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:
The landscape and weather has changed significantly. Open farm fields have largely been replaced with forest walks. And it rained, for the first time since our first day on the trail. Not a hard rain but a continuing drizzle, just enough wetness to question a need to don Gore-Tex jackets versus living with a slightly damp shirt.
We arrived in the village of Dienville late morning. The unusual bell-shaped roof of St. Quentin church stood out as we approached the town centre. While it dates to 1784, the rest of the church reaches back to the 15 C. The interior’s Gothic framework contrasts nicely with the intricate black and gold iron screen that surrounds the choir and alter. This is not the first church we’ve encountered with piped-in background music but this was the most eclectic, moving from light classics to Greensleeves to George Gershwin’s Summertime!
Adjacent to the church and arguably more significant is the Halles de Dienville, a stone and timber market hall dating to 1866. It replaces an earlier market structure built in 1536. As pilgrims, it is noteworthy that the route from Canterbury to Rome is built upon an existing framework of trade routes. This is but one more reminder that the pilgrimage route described by Sigeric in the 900s is but one layer of history the modern pilgrim encounters, whether it’s medieval trade routes or battlegrounds from two World Wars or Napoleonic wars…to name but a few.
Our day ended in Dolancourt and the fairly luxurious digs of Le Moulin de Landon. Oddly, within eyeshot and easily heard throughout town, is Nigloland, a vast amusement park that sits uncomfortably (or dominating) in this small picturesque town.
We are eating well, it seems with multi-course dinners that included a local Champagne, a pavé of salmon for Gail and andouillette—a truly acquired taste— pour moi.
Walk Date: Sep 24, 2022
Distance: 21.8 km
Elevation Gain: 334 m
Read on to view today’s photos, a soundscape captured along the route and an interactive map.
Click the images below to view a full-screen slideshow.
Overview map of the route from Tergnier to Besançon.