Day 30 – Walking the Via Francigena – Arc-en-Barrois to Langres, France – A Very Hilly Walk, Followed by a Gourmet Dinner

Day 30 – Walking the Via Francigena – Arc-en-Barrois to Langres, France – A Very Hilly Walk, Followed by a Gourmet Dinner

We woke up to the pleasant sounds of the wildlife in the forests and fields around us.
The sun was shining, and the smell of freshly baked brioche filled the airy breakfast room.

We had asked for an early breakfast so we could start walking early.
We had planned another long day of walking, and the earlier we started, the more time we would have to take breaks during the day.

But getting out of bed in the morning was not that easy.
Both of us felt tired, and we stayed in bed until moments before we had to get up.
We decided to pack after breakfast.

Finally we were well fed and fully packed.
We paid our bill, got our pilgrim’s passports stamped and said goodbye to the other guests.

The route today will be very hilly.
We had no packed lunch and no snacks with us, so we decided to walk to the only lunch place that might be open, an Auberge by a small lake, a twenty four kilometer walk away.

If we walked without taking many breaks, we could be there by two thirty in the afternoon.
Supposedly the Auberge would be open straight until after dinner.

We walked up and down hills for hours.
The little villages we passed had no stores and no bakeries.
The fountains of drinking water were all dry.

You might not know why these old well water fountains are now all dry, and suspect there is a water shortage in France, but this is not the reason.

Well water in rural areas used to be pure and clean.
Nowadays well water is contaminated with underground sewerage, rain drainage and farm runoffs.
It is far from clean or suitable for drinking.

I learned it first hand while traveling in rural Greece years ago.
I drank the well water and fell terribly ill.
Later the locals told me that they never drank the well water any more, because it is contaminated with sewerage.
They only used it for their gardens and animals.

When the walk got long and we had no place to rest, I reminded myself to focus on my energy body, instead of on my physical body.
Instead of noticing my achy feet or shoulders, I notice how my energy body is doing, and stay with the uplifted energies I was feeling from walking in nature, in the lovely landscape, feeling grateful and happy.

When we neared the lake, a woman working in her garden approached us.
She asked where we were from and if we were walking to Rome.
Jules explained that we were, but that we are doing it in three stages.
We will come again next year to finish the pilgrimage, by walking from Saint Maurice Switzerland to Rome.
“Yes, I think Jesus will wait for you!” She said in a friendly manner.

We arrived at the small lake by two thirty as we had planned, but the Auberge had stopped serving lunch at two in the afternoon.
The owner offered us cheese sandwiches, which we gratefully accepted.

We sat in their cafe and had most of the baguette sandwiches.
They were simply too big to finish.
We drank café au lait and a big bottle of soda water and ate some ice cream.
We saw many groups of cyclists riding by.
Finally we concluded that we would not get to Langres by resting in a cafe, so we strapped on our backpacks and started walking towards Langres.

On the road, a large procession of cars from a wedding party drove by.
Many of the cars were decorated with flowers and the bride and groom drove by in an open convertible car.
We stepped to the side of the road and waved at each car.
They all tooted their horns and waved at us enthusiastically, happily enjoying the midday celebration.

Finally after another long climb up, we saw Langres in the distance.
It was easy to see the ancient cathedral and the fortifying walls of the old city.
Jules and I exchanged glances as we both realized how high up in the air the old city is located.
This is going to be a major climb, on already tired feet….

But we did it.
We walked up and up the steep road to the city.
A major marathon was taking place inside the city.
The runners were circumnavigating the old walls, and no cars were allowed into the town center.

The policemen who were at the barricades gave Jules and I the thumbs up sign, showing their appreciation for our pilgrimage and long walk.
It is easy to differentiate between a pilgrim and a traveler who travels with a backpack.
We looked road weary and thirsty.

We made our way straight to the information center, to get our books stamped before they closed.
We didn’t need to do that, but we had thirty minutes before they closed and we hoped to get some information about what is going on in town.

The friendly woman stamped our books and scroll and told us about the running marathon.
She said that we could join the runners if we had any strength, for a three kilometer circuit around the old walls.
Jules and I looked at each other and repressed a smile.
After just walking 34 Kilometers, we had no energy left for running another three kilometers.

She told us that the town has no coin laundromat, but that the local museums are having an Appreciation Day tomorrow, and that entry is free.
Luckily we had planned a much needed rest day so we could see the old cathedral, walk around town and visit the museums.

Our hotel for the next two nights is lovely, located inside a renovated church dating back to the twelve century.
We were shown to a spacious room with a large sitting area and a great bathroom.

We ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, which is the highest rated restaurant in town.
We chose two different set menus, so we could taste different dishes.
We were served a delicious gourmet dinner made with superb ingredients, an amazing preparation and an artistic presentation.
Every dish was divine.

We had planned to walk around town after dinner, but our feet refused this plan.
We waddled back into our room, feeling grateful and very full.

My heartiest regards,
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 46,861 Steps
9 hours of walking
Active walking time – 8 hours
Daily Kilometers – 34 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 687 km

Accommodation:
Hôtel du Cheval Blanc in Langres
An elegant hotel in a renovated twelfth century church, with a great restaurant.

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