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:
This was to be a good walking day, despite the thirty-plus kilometres we would have to traverse. It started well with cool overcast conditions, so ideal for walking. After passing the usual pastures of Charolais and the small village of Autet, our trail led us through a narrow tunnel to the pastoral banks of the Soâne River. A beautiful multi-use path paralleling its banks led us to the Petite Soâne canal, a surprising discovery given that the canal disappeared through a tunnel to continue its path. The village of Seveux came next, primarily notable as a stopping point mentioned by Cardinal Sigeric in his 990 travel blog.
Our route diverted from the ‘official path’ which would have added five kilometres to our already too-long walk. Minor roads and then forestry roads led us to an unexpected rest stop equipped with picnic tables (very rare) as well as a spring with cool, pure water. Be sure to listen to our soundscape (below) as we pause here for lunch. From here on, the route was exclusively on small highways with very little traffic. We counted a total of 20 vehicles passing us over the course of three hours.
Among the few small villages we encountered, Igny was notable for its lavoir or wash house. If you have been following previous blog posts you will have noticed an assortment of gable-roofed structures, often with stone columns, covering a fountain and a pool. In the 19 C., the French government imposed sanitation standards across the country. Some jurisdictions took up the challenge by creating public washing ‘fountains’ in the centre of their villages. Some were simple structures, some used classical elements such as square Doric-style stone columns but many chose to build a fanciful, architect-designed lavoirs. Igny was one of those. It is a delightful experience to turn a corner in an otherwise typical Franche-Comté village and find such an elegant structure that is now (and probably when built) no more than an architectural folly.
By the time we arrived at the Hôtel Pinocchio in Gy, we were certainly wobbly on our tired legs. But the day had been a grand adventure, well worth the effort. And sore muscles are easily remedied by a good meal and fine wine!
Walk Date: Oct 4, 2022
Distance: 34.1 km
Elevation Gain: 561 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.