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.
Today is a non-walking day, what through-hikers would call a zero day, a day to relax and wash clothes. For Gail and me, a zero day is an opportunity to explore an interesting place.
Today, that place is Langres. It is the perfect place to be on a rest day. Perched high atop a hill, the tight medieval city offers abundant opportunities for aimlessly wandering about narrow streets lined with stone buildings yet is compact enough in scale to casually walk from end-to-end in fifteen minutes. Intact fortification walls encircle the entire city and a one-hour walk will take one all way round, assuming no stops for the splendid views over the countryside or a ride up the funicular-cum-elevator that connects to a parking lot at the base of the hill. It replaces an earlier cog-driven train. A non-operational restored version can still be visited while walking the fortifications. Let’s make that a two-hour circumnavigation of the walls!
Inside those walls, there’s plenty more to explore. Like the Saint Mammès Cathedral. Completed in the 12 C., its interior straddles the heavy stone detailing and round arches of Romanesque architecture with the up-and-coming gothic style and its lighter structure, larger windows and pointy arches. Denis Diderot, philosopher and co-creator of the French encyclopedia, grew up in Langres and, although he had a complex relationship with the city—most of his work was done in Paris—he is well-commemorated in Langres, especially at the Maison des Lumières Denis Diderot. Exploring the narrow streets revealed Renaissance houses and 16 C. mansions, small shops selling Langres cheese, nougat and Nogent cutlery, still leaving time for a leisurely lunch at the Cheval Blanc.
A day well rested.
Read on to view the day’s photos.
Click the images below to view a full-screen slideshow.