Day 9 – Walking the Via Francigena – from Gosnay to Souchez, France
Last night, I decided that at today’s breakfast in our hotel, I would choose the freshly squeezed orange juice and some fresh fruit, and would not eat any bread, butter, cheese, etc., which are the normal offerings at a French breakfast.
In the morning, when we entered the lovely breakfast room with its white tablecloths, shiny glasses and beautiful cutlery, I did choose the large orange juice, but then I proceeded to eat like a starving refugee.
I ate two fried organic eggs, a flax seed baguette with home made butter, smoked salmon and a plate of local cheeses.
It was a breakfast feast, and we left the Chateau feeling energized.
The walk took us again through many agricultural fields, but being the weekend, quite a few hunters were roaming the fields with their dogs, hunting for pheasants.
The sounds of their shotguns overwhelmed the customary songs of the birds who inhabit these fields.
The gunshots were a bit scary and reminded me that, unlike the hunters, we were not wearing bright orange vests and that it was not the best idea to be walking through the fields.
So we joined the main road that runs through the villages and we walked along the side of the road.
Sometimes we had a sidewalk, sometimes we just tried to walk as close to the side of the road as we could.
Passing through several villages, we had more choices of places to sit and rest.
We had cafe-au-lait in one of the many bars located in these rural villages as a cafe-bar-newspaper stand-lotto and cigarette shop.
The coffee soured my stomach, but at least we rested and used the toilet.
Two old men approached us in the cafe, and one asked if we were English.
I thought that he asked if we spoke English, so I said yes.
He told us that farther down the road, there was an English cemetery and later on, a Canadian cemetery, both honoring soldiers who died during the two world wars.
We thanked him for the information, but of course we did not intend to visit the cemeteries.
We did pass by the signs directing us to the cemeteries, just like he said.
Most of the way was flat, with only a few gentle uphills.
We had lunch a few hours later at a small bar, that served thin crust veg pizza and chips.
It was a big pizza, so we asked for it to be wrapped up and we took it to our gite accommodation for the night.
A gite is a French term for a holiday cottage accommodation.
It is usually self-catering with a kitchen, but the one we are staying in tonight, has no kitchen.
It is newly renovated with a modern design, which for me is a wonderful change from the traditional French decor.
I much prefer clean lines and modern design to the overly ornate and heavily furnished country French decor.
We arrived at the gite early, after walking 22 kilometers.
After stretching ourselves to walk over 30 kilometers daily recently, walking twenty feels almost too easy.
After a good hot bath, I sat and tried to change some of our bookings.
We have two long walking days coming next week, of nearly 40 kilometers each.
If there were a place to stay in the middle, it would make our days so much shorter and easier, but the one place that is located right in the middle between the cities of Saint-Quentin and Laon, is fully booked.
I guess we will have to trust that all will be well…
Tonight’s dinner is the leftover pizza from lunch, as well as some raw vegetables we bought in a mini mart we passed along the way.
The property owners, a young, fit and very attractive couple, stopped by in the evening and offered to share with them a glass of wine.
I thanked them and refused, explaining that we are walking pilgrims, and that we will just get to bed early.
I felt a bit guilty for refusing their generosity, but with all the heavy food we eat and the sweets daily, I really don’t wish to also drink.
I am delighted to see that Jules is doing so well.
He only has a small blister on one foot that is rapidly healing.
Otherwise he is in high spirits and his French is improving daily.
I feel grateful that I have no blisters, but I am concerned a bit about my hair and about the skin irritation that I’ve developed that is now coming and going.
I know that it will pass soon enough.
Wishing you a great night and day,
6 hours of walking (9:30am-3.30pm)
Active walking time – 5 hours
Daily Steps – 29,823
Daily Kilometers – 22
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury – 182.5
Maximum Altitude today: 120 meters
Total Elevation climbed today: 1120 meters
Total Descent today: 1058 meters
From Gosnay to Souchez, France
Le domaine des loups, Souchez, France – A modern cottage with breakfast – has no dinner