This section of the Via Francigena will see you move further into the eastern part of France and ever closer to the border with Switzerland.
Traversing the vineyards of the Champagne region and then moving into the Franche-Comté region, you will have ample opportunity to sample the Champagne or wines that are produced in this region. If architecture is your thing then along this section you can see not only traditional stone French farmhouses but in the towns, you will see a mixture of buildings right from the medieval period to today.
Arrive into Bar-sur-Aube. This old picturesque medieval town is perfect for strolling through and admiring the architectural and historical buildings.
Leaving Bar-sur-Aube, you will cross the Aube River before arriving into the first village of today, Fontain. From here, you will continue along the gently sloping hillside that is covered in rows of grapevines before winding your way down into the next village that lies before you, Baroville. Climbing up a small ridge out of this village through more vineyards, you will then descend across more fields to continue walking through the Clarivaux forest before arriving into the village of Clarivaux. Here, there is a former Abbey that was founded by Saint Bernard, but now is a high-security prison but you can still visit. It is this Abbey and the prison that was notorious for its treatment of prisoners during the time of Napoleon that influenced Victor Hugo to pen a short story in 1834 that then went on to influence his most famous piece of work, Les Misérables.
Today’s walk is not much longer than yesterday’s. Leaving behind the small village with its high-security prison, you could be forgiven that you feel like you are part of a novel as your destination for today does sound as if it was named by a James Bond villain – Châteauvillain! Today, when you reach the village of Maranville, you will have passed over into the department of the Haute Marne and as you pass through one village to the next it will not be long before you see your final destination on the horizon. Châteauvillain is a quiet town nestled in a bend of the River Aujon and is a maze of alleys and parapets for you to explore. Unlike a James Bond villain who has dangerous animals in their layer, Châeauvillain has over 100 deer roaming freely in the Parc aux Daims.
From Châteauvillain you will go through the Parc aux Daims, unless it is closed for breeding season, which is late October/early November. Coming out of the park, you will reach the village of Maison Forestière then continue to follow a forest track for your stop for this evening, Mormant. Today is not particularly long but there is nowhere to stop for snacks so we would advise that you bring a picnic and take advantage of walking through the park to find a spot to enjoy some lunch and break.
Walking today will be over rolling hills of crop fields, through small quiet villages, and by woodland. Just before reaching Langres, you will cross the La Bonnelle River and wind your way up a shady road to be greeted with a view of Langres and your stopover for the night. Langres is a fortified town that has some breathtaking views from its walls. Langres is not however just a pretty village to wander around here you can visit a museum on Denis Didreot whose most famous work was the Encyclopédie during the Age of French Enlightenment. If all the walking today has got your appetite going then be sure to also try some of the Langres cheese that is produced here, which not surprisingly goes well with Champagne! For any Canadians, this town is the birthplace of the co-founder of Montreal, Jeanne Mance.
The walk today is a short walk leaving the town of Langres behind, you will walk through large crop fields before entering some woods for a short period and coming out the other side to meander your way down to the village of Balesmes-sur-Marne. Traversing through more rolling green hills, you will arrive down into Chalindrey, where you will stay for the night and can relax and enjoy some freshly prepared French cuisine.
Leaving Chalindrey today, you will also be leaving behind the Champagne region of France and entering into the Franche-Comté region which is known for its church towers that are usually domed shaped. Walking down out of Chalindrey, you will then cross over a forested hill down into Grenant then winding around a forested hillside you will come out into arable land and follow the road up to your destination Champlitte. This small town had a rich history and beautiful architecture to compliment this and after wandering around you can treat yourself to one of the local wines either white or red that is made here.
From Champlitte, you will make your way through the countryside, passing large arable fields and through small sleepy French villages. Crossing the La Salon River then re-crossing it to arrive at your destination for today, Dampierre sur Salon. Wander around this typical French country town and relax as you will have a long day walking tomorrow.
From Dampierre sue Salon, the walk is through large arable fields then crossing the River Saône then following this till your reach a forest. Coming out the far side of the forest, you will wind your way down into the village of Sainte-Riene before coming to the large village of La Chapelle Saint-Quillan where you can have a picnic or pop into the church which has a 16th Century statue of the Irish Saint Quillan. From here to get to your stop for the night, Gy, you will continue down a road flanked on either side by a forest before emerging out onto a flat plain of crop fields that welcome you to Gy.
From Gy today your walk is much shorter to Cussey-sur-l’Ognon. Today’s walk will be mostly through forest pathways before returning to the open fields and arriving at Cussey-sur-l’Ognon, which is nestled in a bend of the Ognon River. In this peaceful French village, you will have an opportunity to relax and enjoy a traditional French meal.
Leaving Cussey-sur-l’Ognon by a country track through fields and passed a forest, you will come to Geneuille, first village today. Here you can take a morning break and grab a coffee and snack should you wish. Continuing on, you will cross the railway line and climb a forested ridge before coming down into Ecole Valentin and then to your final destination for this section, Besançon. This large town is built around a horseshoe bend of the Doubs River and has many historic sights to visit. The most popular tourist attraction is the 17th-century military Citadel designed by Vauban which is also a World Heritage site, but you can also visit the St Jean’s Cathedral, one of the museums or even take a boat trip on the Doubs River.
After breakfast we bid you farewell.
Fly into Bar-sur-Aube
The closest airport is in Paris. From here you can get the TGV to Bar-sur-Aube. Information on times and prices for the train can be found on the following website here.
The closest airports are at either Basel or Lyon. From Basel airport there are direct flights with Ryanair to Dublin, and direct flights with Sky Work to London. From Lyon airport there are direct flights with Aerlingus.
Information on the train times and prices from Besançon can be found on the following website here.
Alternatively we can assist with organising private transfer from one of these airports to your destination and vice versa.