Walking The Via Francigena, Stage 24: Châlons-en-Champagne to Vitry-la-Ville

This “Walking The Via Francigena” series of posts follow us, David and Gail, as we continue our walk along the Via Francigena pilgrimage route between Canterbury and Rome. In the fall of 2019, we completed the first leg from London to Canterbury, known as the Chaucer Way, and onward to the small town of Tergnier, France on the Via Francigena. A pandemic got in the way but now, in 2022, our trek is underway once again, this time taking us from Tergnier to Besançon over 23 walking days and 580 or so kilometres.

Notes from today’s walk:

As in previous days, this walk was taken at a languid pace. We passed through open fields, a few woods but primarily followed canals and the river Marne. However, the trail was bookended by two impressive finds.

At the start, we wound through Chalon’s Petit Jar, Grand Jar and, finally, the English Jar. Jar is nothing more than the diminutive of jardin, or garden, but this 27-hectare park is anything but diminutive. Along the way, we pass an array of exotic trees and an elegant band stand. We cross canals on small iron bridges and take in scenic views back towards the city.

At the other end of our walk, we visited Église de la Nativité-de-Notre-Dame in the small town of Pogny. Remarkably, the church was unlocked—rare for small town churches in this part of France— and we were able to take a look inside. This may not be a cathedral with a significant architectural pedigree but there is much to be said for having an empty church all to ourselves and the time to piece together its history. Behind the basilica-style main façade was a Romanesque nave with meaty stone columns supporting round arches. Beyond that was the altar, clearly a later addition (or perhaps a replacement) done in a Gothic style with sharply pointed arches and a lighter stone that made this portion of the church brighter. Here the carved stone decorations were flamboyant compared to the stern geometric carvings in the nave. But it all seemed to fit together well, the two parts easily distinguishable yet visually cohesive as a whole.
Though we knew nothing of the actual history of the church, the stone columns and walls and carvings told their own compelling story.

Walk Date: Sep 18, 2022

Distance: 23.0 km

Elevation Gain: 289 m

Read on to view today’s photos and an interactive map.

Click the images below to view a full-screen slideshow.

Today’s route.

Click the map to open an interactive version on AllTrails.com (opens in a new window).

Overview map of the route from Tergnier to Besançon.

Overview map of Tergnier to Besançon route.
Click the map to open an interactive version on AllTrails.com (opens in a new window).

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