FROM LEON TO O CEBREIRO (154km)
León is undoubtedly one of the most important cities on the French Way, together with O Cebreiro. Throughout the centuries it has witnessed the Jacobean movement of pilgrims and has remained faithful to its eternal hospitality. In this section you will discover small villages of medieval origin, cathedrals, Templar castles and beautiful natural sites such as the Montes de León and the Bierzo Valley. You can finish the route in the magical village of O Cebreiro, gateway to Galicia, or complete your journey to Santiago de Compostela.
Arrival in León
León is a city that has always welcomed and received pilgrims, tourists and travelers with open arms. A city that will make you fall in love with some of the most spectacular monuments in Spain. You will be dazzled by the imposing facade of its cathedral, which stands out from the rest of the buildings in the old town, and admire the stained glass windows inside, which are considered the most beautiful in Europe. The Romanesque frescoes of the Collegiate Church of San Isidoro, known as the Sistine Chapel of the Romanesque period, and the most important facade of the Plateresque period, the Hospital de San Marcos, also stand out. And of course, if you are a passionate of modernism you can not miss the Casa de Botines de Gaudi.
Leon is a perfect city to combine culture and gastronomy. Between the Wet District and the Romantic District, you will find the perfect balance to combine visits to its rich architectural and cultural heritage with moments of “tapas” and rest. For all these reasons, León is a unique beginning for this French Way, which will end in O Cebreiro.
León – Villadangos del Páramo
You will start your journey from León following the bronze shells that leave from the Cathedral. On your way out of the city, you will find the villages of Trobajo del Camino and Virgen del Camino, the latter being the place where the Sanctuary of the stage is located. Afterwards, you will continue towards your destination, passing through Valverde de la Virgen and San Miguel del Camino, until you reach Villadangos del Páramo.
Villadangos del Páramo is one of the most Santiago towns on this route, from an iconographic point of view. You can visit the parish church of Santiago Apóstol and at the exit of the village, the lagoon of Villadangos, which is currently catalogued as a Humid Zone of Special Interest, for being one of the most valuable wetlands in the province of Leon.
Villadangos del Páramo – Astorga
At this stage a slight level of difficulty will be maintained. You will be able to fully enjoy the nature that this stretch offers, passing by the Órbigo river, through a path flooded with green colour that will end up discovering you at the Órbigo Hospital. At the exit, this place will offer you the option of continuing along two itineraries, which will also make you arrive after an ascent to the Santo Toribio cruise ship. Once you have reached the top, you will be able to stop and see how Astorga begins to be drawn on the horizon, your objective will already be very close.
You will finish the stage by fully entering the heart of the Maragatería, Astorga. The French Way and the Via de la Plata come together in this historic city. The years of cultural crossroads, from its pre-Roman and Roman beginnings to its medieval and later splendour, have made Astorga one of the most important points of artistic and cultural interest in our country. This small city has a large number of monuments that must be visited, among others, the rich legacy of Roman times, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Episcopal Palace (Gaudí’s Palace), the Roads Museum, the modernist building Casa Granell, and countless churches, monasteries and museums. To recharge your batteries you can stop to taste its famous “Cocido Maragato”.
Astorga – Rabanal del Camino
In this stage the difficulty increases a little with respect to the previous ones but it will also be shorter in duration. However, we recommend you to leave early to enjoy the road and stop at different points of interest. Throughout this stage, the Romanesque style will be the protagonist, with churches such as Santiago, Santa María or Nuestra Señora de la Asunción at every step. This section of the road is full of heritage elements, so it is good to take the journey with tranquility and enjoy each stop until you reach the end of the section: Rabanal del Camino.
In Rabanal del Camino, you can visit the hermitages of Bendito Cristo de la Vera Cruz and San José. As a civil building, the Casa de las Cuatro Esquinas stands out, a famous place because according to history it was the place where King Philip II spent the night during his pilgrimage to Santiago. Finally, and among other things, in the highest part of the village, you can visit the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, a Romanesque temple from the 12th century, declared of Cultural Interest in 1982, which is a perfect example of the Leonese Romanesque style.
Rabanal del Camino – Molinaseca
After leaving Rabanal, you will find the abandoned village of Foncebadón. After almost 9 kilometres you will reach the Iron Cross, one of the most mythical and emblematic places on the Way, where pilgrims place a stone at the base of the cross to ask for protection during the journey. If you are in one of the highest heights of the route (1540 metres), you will walk with the Teleno on your left along a path close to the road until you reach another abandoned village: Manjarín; although in truth, this village is no longer completely abandoned, as Tomás, one of the most singular innkeepers of the whole Way, has settled in it. Tomás defines himself as the only and last Templar; his wanderings, words and images run along the Way and put Manjarín back on the map. Continuing from this point, you will begin a strong descent by the slope of Monte Irago of almost 17 kilometers, alternating shortcuts and road you will arrive at Molinaseca, passing by the picturesque villages of Acebo and Riego de Ambrós.
Molinaseca is one of the most beautiful villages on this route. In fact, it has been declared a Historic Site of Cultural Interest due to the good state of conservation of its stone houses, which still have a great medieval aspect. As main monuments to emphasize, we recommend you to visit the bridge of the entrance and the Neoclassical parish of San Nicolás de Bari.
Molinaseca – Vilafranca del Bierzo
From Molinaseca to Ponferrada you are only 8 kilometres away from each other, which run fully through the Bierzo Valley. The familiar yellow arrows will lead you through the old streets of the town, to the walls of the famous Castle of the Temple. You will say goodbye to Ponferrada, heading towards the small towns of Columbrianos and Fuentes Navas, and continuing towards Camponaraya. Shortly after overcoming this last town, the road runs between pleasant fields of vines to the capital of cherries: Cacabelos; a town that you will fall in love with its narrow streets, its balconies full of geraniums and its thick stone floors. From here you will follow the path that will take you to Villafranca del Bierzo, a village with a strong Jacobean tradition linked to the Order of Cluny, where you will be able to enjoy and rest on its fluvial beach.
Villafranca del Bierzo is a monument in itself. We recommend that you lose yourself strolling through its narrow streets, where you will find coats of arms and samples of traditional Bierzo architecture, with its characteristic slate roofs and wooden corridors. It is essential in this town to enjoy the rich gastronomy of Bierzo: botillos, sausages, empanada and trout; all accompanied by its rich wines. This gastronomic walk will be obligatory to make it through the Calle del Agua.
Vilafranca del Bierzo – O Cebreiro
High 6-7h30 Km
Villafranca serves as a border crossing on the French Way between the immense valley of the river Sil and the imposing mountains that you will have to climb until you reach Galicia, where O Cebreiro will welcome you with all its beauty and magic. This will be one of the stages that you will never forget, thanks to its beautiful, exciting and feared ascent to O Cebreiro, the largest ascent of the French Way in Spanish territory. But without a doubt, you will see this effort rewarded when you see yourself in the heart of the Sierra de Ancares natural space. The natural space of Ancares – Courel, has the consideration of Place of Community Importance in the Natura 2000 Network, for its geological and ecological interest. Los Ancares are also ZEPA, National Hunting Reserve and Special Brown Bear Protection Zone.
For centuries, O Cebreiro has been considered the gateway to Galicia from Castile. In it, you will enjoy a magical day in an environment of great tradition and mysticism, cradle of legends, mysteries and miracles. You can visit several pallozas of pre-Roman origin, one of which has been converted into an Ethnographic Museum, free of charge. You must also visit the church of Santa Maria, the oldest church in operation of the Jacobean Route.
After finishing your Camino, it will be worthwhile to enjoy a few more days of rest in this small corner of the Sierra de Ancares to get to know the wonders of the area. But you can also continue your Camino and finish in Santiago de Compostela.
Here in O Cebreiro you have finished the French Way that you started a week ago in León.
THIS TRIP INCLUDES
- 9 days / 8 nights of accommodation
- Backpack transfer service (1 package – máx. 20 kg.)
- Credencial (Pilgrim’s passport)
- Telephone assistance service 24/7
- Travel assistance insurance
- PRIVATE SHELTERS
- Extra night in Santiago: 25 €/pax
- HOSTELS & GUESTHOUSES
- Single room supplement: 105 €/pax
- Extra night in Santiago: 70€ double room / 55€ single room
- Breakfast: 55 €/pax
- Half Board: 165 €/pax
- HOSTELS AND SUPERIOR ACOMMODATION
- Single room supplement: 125 €/pax
- Extra night in Santiago: 70€ double room / 55€ single room
- Breakfast: 60 €/pax
- Half Board: 175 €/pax
- PRIVATE TRANSFER (CAPACITY 4 pax)
- From O Cebreiro to Leon: ask for quotation
- 235 € pax private shelters
- 395 € pax hostels
- 520 € pax hotels and superior accommodation
Acommodation in Private Hostels
The perfect choice if you want to experience the Camino 100%. The hostels are the perfect accommodation to meet other pilgrims. They have mixed rooms organized in bunk beds, bathrooms separated by sexes, equipped kitchens, laundry and common areas where you can relax and rest. It is the most authentic option of the French Way from Leon to O Cebreiro.
Guesthouses and Rural Accommodations
The option most demanded by our pilgrims. If what you are looking for is intimacy and a familiar treatment we recommend this option. Rooms with private bathroom, simple, comfortable and without great luxuries, but very cozy. You can choose between double, double, triple or even quadruple rooms for those who travel with their families. It is our recommended option for this French Way from Leon to O Cebreiro.
Hotels and High Quality Acommodation
Do you want a quality bonus? We put at your disposal the best hotels and rural houses in which we assure you the maximum rest and comfort after each stage. You can choose between single, double or triple rooms. Some have a swimming pool, garden and large common areas. A plus of comfort in this French Way from Leon to O Cebreiro.