Walking The Via Francigena, Stage 39: An Unexpected End to our Pilgrimage…This Year!

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 adventure:

The day started out well enough. There would be a short twenty-kilometre walk to Genouille, the second last day of our walk on the Via Francigena. A calm mood was set by a dense fog. And then it happened, after just one kilometre. A quick misstep on the edge of a curb had Gail falling forward. Weighed down by her pack, her knee hit the concrete curb first, her cheekbone second. A passing motorist stopped to offer assistance but we thought, no, we’ll try to continue. That lasted about 500 metres. Gail was in obvious pain, barely able to move the leg that hit the concrete. So we made the decision to turn back and seek medical assistance in Gy. By extreme good fortune, a car approached and slowly pulled alongside. The driver offered to take us to a medical clinic in Gy. That driver was Mireille, who became our guardian angel, our saviour, our hero that day. After ushering us into the clinic and seeing that Gail was inspected by a doctor, she drove us to the pharmacy, took us to her nearby home, set Gail up in a recliner, wrapped her knee in an ice pack and then began preparations for our lunch. We were introduced to Mireille’s husband, Michel, who also had knee issues, although much more serious and involving recent surgery to both legs. Together, we all sat down for a filling déjeuner of Franch-Comté cuisine washed down with a healthy amount of wine (excepting Gail, who was starting her medications). Gail was quite immobile at this point and the doctor warned that any serious walking would be out of the question for at least five days. So we decided to make our way to our next planned destination, Geneuille, by taxi. However, Mireille generously offered to drive us there!

We arrived at the Gîte de la Brillianne mid-afternoon. And after conveying our inadequate thanks to Mireille as she left to return to Gy, Gail’s care was transferred to our hosts, Anne and Frédéric, who made sure Gail was made comfortable and had an ice wrap for her leg. Dinner was, of course, another exceptional spread of local specialties.

In yet another exceptional gesture of kindness, Anne and Frédéric offered to drive us the following morning to the final destination of our Via Francigena pilgrimage, the fortified hilltop city of Besançon.

Which finds us here, in a beautiful terrace suite at Résidence Charles Quint, where we will be staying for two nights before resuming the non-walking portion of our trip into Switzerland…with a few modifications to suit Gail’s mobility requirements.

What this means for you, dear reader, is that there will be no further blog posts for the time being. Once I have returned to Winnipeg in late October, you can look forward to updates on our visits (we hope) to Basel, Bern, Mürren and Geneva. Until then, be sure to check out our final soundscape of this year’s pilgrimage walk as well as photos of the people who helped us these last two days. We owe so much for their kindness!

At this point in my blog posts, you would normally find a summary of the day’s walk, the distance covered and the elevation climbed. Instead, let me summarize what we’ve accomplished. In total we have walked about 575 kilometres over 21 walking days. Although we were’t able to walk the final two days, we only missed about 40 kilometres, as result. All in all, mission accomplished. And we are already making plans for continuing our pilgrimage in 2023, starting back in Gy and continuing southward through Switzerland and into northern Italy.

Read on to view today’s photos, a soundscape captured along the route and an interactive map.

Today’s Soundscape: Gail and I recount the day’s events.

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

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).

13 thoughts on “Walking The Via Francigena, Stage 39: An Unexpected End to our Pilgrimage…This Year!

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  1. Hi, Gail and David,
    I have so enjoyed reading your posts and perusing your photos. (Such a variety of subject matter!) I was dismayed to read about Gail’s fall — our bodies are so vulnerable — and grateful for the lovely people who took care of you both. Enjoy the rest of your visit, gently. I look forward to seeing you soon.

    1. Thank you, Bev, for your good wishes. Indeed, after millions of footfall, it takes just one to bring you down. However, with some rest and certain itinerary changes (like exploring Besançon in earnest next year and visiting Ronchamp next time instead) hopefully there will be opportunity to recover sufficiently for the touristy Swiss part of the adventure.

      We send you our best and look forward to a get-together soon.

      David and Gail.
      to recover sufficiently for the Touristy Swiss part of the adventure.

  2. So sorry to hear about your accident. Nice to have met such caring people. It is awesome how they step in to help 😊and your enthusiasm never ceased ,and you just keep on going . 👍🥰to you both

    1. Hi Emily — Thank you for your kind wishes. Yes, there are amazing people about. And guess what? They were also animal people, with adopted pets.

      Hope this finds you and yours well. Give a hug to them for me (I have been really impressed by the friendly donkeys along the way…maybe I can secretly have one in Winnipeg!)

      Take care,

      Gail and David.

  3. So sorry to hear about your accident. Nice to have met such caring people. It is awesome how they step in to help 😊and your enthusiasm never ceased ,and you just keep on going . 👍🥰to you both

  4. Oh my! not the ending you’d hoped/planned for. One misstep among so many millions of perfect ones! Hope the healing is easy and quick… take good care!! Sounds like there are many good and generous folks surrounding you. hugs

    1. Thank you, Cathy. We are, in fact, very fortunate and thankful. The plan is rest for the next few days and what we miss this time around, we will see next year when we resume our trek.

      We hope this finds you well. Say « hi » and hugs to Ruby for us.

      Gail and David.

  5. OMG!! Angels surround you!! Well, now… I was wondering yesterday how your wrist has been doing, David. You are both pretty lucky, but wow, Gail’s tumble is a startling reminder how dependent we are on that magical vessel – the body!! Rest and enjoy all there is to enjoy, including each other! You know the drill!!


    1. Thanks, Gloria. We do consider ourselves fortunate. We are comfortably installed in our hotel in stunning Besançon. I have remained inside, resting the leg. We have also cancelled our Saturday side trip to Ronchamp and will be going straight to Basel instead. We will explore these places next time, when we resume our trek next year.

      Amazingly, the temperatures here are the same as those in Winnipeg. It is looking autumn-y. Same with you?

      Take care,

      David and Gail.

    1. Thank you, Neil B. I have taken today easy, missing out on looking around Besançon, where there is not a level surface to be had. Also, we have cancelled out on our trains to Ronchamp on Saturday, intending to go straight to Basel instead. We will have these two places to enjoy next time, next year, when we resume our trek. Stay well, and we will see you on Zoom soon,

      David and Gail.

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