Walking The Via Francigena, Stage 32: Clairvaux to Châteauvillain

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:

We’ve been lucky so far. The days have been mild and rain-free save for one minor shower on the first day. That changed today. It had rained the night before, shortly after we completed our Clairvaux Abbey tour, and continued throughout the night. As we started our walk this morning, the rain had stopped but left our forest trails, which had been chewed up in many places by logging equipment, with deep muddy ruts. At the halfway point, the wind picked up, whipping rain sideways into our faces. All that and an unusually cold temperature made for a chilly experience.

Weather aside, there was much to see on our way as we wound our way through small villages, several visited by Sigeric in 990 on his historic pilgrimage between Canterbury and Rome. And our ultimate destination, Châteauvillain, was a delightful small town with streets and alleys lined with fine stone buildings and several interesting historic sites. There is, of course, a church at its core. L’Église Notre-Dame de L’Assomption may have roots dating back to 1350 but it is now a decidedly ‘newer’ church done in a Classical style with a rare polychromatic interior and a beautiful pipe organ hovering high above the nave. For Gail and me, the building has a special significance owing to its association with the Via Francigena. This and other churches visited today proclaim this connection to the pilgrimage route with a modern iron motif of a pilgrim located near their entrances. Beyond the church, there are ancient fortifications, remnants of the chateau that once dominated the town, as well as a wash house from the historic tannery district with its unique floating parquet floor and chestnut-framed roof structure.

Walk Date: Sep 27, 2022

Distance: 24.3 km

Elevation Gain: 507 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.

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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