Saturday 27 September.
It is one month today that we set out from Canterbury on this adventure. By the end of today's walk we will have covered 600 km, so we are on schedule to get to Rome in our target of 100 days. It only problem in the next few weeks is the weather conditions when we reach the Alps and whether the Grand St. Bernard's Pass is clear of snow and passable on foot.
Today the weather was fine yet again, very warm and cloudless skies. We set off at 8am after a light breakfast of bread, jam and coffee. The total bill for our stay here was €90, the meal last night was only €18 each, that part was a bargain. The walk up the hill to the D136 didn't take long and we were back on route again. Cicerone said that it was 10 km from Chalindrey to the next village of Grenant and that we had covered 4 km to the turn-off for Les Archots. By my calculations it was just 6 km to Grenant but after walking about 2 km a signpost pointing the way to Grenant had it as 9 km. it was bad enough having about 4 km added to your day when doing supposedly 20 km but if we had attempted the whole stretch from Langres to Champlitte, in the book as 36 km we would have ended up having to do 40 km. I don't think I would be at all happy then. We plan each day by the distance we can comfortably cover and hope that the accommodation fits in, so we depend on accurate distances from our guide.
Otherwise it turned out to be a nice walk through woodlands on a quiet tarred road that was flat most of the way. The weather was perfect and we were moving at a very brisk pace. There were kilometre markers along the road and we timed our pace, 11 min/km, that's over 5km/hour. We arrived in Gerant at 10 am having covered the distance of 11km in 2 hours, we deserved a break and a cup of tea. There was seats at the Mairie which was the banks of a very pretty river, the Salon. As we sat there drinking our tea it got so warm that our tops had to come off and we were down to just shorts and t-shirt.
From Gerant it was a long steady climb up through more woods on now the D17. Once we reached the top it was down the other side and into a long wide valley. A few kilometres along the valley floor we left the Haute Marne Department of France and entered the Haute Saone and for some reason the road number changed from D17 to D5. Moira remarked that when navigating in the motorhome through France the road numbers suddenly change, it must be when going from one region to another.
At the end of the valley we turned right on to the D460 another very quiet road and it was 6 km to the finish for the day in Champlitte. We could see the town from a distance where the large chateau on a rise predominated. When we entered the town Moira asked a man for directions mentioning, Pascal Henriot, the owner of the gite's name as instructed. It was instantly recognised and he started to jabber away. Moira picked up a few words and she was off, I had to curb her enthusiasm as she didn't know where she was going. I asked another person and got directions to the Rue de la Republique where I thought his house was. The number was 89 and at 87 people were in their driveway and we asked them for Monsieur Henriot. They said round the back and a girl,took us to a road behind where his winery was situated. He was down in the wine cellars with customers and when he was finished he took us round to the rear of a block of flats and up a steep metal stairway to a single room. There were two beds on top of one another to make room to move about. Later we separated them when we get ready for bed. There was a kitchen so we could cook ourselves a simple meal for a change. M. Henriot was very helpful and friendly and spoke very good English.
Moira had a packet of vegetable soup that she had been carrying in her bag for weeks. She made that for lunch and there was a piece of bread left for dipping in. The guide book said there was a Tourist Office in town so after our meal we set off to find it. We passed the large town square with the Mairie which was shut and most of the shops were closed so it was a surprise to find the Tourist Info open and ready for business. The woman there was completely different from the unhelpful one in Langres, when I mentioned the problem we had there she said there had been other complaints. She couldn't get an answer to from the place where I had hoped to stay but suggested another slightly off the route. There she got us booked and then supplied us with a map with the place clearly marked. Later I found that this village was a detour of only about 2 km at most. They had WiFi here and I had my iPad with me. I downloaded three day's of the newspaper so plenty to read now. I next started to post my blog for the past three days but ran into trouble. For some reason the 'Blogsy' programme I use to prepare the blog couldn't upload the photographs. I tried to reduce the size of the pictures, removed some of them but still it kept stalling. Eventually I removed all the photographs and just published the story, that posted instantly.
Across the road there was a Carrefour supermarket where we stocked up with food. On the way back the chateau was directly in front of us. It was another huge stately home but no indication that it entertained visitors. We cut through the square where a wedding was taking place, it was in the Mairie so they must have opened up for it. It was the Civil ceremony and I thought they would be having the church service afterwards but when we went down the hill to the Eglise Saint-Christophe with its huge 14th Century tower, it was locked, so we didn't see inside that either. When we got to our room again Moira decided to return to the Tourist Office and download the newspapers to her mini iPad. I stayed in, made myself a cup of coffee, showered then read the paper.
Our simple meal tonight was bacon and eggs with tomato, mushrooms and sweet corn ( we couldn't find baked beans in the supermarket ). It was perfect and also kept off the wine, this would allow our stomachs to recover. Earlier it had been noisy in the yard below our room with people working on cars and radios blaring but now it was quiet and peaceful. We cleared a space and separated the beds, it was just a couple of bunks but the mattresses were thick and comfortable. We both had a very good night's sleep.
Sunday 28 September.
Another lovely day with the sun shining brightly when we left. For breakfast this morning we had a boiled egg, yoghurt, bread and jam with tea. M. Henriot told us to make sure we left the place clean before going as the two using the gite the previous night hadn't. That could only have been Jacques and Gerard they are the only ones a day ahead, they seemed clean and orderly when we stayed with them. Anyway it was spotless when we set off at 8:45 am.
We had to head back down through town to the crossroads where we arrived yesterday to pick up the trail. It went first of all to the little village of Champlitte-la-Ville only 1km away. The church there was unusual in that the spire was tiled in different colours creating a pattern. A few others in the area also had this effect, even one big house with as turret had something similar. The route stuck to the D36 all day, it was a very quiet road that meandered and undulated between valleys.The first valley was of the river Le Salon which we crossed and recrossed several times. The other river we came to later in the day was the Saone. We spent a week on here with Suzanne and Margaret on a river cruiser in the 90's.
There were lots of villages to go through today, varying from 1km to 4 km apart. After Champlitte-la-Ville there was Margilley then Framont, Achey, Delain, and Denevre before reaching the large town of Dampierre-sur-Salon. We had stopped on the doorstep of a disused house in Achey for our mid-morning break of tea and a biscuit. For lunch it was a bench in a lovely park in Dampierre-sur-Salon. It had turned into another hot day and it was down to shorts and t-shirt again. We had a good break for lunch and refreshed for the final 6km of the day.
This was along the valley of the Saone and after 3.5 km we passed the turn off we have to return to tomorrow to pick up our route again. Just before reaching Seveux where the gite was we passed the Port de Savoyeux where there was a tie-up point for the river cruisers for the night. Moira said she remembered it from the time we were here, but I think its her imagination. When we arrived in the village it was more difficult than we though to find the gite. The woman in the Tourist Info yesterday said just turn first left as you enter Seveux and it's there, giving the impression that it was a place with only a couple of houses. It was much bigger than that and we had to ask directions twice before finding it. There was a big gate and a little one, fortunately the small one was open, then the dog barked and came running up to us. It was friendly after sniffing about us but he didn't disturb anybody, there was nobody at home. It was a lovely place with a huge garden beside the river. We sat on some garden chairs and waited. I was starting to get annoyed and tried to phone the people but only got voice mail. I asked a neighbour but she didn't know where they were. I had a wander round the property and found a mobile home in the back garden, it was open so we would at least have some place to stay if nobody turned up.
We settled down in the nice warm afternoon, I made a cup of tea and we got our iPads out to read. It was an hour since we arrived when a couple came wandering up from the bottom of the garden. They have a boat on the river somewhere in that direction and they had been on it. The first reaction is to be angry with this inconsiderate attitude towards customers but you soon accept that this is the way the French are, nothing seems to matter or worry them. Roger ( Varraut ) showed us to our rooms, an extension to the main house. Downstairs was a lounge, dining room, the kitchen, shower and toilet. We had to go up to the attic for our bed and it was steep,wooden staircase. I thought this is going to be fun going up and down to the loo in the middle of the night.
At last we could have a shower and relax for a couple of hours. Roger and his wife Nellie had two young boys, one 9 and the other 11, they came over and said hello, later one returned to tell us dinner was ready. We had an aperitif out on the veranda but it was a bit of a struggle trying to make conversation then Nellie suggested using the translator app on the iPad as they had WiFi. It was a battle to enter a very lengthy password, a mixture of capitals, small letters and numbers. Moira tried, Nellie tried and I had a go but it wouldn't accept our efforts. I suggested giving it to the expert, the 9 year old and he had us connected immediately. The translator helped and now we were able to understand some of what was being said. I used it to ask Roger about arranging accommodation for tomorrow and after a few failures, one place full and another the number no longer existing, he got us booked in. As far as we know it is a gite in the village of Fasne-le-Chateau and we have the address.
The meal was with the family and it was another 4 course feast. Pâté to start with a green salad, pork chop with potatoes au gratin, cheese and an apple tart for dessert. The wine was a rose and I think Roger made it himself, it was all right. We tried not to eat too much but still it was more than we are used to and felt full again. We excused ourselves early and it was 9 pm when we got to bed. After reading for a short time it was off to sleep.