Day 28 – Walking the Via Francigena – Bar-sur-Aube To Ogres, France – A Very Long Day Of Walking, Meeting Other Pilgrims, A fabulous Dinner And Staying At A Flower Factory

Day 28 – Walking the Via Francigena – Bar-sur-Aube To Ogres, France – A Very Long Day Of Walking, Meeting Other Pilgrims, A fabulous Dinner And Staying At A Flower Factory

We had a very long day of walking today, and some of it was very hilly.
We decided to start early so we could make sure we would finish the day before dark.
Our accommodation for today is in a rural guesthouse, and they will be making our dinner, so we had to arrive no later than six thirty in the evening.

Breakfast was great, but we did not overeat.
I had a smaller piece of baguette than usual with butter, a hard boiled egg, a yogurt with honey and fresh orange juice.
We still had some fruit left over from our fruit dinner last night, and we decided that we would eat fruit for lunch today.

The landscape we walked through today was very diverse, and very beautiful.
We left town and entered a hilly region planted with grapevines as far as the eye could see.
The path was a one lane road with no cars, except for the pickers who were picking the ripe grapes.
I tasted a few of the dark red grapes and they tasted juicy and delicious.
The hills were very steep and we counted off six hills before lunch.

We arrived at the old Renaissance Clairvaux Abbey, located in the village of Clairvaux sur Aube.
The old Abbey grounds are surrounded by an old crumbling wall, but we opened a metal gate and walked around the grounds.

We found a bench and had our lunch of fruit.
Across from us was an accommodation for women and pilgrims only.

The Abbey was built in the year 1100, but it was converted into a prison and remained a prison for centuries.
In fact, it still is.
You can tour part of it that was once used by the monks, but the rest is off limits.
Later we were told that the prison holds some of the most hardened cases of criminals, but that it would soon close down altogether.

As we rounded the corner, we saw a small hotel restaurant that was open.
We sat down to enjoy a café au lait and an apple tart, before continuing our long walk.

We walked in fields, on farm tracks, until finally we entered a thickly wooded forest with many intertwining forest paths.
My cell reception did not work in the forest, but we followed the Via Francigena signs for most of the way.

There were lots of wild boars living in the forest.
Everywhere we could see the muddy baths they create with their hooves.
We often had to walk around these muddy baths.

At one point we could not decide which forest path to take.
The Via Francigena path pointed in the wrong direction, and to a much longer route.
We knew we could not afford to add any more kilometers to our day, so we trusted the gps on our phone and walked south east, which was the only direction that made sense to follow.
There were moments of nervousness when the forest path ended or merged into a creek we could not follow, but soon we found our way again.

It was already a really long day, and now we had to climb a big long hill for nearly an hour.
It was also getting late.
When I need to, I pray and ask my Higher Power Guides for strength, energy and support.
Help always comes, and we finally emerged from the forest and onto the long country road that led to the village of Ogres.

Our guest house was located outside of the village, about two kilometers further south.
It is a very charming historic watermill home, that was once a highly mechanized craft factory, making delicate fabric and paper flowers.
These flowers were mostly used in high fashion clothing and accessories by top designers in Paris.

We heard about the owners’ adventure of buying the 13th century mill and the old flower factory, and about the major renovation project they have taken on, while we all had a fabulous communal dinner.

Beside the owner and her husband, we dined with the other guests who were staying in the inn that night.

Paul and Carla were also pilgrims, from Brazil, who are walking the Via Francigena in small sections, and Leonel, a French software engineer.
The conversation was lively and friendly.
We talked about politics, global issues, philosophy, pilgrimages, travel, creativity, and other issues, comfortably flowing from subject to subject.

I loved meeting Paul and Carla.
They are the only pilgrims we have met so far on this pilgrimage.
We talked about how they met and how they spend their vacation time every year, walking pilgrimages.
They met on the Camino de Compostela years ago.
They had seen one another on the road, but only connected at the very end, when they had both arrived in Compostela.
They have been together ever since.
They do not walk long distances per day.
Paul could walk more, but Carla is only comfortable with fifteen kilometers per day.

Like my family, Carla’s family also does not understand why they love to walk pilgrimages.
They understand the joys of traveling to all sorts of places, but do not comprehend why she takes on the hardship of walking in all kinds of weather for so many hours, days and months.

After a fabulous dinner of a salmon terrine with white asparagus, a baked spinach with mushrooms and fish, boiled potatoes and a fruit tart for dessert, we all went to an adjacent building to see the flower factory.

We felt so fortunate to be shown this flower making art-form.
The factory is still powered by its old waterwheel.
The water turns the waterwheel and all the belts and rotating metal and wood mechanisms come alive.

When they bought the factory, it still had a few employees who taught them how to make the flowers.
In 2005, a health and safety inspector came and told them that they could not employ any people, according to the new code.
The old factory is not a safe enough place to employ workers.
From then on, they have had no employees and so do all the production work themselves.

There are not many orders for the whole flower any more.
Some designers now own machinery and train their own employees to make flowers for them.
Nowadays this factory mostly specializes in making the middle of the flower, called the stamen or pistil.

It was a magical tour of the old factory.
It was dark outside and the sky was full of stars.
We were all full of white wine and the special fruit pink champagne that we were served at our delicious dinner.
I have always looked down on artificial flowers, but never again….
These delicate flowers pressed by those heavy machines, felt like we were walking inside a magical fairytale…..

With love, dignity and grace,
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 52,135 Steps
10 hours of walking
Active walking time – 9 hours
Daily Kilometers – 38 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 624.5 km

Accommodation:
Maison du Moulin de la Fleuristerie, in Ogres
A small comfortable B&B with a historic watermill outside the small village of Ogres.
Can arrange to make a delicious dinner if you ask.

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