Category Archives: Via Francigena

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Via Francigena Day 7/29: From Châlons-en-Champagne to Brienne-le-Château

"Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible to ourself.", Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage.

In this post…

  1. Introduction
  2. The statistics and metrics of this day
  3. The most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts
  4. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 24, from Châlons-en-Champagne to La-Chaussée-sur-Marne
  5. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 25, from La-Chaussée-sur-Marne to Vitry-le-François
  6. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 26, from Vitry-le-François to Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont.
  7. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 27, from Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont to Lentilles.
  8. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 28, from Lentilles to Brienne-le-Château.
  9. Video tour of the Municipal Pilgrims’ hostel of Brienne-le-Château.
  10. Pictures of the day.

Introduction

Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016
Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016

This post complements the post I published on the 23rd of August 2016 in which I described the experiences I had on the 5th of August 2016 while riding between Châlons-en-Champagne and Brienne-le-Château, in France. I am not going to repeat the content of that post in this one again, but I will try to add a few highlights for each one of the stages below. I encourage you to read the previous post before continuing on this one.

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Statistics and metrics of the day

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Most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts:


P1010559This was a long day in the Via Francigena. I covered several stages of the Lightfoot guide and rode almost 90 Km. It wouldn’t be productive to write again about something I have already written in this blog post, therefore if you didn’t have a chance to read the previous post click on this link, read the post and jump back here as that post does not include any of the videos for this day.


I will however mentioned P1010560again that if you are cycling this route using Google Maps for navigation, it is possible that the cycling route Google Maps will propose is the same one it did for me, in other words, along side the railway tracks after the tiny village of Arrembécourt (see video of stage 27). If you are travelling light and on a mountain bike, then that should be no problem, but if that isn’t the case and like mine your bike weights 50 Kg and is a hybrid or touring bike with touring tyres, then I would recommend that you continue the journey on the D6 towards Chavanges and take the D2 to Lentilles (the same one I took after the train track adventure). It’s a longer route, but stone free.P1010578As you arrive in Lentilles be sure to factor in some time to visit the 16th Century church built of wood and clay; the Church of St Jacques et St Philippe. Personally that small church had a bigger impact on me than many of the ostentatious cathedrals I have seen along the Via Francigena.

Another thing I want to mention before I finalize this text is the municipal pilgrims’ hostel in Brienne-le-Château and also how nice the lady in the tourism information office was to me. First of all, to stay in the pilgrims’ hostel you need to arrive in town at a time that the tourist information office is open, as you have to pay the fee and collect the hostel’s keys from there (although the hostel itself is about 2 Km away in the perimeter of town). Second, before going on the P1010589pilgrimage, like most people I did a lot of research about the route and the places to stay. I read in some blogs that some pilgrims thought the house to be haunted. I must confess, being the only pilgrim sleeping there that night made me apprehensive. The house is indeed a little spooky, but if there were other spiritual entities sharing the house with me that night they did not bother me. The house is old and used to be a hunters’ cabin so my guess is that, if there were to be any ghosts there, they would have been those of the animals that were killed (incl. the two deers whose heads are at the front wall of the house, assuming they are real)

If you want to see more pictures from this day, please take a look at my picture gallery (down below) from Flickr.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 24, from Châlons-en-Champagne to La-Chaussée-sur-Marne

Video Length: 5 min

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 25, from La-Chaussée-sur-Marne to Vitry-le-François.

Video Length: 4 min 21 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 26, from Vitry-le-François to Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont

Video Length: 3 min 43 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 27, from Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont to Lentilles

Video Length: 5 min 7 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 28, from Lentilles to Brienne-le-Château

Video Length: 4 min 19 sec

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Video tour of the Municipal Pilgrims’ hostel of Brienne-le-Château

Video Length: 7 min 30 sec

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Pictures of the day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form.
Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also.
Thank you for your time!


Do you like these posts? Why, then, don’t you pay me a coffee to help with the blog hosting cost and as a caffeine incentive to keep me going through the long hours of the night? (Suggested amount: £2.00 or USD $3.00 or 2.50€ or whatever you want to give).
You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly.

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Via Francigena, Day 6/29: From Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne


"I like to walk at my ease, and stop when I like. A wandering life is what I want. To walk through a beautiful country in fine weather, without being obliged to hurry, with a pleasant prospect at the end, is of all kinds of life, the one best suited to my taste.", Rousseau.

In this post…

  1. Introduction
  2. The statistics and metrics of the day
  3. The most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts
  4. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 21, from Reims to Verzenay
  5. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 22, from Verzenay to Condé-sur-Marne
  6. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 23, from Condé-sur-Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne.
  7. Pictures of the day.

Introduction

Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016
Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016

This post complements the post I published on the 23rd of August 2016 in which I described the experiences I had on the 4th of August 2016 while riding between Reims and Châlons-en-Champagne in France. I am not going to repeat the content of that post in this one again, but I will try to add a few highlights for each one of the stages below. I encourage you to read the previous post before continuing on this one.

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Statistics and metrics of the day

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Most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts:

Champagne cork seats in Reims' Tourist Information Office
Champagne cork seats in Reims’ Tourist Information Office

As I mentioned on the earlier post, I left Reims quite late because I walked to a nearby MacDonalds to have breakfast and to the Tourism Information Office to get my pilgrim’s credential stamped. On the way back I decided to go have a chat with a couple that was sitting with their bikes on a café and, confirming my suspicions they were also Francigena Pilgrims who started in Canterbury and were heading to Rome by bike.

Giovanni and wife were also cycling from Canterbury to Rome
Giovanni and wife were also cycling from Canterbury to Rome

The gentleman’s name was Giovanni. Unfortunately  I forgot to write their names down and don’t remember the name of his wife anymore.  I believe she was German, but I could be mistaken. They were, at that time, the first cycling pilgrims I had seen on the journey, so I was very happy to meet them, even though I thought it was going to be the last time I see them as they were following a different route. They were riding Mountain Bikes and decided for a rougher track. I was, however, wrong. As I arrived in Châlons-en-Champagne at the end of the day, guess who I met at the Tourism Information Office? Exactly! Small world. We then got our pilgrims’ credentials stamped and the address of the local youth hostel and decided to spend the night there.

Myself in Yellow, David at my side. On the other side of the table, Fabio in blue and Giovanni and wife.
Myself in Yellow, David at my side. On the other side of the table, Fabio in blue and Giovanni and wife.

The Youth Hostel in Châlons-en-Champagne is very good. Typical hostel with rooms containing several bunk beds, but every thing was clean and tidy. There we meet other pilgrims and travelers, like David from Belgium, who wanted to walk all the way to Santiago de Compostela, and Fabio who was just cycling from Holland, were he lived with family, to his home town  of Brindisi in Italy. Fabio had already bought some food on the local market and invited us all for dinner. A delicious pasta, that he cooked in the Youth Hostel’s guest kitchen.

After dinner we all went out for a walk around town and for some beers. It was a great evening in the company of some really nice people.

The journey from Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne was really beautiful, despite the rain and the risk of falling due to the slippery tyre grooves on the ground of the canal towpath.

Champagne Vineyards on the way to Verzenay.
Champagne Vineyards on the way to Verzenay.

On the way to Verzenay I rode among the vineyards of champagne produces like Moet et Chandon, one of the most recognisable (and expensive) brands of Champagne. If was like being in the middle of a sea of grapes. I was tempted to eat a few off the trees, but they appeared to be too green. As in Verzenay, everything in Condé-sur-Marne was closed, so I couldn’t find any place to stamp my pilgrim’s credentials.

Those tyre grooves where my bike is standing were at times quite deep and with the rain quite muddy and slippery. Really beautiful ride though.
Those tyre grooves where my bike is standing were at times quite deep and with the rain quite muddy and slippery. Really beautiful ride though.
Felt almost like I was riding on a "Cycling Autobahn". Very smooth surface.
Felt almost like I was riding on a “Cycling Autobahn”. Very smooth surface.

From Condé-sur-Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne was entirely done on canal towpaths as my bike was also heavy in the front (I had 2x 10 Kg panniers in the front) it wasn’t easy to steer quickly at times and the grooves were wet and narrow and had quite a bit of mud in them. The townpath eventually became a concrete paved cycle lane and I felt like I was riding on a “Cycling Autobahn”. It was one of the best cycle lanes I rode in life, completely smooth.

Although I covered less than 54 Km this day and despite the rain I had a great time cycling this track and would recommend it to everyone, pilgrim or not.

Please take a look at my picture album (down below) for this day in Flickr.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 21, from Reims to Verzenay

Video Length: 4 min and 19 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 22, From Verzenay to Condé-sur-Marne.

Video Length: 4 min 36 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 23, From Condé-sur-Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne

Video Length: 5 min 10 sec

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Pictures of the day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form.
Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also.
Thank you for your time!


Do you like these posts? Why, then, don’t you pay me a coffee to help with the blog hosting cost and as a caffeine incentive to keep me going through the long hours of the night? (Suggested amount: £2.00 or USD $3.00 or 2.50€ or whatever you want to give).
You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly.

Become a Patron





Via Francigena, Day 5/29: From Tergnier (Auberge de Villequier) to Reims


"A journey becomes a pilgrimage as we discover, day by day, that the distance traveled is less important than the experience gained.", Ernest Kurtz

In this post…

  1. Introduction
  2. The statistics and metrics of the day
  3. The most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts
  4. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 17, from Tergnier (Auberge de  Villequier) to Laon
  5. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 18, from Laon to Corbeny
  6. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stages 19 and 20, from Corbeny to Reims
  7. Video footage recorded during a short walk in Reims’ City Centre
  8. Pictures of the day.

Introduction

Post about the 4th (and 5th) day of journey, published on 10th August 2016This post complements the post I published on the 10th of August 2016 in which I described the experiences I had on the 3rd of August 2016 while riding between Tergnier and Reims, including the additional (and unnecessary, might I add) ride from the Auberge de Villequier, where I spent the night before, back to Tergnier . I am not going to repeat the content of that post in this one again, but I will try to add a few highlights for each one of the stages below. I encourage you to read the previous post before continuing on this one.

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Statistics and metrics of the day

  • Date: Wednesday, 3rd of August 2016
  • Route: From Tergnier (incl. an additional, and unnecessary 7.41 Km to the Auberge de Villequier where I spent the night) to Reims.
  • Distance: 89.65 Km
  • Departure time from Tergnier: Around 9:05h.
  • Arrival at Reims: Around 18:15h
  • Duration of day’s Journey: 9h 11min
  • Expenses this day: Total = € 54.50
  • Overnight Location: Hotel Le Monopole, +33 3 26 47 10 33
  • Type of Accommodation: Hotel
  • Lightfoot Guide Stages:
  • Physical and Body Stats: Link to the Garmin Connect Page for this ride
    • Duration: 9h 11min
    • Moving time: 5h 33min
    • Average Speed: 9.8 Km/h
    • Average Moving Speed:  16.1 Km/h
    • Max. Speed: 57.5 Km/h
    • Total Elevation Gain: 625 m
    • Average Heart Rate: 125 bpm
    • Max. Heart Rate: 164 bpm
    • Calories: 3,048 CAL
    • Number of Pedal Strokes (Cadence sensor): 17,747

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Most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts:

  • Starting a bike ride under heavy rain is always a challenge for me. Yet, I don’t mind if it starts to rain in the middle of the ride. Go figure!
  • The extra 15 or so Kilometres I rode to and from the Village of Villequier (Auberge where I stayed that night) should be deducted from the total distance to Rome. It was an unnecessary detour
  • The translation of the word “Auberge” (hostel) has different meanings in different languages. In Spanish (Albergue) those are the most common pilgrim accommodations along the Camino de Santiago. In French they are similar to a hotel. In Portuguese (Brazil) they are usually understood as being a shelter house for the homeless.
  • Be prepared to push your bike up to the cathedral / town centre in Laon. Very steep inclines.
  • Laon’s Tourist Information office is conveniently located right besides the cathedral. You can get your pilgrim’s credentials stamped there.
  • 20160803_155420When leaving Laon, if using Google Maps to navigate, beware the App will lead you to a footpath which has very narrow restriction bars at the end. Thankfully, even with all the panniers and load on the bike, I’ve managed to get passed them by raising the bike vertically, but it wasn’t easy.
  • During a water rest at the church in  Corbeny I looked at the guide and decided to skip Hermonville and ride straight to Reims. I wanted to stay in Reims and didn’t want to arrive too late there, so I could have a chance to walk around to city to get to know it a little. I think it was a wise decision, but that was, I believe, the last time I decided to skip a stage in the guide. It wouldn’t have taken me much longer to ride to Hermonville and from there to Reims.
  • The road to Reims was quite busy and no hard shoulder to ride on. Although I did not feel unsafe, I would advise caution. I am inclined to believe the Lightfoot recommended route is probably a better option in terms of vehicle traffic.
  • P1010430Reims is a city worth spending time. The cathedral is pretty amazing, even with all the scaffolding at the time. The city centre is lively with lots of things to see. The opera house (which I called a theater in the video) has some pretty interesting colour changing lighting in addition to being a very interesting building. Reims is also the French capital of Champagne and you will find references to it in many places like in the tourist information office. You can book visitations and Champagne tasting tours to many of the local producing houses. According to Wikipedia, Champagne ages in the many caves and tunnels under Reims, which form a sort of maze below the city. Carved from chalk, some of these passages date back to Roman times. The a look at the footage I recorded during my short walk around the city centre.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 17, from Tergnier (Auberge de Villequier) to Laon

Video Length: 8 min and 40 sec
To skip introductions and recommendations jump to time stamp 0:35 in the video timeline.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 18, From Laon to Corbeny

Video Length: 5 min 29 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stages 19 and 20, From Corbeny to Reims

Video Length: 6 min 55 sec

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Video footage recorded during a short walk in Reims’ City Centre

Video Length: 4 min 15 sec

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Pictures of the day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form.
Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also.
Thank you for your time!
(more…)

Via Francigena, Day 4/29: From Péronne to Tergnier (Auberge de Villequier)