This is a blog about hiking the pilgrimage toward Santiago from France. This walk is hundreds of years old, and thousands of pilgrims trek it every year. I’m an American woman figuring it out for the first time with little knowledge of French or Spanish, so I if you’re similarly green, I invite you to walk with me.
You can begin the pilgrimage from just about anywhere in Europe, including your front door. If you want to receive a certificate in Santiago, though, then you must start at least 100 km away. If you want to be an official pilgrim and stay in pilgrim hostels, then you must get a pilgrim’s passport “créanciale” from an association, travel office, cathedral or confraternity.
The classic French starting point is St. Jean Pied de Port., but if you want to start further into France, there are four starting points dating back to Medieval times: Tours (or Paris), Vezelay, Arles and Le Puy.
I picked Le Puy because it is well-marked, well-traveled and, reportedly, as beautiful as a fairytale. This route is called the Via Podiensis, and it generally follows the French walking trail Grande Route 65.
Here are some sites I found helpful:
- Wikipedia: Camino de Santiago
- Walking in France: Tales of two incorrigible pedestrians
- Camino Adventures: Guiding you to Santiago de Compostela
- Camino de Santiago: The pilgrimage routes
This isn’t comprehensive, but hopefully it gives you a start!