Monday 29 September.
I managed to get down and up the steep stairs for the loo during the night without breaking my neck but it was a struggle. I made us a cup of coffee when I got up at 6am then we packed and were ready for breakfast. Before going to the kitchen in the main house we took a walk
round the garden and had a look at their boat. It was a typical river cruiser similar to what we hired when we sailed on the Saone all these years ago. It made us think about doing it again, maybe next year. We got a tub of yoghurt in addition to the usual mini-continental today. After Roger served us he took one of his sons Edward to school, it looked like he was at a boarding school considering the size I of the bag he had with him. He may board Monday to Friday and have the week-ends at home. The other lad, Louis, was left to make his own way to school, probably the local primary. By the time we had finished breakfast and ready to go Roger was back so the school couldn't be too far away. We said our 'au revoirs' and set off for our day's hike.
We backtracked through the village, crossed the Saone again but just before the marina at Port de Savoyeux the Via Francigena was waymarked. This was the official route and differed from the Cicerone version, but our map showed if we headed in reverse along this route we would pick the D172 to Savoyeux. The track was a towpath along a canal, this canal seemed to be a detour for river craft on the Saone to avoid rapids which we had seen from the bridge when crossing it earlier. It was a pleasant walk and where the canal went through a tunnel in the hill we climbed to the top. Just over the crest was a tarred road and we could see it join the D172 only a short distance away. It was a welcome surprise when we reached the main road to see a sign saying 'Savoyeaux 1km'. This short cut had saved us about 2km. The route crossed the Saone again in Savoyeux then we continued on the D172 to Mercey-sur-Saone, where again we crossed the river then the road followed it to the next village of Motey-sur-Saone. It was a lovely walk beside the river and in the still morning air the reflections on the water were mirror like. After Motey we took a forest road, it was a minor road but looked like it had been recently upgraded and resurfaced. On the 3.5km delightful stretch through the woods we only encountered two cars, it was luxury.
The next village, Sainte-Reine, seemed to stretch for ever. There weren't many houses but it was strung out over about a kilometre. We were by this time looking for a seat for our mid-morning break but found nowhere convenient to sit. When we cleared the village we decided on a spot on the verge beneath a tree. I made a cup of tea with a biscuit then we lay back on the grass and relaxed for half an hour. It was supposed to be 4.5 km to the next village of La Chapelle Sainte Quillon, named after an Irish Saint, but it seemed much shorter. We were making good time and had only 6km to the end of our day. We looked around the village for a boulangerie but although there was signs of life there were no shops.
It was on another minor road though no more than a lane that gave us more pleasant walking through woods to Montbleuse where we had a break in one of the many lavoirs in the region. Then another lane took us to Franse-le-Chateau. We could see the village after a short while but the lane took a winding loop into a dip then up a hill before entering it.
At the first junction we found the street where our accommodation was, Rue Grand Vergers. We walked along counting the numbers on the houses looking for No29 but not holding out much hope of anyone being at home. It was a pleasant surprise when the door was opened immediately and there was a warm welcome from Mne Grenier. She immediately sat us down in the lounge, supplied us with a beer, biscuits and some fruit. We were starving having had no lunch and it went down well. Mne. Grenier had to go out at 2 pm and took our credentials to get stamped at the Mairie. Later we found out that she was the Mairie, the Mayor, of the village and her name was Marie. This had caused confusion last night with Roger and Nellie, I couldn't understand whether we were to call on Marie or go to the Mayor's offices, the Town Hall. Now it seems it could have been either.
Our room was upstairs, another narrow winding stairway. But the toilet was upstairs as well, thank goodness. There was a huge double bed in a big room. After relaxing for half an hour we showered then decided to go for a walk. Unfortunately Marie had locked the door when she went out and we were locked in. Instead we made a cup of tea in the kitchen had another biscuit and a pear, she had said to help ourselves. It wasn't long before Marie returned with our credentials nicely stamped and we were able to go for our stroll. The weather today had been a bit overcast, dull and cool, good for walking but now we were getting a few spots of rain. It didn't come to anything and hopefully it will be clear tomorrow. The village was a reasonable size with a big church which was closed and an old chateau behind a large hedge.
There was a nice old lavoir that had been decorated with flowers. We didn't see any shops, restaurants or the gite that was supposedly full when Roger phoned last night. A lot of the houses had been renovated in recent years and were very attractive. One feature was the converted barn doors, some of the openings were made into an arched window. When we arrived back at the house Marie was busy preparing dinner and told us it would be ready at 7 pm.
We went to our room and relaxed on the bed reading for the rest of the afternoon. It was 42 km to Besancon which will take two days and we needed some place to stop in between. Our accommodation list said there were two places in Cussey-sur-l'Ognon, the only place to stay before Besancon. We made a note of them and went down early to asked Marie to phone them. She told us one of the two was now closed and when she phoned the other they were on holiday. Fortunately she had a list of places to stay on the route and suggested a place similar to hers but a bit off the route at Gezier-et-Fontenelay. We examined the map and the guide book and it wasn't much of a detour. After settling for there she phoned but there was no answer, she left a message and texted them and we are hoping we get fixed up before we leave in the morning.
The meal was lovely and not as big as the locals normally supply. We had an apéritif, a homemade elderflower wine, sweeter and stronger than the one Moira makes. Dinner was a potato and sausage pie with a green salad, cheese, and apple tart and yoghurt for dessert. There was a nice Bordeaux to go with it. The TV was on in the background and when the news came on we noticed that there was severe flooding in South around Montpellier, we are hoping we don't get any of that here.
We went to bed at 8:30 pm and read for a while but soon turned out he light to go to sleep. We are now in the habit of waking at about 6 am and after a hard day's walking you can't stay up too late.