Tag Archives: Chalons-en-Champagne

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

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"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.


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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06/29. Via Francigena, Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne [GPX File]

This GPS file represents the route I took between these two locations during my Via Francigena pilgrimage by bike from Canterbury, in the UK, to Rome, in Italy.

The route contains mistakes and tracks I may not recommend you to take, so it is important to read the respective posts for more context.

Use of this resource at your own risk.


Look for details here: https://wp.me/p60ak1-1jb

Via Francigena, days 6 and 7: From Reims to Chalons-en-Champagne and Brienne-le-Chateau

It hasn’t been easy to keep up with Blog posts. It is so much easier to share small insights and pictures on the EyeCycled Facebook page, but I’ll try to reduce the lag by being more to the point and less detailed on the posts. I do intend to write about each day in more detail upon my return anyway.

  1. Day 6, from Reims to Chalons-en-Champagne
  2. Day 7, from Chalons-en-Champagne to Brienne-le-Chateau

Day 6, 4/Aug (Thursday): From Reims to Chalons-en-Champagne

I left the hotel around 8:15am to get a McDonalds breakfast (closest thing open) and walk to the tourist information Office to get my pilgrim credentials stamped. As I was walking I saw 2 typical touring cyclists stop at a nearby café. I wanted to go talk to them, but decided not to as I wanted to be at the tourist Information Office as soon as it opened at 9:00am. After leaving the office I saw they were still at the café and couldn’t resist. As I suspected, they were also Via Francigena pilgrims or bicigrinos, the 1stI had met since leaving Canterbury. We had a little talk took their picture, but when we left I thought that would be the last time I’d have seen them as they were following a different guide and not all routes are the same (the major stops are though).

En-route to Chalons I passed through Verzenay (stage 21 of the Lightfoot guide) and Condé-sur-Marne (Stage 22 with Chalons being stage 23) . The route Google Maps traced had a little of everything. I rode alongside canals, on paved roads and on forest and canal dirt tracks. There was also quite substantial rain this day. Some of the canal towpaths were quite muddy and in places very narrow and slippery. It almost caused me to fall a few times. On the other hand quite peaceful and beautiful as well.

Eventually the muddy canal towpaths became a smooth concrete paved cycle lane, like only the French know how to do (well, not really, but much better than the British ones).

As I arrived in Chalons and was taking some pictures I saw a small cycle-touring family arrive. The Slovenian man was cycling in France with his 2 children, the girl aged 6 and the boy aged 13. He said he wanted to show his children that there are more good people in this world than bad ones and that cycle-touring was ideal for that. Can’t argue with it, totally agree.

Continued riding around Chalons, looking for the tourist information centre and when I found, guess who I met there? The 2 bicigrinos from the Café in Reims. If we had agreed on a time and place it probably wouldn’t have worked.

The 3 of us decided to stay in the same hostel that night and in the hostel we met Fabio and David. Fabio was cycling from the Netherlands, were he lives to his home town of Brindisi in Italy. David was walking from his home town in Belgium all the way to Santiago de Compostela. Fabio cooked a fantastic pasta for the 5 of us and then we went out into town for beer. A truly enjoyable day and night.

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Day 7, 5/Aug (Friday): From Chalons-en-Champagne to Brienne-le-Chateau

The cycling day started pretty much where it ended the day before, at the nice and paved canal towpath, but at some points the towpaths degraded to narrow dirt tracks as well. Giuseppe and his wife had left early that morning and this far I didn’t see them again. They were also under a very tight timetable as they had to arrive in Rome by the 24th of August. I did get a chance to say goodbye to Fabio and David though.

On my way to Brienne I passed through La-Chaussée-sur-Marne (Stage 24), Vitry-le-François (Stage 25), Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont (Stage 26),  Lentilles (Stage 27) and finally Brienne (Stage 28).

The same type route from the days before (bit of dirt tracks, road, etc), but with one added surprise. On my way to Lentilles Google Maps thought it was a good idea to ride alongside train tracks. Yes, there was a hint that a dirt track existed besides the track, but it was barely visible. Mostly covered by the stones used alongside train tracks. Not avery enjoyable ride at all and the stones made me lose my balance quite a few times. Thankfully I always managed to recover.

Most of the villages I rode through had nothing really special, but In Lentilles I visited a 16th Century church build of wood and clay, the Church of St Jacques et St Philippe. Looking at the simplicity of this church, in comparison with the ostentation of cathedrals passed made me think that if Jesus was re-born it would be in a simple place like that he would probably chose to worship God.

As I arrived in Brienne I went straight to the tourist Information office. Collected my stamp and the lady asked me if I was going to stay in town or travel further. She said they had a municipal pilgrims’ hostel in town and that made me decide to stay. I paid her the €10 for the night, she gave me the keys, a map and explained how to get to the hostel. Then she told me “you can’t miss it! There are 2 deer heads in the front wall of the building.”. I then remembered I had read about this place when researching the route. Some pilgrims had reported the place to be haunted.

As I got there, I had the entire 3 floor house just for me… No one else to share it with. There gave me shivers as the house was indeed a bit spooky.

Thankfully, I had a good night sleep and calling Ghostbusters was not needed.

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Before I close this blog post, let me remind you that this is also a charity bike ride. If you enjoy reading these posts and following my progress in Facebook, why not contribute with a little to a good cause? My charity of choice for this ride is Mind UK, one of the UK’s leading mental health charities.

Hope you are enjoying the posts in the blog and Facebook. It takes quite a bt of effort to get them done (especially the Blog posts) and they are responsible for late nights, despite having to cycle all day next day.

Thank you for your time and your support to my cause.