Day 36 – Walking the Via Francigena – Choye to Geneuille, France – Visiting A Beautiful Zen Water Garden, and a Rainy Day of Walking In the Burgundy Region

Day 36 – Walking the Via Francigena – Choye to Geneuille, France – Visiting A Beautiful Zen Water Garden, and a Rainy Day of Walking In the Burgundy Region

We had a quiet and restful night’s sleep last night.
The breakfast table at the B&B was set for five people.
The other guests were frequent customers, since they have family in the village and they make the journey from Lyon a few times per year.

Over breakfast we talked with the owners, who told us that they don’t get many walking pilgrims, but they showed us a photo of a man who had stayed with them recently.
He was doing the Camino de Compostela on a non mechanical scooter.
He was pushing it with one foot like a skateboard with handlebars, and cruising the downhills.

The walk from Choye was hilly all day.
My map showed that there was a Japanese Water Garden along the way, in the village of Autoreille.
I was determined to get there before they closed for lunch.

We had dressed for the rain, and it did drizzle lightly for most of the day.
Only by late afternoon did the rain stop, and then it started again and rained all evening long.

We got to the Japanese gardens just in time, because when we rang the buzzer at the gate and asked if we could visit the gardens, the owner let us in, and then apologized that she is suffering from a toothache and must go to a dental appointment.
She told us to take our time and enjoy the gardens, and that she would leave the gate open for us to leave whenever we are ready to.

She gave us a laminated map of the gardens, with its many different ponds.
It was a stunning water garden, full of ponds and hundreds of water plants and over two thousands species of trees and plants.
The garden sloped along the hill, and had many places to sit and enjoy the magnificent design and harmony of the place.

We took our time and cherished the beautiful garden.
At the top of the garden, they had a biological natural swimming pool.
I have read about biological swimming pools, but have never seen one.

For those of you who have not heard of it, a natural swimming pool is a totally self-sustaining biological system that does not need chlorine or chemicals.
It develops its own natural ecology and balanced eco-system to provide clean swimming water.

When the right balance is achieved, the water is naturally clear like in a mountain lake.
The water surface is divided into a deep swimming zone and a shallow planted zone.
The split is 50:50 between the natural planting and the swimming parts, although these proportions can be split in a multitude of ways to make use of available space.

The two areas are separated by underwater walls which prevent soil and plants from spreading into the swimming zone; the walls finish just below the water surface, allowing water to circulate over the pool. 

Water plants create the right environment for microscopic zooplankton (which eat algae) to exist by providing a safe habitat.
The amount of nutrients available is an important factor in the water clarity.

The pool is designed to have a very low nutrient level, which prevents algae from forming, and, combined with a filtration system, really keeps the water clear and inviting to swim in.
I can honestly say that I would have loved to have had this kind of pool to swim in.
The knowledge of how to balance these pools seems to be mostly in Spain and France.

After our visit to the garden, we braced ourselves for walking many more hours in the rain.
We chose to walk on small roads, and ended up walking mostly on gravel roads and muddy farm tracks.

The path entered a thick forest.
Up until now, whenever we walked in forests, my phone lost its satellite reception, and I had no way to navigate the many paths that crisscross these forests.
Relying on the Via Francigena or the Camino signs is totally unreliable.

Before we entered the forest, I studied the map to know how to walk, and I also made screen shots to photograph the map, if we had many turns.
In this case, there were almost no turns.
We had to walk straight through the forest and exit on a farm road that led to the paved road.

Google maps are not accurate when it comes to forest paths.
What I had intended to be a 23 Kilometer day, ended up being a much longer day of walking.

We exited the forest with a lot of mud on our rain pants, and it was still raining.
I told Jules not to look or to measure the Kilometers, but to look at his watch instead.
“We’ll arrive at the hotel at five thirty in the afternoon, and we need you to keep our spirits up,” I told him..

The last two hours of our walk was along a paved road that was shaded by tall trees and edged by a forest on both sides.
We shared the road with cars who always gave us some room.

We stopped in the forest and took off our very muddy rain gear.
We will be staying tonight in a Chateau and we did not want to arrive all covered in mud.

Without our rain gear, we felt much better and cooler.
We picked up our pace and walked focusing on our posture and spine, instead of on the weight of the backpack and the pain in our feet.

The Chateau is situated in a forest of Ginko trees.
It has an older section that houses the breakfast and dinner restaurants, and a newer section, where they have added some modern-design rooms.

We were given a room in the newer section.
We unpacked, took showers, and went to dinner.
The Chateau’s restaurant is Michelin recommended, and it offers an upscale dining experience.

We were seated by the window and given the huge wine menu.
In the town of Champlitte, we had entered the Burgundy region, (French: Bourgogne),and have been walking in Burgundy for several days now.
Once Burgundy was part of the Roman Empire, with a rich history before that.

Today was the first day that we saw wine pickers in the fields, and it seemed fitting to enjoy a Burgundy wine tonight with our meal.
It was a big gourmet meal, with generous portions and lots of offerings of free dishes.

We got a tempura of vegetables as an amuse bouche, then a beetroot and citrus fluffy mousse with celeriac puree at the bottom.
We were then served our appetizer, of cured salmon with quinoa salad.
Then we were served a jellied oyster, and for our main course, skate fish with lemon capers and butter sauce, mashed potatoes and greens.

For dessert we got a chestnut almond roll with gold leaf and caramel sauce, and a baked Alaska, macaroons and chocolate lemon balls.

By the end of the meal, we could barely walk back to our room.
We do not like to order so much food, but here in France they offer a set menu which includes all this.
Sometimes the set menu is such a good deal, that we tell ourselves that we can just eat what we want, and not feel like we have to finish everything on our plates.

Well…. in theory it sounds good, but in reality we eat too much because it is so delicious and such a treat.

We collapsed in bed and I dreamt about climbing mountains, carrying heavy backpacks and old Roman towns.

Happy Rosh Hashana (New Year) to all my Jewish friends and love and blessings to everyone,

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 43,067 Steps
8 hours of walking
Active walking time – 7.5 hours
Daily Kilometers – 31.5 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 817.5 km

Château de la Dame Blanche, in Geneuille,
Great Grounds and a lovely dinner.

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