will have the chance to stop in the lovely main square of Belorado.
The second part of the stage is similar to the previous one until you get to Villafranca Montes de Oca. However, as you go deeper into the woods, you will soon discover the beautiful Oca mountains. In St Juan de Ortega, have a look at the Gothic mausoleum. After you will pass the town of Atapuerca, known for its UNESCO World Heritage prehistoric caves where the earliest ever human remains have been discovered (3km off the Camino trail). As you begin to descend, you will reach the flat river valley taking you to the suburbs of the city of Burgos, home to one of Spain’s most beautiful cathedrals.

8th day: BURGOS -FROMISTA (73 km - difficulty 2/3)
Burgos was the capital of the unified kingdom of Castile-Leon for five centuries and its Cathedral is a masterpiece of Spanish Gothic architecture (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). In addition to a visit to the historic quarter, go for a walk along the banks of the Duero and Arlanza rivers or discover the delicious and varied local cuisine in one of the city's restaurants.
From Burgos, the route goes through the crop fields that are typical of the region and then through some small Holm oak and conifer woods, which serve as a reminder of the time when one of the largest forests in Europe existed on these lands. Today’s stage heads towards Castrojeriz, upwards to another plateau and then down towards the River Bol valley. After Castrojeriz, situated on the hillside between the valleys of the Odrilla and Pisuerga rivers, comes Alto Mosterales - the highest point on the Meseta, and the last plains in the Burgos region. The River Pisuerga brings you into the province of Palencia and on into the "Tierra de Campo".(Land of Fields )

9th day: FROMISTA - SAHAGUN (67 km - difficulty 1/3)
Before you start, take time out to visit the beautiful 11th century Church of St Martin in Fromista. Today’s route takes you along a track parallel to the road, but if you prefer, you can take a more scenic route at Población de Campos, via Villovieco, along the peaceful banks of the Ucieza river and rejoin the Camino at Villalcazar de Sirga. Expect hilly terrain as you cross some "cuezas", or little valleys. This part of the Camino leaves the road and heads through oak woods, before coming back to familiar cereal fields and crossing the River Valderaduey on route to the countryside of Leon. In Sahagun, the Church of St Lawrence is certainly worth a look.

10th day: SAHAGUN - LEON (57 km - difficulty 1/3)
Today’s stage takes in the pretty village of Reliegos on your way to Leon and the chance to follow the “Via Traiana” (another route to Santiago, starting in Bordeaux, France). This stage runs parallel to land that has been set aside for irrigated crops. Later, the first signs of industrial activity become visible. From Portillo Hill you will be able to make out the beautiful city of Leon. The old quarter of Leon is well worth visiting. Leon was the capital of the kingdom of Leon in the Middle Ages, and is a historic enclave on the pilgrim's route to Santiago de Compostela. The city’s Gothic Cathedral and the Romanesque Basilica of Saint Isidore are well worth a visit as is the "Barrio Húmedo" (Wet District) which is filled with bars and restaurants.

11th day: LEON - ASTORGA (49 km  - difficulty 1/3)
The route out of Leon takes you right through the city to the village of Virgen del Camino, where legend has it that the Virgin appeared to a shepherd in 1506, and asked him to build a shrine. This stage is quite exposed as you cross the barren plains.
There are two alternatives for this stage, either to Villar de Mazarife which is a longer more scenic route to Astorga or a shorter route to Villadangos which runs closer to the main road. We suggest you the second alternative.
The journey follows the script of the previous part of the stage with the endless plains of the wilderness for company. When you reach Órbigo Hospital, the Camino gives us another two alternatives. Instead of taking the path to the right, you can turn left along a marked path that runs parallel to the road.

12th day: ASTORGA - PONFERRADA (54 km - difficulty 2/3).
The Camino starts a gradual and steady climb to the intersection of Santa Catalina de Somoza and here for a passable take us to El Ganso after an hour of walking. That leaves the last slope of the day before settling stage whose fate is in Rabanal del Camino. This stage is the highest on the entire route and is one of the most picturesque routes on the Way. The road out of Rabanal climbs to a mysterious landscape wrapped in clean mountain air. The Camino leads to the Iron Cross (Cruz de Ferro)at an altitude of 1,500 metres, which is marked by a simple tall cross on a large wooden mast. The route continues onto El Acebo, another famous hamlet and essential stop on the Camino which welcomes us to the Bierzo region. Then it moves onto Riego de Ambrós and returns to the 21st century in Molinaseca. You will cross the Bierzo region, a sunken plain nestled within a ring of mountains before arriving in Ponferrada, where the Templar Castle is well worth a visit.

13th day: PONFERRADA- CEBREIRO (50 km - difficulty 3/3)
You will first cross the small village of Pieros to reach Villafranca del Bierzo, where you will be rewarded with a visit to the famous Puerta del Perdón (Door  Gate of Forgiveness) in the church of Saint James. The route moves onto the small village of Pereje and then Trabadelo, La Portela and Ambasmestas. Part of the route runs parallel to the road and brings the ascent of O Cebreiro. The Camino runs parallel to the road and then goes through the villages of Ruitelan and Las Herrerias. This is when the climb really begins, with a short but very difficult ascent. There are now only 150 kilometres to go before you reach Santiago.

14th day: O CEBREIRO - PORTOMARIN (62 km - difficulty 2/3)
You are now in Galicia, and O Cebreiro offers us one of the most beautiful landscapes on the Way, as a place of great tradition and mysticism , with its emblematic Romanesque church of Santa María de O Cebreiro. Then you will start the climb towards the Alto de San Roque and later to the Alto de O Poio (1,335 m), which is the highest point in Galicia on the French Route, offering spectacular views. After crossing the Alto do Poio, the descent to the hamlet of Triacastela begins.  From Triacastela, there are two ways to reach Sarria, via San XiI or via Samos, with its beautiful Benedictine monastery. We suggest our cycling pilgrims the second alternative. After you arrive in Sarria , the main town between Ponferrada and Santiago de Compostela. The village of Barbadelo has a beautiful Romanesque church that is worth a visit. When you arrive in Portomarin, you can chill out at one of the numerous outdoor cafés in the main square.

15th day: PORTOMARIN - ARZUA (53 Km - difficulty 2/3)
The day starts by crossing over the Belesar dam footbridge, followed by a gradual climb ending in the village of Ligonde. This stage runs mainly along andaderos (paths), next to the road, or in some cases along paved trails. There are many signs indicating that we are on a pilgrim route, including the famous "cruceiros" (crucifixes). Check out the Cruceiro of Lameiros and the Monastery of Our Saviour of Vilar de Donas (2 km detour off the Camino).
On this stage, you will move into the province of Corunna, where you will find expanses of eucalyptus and pine trees and numerous medieval bridges, such as those in Leboreiro and Furelos, as well as one of the most idyllic locations on the Camino in Ribadiso do Baixo near Arzua. Melide, which is famous for its octopus, is an obligatory stop for pilgrims and lovers of good food, whilst Arzua is famous for its designation of origin cheese

16th day: ARZUA - SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (39 km - difficulty 1/3)
Today’s route is a nice and easy routeover gentle slopes through woodland, alternating with stretches near the road. Don't miss the beautiful sculpture of Saint James the Pilgrim in the Church of the same name in Boente.  This is alos the last stage on your Camino de Santiago. The proximity of your goal will bring mixed feelings. On one hand, you will be eager to reach the desired end of the journey, yet on the downside, the feeling that comes to every pilgrim is that the journey is over. A stage of anxiety and joy, where distance does not matter, because you are “already there”. The route today is flat, except for the climb to San Marcos, from Lavacolla, passing Monte do Gozo and down to Santiago de Compostela. The entire city of Santiago de Compostela is magical, but especially its Cathedral, which deserves a special visit.

17th day: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
After breakfast, go to exchange your pilgrim’s passport, if you haven’t already done it. Alternatively, we suggest you visit the cathedral and the surrounding areas or attend a pilgrim mass.

 



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