pilgrimage routes in France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Itineraries > Europe itineraries > Routes to Santiago de Compostela from France

The routes of the Way of St. James that run through France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

Badge of the Order of Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims to the church frequently ate scallops and attached the empty shells to their hats; thus, the scallop shell became the emblem of pilgrimage to Santiago


The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia has an important place in Western European history dating back to the Middle Ages.

The four main pilgrimage routes from France began at Paris, Vézelay, Le Puy, and Arles respectively, and each of these was fed by a number of subsidiary routes. Thus, the start of the Paris route saw the convergence of routes from Boulogne-sur-Mer, Tournai, and the Low Countries, whilst routes from Caen, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Brittany joined it at intermediate points such as Tours, Poitiers, Saint-Jean-d'Angély, and Bordeaux (which also served as the port for pilgrims coming by sea from England and coastal areas of Brittany and Normandy). Le Puy was the link with the Rhône valley, whilst those coming from Italy passed through Arles. The three western routes converged at Ostabat, crossing the Pyrenees by means of the Ibaneta pass, whilst the eastern route from Arles used the Somport pass; the two routes joined in Spain at Puente-la-Reina. The total length identified as being associated with the pilgrimage is over 5000 km.

The national survey of Santiago de Compostela routes in France has identified some 800 properties of all kinds that have associations with the pilgrimage. In this inscription, 71 properties were selected. In addition, seven stretches of the Chemin du Puy are included in the nomination.


To be considered a true pilgrim, the last 100 km must be covered on foot or the last 200 km by bike or horse. Therefore, it is essential for pilgrims to be not only spiritually focused but physically fit.

Get inEdit

On a more prosaic level, it is necessary to have permission to enter France (if you are starting your journey from somewhere else) and Spain. See Schengen for information on entry rules for these two EU countries.


The fantastic Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the end point of the pilgrimage
The trail in Conque

There are four main routes:

The Paris and Tours routeEdit

This route starts with a trip from Paris to Tours through either Orléans or Chartres. From Tours, the route passes through Poitiers, Bordeaux and the forest at Les Landes before connecting to the Camino Francés (a footpath now called Grande Randonnée 65) near Ostabat and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port or to the Camino de la Costa in Irún.

The Vézelay routeEdit

The Vézelay route passes through Limoges and joins the GR 65 near Ostabat.

The Le Puy routeEdit

The Le Puy route starts in Le Puy-en-Velay in Haute-Loire and passes through Conques, Cahors and Moissac on the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. It is part of GR 65.

Le Puy-en-Velay has been an important pilgrimage destination in its own right, with many legends surrounding its history. Parts of the cathedral, probably built on a former pagan site, stem from the 5th century. Charlemagne made the pilgrimage to Le Puy twice. There is a copy (the original is destroyed) of an ivory image of Virgin Mary brought from the Holy Land by Saint Louis, king of France. Each morning pilgrims starting their journey to Santiago de Compostela gather in the cathedral to be blessed.

The Arles WayEdit

The route from Italy becomes the Arles Way in southern France. It goes through Montpellier, Toulouse and Oloron-Sainte-Marie before reaching the Spanish border at Col du Somport in the Pyrenees. There it connects to the Aragonese Way.


There are traditional hostels along the route offering low-cost accommodation to pilgrims. See the links to stops along the way for specific listings.

Stay safeEdit

Go nextEdit

78 sites are included on the World Heritage List. Here is a full list of all the sites arranged by region.

Périgueux : Cathedral

Saint-Avit-Sénieur : Church

Le Buisson-de-Cadouin : Abbay

Bazas : Old Cathedral

Bordeaux : Cathédrale Saint-André, Basilica of Saint-Seurin, Basilica of Saint-Michel

La Sauve-Majeure: Abbaye, Church of Saint-Pierre

Soulac-sur-Mer: Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Fin-des-Terres

Aire-sur-l'Adour: Church of Sainte-Quitterie

Mimizan: Bells

Sorde-l'Abbaye: abbaye Saint-Jean

Saint-Sever: abbaye

Agen : Cathedral Saint Caprais

Bayonne: Cathedral Sainte-Marie

L'Hôpital-Saint-Blaise: Church

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port : Bridge of Saint Jacques

Oloron-Sainte-Marie: Eglise Sainte Marie

Clermont-Ferrand: église Notre-Dame-du-Port

Le-Puy-en-Velay : Cathédrale, Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques


La Charité-sur-Loire: église prieurale Sainte-Croix-Notre-Dame

Asquins: église Saint-Jacques d'Asquins

Vézelay: ancienne abbatiale Sainte-Madeleine

Neuvy-Saint-Sépulchre: collégiale Saint-Etienne (anciennement collégiale Saint-Jacques)

Bourges: cathédrale Saint-Etienne

L'Epine: basilique Notre-Dame

Châlons-en-Champagne: église Notre-Dame-en-Vaux

Paris : Tower of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert:ancienne abbaye de Gellone

Aniane/Saint-Jean-de-Fos: Pont du Diable

Saint-Gilles-du-Gard: ancienne abbatiale

Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat: église Saint-Léonard

Audressein: église de Tramesaygues Midi-Pyrénées

Saint-Lizier: Old Cathédrale and cloîster, cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède, Palace épiscopal, rampart

Conques: abbatiale Sainte-Foy, Bridge over the Dourdou

Espalion: Pont-Vieux (old Bridge)

Estaing: pont sur le Lot (Bridge over the Lot)

Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac: Bridge called "des pèlerins" ("of the pilgrims") over the Boralde

Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges: Old Cathédrale Notre-Dame, PaleoChristian Basilica, chapelle Saint-Julien

Toulouse : basilique Saint-Sernin, Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques

Valcabrère: église Saint-Just

Auch: cathédrale Sainte-Marie

Beaumont-sur-l'Osse et Larressinge: Pont d'Artigue ou de Lartigue

La Romieu: collégiale Saint-Pierre

Cahors: cathédrale Saint-Etienne, pont Valentré

Gréalou: dolmen de Pech-Laglaire

Figeac: hôpital Saint-Jacques

Rocamadour : Church of Saint-Sauveur and crypt of Saint-Amadour

Aragnouet: hospice du Plan and chapelle Notre-Dame- de-l'Assomption, known as the chapelle des Templiers (chapel of the Templars)

Gavarnie: église paroissiale (parish church)

Jezeau: église Saint-Laurent

Ourdis-Cotdussan: église de Cotdussan

Rabastens: église Notre-Dame-du-Bourg

Moissac: abbey of Saint-Pierre and its cloister

Amiens : cathédrale Notre-Dame

Folleville: église paroissiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Compiègne: église paroissiale Saint-Jacques

Saintes: église Sainte-Eutrope Poitou-Charentes

Saint-Jean-d'Angély: abbaye royale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Melle: église Saint-Hilaire

Aulnay: église Saint-Pierre

Poitiers : église Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand

Pons: ancien hôpital des Pèlerins


  • Specific Routes, Chemin du Puy

From Nasbinals to Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac (17 km) Languedoc-Roussillon to Midi-Pyrénées

From Saint-Côme-d'Olt to Estaing (17 km) Midi-Pyrénées

From Montredon to Figeac (18 km) Midi-Pyrénées

From Faycelles to Cajarc (22.5 km) Midi-Pyrénées

From Bach to Cahors (26 km) Midi-Pyrénées

From Lectoure to Condom (35 km) Midi-Pyrénées

From Aroue to Ostabat (22 km) Aquitaine

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