Tuesday 23 September.
I had told the Sisters last night when they asked what time we would like breakfast, '7 o'clock'. That appeared to be a bit early for them but they nodded in agreement. It couldn't have been that early as when we came down the stairs Sister Marie was busy cleaning out one of the rooms where an old man had been last night. Sister Blondine had the coffee brewed and fresh bread ready for us. It was the usual light Continental breakfast but we are getting used to it. Before going I entered a comment into the visitor's book and noted that Mark and Xavier from Switzerland who we met before Reims had been here three days ago, they were making good time. It was a donation for our stay here and Moira gave Sister Marie €40, she gave €20 back as a donation for Pancreatic Cancer. There was the usual photo session before we were allowed to get on our way. It had been a very nice stop over and it is remarkable the people you meet who are so kind and helpful. I think the Sisters also enjoy having pilgrims staying there and looking after them.
There was a heavy mist this morning and it was quite cold. Fortunately we could see above the mist and the sky looked cloudless. Later when the sun started to get higher in the sky it quickly burnt off the mist. It warmed up somewhat but there was a cold wind coming from the east. The first kilometre was on the road as we crossed the river L'Aube again and picked up a gravel track that took us over a steep hill. I thought it would drop quickly down the other side to the village of Longchamp-sur-Aujon. It took a lot longer and because of the mist couldn't see where we we going, the track levelled out for a long stretch before dropping to the village. We still weren't sure exactly where we were and I asked a man walking his dog for directions. He confirmed we were on track then soon reached the main road, the D6.
Once over this initial hill it was on tar all the way to the finish in Chateauvillain. The D6 wasn't a very busy road and connected the villages of Maranville, Cirfontaines-en-Azois and Pont-la-Ville in a long wide valley. It was a very enjoyable walk and the valley was truly beautiful, the fields emerald green with more maize growing and now cattle grazing in the meadows. We stopped at Maranville for a break at a seat near a bridge over the river Aujon. Next we had our coffee break at Cirfontaines-en-Azois in a bus shelter that protected us from the cold breeze. We had another breather at Pont-la-Villers before the final 6km to Chateauvillain.
We were still on the D6 until a few kilometres from the finish where we took a detour round a lovely little lake then crossed the railway before entering Chateauvillain. There was a very attractive Cathedral with its steeple framed between the houses as we entered the town. We headed for the Tourist Office as directed by our guide book but it was closed so was the Mairie. They weren't open again until 4pm another 3 hours before we could get information about the gite. We found a spot next to the ancient city walls where there were seats under an awning and there we had lunch. I woman came along and I asked her about the gite, she didn't have any knowledge about it but directed us to a pub with rooms. La Belle Epoche. It was the one on our list and we made for it. It was run by Steve and Maggie Tait from Dumfries in Scotland, so they spoke English. We got a nice room and there was excellent WiFi.
After showering I got all my blogs posted and up to date. Moira showered then went out to find a supermarket for milk and wine. I relaxed stretched out the bed and read the newspapers for the last few days that I had downloaded. It took Moira a while again to find the supermarket but she eventually got there by a circuitous route. After she had a break we went out for a walk around the town. When we arrived the place was dead but livened up after lunch now it was dead again. The Tourist Office and the Mairie were both still closed so we were glad we didn't wait to find out about a gite. We walked around the city walls they weren't anything spectacular, it might have been better if we could have gone on the tour inside and along the tops to the corner towers, but the office was closed. There didn't seem to be any tourists about in what was supposedly an historic town. It was a surprise when we found the Cathedral open and inside some magnificent windows. They were all large colourful depictions of biblical characters, church saints and dignitaries and not the usual mass of small panels in the one window that makes it difficult to see the detail.
With nothing else to do or see we returned to our room and sampled the wine Moira had bought. It was a red from the Rhone and quite nice. With the WiFi being so good I was able to tune into the radio and listen to the news before going down to the restaurant for dinner. We had the beef goulash, a stew in thick gravy with mashed potatoes and a dash of cream on top. It was absolutely delicious with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the sauce. We then had the cheese board, half a dozen different cheese to sample and more bread. By the end we were full and the bill for the meal wasn't much more than we paid for our 'chicken curry' and beer the other night. There was another English couple dining as well, they live locally and we got chatting to them about our walk and the route for the next two days to Langres. They were very friendly by trying to assist with directions and routes to take but tended to confuse rather than help. After Maggie had finished serving she phoned the B&B in Mormant that was recommended by the Sisters last night. There was nobody answering. This resulted in a number of alternative suggestions of other places to stay with the English couple putting in their 'two pennies worth' but all phone calls got no response, maybe everyone around here is dead ! Maggie tried the first one again in Mormant and this time got a reply and booked us in. With that all settled we made our way to bed happily. We paid the bill before retiring, €84 for the room and dinner, and it also includes breakfast in the morning, not too bad.
It bed I tuned in again to the radio via the Internet. We listened to a music quiz programme and the panel game 'Just a Minute'. It was relaxing with a lovely meal to digest before getting to sleep.