What is the difference between these roads on the route to Santiago?
Tourist hiking enriches both the physique and the culture of every traveller and in Spain there are magnificent regions, which seem to have been created by nature only for this purpose. But there are two examples on the famous Santiago de Compostela route that validate this argument: the English Way and the French Way. What are their differences?
The English Way
It is characterized for being little overcrowded, in addition it has good signposting but with scarce services. In effect, it is a layout that has localities recovered by virtue of documents, deeds and registers that refer to the passage and stay of persons.
It barely has half a dozen hostels and despite the lack of services, it has the hospitality of its people. This is a well signposted itinerary in the 18 municipalities it crosses, thanks to the Xacobeo plan and the work of the Consorcio do Camiño Inglés.
It has areas such as A Coruña, from where the shortest variant departs with 70 kilometres. Leaving Ferrol, the distance is 120 kilometres, hence it is the only valid starting point to obtain the Compostela, whose minimum distance on foot or on horseback exceeds 100 kilometres for its validation.
Divided into six stages, three days from A Coruña and five from Ferrol. The paths of the English way end in a small village of Bruma, where the walker will discover a route of marked coastal and rural character.
Ferrol, Pontedeume, Betanzos and Coruña, some of medieval origin. They provide solitary footpaths and forests that shows for the traveller of today, ways of spirituality.
The French Way
Unlike the English Way, this route is much more crowded. One could say that it is the most popular and well-known route of the Camino de Santiago. A reputation that has its advantages and disadvantages.
On the one hand, it has the best infrastructure for the pilgrim. It offers a great variety of accommodation, from modest hostels to beautiful rural tourism houses or luxurious pazos and five-star hotels. Unlike the English Way, it also has a greater number of bars and restaurants in which to eat and rest as well as supermarkets, laundries, massage and physiotherapy services, medical centres, and a large number of activities for walkers.
One of the “disadvantages” of the English Way is the overcrowding in the summer months. This may not be a disadvantage if you are looking to socialise and meet new people, as the atmosphere is undoubtedly much livelier.
Do I choose the English Way or the French Way?
The French Way is perfect for those who have never done the Camino de Santiago and wish to have a first experience as pilgrims. If your intention is to do the whole thing, bear in mind that you will need at least a month to achieve that purpose, as there are a whopping 800 kilometres from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela.
If you are thinking of doing this route and you don’t have enough time, bear in mind that the minimum distance to obtain the Compostela is 100 kilometres, so you can start from the town of Sarria in Lugo. This is the point where most pilgrims start their journey.
As far as the English Way is concerned, it is the shortest complete route to Santiago de Compostela, so if you intend to do the entire Way of St. James for the first time it would be a perfect option.