Day 20 – Walking the Via Francigena- From Reims to Les Petite-Loges, France, a Hard First Day of Walking
They say all beginnings are hard, be it starting a new relationship, a new business venture, a new chapter in life, or learning something new.
It has proven to be very true for us today.
We had beautiful weather, the terrain was not too hard, and yet the day’s walk felt very hard to us.
We woke up early after a very restful sleep.
We packed all our gear, left the hotel at 8am, and walked to the center of Reims to have breakfast in one of the many cafes and Pâtisseries..
We had two freshly squeezed orange juices and a mini quiche, and bought some olive bread and a Brioche to take with us for lunch, in case we did not find an open restaurant or cafe.
It turned out to be good planning, since we only came upon three closed places.
But even though we did not enjoy a sit-down lunch today, we had a number of small breaks during the day, sitting on benches by the canal.
For most of the day, we walked along one of the canal waterways, historically used for transportation by large barges.
Factories still line the quiet canal, and some of the barges are still active, transporting goods up and down the canal.
The paved banks of the canal are used for recreation by runners, cyclists, people strolling with their dogs or rollerblading.
It felt very hard to walk with our full backpacks.
We have brought fleeces, rain gear and warm coats, as well as gloves and winter hats, but the weather was warm enough for a t-shirt, and our backpacks felt heavy and full.
As we got farther away from Reims, we no longer saw runners along the canal.
We passed by caravan camps, that seemed to be temporarily housing factory workers.
Their kids were playing and the women were cooking.
I could see their laundry hanging and full-sized washing machines, which led me to conclude that they were not just camping for recreation.
We passed by a few fishermen, all set up for the day, each with two fishing rods and lots of worms to catch carp.
We left the canal and walked the last 5 km. along the edge of an agricultural field, so we could stay off the fast moving truck road.
The bed and breakfast we are staying in tonight is the charming home of a couple who have lived there for thirty years, and who have been renting rooms for the last 15 years.
They told us we were lucky, because just today they had returned from a holiday in Italy.
If we had wanted to stay here yesterday, they would have been closed.
The truth is that we did divert our path a little in order to stay there, because we could not secure an accommodation in Verzy, where the Via Francigena guidebooks suggest ending the day.
We were so happy to get off our feet, take hot showers, wash our shirts and underwear, and rub our sore feet with a mixture of foot cream and lots of oregano oil.
Oregano oil is a new discovery for me.
It is like Tea Tree oil or Eucalyptus oil in its therapeutic components, but even a bit stronger and more potent.
We had arranged to have dinner at their home, because there are no restaurants nearby.
They set the table for all four of us, served us local wine, a salad, a pan fried fish with lemon sauce, a plate of delicious local cheeses and fruit and a local rose biscuit for dessert.
The conversation was friendly and easy, even though only Paul spoke English.
Nicole seem to understand a few words, which more or less matches my own understanding of French.
The wine, the hot day of walking, the hot shower and the full meal, along with a bit of jet lag, caused us to fall asleep quickly and easily.
I cannot imagine how my feet will recover by tomorrow to walk the even longer day we have planned….
Warm blessings to you,
7.5 hours of walking
Active walking time – 6 hours
Daily Steps – 35,542
Daily Kilometers – 26km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury – 424 km
Chambre D’hôtes Le Trilogis, in Les Petites-Loges, France
A lovely bed and breakfast run by a friendly couple.