Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 17 walking Saint Thierry

Wow, we have just loved this hotel. It is difficult to leave. For those pilgrims who contemplate staying here, it has to be the best hotel yet and the best value fir the money. We were told the regular pelerin menu was not available so we had to pick from the 18.50e selection. We had salads, beef dinner, cheeses from their cheese cart plus desert for 68e for the room and food. I noticed that their regular charge was 115e so he gives pilgrims a good discount. Charlotte looks a little more upright so we will keep going with a much reduced pack for her. We received an email from Sandy with an update on Derek's condition saying that he has had a rough go of it but has his sense of humor back even with being in the hospital. We continue to pray for his health to improve. It was a clear day today but with a heavy dew in the grass. Within an hour my boots were soaking inside and I was walking in water. Charlottes boots became wet inside too eventually. We walked roads, grass tracks, canal tow paths, plowed
Fields, just about everything. The grass along the tow path was waist high and wet. Mondays mean everything is closed except the pharmacy so our lunch consisted of a small bun(taken from breakfast
Table) and a half an apple each. When we stopped for lunch I took off my boots and changed insole and socks
an that improved things. Our place in Saint Thierry is a self contained suite that is very new and comfortable. These people have a vinyard and sell wine. We emailed them and agreed to have them provide dinner for us. Because it is Monday there isn't anything else available. It is way overpriced at 19e for a meal but we can't go without eating. We have a monastery booked for tomorrow in Reims. Charlotte was not too bad for most of the day but when we stopped about 1.30pm she was noticeably leaning to the left. They brought the meal up to the room at 7pm. They poured a small flute of champagne and took the rest of the small bottle with them. The meal was cold meat in a salad with six hot small potatoes. A little apple sauce and a small slice of sweet bread each, all for 19e each. One shouldn't complain but when you come from such a great previous stay it is difficult.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 16 Corbeny September 30

The hotel in Laon might not have been the greatest room(rated a 2) but the desk clerk couldn't have been more helpful taking phone messages for us and making calls to arrange for accomodations down the line. Also the tourist office person who had been to Vancouver made phone calls for us. None of them want to use our phone, they just go ahead using theirs. Shirley's email received this morning perked up my partner especially since we have a longer more complicated walk this morning. The one thing i notice in France is that many more people smoke here and the men kiss each other in greeting. also there are no pickup trucks. There was a cold fog over the land as we came down from Laon. We both put on our light fleece gloves until the sun came through a couple if hours later. We arrived in Corbeny 2pm after 32kms. The scenery has considerably changed into more woods with rolling hills. Very much more picturesque but going up with a pack is slower and going down is harder on the legs. Our digs in Corbeny are absolute grand compared to what we came from.
The hotel has an actual two star rating outside the front door. The room is very clean and modernized with a much newer bed. We were both into the modern tub and a hot bath.The only down part today is that Charlotte developed a lean to the left when she walks. It seems as though her left hip is letting her down. She is busy doing exercises to try to help it but we may have to see a chiropractor in Reims in a couple of days if we can find one. She is not in pain but it is difficult to see her tilted that much. It could well be the camber of the road that is doing it. Tomorrow is only 22kms and I will take some of her weight to lessen the load. We are hopeful this might be somewhat better in the morning.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Laon- Day 15 Walking

We have come approximately 300 Kms plus or minus retracing Kms whatever that figure might be. What a wonderful breakfast with many choices spread out in from of us this morning, even fresh roses. the way le maison is decorated it is all first class.We left with kisses and the promise to give their best wishes to Ruth and Gord who had stayed there previously. We had a pleasant walk into Laon but Charlotte was hoping for a corn field as the sugar beets don't offer much cover when needed. Our hotel Les Chevaliers is near the Cathedral and they have given us a price if 57e since we haven't got the nicest room. Petit de Jeune is 12e. The nun at monastere de Benedictine in St. Thierre says that she won't be able to take us since she will be away for the day and that is too bad since we were counting on it. Most of the religious establishments have been more than accommodating and add a more spiritual element to the walk. We did arrange another gite in St. Thierre at Remi Harlaut-Paris chamber de
And they are champagne producers at a rate of 60e including petit de jeune but we declined the 19e each for dinner. A shame really since they would probably have brought out their bubbly. This will breakup our long walk into Reims. We have found that finding your sleeping arrangements when you are tired and don't know the city, can be taxing to say the least. After touring the Notre Dame Cathedral in Laon, it's building history from the 12th century
Is amazing through the French Revolution etc. We were told that the massive pipe organ at one end of the church still is in use. It would have been grand to hear it especially if all the choir were in their chairs.

Day 14 Walking from Tergnier to Cessiers

Friday September 28. We enjoyed a wonderful rather leisurely walk today. There is quite a change in the scenery. The first week from the coast it was small farms with holestein cattle and the second week it was more like the meseta in Spain very flat with sugar beets and harvested grain crops. Now we are in wooded rolling hills with charlois cattle and corn crops. It was an overcast day and we were very cognizant of every turn so as not to have to retrace our route. We arrived in Cessiers about 1pm and we tried the door on the restaurant and it was open. This should have been a warning sign to us as this was the first one that was open around noon in two weeks. They had a fire going in the fireplace and showed us to a table. She went down the menu options including plat du jour. we agreed on this and as it turned out it was great with salad and real beef, frontage, dessert and wine. 28 euros later we walked to our chamber de hire about 59 meters away. They gave a really nice place for 60e and although it is above what we normally pay, we justified it since we had already blown the day on the lunch. We were shown into their solarium room and she brought beer and tea. They knew no English at all but I brought out the iPad with the translater and she as we'll as I typed in the message and out it spoke in the other language. This might not sound great but it seemed to work fine. She explained that her husband is handicapped. They have love birds in a large cage that they let out in the morning and return in the evening as well as cockatiels in cages by their pool. Jackelyn showed us their 1926 Citroen in the garage, crank start with a bulb to squeeze for a horn. The 18th century church is gothic Romanesque. We have left a short two hour walk into Laon tomorrow so that we can enjoy some of the tourist things. Meanwhile we are going to enjoy this beautiful bed and ensuite instead of down the hall.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 13 Walking September 27

Just as she said, at 7 pm we heard a rustling outside our abode and lo and behold a orange shopping bag appeared as a bicycle disappeared around the corner. Inside was a bottle of red wine, two hot dishes of fish, rice & veg. Also two large pieces if toast with tomato and cheese melted on. Along with a very nice dessert. Also in the bag was the makings for petit de jeune in the morning. Now after that wine we have to figure out how the bed goes together. Charlotte says, it will be so nice to get into bed. Bobs says, it is so nice to be on line and I can finally get the Globe & Mail again. Ducks are quaking along the river and we had somw light rain. Wow, that meal was great. Rain seems steady now so perhaps it will be more in the morning. We went through a small village today and three different people asked if we were going to Rome and when we replied yes, they came back with, bon courage. This morning the sky was grey again but quite warm. We had a bit of a issue in directions but got back on track. We are learning to interprute the instructions and not take what seems obvious at the time. Some light rain showers and a pleasant 8km walk along the canal Saint Quentin. Walking through the wet long grass along with showers was too much for the Goretex boots, they soaked through. So much for Goretex waterproofing and the extra dollars for them. Arrived in Tergnier about 1.30pm in a heavy downpour but found our hotel we had reserved prior. The hotel is Le Paon and it has been renovated in the dining room as well as the sleeping rooms. It is comfortable and we would recommend staying here.
The price for Demi-pension is 38e each. The dining room was full when we came in and that is usually a good sign. We had a very good evening meal tonight, three courses with a fish cake with sauce.

Day 12 walking Seraucourt Le Grand

Another cool overcast day with jackets and rain pants. The only thing we haven't put on yet is the 100 weight fleece under the jackets. The way we thought was the way out of Peronne turned out to be the right one and we happily carried on down the old rail bed through the woods. We did have some road to go down but not too much. There is so much history around here both ancient and recent since we are camped along the Somme river. We also just passed the Canal St. Quentin. We arrived and found the camp ground where we had reserved a caravan. We had no idea what to expect but it is a nice little unit for 27e. There is quite a large add a room attached which is typical of here. It is a nice little nest. It comes with two sleeping bags and for 30e she is going to cook us a fish dinner with rice and veg. Not only that but she says it comes with a bottle if wine. This she says she will deliver to our unit at 7pm tonight. Also for the 30e she will bring us petit de jeune in the morning. This us turning into a good stop and we forget his tired we were went we arrived. Whenever I turn around going down the trail there is Charlotte clicking along with her poles not complaining.

Day 11 Walking Peronne

We were up as usual at 6am to pack our bags ready for petit de jeune at 7am. Her breakfast was great and we thanked her to no end for the food and heat in the room. We had a little trouble finding our way out of Bapaume in the early light but managed to do so after asking people along the way. The weather is overcast and about 14c. The winds seem to pick up about 11am and it is cool. We generally stop for 15 minutes every two and a half hours to have bread and cheese or fruit. We seem to have developed a chocolate 100gm thing lately. We had no trouble finding our way today but arrived in Peronne tired. We went to the tourist office for a city map and to see if they could make some bookings for us. She could speak very good English but she was more interested in just giving us a paper and sending us on our way. We found our hotel that was booked a few days ago. The name will be forever in my mind, hotel Picardiere. During World War Two Peronne was very heavily bombed. Unfortunately the bombs missed this place. It is tied with the one in Dover for zero stars. We were told when we got there that we had got the last room. Well there was a single bare bulb in the ceiling, no hooks or hangers for clothes, the sink gurgled continually and the bedding what there was, was awful. The price was 35e if you can believe it. My partner used the term flop house. This was the first day we skipped dinner and got 2 tins of beer, peanuts and fruit instead. We usually scout out the way out if town the night before so we don't have a problem in the morning. The instructions were quite clear and we found the streets and the old rail bed that we thought was right, but it said to exit by house number 45. We went back and forth I don't know how many times but we could not find Maison number 45. We went back to our humble abode rather unsure whether we had the right way out if town in the morning. Oh yes the toilet was down the hall and wouldn't you know it, plugged. Fortunately I have the right partner who said, it is only for one night.

Testing our resolve/ Day 10 Walking

We were awakened in our room at the Maison Diosone Saint Vaast about 3am by thunder and lightening. By 6am the rain had stopped and we were walking at 7.15am. At 10.30 the rain started and we put on our rain pants. Then the wind picked up and before we knew it we were facing a very strong head wind driving the rain into us. There were times if we didn't have our poles we could have been blown over. The wind turbines gave us a clue we were in wind country. We arrived in Bapaume at 1.45 pm without having stopped for more than just a few minutes. Our room in the Le Gourmet hotel is very good but when we asked for heat she said there wasn't to be any. There are wet clothes everywhere hanging to dry and our boots are stuffed with newspapers. We have demi-pension here and dinner is after 7pm. We laid on the bed under blankets and fell asleep. Our first day of rain but the weather forecast looks that way all week. No pictures today.

Tuesday September 25
We had the best dinner so far at the Le Gourmet restaurant in Bapaulm. Three courses plus a litre of wine. She charged 42e for the room, 10.80e each for the dinner and 5 e each for breakfast. So that was reasonable. She did turn on the heat so we hung all our clothing to dry. I can't say enough about the meal, chicken liver salad even. I haven't commented or sent many pictures of the cemeteries but there is no end to them, all very well sign posted and maintained. The German ones have no flowers and are marked by black iron crosses.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Maison Saint Vaast -- Arras

This is our nineth day walking but we did tourist things in Arras. Our room here is about 10 minute walk to the city centre. The petit de jeune was first rate. Made the trip out to Vimy. The tourist office phoned a taxi for a special rate of 45e return. About a 20 minute drive. Visited the underground caverns in Arras with the tour guide. It was very
Emotional hearing letters written by soldiers who died and hearing how 24000 commonwealth solders came out fighting after eight days underground.
Tourist office is phoning our stays for the next three days. Tomorrow we are off to Bapaume.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saint Jean Baptistery de la Salle

After eight hours, the same as yesterday we arrived at the Catholic boys school. Madam Gevas had phoned them to let them know we would be coming today. A lot of priests in robes and very little English. Repas is at Sept Trente. Charlotte has her first two blisters today. We had to double back again as we interpreted the guide book instructions incorrectly.
We wandered upstairs in the school around seven tonight and we found cooks preparing food and we approached them. In no uncertain words they hustled us our of there. Pretty soon they brought us to the cafeteria sat us down and brought us salad , salmon dish, jug of water, jug of wine, cheese cake, three types of cheese etc. brother Joseph came and we talked a little French and a little english and he made us welcome. Let us know that petite dejeune is at 8 am.
Are we full or what.
We were out in the middle of nowhere when a car pulled up earlier today to see what we were doing. He got us turned around and pointed the right way, no harm.
Our room is cold and damp but we found a electric heater and turned it on.
We were in the cold damp basement but we turned the heater on in our room so it was quite warm. The boys had gone home for the weekend but as luck would have it, the priests in the local area were meeting here and we got to have the special meal that was being prepared for them. We slept well even though Charlotte was the only one with deals . In the morning at 8 am we went to the cafeteria and found cups etc laid out for us. We waited and along came brother Joseph with bread and hot milk for hot chocolate. We walked only for about four hours or so before arriving in Arras. We had stopped to have a lunch earlier by a roadside graveyard well looked after. It was small perhaps a hundred graves, mostly English, 2 Canadian and 2 German. It wasthe sight if a field hospital. Madame Gevas had made arrangements for us to stay at the
Maison Diocesaine de Arras. We had no idea even what it was but we stopped a woman and she says she has a friend who speaks English. Shortly after we met David and they took us to get our phone card and also the person there had a adaptor for our iPad so we now can charge it. We will
Be here two days. Our room is very nice and has two single beds and very clean with a sink. The price was 36 euros a day for a double and it is right downtown. We will go out to Vimy tomorrow and also see the limestone quarries under the city. Any extra time we will use for resting before we carry on again to Bapaume on Monday . We treated Charlotte's blisters and they seem to be okay. I wanted to make sure I recorded the costs as Mm
Gevas charged 40e for the room with a double bed and ensuite and 16e each for the dinner and breakfast. Not cheap but great food. The Ecole St.Jean Baptist 06 22 86 86 01 donation 30e
Maison Diocesaine de Arras 03 21 21 40 38 was 36e per day for 2 in room
Including breakfast. The dorm picture is from the boys school.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


A long day today walking from the Abbay St Paul. We got lost in Wizemes
Today. Allison Raju take note you meant the other right when it came to leaving Wizemes. Legs were quite sore today but we made it to this great place in Amettes where Mm.Gevas is cooking us a meal after we showered and slept.
Smells wonderful I think it is a pork roast.

Day 6 walking ABBEY ST PAUL

Up early at 6 this morning in the chalet. Had toasted baguette and Greek yogurt with guda cheese. Walked at first light with our flashing lights on to be seen. Walked 25 Kms plus three because I didn't pat enough attention. We liked the new guide book. Beautiful clear cool day and we reached the abbey about 1 pm. Saw pheasants flying today and a dead rat . So much for wildlife. When we got to the Abbey where we had made a reservation , we rang the bell several times but no one came do we went into the little town but there were no shops do we went back to the Abbey and walked around out back. I saw a door open into a shop do I went in and startled a worker who I asked about an Accomodation and he said, compestella and I said yes . He pointed to another door and I walked in until I heard voices and a monk came out to greet us. He showed us to a room indicated toilets and showers , brought us sheets etc. after showering we fell asleep. Dinner us at 1920pm so we will be hungry until then. Beautiful sunshine coming through the window. I lost the adaptor for the electric plug so I won't be able to charge the computer until I get another one. That might be hard to find here so I just have 59 percent charge left. We just had such a great dinner. Father took us down to the dinning room and we ate with two ladies that are here for the week. We had bowls if soup, pasta,bread, cheese, wine and beer. We are more than full . We left a donation of 30e with father, with our thanks. Petite de jejune is anytime in the morning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lisques Day Four Walking

It was to be one of the shortest days and we spent more time than we should have in the woods. The woods are planted in rows and sectioned off with numbers. I am sure they are harvested with much regulation. The people we meet are very helpful and we try our French language always and like riding a bike more words keep coming back. I particularly like the smiles we receive for trying. When I bring out the translater and it speaks French, they all laugh. Tonight we have a chalet for $30E and 5E for sheets.
I didn't realize how much French fries are served. We never eat them at home. We ate in the little restaurant and had a very nice chicken and mushroom omelette.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jet Lag Over- Day 3 walking

Our first good sleep as it seemed early to get up at 7.30am. Good meal, two glasses of beer and tired legs make a good recipe for sleep. About 20 Kms to go today to Guines. Nice to get wifi Globe and Mail newspaper to read at night. Our first day of light rain but it is not cold. We followed the track through wondering hills of cattle, corn and sugar beets. We had to backtrack again for a kilometer or so and we picked up some Via Francigena signage and followed them. It seemed like a good idea but eventually we got lost and had to come back to Guines which is where we were headed. Arrived quite tired and a little sore. The reservation was for a caravan for $10e each. I remember emailing them and asking if in fact it came with sheets, it did. It is very nice and clean and the rate is a special pilgrim rate. We got them to come and turn on the water heater for showering. Guns are going off around here as it is hunting season. We are changing guide books to see if the other one is better. We since discussed this and and we are going to change guides instead. We ordered a fresh baquette and four crossants for 9am arrival but we have no butter or jam. Went to the local campground bar for supper. It was the last day before closing for the season. Ate too much pasta washed down with the local red wine. Got discount on the bottle since it was missing the front label. Carried Charlotte back to trailer. Arrived in Lisques after following Paul Chinn's guide through forest and having to backtrack and bring out the paper from the tourist office in Guines which took us through with no problem. We have decided to use the cicerone guide after the last encounter. Stopped in the town hall for a pilgrim stamp and she gave. Us directions and a cool drink of cordial.