Water: Is it safe to drink tap water and how much water should I carry?

On most sections of the Camino Francés you are unlikely to need carry more than 1 litre of water at any time because there are many places along the route to refill your bottle or buy drinks.  However, on remoter routes, or in very warm weather, or on stretches of the Francés where there are longer gaps between water supplies, such as crossing the Pyrenees or the meseta, it is advisable to carry 2 litres.  Always check in your guidebook prior to setting out each day to see what water refill points are available.

Tap water in France is generally safe to drink, however a few smaller communities are not connected to the mains.  You will find public taps, drinking fountains and bars/cafes on the way where you can refill your water bottles. Many pilgrim guides also state that all French cemeteries have a tap which is safe to drink from but recent reports suggest that such water has caused illness.   If in any doubt you should ask.

L'eau (du robinet) est-elle potable?  Is the (tap) water drinkable?

Tap water in Spain is generally safe to drink in the major cities, indeed some places, such as Madrid and Granada, pride themselves on the exceptional quality of their water supply.  Elsewhere the quality of water may vary. Some coastal areas rely on desalinated water which can taste quite unpleasant .   Other areas rely on underground tanks for water if the mains supply gets interrupted.  In more remote areas it is best to stick to bottled water unless you are sure the tap water is safe.

¿Es potable el agua (del grifo)?  - Is the (tap) water drinkable?

As in France, you will find drinking fountains and bars where you can refill your water bottle.  If a fountain is for human consumption it should have a sign saying Agua Potable, if not drinkable No Potable or Sin Purificación.

¿Es potable el agua (de la fuente)?  - Is the (fountain) water drinkable?

Please don’t drink out of rivers or streams, however temptingly cool and clear they look, since many harbour bacteria or parasites that can cause stomach upsets.

©CSJ

Confraternity of Saint James,
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Tel: (+44) (0)20 7928 9988
Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered no. 4096721 — UK Registered Charity no. 1091140
Founded in 1983 to promote the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela

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