In this post…
- Day 4, 2nd of August 2016, ride between Péronne and Tergnier (Auberge de Villequier)
- Day 5, 3rd of August 2016, ride between Tergnier (Auberge de Villequier) and Reims
The night in the tent was not good. It rained all night and I am not used to that kind of “rain on tent” noise. The morning wasn’t different. When I woke up is wasn’t raining, but by the time I was finished with my breakfast it slowly started to come down again. I managed to pack everything just in time when the rain started to thicken.
Google Maps guided me out of town through some very muddy dirt tracks, which wasn’t nice. That is one of the problems with the “beta” cycling navigation of Google Maps. There is no option, as far as I know, to tell it not to trace a route using dirt tracks (off-road). I did manage to get through the mud without an incident (barely) and few kilometres down the track re-joined a “D” road.
The destination was Trefcon and I was expecting it to be small, but not that small. It is really only a few houses together and as expected there wasn’t anything open, nor anyone around.
So, took a few pictures and continued to Tergnier.
The rain is always an annoyance when riding a bicycle, but the big enemy of his day was the wind. You may have notice I had a little orange flag in the back of the bike to improve visibility. Well, the wind was so strong it managed to rip the flag and flag pole from the base without me noticing it. Since then I am riding Flagless 🙁
The 2nd victim of the day was my “side-open” GoPRO case, which I used to be able to charge the GoPRO while recording. He locking lever broke, but the case seems to be holding close well with an elastic band.
I arrived in Tergnier soaked, tired and with a bad mood. As I got there I asked a few locals for a hotel, but I couldn’t understand the directions they were giving me. So I turned to Google and the 1st option Google gave me was an Auberge in the “nearby” village of Villequier). In the Google Maps description, it said it was 4.2 Km from Tergnier, but it turned to be 7 Km, as measured by the Garmin… and in the wrong direction. Can’t really blame Google for that (except for the distance) as I should have looked more. Tergnier is small, but there are apparently a few hotels there.
Anyway, I was settled for the night and manage to hand wash some of my clothes as well as dry a bit more the tent. Didn’t really take any pictures this day as it was raining most of the time and I didn’t feel there was anything picture worthy along the way.
I had just finished packing and started to rain. It rained for about 1 or 1.5h, but at least the wind wasn’t as strong as the day before and that enabled me to ride almost 90 Km this day. I started by taking the exact same way back to Tergnier as I did the day before. I wanted a Tergnier stamp on my pilgrim’s passport and I had a remote hope to find my flag again (which I obviously didn’t… just wishful thinking).
After receiving the Tergnier stamp from the Hotel de Ville on the credentials, I headed to the next stage in the Via Francigena Lightfoot guide which is Laon.
Laon was probably the high point of the day, but to get up there wasn’t easy. Had to dismount and push the heavy bike most of the way up. You get rewarded by the beautiful cathedral and the views, once you get up there. Managed to get my pilgrim credential stamped in the Tourist Information Office and when I looked for a place to rest and eat something I was told it was closed (I don’t understand the French economy… it was barely 4 pm I think).
While I was taking pictures a group of Dutch cycle-tourists came to talk to me. They were curious about my gear and my pilgrimage. One of them was kind enough to take a few pictures of me with my camera.
The next stage after Laon is Corbeny and, as expected on these little villages, everything was closed, even their hotel. Jeanne D’Arc apparently had stayed in Corberny on he 22nd of July 1429, so she was luckier than me to find anything open that day. Took a few pictures and continued, but feeling a bit disappointed by all these small French villages I decided to skip he next town in the guide, which was Hemonville and head straight to Reims, which is a much bigger city and a place I wanted to visit anyway. So, if there was something worth seeing in Hermonville you’ll have to find out by yourselves.
It was on my way to Reims that met Fabio, the 1st Via Francigena pilgrim I have seem. Fabio lives in Rome, so he travelled to Canterbury and is walking back home… home to Rome. I gave him one of my cards and I hope he gets in touch to share his experiences, eventually.
Reims has a most impressive cathedral as well, so bug, in fact that it was hard to frame it all too close. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enter it, as it was already late and I had to find a place to sleep still. As I got to Reims, around 7:30pm the tourist information office was already closed, but they have an interactive, touch sensitive display in front of the office which was very helpful. It allowed me to search for accommodation by a number of criteria, such as price, location, etc. I manage to get the address of a cheap hotel just 2 blocks away and by luck they still had rooms available.
I had a walk around the town centre in the evening before dinner and was most impressive by how lively it is. I loved the colour changing buildings (the light shining on them obviously changes colour), such as the opera house and a few other buildings I could see. I wish I had more time to spend there.
Hope the pictures talk for themselves, but if they don’t and you are curious, just get in touch through the contact form on the menu (it may take me a few days to answers, though)
And, if you got to this point, 1st I hope you enjoyed the account and 2nd as usual, before I close this post, how about you donate to my charity of choice, Mind UK, one of the UK’s leading mental health charities? Anything you can donate will be a big help.