Day 33 – Walking the Via Francigena – Grandchamp to Champlitte, France – A Blue-Haired Man and a Funky Lunch

Day 33 – Walking the Via Francigena – Grandchamp to Champlitte, France – A Blue-Haired Man and a Funky Lunch

We slept late this morning and went downstairs to breakfast at eight thirty.
The walk today is not very long, and there was no need for us to get up early and start walking in the rain.
We hoped that the morning rain would subside by the time we started walking.

We dressed in our full rain gear, rain pants over our hiking pants, a rain jacket and neck warmers.
After a good breakfast and wishing the other guests a safe journey, we started walking out of the village.
The clouds in the sky looked grey, and mist rose on the horizon, but it did not rain.

A car passed and stopped near us.
It was one of the Dutch couples we met last night and spent a lovely evening with.
They wished us a good journey and said we inspired them.
The woman said she intended to continue walking a trail of two hundred kilometers in Holland.
She has already started, having walked two days of that route.

After they waved goodbye and drove away, Jules and I reflected about parts of our conversation of last night.
They told us that they lived near Amsterdam, and that it has been affected badly by the mass amount of tourists the city gets.

They said you can hardly walk down the streets, there is a problem of trash and lack of toilets, and it is like this 365 days a year.
There is no slow season when the tourists do not come.
As locals, they are disheartened by what has happened to their city.

We talked about how this trend of global tourism is affecting the world.
It is the same in Croatia, Thailand, Spain and many other places.

Midway in our walk through the fields, we got too warm and since it did not look like it was going to rain on us, we took off our rain pants and I took off my rain coat as well.

We passed through some small villages, but none of them had a shop or even a bench to sit on.
There was always an old beautiful church, even though there is no congregation to support a priest or weekly prayers and services.

We walked by the river Salon, which farther south merges into a bigger river called the Saōne.
On both sides of the road were large fields of crops, mostly corn grown as animal feed.
We also passed by large dairy farms, and felt better seeing cows in the meadows and open fields, instead of in feed lots.
The walk was hilly but not too hard.

We arrived in Chaplitte just as it started to drizzle.
We stepped into an Auberge restaurant to have a late lunch.
It was a dirty place on the main street, but we did not care.
We wanted to take off our backpacks and drink some tea.
We hoped the menu would offer something we could eat.

Looking around at the messy and dirty place, I was not inspired to eat anything, but Jules told me that I might be pleasantly surprised by the food.
I doubted I would, but I scrutinized the menu.
We sat outside in the covered patio, since the inside was full of cigarette smoke and unclean tables from previous diners.

Jules wanted the plate of the day, which included a trout, a salad and dessert.
I suggested we should order something more “safe” to eat, like an omelette served with green salad in mustard sauce with a side of potatoes.
We both ordered the omelettes, one with champignon mushrooms and the other with truffles, hot green tea and an apple tart.

The owner was an old hippie who was also the cook.
He had bright blue dyed hair and was wearing shorts, an open Hawaiian shirt that exposed his big belly and a knee brace on one of his legs.
In polar opposite to his summery beachwear, his wife, who was also the waitress, was wearing a thick woolen sweater over a long sleeve shirt and other warm mismatched layers of clothes.
Both of them were coughing continually.

There was no warmth left in that marriage.
They communicated with barks and directed all their love to their two dogs, who seemed to be good buddies and had the run of the place.

But… Jules was right.
The omelettes were fluffy and well cooked, the potatoes were fresh and nicely roasted, the green salad was clean and the sauce delicious.
Even the apple tart was nice.

From there, we went to the information center to get our pilgrim’s passports stamped.
They had a poster of a puppet exhibition that had just finished in the beautiful museum in town.
The museum is located inside an old castle and it is very impressive.
Unfortunately it was closed when we were there and will open tomorrow, too late for us to visit.

We thanked the blue haired Auberge owner and his coughing wife for the tasty lunch, and went to check into our hotel.
The little town is proud to host many pilgrims on the Via Francigena, and everywhere there were signs of the walking pilgrim that is the logo of the pilgrimage.

Our hotel is humble, owned by a very friendly woman.
We asked to upgrade our room to a bigger room with a window, and she obliged.
From the window we could see that the rain had intensified.

The town has a few places to eat in, but the owner also runs a restaurant and she promised to cook us a good dinner.

Since we arrived early, I took a very long hot bath while Jules went downstairs to get a better internet signal.
When Jules came back, he told me he had a nice chat with the lady owner.
She told him that while she was on vacation last week, somebody broke into her house in town.
She just went to file a claim with the insurance company.

It reminded us that to visitors passing by, these small villages set between hills planted with grapevines and old castles, old churches and beautiful estates, all seem like a mini paradise.

But as we learnt from living in rural New Zealand, these places are not without all the issues that plague human societies everywhere.
There is crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, greed, lust, gossip, envy and even rape.

When we checked into the hotel, the owner asked where we are from.
Then she pointed to the shape of my face and skin and said that I look Mexican.
She said that this little town once had a community of Mexicans living here, right up the street.

She said that in the 1800’s a wealthy land owner went to Mexico and convinced some poor people to come work in the wineries here, picking grapes.
The boat journey from Mexico was long and many died in the boat.
Those who arrived had no vaccines to protect them from the local dis-eases.
They worked hard days and long hours.
It was far from the good life they were promised.

Dinner was lovely:
An appetizer of fresh mushrooms in herb sauce;
A main course of seafood and miniature vegetables in cream sauce; and a molten chocolate cake with caramel sauce.
Luckily the portions were not too big and all tasted very good.

Meantime we have already walked two days of the week long rain predicted in this area, and we’ve managed to avoid walking in the rain very much, so I am hopeful that our good luck with the weather will continue.

Wishing you a World of good,
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 25,855 Steps
5 hours of walking
Active walking time – 4.5 hours
Daily Kilometers – 19 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 732 km

Accommodation:
Hôtel le Donjon in Champlitte.
A simple hotel with a good restaurant and very friendly owner who speaks good English.

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