Day 34 – Walking the Via Francigena – Champlitte to Rigny, France – A Fabulous Meal and a Lovely Night in a French Country Chateau

Day 34 – Walking the Via Francigena – Champlitte to Rigny, France – A Fabulous Meal and a Lovely Night in a French Country Chateau

Breakfast this morning was a simple affair, just a baguette with butter and plum jam, fresh grapes and tea that we provided, since the hotel did not have any green or herbal tea.

We dressed for the rain.
The sky looked grey and the air was very humid.
The sidewalks were very wet.

The owner of the hotel in Champlitte told us that it had not rained in the region for three months, and that the corn in the fields is brown and not good as a result of the drought.
We immediately stopped praying for the rain to subside, and agreed that the region most definitely needs the rain.
We could walk in the rain, since it is not a problem for us.

But the rain did not manifest much today.
Twice we opened our hiking umbrellas, but the rain was no more than a little drizzle.

Half of the day, we walked by the main road that cuts through agricultural fields.
During the second half of the day, we walked on a rural road with no trucks or cars, that passed through the forest and more agricultural fields.
The river Saōne meandered beside us, but we rarely saw it until we arrived in Rigny.

At lunchtime (strictly between 12 and 2), we stopped for lunch at the only restaurant and bar on our path.
It seemed like a popular place, with many locals, tradesmen and people who were just driving by.

We took off our backpacks and our rain gear and felt so grateful to be sitting down in the warm, dry restaurant.
The big-screen TV played a game show in French, testing contestants about trivial knowledge.
They did not know the first name of Shakespeare.
Trivial knowledge does not spread across borders, and often you will see cultures who know very little about the history or cultures of other countries.

The menu was simple, with only one choice for an appetizer and a main course.
For dessert they had a few choices.
We said we did not eat meat.
The friendly waitress said she can serve us a carrot salad with Dijon mustard sauce for an appetizer, and a fish with rice and vegetables for a main course.

The food was good and a very good value with a dessert, for only €13 per person.
We lingered over tea, but finally we had to dress up in our rain gear and continue walking.

For the rest of the way to our hotel, we walked on quiet farm roads with no cars.
Jules developed some gas in his stomach and looked a bit ashen.
We talked about how in a pilgrimage one must learn to overcome not only pain in the feet, leg muscles, shoulders and back, but also learn to deal with thirst and hunger, and if they arise, stomach pain or headache, sun, rain and wind.

It is a journey that requires one to be stronger than usual and more resilient than when at home.
At home you can lay down, choose your food and drinks, rest and regain your strength.
On the road, you must heal on your feet, just like I healed from my skiing knee injury, on our recent pilgrimage.
I did not rest my knee, I simply walked through the pain.

Recently I read a research report saying that doctors now find that movement is better for injured limbs than rest and lack of movement.
I saw it happen to me, when I walked with a really painful knee.

Once we stopped to rest on a stone step next to an old water fountain.
Across from us was an old farmhouse, partially falling apart.
I saw the man who lived there, and thought to myself how sad it would be to live in a rambling old house by a busy road full of trucks driving by.
Then I thought that I should not be thinking thoughts like these.
I did not know this man.
He might be having a great and enriching inner life.
He might be a painter or a sculptor making beautiful artwork, or he could be writing beautiful children’s books or making soulful music.
I did not know his-story and thus I should not assume it is a sad one.

Tonight we are staying in a Chateau in the village of Rigny.
The owner of the hotel we stayed at last night asked where we are staying next, and when we said Chateau de Rigny, she raised her hand up above her head and said: “ho, it is very high.”

At first I thought she was referring to the fact that the Chateau is on a steep hill, but she meant it was pricy.
She also said the restaurant at the Chateau was pricy.
But we had gotten a good deal on the room by booking ahead, and it was not much pricier than other places we were staying.

The original Chateau dates back to the year 1100 AD.
Now only the old stone wall and some moats remain of the once impressive old castle with Tudor defensive towers and a grand design.

The current Chateau is owned by one family who opened it to the public as a hotel and gourmet restaurant in 1962.

The gardens of the Chateau are lovely, with lotuses growing in a big lake surrounded by old growth trees.
Geese and ducks flock together like old friends.

They upgraded us to one of their more expensive rooms, decorated with a purple velvet bedspread and deep red period furniture.

We had read great reviews of the Chateau’s restaurant, so we made reservations for an eight o’clock dinner.
Meantime we showered, bathed and rested.

Dinner was a formal affair.
We had not brought any nice evening clothes on the pilgrimage with us.
We simply dressed in black pants and a black fleece, and somehow it was OK.

The food was superb, probably the best gourmet meal we have had on this leg of the pilgrimage.
We ordered half a bottle of wine, and got a full bottle for half the price, because they did not have a half bottle available.

We thanked the black suited waiters and waddled back to our room, tired, happy and feeling full with gourmet delights.

If we were not walking a pilgrimage, we would have never stopped at this place on a rural stretch of road in this lovely Burgundy region.
But we are grateful that we did.
It was the highlight of an otherwise very hilly day of walking in the rain, with not much to look at.
The long day of walking through wet fields and busy roads on tired feet, was rewarded with a lovely experience.

Wishing you a wonderful night/day,

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 37,164 Steps
7 hours of walking
Active walking time – 6 hours
Daily Kilometers – 27 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 759 km

Château de Rigny
A beautiful countryside estate with an upscale gourmet restaurant.

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