👣 32 km on foot – Saturday 17 July
After a good night’s sleep at the “gîte” in Bucey-lès-Gy, our alarm clocks rang early because a long and full day was ahead of us. Because it is one thing to walk all these kilometres each day, but it’s a whole other thing walking them and meeting mayors and local associations along the entire itinerary.
These institutional meetings are very important for the success of our Road to Rome initiative, but they can also make the day a little bit more complicated and tiring. There’s a lot of organisational, logistical, and communicational aspects involved and especially on days with many kms to go, it’s a true challenge.
We’ve known it since a while now, but today our wish finally came through: the bad weather seems to be behind us and for the upcoming week only warmth and sunshine are promised. With the sun on our faces and our backpacks on our shoulders, we hit the road with a group of 25 walkers in total! Many local Via Francigena enthusiasts decided to join us for today’s stage, and together we made our way towards the first planned stop: Cussey-sur-l’Ognon. Just before reaching this town, we witnessed yet another river that had overflown its banks: the Ognon flooded nearby corn fields and sports areas including soccer courts. It’s an impressive and at the same time horrifying sight to see.
In Cussey we were welcomed by the mayor of the town as well as by the mayor of Besançon, because we officially entered the Doubs department of which Besançon is the capital. A warm welcome with lunch and bubbly wine was waiting for us, and to be completely honest… it wasn’t that easy to start walking again after several glasses of wine. This was a good lesson to learn, especially now that we’re getting into warmer climates. Two more stops were planned before we reached the big city: one in Geneuille and one in École Valentin. The local communities in these towns had made a true effort to make us feel welcome, with a big banner and customized gadgets made for our passage through their towns. In École Valentin moreover we learned that this town has quite a big castle (that is for sale!) which hosts a chapel that is filled entirely with “leftover artifacts” from nearby churches: robes, statues, reliquaries, and much much more. Unfortunately because of a lack of volunteers, this chapel is closed 364 days per year. An increase of travellers and pilgrims of the Via Francigena could help bring some economical growth to these smaller communities, allowing them to reopen treasures such as this amazing chapel to the public again.
The last kms to Besançon weighed the heaviest, but upon arrival in the city we stopped feeling any discomfort: the beauty of this city is something to discover. I had never been here before, and the historical centre is simply one big gem to be discovered. Luckily for us our fourth rest day is planned here in Besançon, giving us more than enough opportunity to explore this picturesque city.
Discovering the chapel in École Valentin with all its “unwanted” treasures inside
The enthusiasm of the local walkers and city governments
Entering the gorgeous city of Besançon
Realizing that tomorrow we have a rest day in this amazing city
Myra Stals, Social Media Manager (EAVF)
Jacques Chevin, staff member (EAVF)
Luca Bruschi, Director (EAVF)
Elena Dubinina, International Relations (EAVF)
Garance Potier, intern (EAVF)
Claire Waïss (FFR)
Emile Ney, former mayor of Bucey-lès-Gy
Andrea Alessandrini, RTR Ambassador
Andrea Ciotti, videomaker
Many local walking enthusiasts