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Any experience with sleeping in churches/monasteries?

2020 Camino Guides


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for 2018
Hey all,

I'm wondering wether anyone has experience with reaching out to churches and monasteries for a (next to) free place to sleep and a shower. Being a musician I have the luxury of being able to take time off for this trip, but funding it is a whole different ball-game... ;)
I've e-mailed a church close to my hometown and the pastor was very welcoming right away. Since I'd rather walk up to a church and ask for a place to sleep instead of e-mailing 70 places in advance, I wonder if anyone has experience in doing so in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and/or Spain.

I can finance the Albergues once I'm in Spain. There are so many pilgrims walking the CF, so I figure that it won't be as easy to find these places once I'm on the big trail, but any financial relief during the first part of my trip would be more than welcome.

Any help and/or thoughts are very much appreciated!


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
Some pilgrims walk the way as St. Francis supposedly did, sans money.

I've met pilgrims who sang for their supper or you can volunteer to help out for a nights lodging.

Donativo albergues are a good bet. Try to leave the most you can.

Buen camino.


Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
In Belgium some monks at monasteries have a guesthouse for male pilgrims.
Most work with fixed prices though.
Walking to find an open church will prove more difficult.
One priest here in Belgium is more often than not responsible for eight parishes/churches.
So lots of churches will be closed.
Flemish and Dutch confraternities of St James have lists of private persons that facilitate a room for pilgrims but you will have to call in on time.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
Are you walking through Péronne, in France? The Catholic church had a room for pilgrims (and homeless people) in the garden of the Presbytery, called 'la petite maison'. i haven't been able to find details about it though so maybe it isn't available any more.... I know it is a different priest now....
It was free but of course I left a donation! Worth looking into if it is on your way :)
PS: It's the Church where a large mural painting miraculously survived the bombings!


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for 2018
Thanks for the replies so far!

Looks like it might be a good idea to take some time planning ahead after all. Thinking about planning two weeks in advance and updating my route every week to be able to plan ahead with the least amount of time going into it.

I'll look into the confraternities and see if I can find private stays that way.

I'll be heading south from Rocroi, so won't pass by Péronne unfortunately, but maybe there are similar guest houses along the way.



New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for 2018
I'm familiar with it, but want to check out other options first, since sending out couchsurfing requests is very time consuming and finding a host in small villages/towns can be hard. Thanks for the tip though!

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I recall meeting two French nuns who walked from their convent to Santiago, expecting to be welcomed to stay at churches or monasteries. They were sadly disappointed. Even their fellow religious pointed them to the nearest pilgrim albergue, saying that hospitality was not their calling!
Back when pilgrims were few and far between, I think a travelers like yourself would find a better welcome. But with thousands of strangers passing by, the hospitality dried up. You will be lucky to find it now. Everybody has to pay their way.


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for 2018
Yeah, I figured it might be harder these days.. Do you know if they were turned down in France as well? I can imagine the pilgrim count in Spain to be higher, thus the pay-your-way-attitude as well.

Just to be clear: I'm not expecting special treatment, just seeing what my options are on a very low budget. If it turns out to be impossible, bringing a tent is also an option of course. Would like to travel as light as possible though.


Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes (11th September 2014) via Piedmont to SJPP,
then Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela

Via Francigena, Ramsgate,Canterbury ,England to Rome,
via France,Switzerland and Italy. April to July 2016
I would echo the thoughts of looking at what local confraternitys/ organisations can offer ... they, in my view often have excellent contacts , and surprising offers, particularly in less ‘well travelled areas’

However , do not despair , my first night on the Via Francigena in 2016 ... was spent on the floor of a small church in Kent, England , where the church warden let me stay the night, as there were no accommodations available anywhere - a good ‘pilgrim start’ - I then spent the next 3 months travelling to Rome , staying at many private homes, monasteries,parish houses, garages ... even a Chateau !!
Lots were ‘donativo’...

People everywhere are very kind and open to helping a pilgrim on a long journey ! ( you just need to do a bit of research first )


Active Member
Concur...do research in advance and your anticipated arrival time—perhaps you can stay a few days to help out? Perhaps one contact will refer another and another in this way

and yes perhaps send out a message to Refugio’s run by hospitaleras—state what you can offer and what you can do as an exchange:

Clean, cook, sing, play, massage, wash, gardening for example

This may facilitate your lodging exchange


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Here in France there is a often a Chain of Local ( donativo )
Hospitality offered for passing pilgrims. See more in French here. Those who offer such hospitality do so for the pleasure of meeting/greeting pilgrims as well as helping them find their way.

For example my husband and I live in a small Champagne village, facing the Marne river.
We have a b & b but also provide simple family hosting for passing pilgrims. My first pilgrim shell hangs at our door marking the path.

Check to see if such a Chain of Local Hospitality/ l'Accueil pèlerins à domicile exists where you might wish to travel in France.

For more re walking from Rocroi see

For more re monasterìes which host pilgrims on the CF see https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/monasteries-for-pilgrims.35879/

Happy planning and Bon chemin!
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