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Cahors: A medieval jewel on Le Puy Way - Camino de Santiago
Cahors is on the Le Puy Camino and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of the way. Le Puy Way is the most popular of the Camino routes in France and covers a distance of 713km from Le Puy en Velay to St Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees.
Cahors itself sits in the centre of a bend in the River Lot meaning the town is surrounded on three sides by water and steep limestone cliffs. The area was originally inhabited by a Celtic tribe known as the Cadurci before Roman conquest in the 50’s BC. The town quickly grew to be an important centre of Roman governance and trade.
The town was mentioned in Dante’s Inferno as being wicked due to the fact that the local bankers at the time charged interest on their loans. This was an uncommon practice in those times.
Easily the most notable attraction in the town is the Valentré Bridge. The bridge is a six arch stone structure which was opened in 1350 and with its fortified towers it holds its place as one of the iconic images of the town. There are a number of buildings and sites on Le Puy Way which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the umbrella of the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela and the bridge is one such structure.
There is a legend about the bridge which suggests that the architect sold his soul to the devil in order to help him finish the construction. The legend is reflected in the small devil statue on the centre tower which was placed there during a more recent renovation.
Cahors Cathedral is a National Monument which was built in the 11th century. It is an unusual design, with the sturdy walls making the cathedral resemble a castle. The cathedral has a wonderful 16th century cloisters which houses renaissance frescoes and paintings. There is also an alter in the Cathedral which holds what is said to be a relic of the Holy Cap of Christ.
Around the town there are an abundance of wonderful buildings from the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, giving this town a real medieval feel. Due to the importance the town held during Roman times, there are a number of remains from that time too. Pope John XXII was born in Cahors in 1249 and he was the second of the Avignon Papacy to be based in France rather than Rome.
The area is renowned for its ‘black’ wine which has been made since the Middle Ages. This wine is thought to be the darkest in the world, while it is also some of the richest and strongest. Along with its wine, the area is renowned for its duck, black truffles, foie gras and hearty beef stews. A local custom is called faire chabrot and it involves pouring wine into a bowl with a small bit of soup left in it and then drinking from the bowl.
For more information about the Le Puy Camino and the other ways of the Camino de Santiago, or to book your Camino walk, contact our travel specialists
For more information about the Camino de Santiago or to book your trip, contact our travel specialists
What is The Camino Primitivo route? - Camino de Santiago
What is the Camino Primitivo route?
While it is not very well known outside of Spain, the Camino Primitivo is the oldest of the Camino pilgrim trails to Santiago de Compostela, hence its name, which translates as the ‘Original Way’.
King Alfonso II the Chaste was the first-ever pilgrim on this route. He walked the Camino from the city of Oviedo, in Asturias, to Santiago in the 9th century with a mission: to confirm the remains found in Santiago were indeed those of St James the Apostle.
In a way, we can say King Alfonso II wasn’t just the first-ever Camino pilgrim but could nearly claim the title of creator of the Camino.
At the time Oviedo was the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias and the King’s pilgrimage inspired many others to make the journey to Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims on the Camino Primitivo came not only from Asturias and other parts of Northern Spain but from further afield and overseas. Pilgrims from northern countries would travel by sea and land on the Northern shores of Spain before continuing their journey on foot.
Once the capital of the Kingdom was moved to Leon, however, the Camino Frances took over as the main route to Santiago for pilgrims from the 11th century.
However, many pilgrims still chose to visit Oviedo San Salvador Cathedral, a pilgrimage destination in its own right. The ‘Saviour’ Cathedral is home to a shroud believed to have been used to wrap Christ’s head after his death.
Today, less than 5% of pilgrims to Santiago choose the Camino Primitivo route.
What is the Camino Primitivo like to walk?
Its mountainous and challenging terrain makes it a difficult trail for Camino newbies but perfect for adventurous pilgrims and those looking for a more rustic Camino experience.
The trail is still wonderfully rugged, rural, and untouched in many parts, particularly the first section of the trail from Oviedo to Lugo. As you walk the quiet tracks and forests of the Camino Primitivo you will nearly feel as if you are stepping back in time.
If you are not sure this challenge will be manageable but still would like to discover the first-ever Camino route, don’t worry, you can start your journey from the city of Lugo and skip the mountainous and rural section of the trail on the last 100kms of the Camino Primitivo.
Lugo is a great little city packed with things to do, see and taste. It is located over 100kms away from Santiago, so it will mean you can get your Compostela certificate.
What not to miss on the Camino Primitivo route:
* Pay homage to San Salvador in Oviedo Cathedral
* Take in the panoramic mountain views
* Experience the hospitality of tiny country villages
* Walk the impressive Roman wall wrapped around Lugo old town
* Sample pulpo in Melide, where the Camino Primitivo joins the famous Camino Frances
What is the Camino Primitivo distance?
It will take you two weeks approximately to walk the full Camino Primitivo from Oviedo, which is 311kms.
We recommend you take at least one rest day approximately after the first week (Lugo will be a good spot for a rest day). If you rather only walk from Lugo, you can complete the trail on foot in just one week.
10 Reasons to visit Bilbao | Camino del Norte - Camino de Santiago
Whenever we get a chance to walk the Camino del Norte, we can’t wait to visit Bilbao.
This picturesque, modern city has become a hub of Spanish insurance companies, banking, and industry. But, don’t let this put you off visiting as part of your Camino del Norte holiday! Bilbao is not all suits and briefcases!
The city retains its amazing culture and the prosperity of the area has led to an influx of trendy new eateries, attractions, bars, and cafes.
10 Reasons to visit Bilbao
Bilbao is full to the brim of things to do. Here are our Top 10 reasons why you need to visit:
1. The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim is world-famous and is synonymous with the city of Bilbao. The artwork begins with the architecture of the stunning building and the sculptures that surround it. Inside The Guggenheim’s uniquely constructed walls you’ll find exhibitions by the world’s greatest modern artists. This place is mind-blowing.
2. The Seven Streets
The Old Town in Bilbao is known as Casco Viejo (The Seven Streets). These streets are jam-packed with personality, and really capture the character of Old Bilbao. Take a break and chill out in one of the traditional Basque cafes or restaurants.
3. The Theatre
The two theatres in Bilbao, The Arriaga Theatre and The Campos Eliseos Theatre stare across the river at each other. They are glorious to view from a distance, and you can also catch some great shows inside!
4. El Ensanche
El Ensanche is an upmarket neighborhood, that is located on the west of the City. The wide streets of El Ensanche are lined with old townhouses. This is a shoppers metropolis, home to famous fashion house brands. Try to be conservative with your credit card, as some of the fashion is as irresistible as it is expensive!
5. Santiago Cathedral
Santiago Cathedral is the crowning glory of the old quarter in Bilbao. The Gothic-style building is named after St. James, patron saint of Galicia and star of the Camino de Santiago.
Spotting the scallop shell in the Cathedral will remind you that although you’re exploring this fab city, you’ve got some walking to do!
You may have heard of tapas, and Pintxos are very similar. Our tip is to visit a couple of bars and get a miniature meal with a drink. The Camino del Norte and the Basque region, in particular, are famous for their cuisine and this is the ultimate method of tasting the biggest variety of food in a limited timeline.
7. Athletic Bilbao
It’s not often that a football club makes a CaminoWays.com list but the heritage of Athletic Bilbao is admirable, to say the least. The club has managed to stay at the top of Spanish football despite limiting themselves to only employing Basque players since 1912. This celebration of Basque Nationalism is a testament to the club and its community.
8. Artxanda Lookout
A cable car, Bilbao Funicular, takes you from the city to Artxanda Lookout. This vantage point towers 250 metres above the city, allowing you to spot all the sites we’ve listed from a birds-eye view. The green mountainous backdrop should be another reminder that the Camino trail awaits you.
9. Vizcaya Bridge
Vizcaya Bridge is a UNESCO heritage site, so you know it’s got something special! The world’s oldest transporter bridge connects two sides of the city across the Nervion River. The structure is a prime example of industrial ingenuity in the nineteenth century and still operates today.
10. River Maritime Museum
Bilbao’s rich fishing culture is celebrated in this epic museum.
3 Things to do in Lugo | Camino Primitivo - Camino de Santiago
Lugo is one of the main cities along the Camino Primitivo, the oldest Camino de Santiago route, and a must-see on your visit to Galicia.
If you are walking the Camino Frances from Sarria and making your way by public transport from Santiago de Compostela Lavacolla airport, you are likely to change bus at Lugo station where you will take the bus to Sarria*. If you are arriving early, we recommend you stop for a few hours to check out Lugo’s historic centre before you hop on the bus to Sarria. We feel it would be a real shame to miss it!
These are our top 3 tips for a great afternoon in Lugo:
1. Free food in Lugo?
If you are arriving around lunchtime or you are feeling peckish, Lugo’s Old Town will be a real treat. If Galicia is well known for its tasty food, Lugo is one of the best places to dig in.
We recommend you wander about the Old Town where offering free pinchos (small little tapas) with each drink is a local tradition.
Each glass will come with a complimentary dish that could be anything from freshly made tortilla to the classic Galician empanada (savoury pie), octopus, stews and other home-cooked meals.
This is a favourite pastime and tradition for locals, particularly at weekends. If you are still hungry after your free pinchos, you can also get fantastic food at great prices around this area (and most of the city, really), including daily specials and set menus.
Head for the streets in and around Praza do Campo such as Rua do Miño and Rua Nova to experience the best of Lugo’s gastronomy and discover the city one ‘pincho’ at a time.
It is also important to note than in most towns and cities in Spain, shops close at lunchtime (approximately from 1.30 pm to 4.30 or 5 pm, to be then reopened again until late). This will mean the ‘shopping’ parts of town will be quiet while it will be prime time in the streets with bars and restaurants.
2. Walk like a Roman
Lugo’s most iconic attraction, and rightly so, is its spectacular Roman Wall, a perfectly preserved structure dating back to the 3rd century and wrapping around the Old Town for over 2kms.
Lugo’s impressive UNESCO-listed Roman Wall (Muralla Romana de Lugo) is up to 7 metres wide and has 85 towers and 10 gates, including the Porta Miñá (referring to the River Miño), which is the way out of the city for pilgrims on the Camino Primitivo (the Original Way).
You can actually take the steps up the wall and go for a walk along the full loop (another activity favoured by locals).
You’ll get a great perspective of the city and it will give you a chance to get some training done for your Camino, as well as burning off the calories on all those tasty pinchos.
3. Relax in Lugo
The Main Square (Praza Maior) is a great place to relax and watch the world go by for a while, after your walk.
There are many cafes where you can enjoy some downtime with a cup of coffee before getting ready for your bus to Sarria*.
Before you go, however, you should visit Lugo Cathedral in Praza de Santa Maria, just a few metres away from the Praza Maior. Originally built in the 12th century and therefore a Romanesque building, many other styles have been added over time, hence its Baroque, Gothic and Neoclassic elements.
If you have a couple of hours to spare and you are interested in history we recommend you visit the local museum (Museo Provincial) where you will be able to fully appreciate the city’s rich heritage and history, particularly from the Roman era. Each year, the city celebrates this Roman heritage with a period festival, Arde Lucus, that transforms Lugo back into its 3rd-century city self: Lucus Augusti.
Perfect Italian dinner on the Via Francigena, Tuscany - Camino de Santiago
Perfect Italian dinner on the Via Francigena
If you’re planning a walking holiday in Tuscany on the Via Francigena or Cammino di Francesco, don’t miss the chance to discover authentic Italian food, one of the richest Mediterranean food cultures. Let us whet your appetite with this blog post before you leave for the Italian peninsula. Perfect Italian dinner on the Via Francigena
We suggest you begin your evening in Tuscany with an aperitivo. The Italian word aperitivo is usually translated as “Happy Hour” but is not the same thing. An aperitivo is just a pre-dinner drink, meant to open the palate.
Aperitivo drinks can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, “virgin” drinks. Non-alcoholic or “virgin” drinks can range from a soft drink to delicious fruit juice cocktails or a non-alcoholic bitter, like Italian Sanbitter, Crodino or Chinotto.
For alcoholic drinks we suggest wine, usually white, but don’t dismiss a good red wine a priori. Prosecco is our favourite choice: sparkling white wine perfect to sweeten your palate while tasting some exquisite appetizers. Spumante, sweet or dry sparkling white wine, is also a good choice. Fragolino or Brachetto are two of the sweetest choices if you go for red wine.
What is offered as appetizers, really depends on the bar. A few olives and potato chips are the classic (poorest) offering. We suggest you ask for something tastier and Italian, like some bread or breadsticks, grissini in Italian, accompanied by some fresh and fabulous Parma ham (prosciutto di Parma) or the famous lardo di Colonnata produced in Carrara, Tuscany. Sometimes you can find Italian cheese such as fresh Mozzarella as an appetizer.
Take your time to enjoy your aperitivo and then move serenely to a good restaurant in town but make sure they have bistecca alla fiorentina in the Menu.
Bistecca alla fiorentina, or “beefsteak Florentine style”, is a T-bone traditionally sourced from either the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle. It’s one of our favourite Tuscan dishes and we heartily recommend it to you!
Begin your dinner with a fresh salad dressed with Italian olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Modena.
The highlight of the evening is now finally arrived.
The bistecca alla fiorentina is 2 or 3 fingers thick and the correct weight for 2 people varies between 900 and 1250 grams. The T-bone divides the filet part of the steak from the sirloin. The steak is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, seasoned with salt and sometimes with black pepper. A generous amount of olive oil is applied immediately after the meat is taken off the heat. The secret is in the speed of the cooking method and the result is that the meat is roasted golden brown on the outside and soft and pulpy in the inside. It is traditionally served very rare, sometimes garnished with lemon wedges and accompanied by Tuscan beans or baked potatoes as a side dish. Thickly cut and very large steaks are often shared between two or more people. Perfect Italian dinner on the Via Francigena
The best Tuscan red wine to accompany your fabulous dish is absolutely a Chianti.
Other good choices of well-known regional wines could be Monteregio di Massa Marittima Riserva Doc, Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Morellino di Scansano, Parrina, Sassicaia and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
If you still have a little space for dessert, try some delicious tiramisu or panna cotta, the best Italian traditional desserts. Something also traditional but much lighter could be just some Cantuccini, known in English as “biscotti”, which in Italian is just the general word for biscuits.
10 Most Delicious Galician Dishes on the Camino - Camino de Santiago
If you are planning your Camino de Santiago trip, it is very likely that you will visit Galicia soon. One question we get asked quite often is about the food and Galician Dishes in particular.
We have picked what we think are the 10 most delicious Galician dishes you must try on your Camino trip.
10 Most Delicious Galician Dishes to try along the Camino
Nothing tastes better after a long day walking than a good plate of…
The ultimate Galician traditional dish. You will find it referred to as ‘pulpo á feira’ (in Galician), ‘pulpo a la gallega’ (in Spanish) or simply ‘pulpo’. Boiled to a perfect point and served with paprika, salt, and olive oil, cooking octopus is an art in Galicia.
It can’t be too hard or too mushy, it has to be just perfect. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the dish: a great ‘pulpeiro’ (someone who specialises in cooking octopus) is not that easy to come by!
If you are walking the Camino Frances via Melide, you should stop at A Garnacha for a taste of delicious octopus. Many pilgrims have recommended it to us.
2. Padrón peppers
The little green peppers from Padrón are quite unique and should be eaten in the right season (Summer). Simply fried and sprinkled with rock salt, they are the food equivalent of the Russian roulette.
The Galician expression goes: ‘Pementos de Padrón; uns pican e outros non’ (some of them are hot and some of them are not).
And it is so true: they are mostly perfectly sweet little peppers, but there is always the odd one as hot as a chili. Many people have different theories to guess which ones are going to be spicy: is it the ones with the pointy end? would it be the smaller ones? or the larger pepper? the truth is nobody knows but it is all part of the fun.
Galicians would eat anything in empanada… these savoury pastries or pies come in many fillings and shapes but the most popular ones are filled, of course, with seafood or fish. Cod (bacalao/bacallao), mussels (mejillones/mexillóns) and tuna (bonito) are some of the most popular empanadas. The quality of your empanada will depend on the bakers, the type of pastry, the quality of the filling… but they are all delicious.
4. Caldo Galego
Beware, vegetarians! Caldo galego (Galician broth) might look like a harmless veggie-friendly dish with its cabbage, green leaves and beans but it tends to be ‘seasoned’ with pork lard and sometimes with other types of pork meat. Caldo is a hearty, homely Galician dish, cooked in every home, especially in wintertime.
5. Squid: all sizes and shapes!
Crispy squid rings (calamares or luras in Galician) and baby squid (chipirones) are cooked in a light batter and simply eaten with a sprinkle of lemon juice. Hot or cold, they are one of the most delicious snacks.
6. Queixo de Tetilla
Cheese lovers might not be familiar with Galician cheese, mainly softer, mildly cured cow cheeses, usually eaten with quince jelly as a dessert.
Galicia’s most characteristic and unique looking cheese is called ‘queixo de tetilla’ (meaning ‘little breast’) for its pointy shape. On your way to Santiago, along the Camino Frances, you will pass Arzúa, famous for its pointy ‘tetilla’ cheese.
Galicia is considered to be the shellfish and fish capital of Spain: clams, mussels, cockles, lobsters, prawns, crab or the extravagant gooseneck barnacles, tuna from Burela, hake, monkfish, sardines… the variety of seafood found in fish shops and restaurants in Galicia is impressive, seasonal and of premium quality.