👣 51 km by bike – Saturday 3 July
After 16 days of walking, today a whole new chapter of Road to Rome took form: we exchanged our walking boots for bicycles and started pedalling early in the morning to make our way from Jussy to Laon. The RTR calendar initially told us that today would be a very short day with only 29km on the program, but this appeared to be a tiny error. 51km were waiting for us at departure, but on our brand new Alpek trekking bikes we knew that this was not going to be a problem.
Joining us for these bicycle stages is our first RTR Ambassador: Pietro Franzese. Pietro manages a YouTube Channel, Instagram account and website where he talks about his bike travels and where he exchanges all kinds of tips and tricks about this way of slow travelling. Pietro will be with us on the road until the 11th of July and he will be sharing with all of his followers what it is like to cycling along the Via Francigena in France. For these same stages by bike we are also joined by EAVF intern Edgar Le Bras, and together with Nicola and Myra this means that we have a rather young RTR crew for the upcoming couple of days.
Although cycling along the Via Francigena is a very different experience from walking, it is equally interesting and challenging. Of course we go faster and therefore it’s easy to miss some details here and there, but cycling also brings a certain flexibility to travelling. Small detours aren’t as much of a problem: if for example there’s something interesting to visit only 5km away from the main route… by bicycle this is very easy because it only means 15km of detour. By walking we’re talking at least 1 hour.
The day proceeded smoothly, and around 15:00 we arrived at our final destination: Laon! We had never been to this city, but immediately upon seeing it from a distance, we were impressed. Laon is situated on a hill surrounded by flat lands. At the top of this hill the big Notre-Dame Cathedral can be found, and by locals this is also called “the hill with the crown” because the Cathedral from a distance looks a bit like a crown.
This city is quite unique in this area because it hasn’t been completely destroyed by WWI. Its medieval structure, houses, and other buildings are still intact and walking through the streets here is a truly unique experience. We were warmly welcomed by the Tourism Office of the city, who organized a special visit to the top of the church. From there the views over the city were simply amazing: seeing the city from above we could totally imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago.
After our visit to the top and a meeting with the mayor of the city, we recharged our batteries (and those of our bicycles) and retired for the night.
Climbing to the top of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Laon
The city of Laon in general: it’s incredibly beautiful!
Cycling along the Saint-Quentin canal
Myra Stals, Social Media Manager (EAVF)
Edgar Le Bras, intern (EAVF)
Pietro Franzese, RTR Ambassador
Nicola Cagol, videomaker