Day 27 – Walking the Via Francigena – La Rothière To Bar-sur-Aube, France – A Walk Through The Champagne Region

Day 27 – Walking the Via Francigena – La Rothière To Bar-sur-Aube, France – A Walk Through The Champagne Region

I was hoping we could walk south today by the Aube river, which meanders its way along the Via Francigena.
The Via Francigena does not follow the curves of the river, but I was hoping there would be a walking path, like the one by the Marne river.
But there is no path by the river, so after a simple breakfast of a baguette with butter, Pain-Au-Chocolat and some yogurt with local honey, we started walking south.

We exchanged goodbye waves with a group of six senior cyclists who had stayed in the same hotel as we did last night.
They were on E-bikes, which is a great idea enabling seniors to enjoy traveling around their country in a healthy and beautiful way.
They can pedal when they have the energy and switch to bike engine assist when they feel tired.

The path through the fields was scenic.
The grapes were always planted on the sloping hills, not in the flat fields.
We passed by some signs for Roman ruins, which date the region to the time when the Roman Empire was in control.
A very appropriate reminder that we are walking towards Rome.

In the village of Arsonval, we stopped to enjoy a sit down lunch in one of the local restaurants.
They had a lovely outdoor patio and a lunch set menu for €16.
It was a very generously portioned lunch of a salad, fish and frites made the French way (not battered) and a chocolate brownie.

When we left the village, we walked by a black sports coat that somebody must have lost, as now it was laying on the sidewalk.
About half an hour later, a car pulled up next to me.
A woman holding the coat waved it at me and asked if it were mine.
I said it wasn’t.
She then pointed to Jules who was walking ahead of me and asked if it were his.
I said it wasn’t, and thanked her for driving to give it back to us.
She smiled warmly and said:
“Well, if it is not yours, I guess it is mine now.
I have a new coat.”
Then she turned her car around and drove back to Arsonval.

We are encountering much kindness and friendliness like this in France.
People are really warm and personable to us, and we are very grateful for it.

From there we walked by a few dairy farms, and hay was piled high in the fields as feed for the cows.

As we walked by the fields, I thought about the plants and herbs grown here.
I recently heard that Oregano was used in the middle ages as snuff, and to get high.

I remember reading the books of Carlos Castaneda, about the teachings of Don Juan.
Don Juan said that a sorcerer must learn to befriend the spirit of the plant or risk making it an enemy.

When using plants and herbs it is wise to trust the traditional knowledge and to enhance the herb and to work with its spirit to make it a worthy ally.
Indeed, the herb’s spirit may be befriended and shaped, even honed to the will of the practitioner and become her ally to assist in her personal growth.
Well,…..this is the sort of thoughts that cross the mind of a pilgrim as she walks for miles in the fields.

As we entered our destination for the night, a lady on a bicycle pulled over by Jules.
She told him she was also a pilgrim.
She asked if we have a place to stay for the night.
We told her we had already made reservations in a hotel for tonight.

She told us that there is a church offering a pilgrims-only accommodation in town and she can arrange to take us there, but since we already have reservations it is OK.

Before she was about to cycle away, I asked her if the town had a laundromat.
She said yes, and tried to explain, but then decided that it would be best if she just walks with us to show us where it is.

As we walked together into town, we asked her if she had walked the Via Francigena.
She said she had not, but that she had walked the Camino, from France to Compostela.
We talked about walking pilgrimages and she told us that next year she plans to walk the “Robert Louis Stevenson Way.”

Robert Louis Stevenson was a travel writer and poet who traveled extensively.
The French walk commemorates a walk he did with a donkey in the same area.
It sounded fascinating and a bit of good knowledge for pilgrims like us to know.

Here are some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s most well-known sayings:

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.

Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.

Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”

We thanked the lady when we arrived at the laundromat and shook her hand in gratitude.
The laundromat was owned by a friendly woman with a really bright smile and loving eyes.
It was not a coin laundry, but she agreed to do our laundry in two hours if we bring it right away.

We quickly checked into our hotel for the night, gathered all our dirty clothes and returned to the laundromat.

We decided to skip dinner tonight.
After so much feasting and a diet of bread, butter and croissants daily, a simple dinner of just fruit sounded heavenly to me.

We walked around town until our laundry was ready.
We bought some extra fruit to take with us on our long hike tomorrow.

My heartiest regards to you, and whatever blessings are mine to give, I give to you…
Tali

Today’s Stats:
7 hours of walking
Active walking time – 5.5 hours
Daily Steps – 32,218
Daily Kilometers – 23.5 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 586.5 km

Accommodation:
Logis Hôtel le Saint-Nicolas in Bar-sur-Aube
A small comfortable hotel with clean rooms.

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