Day 7 Brienne le Chateau to Langres 67m (108km)

Thanks to all of you who are leaving messages on my blog. I really do appreciate all of them, but due to sporadic use of the internet, I can’t personally reply to you. Please forgive me, but do keep the messages coming.

Hairy caterpillars. Let me deal with this while it’s fresh on my mind. Here in France, they willy-nilly crawl across the road with a suicide wish, and so far I have avoided killing any….yet, but I do see the letters RIP writ large every time one appears. So I have decided to start a movement to save the hairy caterpillar…………….. and it has the initials STBP. Anyone who can guess what they stand for will get a true blogger’s pat on the back!

Be warned! Never eat any food left behind in a bunkhouse by a previous occupant. I ate a few biscuits left behind, and suffered throughout the night. Having expelled the offensive material (hope children are not reading this!) I was able to get on with life as normal this morning. Phew!

Met my first pilgrims/travellers. Passed a group of at least 60 walkers, and stopped to talk to a few stragglers. All Italian, and all doing a section of the Via Francigena, in the opposite direction. To prove it, they pulled out a map of the entire route, and said the wanted to complete it one day. They were very excited to meet me, and going to their capital city too!

Lone pilgrim. Then I came across Martin, who was the very image of the pilgrim: large back-pack and a pilgrim’s staff. I jumped off the bike and walked beside him so he wouldn’t lose his rhythm. He was French and had started his route in Reims, and had just completed a week. Funny, I forgot to ask him how far he was going. So watch out for messages left in Italian and French!

Two interesting features. The Abbey at Clairvaux, established by St Bernard, a very austere monk, has now been converted into a high securty prison. There must be a message in that somewhere.

The Abbey at a tiny village called Morment, was used as a hospital for crusaders, run by the Knights Templars. But I am sure, though no reference made to it,  that it was also used by pilgrims to Rome. Ideally situated by the roadside.

VF signs. As a cyclist I am not best placed to see roadside signs as I whizz along, but I saw my first sign for the VF since Liques, in N France. I know that the closer I get to Italy, the waymarking will be in greater evidence.

Accommodation. Though nothing like the provision on the Camino de Santiago, refuges and bunkhouses are slowly appearing on the VF. I’ve had 5 nights in France so far and paid for only 3. Tonight’s is in a simple but clean hostel, with a room to myself (no N Africans this time!) for 15 euros.


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on September 4, 2010, in Canterbury-Rome 2000kms: a cyclist's tale and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. As a runner it is always slugs and snails on the road especially early in the morning after a wet night. I also feel guilty and have to be careful where I put my feet.
    I do not think I have ever mentioned that to anyone before. That must be a first!
    PS how are you coping with your hydration?

  2. Hi Frank,

    Always interesting to read your observations as the miles slip by. Hope your journey continues to go well – I suspect that elephants will be running a mile!!

    A bientôt.

    Denise and Neil

    • Nice to hear from you! Hmmmm………………haven’t seen any elephants yet, let alone eaten one! I do understand an American journalist tried to ride an elephant over the Gd St Bernard, in recognition of Hannibal, but the poor animal suffered from altitude sickness!

  3. Dear Frank,

    You’re doing amazingly well!! Can’t imagine how you cope with those busy roads round Reims, for example not to speak of hairy caterpillars!!
    We are keeping in touch with Jenny and she is fine you will be pleased to hear.
    Much love
    Jane and Maurice

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