Thursday, May 31, 2012


What can I say about Aosta?  This is my first big Italian town and thus far I have been most impressed.  The people here seem to be multi lingual.  I was served by a waiter the other night who chatted about all sorts of things with me in English, he then served the people next to me and did the same in French, and a little while later I heard him switch to German, though not quite as fluently.  In between I could hear him talking to the locals in his very fast native tongue!

This is a city that has a long history.  I have already told you how Napoleon crossed St Bernards Pass (but I didn't tell you he had 40,000 soldiers and 5,000 horses in tow), but before him Hannibal crossed - with his elephants!  The Romans were here long before them, and probably the celts before that. There are many Roman monuments here, and there is an active archeological dig going on every day, right in the centre of town, which passers by stop and watch. 

The Cathedral in Aosta

One of the Roman monuments

There are a number of churches and a Cathedral - all very different from what I have seen previously.  There are a lot of frescoes in sight, and the churches have a lot of stone / marble in them too. 

A frescoe in the Cathedral

The people are wonderful.  I have had a lot of help - from the man who sold me a new pair of walking shoes today, to the Lory at the laundromat who rode her bike home to pick up her car to drive me back to the hotel, because my feet were so sore!

Here in Aosta I have companionship too.  As I was walking to my hotel on the first day the first person I saw was fellow pilgrim Steve, and we passed each other a number of times in the few hours he was in town.  Then, last night, I had the pleasure of the company of a former Via Francigena pilgrim and his wife.  They come from Perth, and Jim was showing Angela some of the territory that he walked through last year. Jim has filled me in on a few things - such as the limit for the ATM machines, how to catch the ferry on the River Po, and what adapter works for the battery charger!  Very useful stuff!

The Italian people like to go out at night sitting and chatting, dressed in ther best.  In Spain this is called dar un paseo, and I think that it is called passegiata in Italian.  I have just passed a group of people sitting outside and one of the blokes had a button accordian entertaining his friends. 

A street in Aosta, with the people starting to congregate. 

There seem to be pizza shops and gelati shops everywhere, and the locals (I assume they are locals because they have dogs in tow!) walk along munching on them just as much as the tourists!

I must fly as I am meeting Jim and Angela for dinner.  Tomorrow I am going to take the bus on the same journey that I would have wlaked:  I am hoping that my new shoes will settle in and that within a few days I will be able to walk freely again,.  Today I am much better than yesterday, so if I keep improving I will be right for walking again very soon!

Like Napoleon .... I crossed the Alps!

I am now in Italy, having walked, bused, trained, and travelled by boat!  I am stiff and sore from the steep mountains that I have ascended and descended, and unlike Napoleon I did the last part on foot - I think he had access to a horse for some of his adventures! 

Leaving Martigny Bourg was the the start of the assault!  Following the guidebooks advice I caught the train from the next village for the 10 kms of dodgy path.  Dodgy, because it was advised that one needed to be agile, and by no stretch of the imagination can I be said to be that, especially at present!  I arrived in Sanbrancher to a race of some sort.  I say of some sort, because people were obviously running, though many had walking poles with them.

 This village, and most of the villages to come, were examples of very old Swiss villages.  Here again I got lost.  Again not because of the guide, but because there was a barrier across the path.  My translation of what the sign said was something along the lines of "do not enter here, on pain of torture!" Obviously I didn't want that, and so I retraced my steps and went up the mountain to another village. Only to find that I was further away from Orsieres than I was originally!  The road was exceedingly quiet, and so when a car came along I put the thumb out and got a lift down the mountain.  My driver was very keen to tell me that there was bus to Liddes if I wanted to catch it.  More fool me - I should have taken the advice!


The narrow path which changed from this ...... this!

 The first part of the path was steep, but pleasant enough.  The last part though nearly broke me.  It should have been a narrow path through a shady forest.  Yes, it was narrow, yes it was through forest, but no the forest wasn't always upright.  I think that there had been many tress cut down through forestry, but there were also trees that had fallen down.  It was a real obstacle path, and part way through I became rather fearful, as I slid on my backside around tree stumps, hoping that I would not slide further down the slope to the raging torrent far below me!  No one knew I was on that path, and I had seen no-one on it either, and so I was especially careful as I negotiated each obstacle.  I was absolutely bushed by the time I got to Liddes and decided that I wasn't going to hunt for a cheap room, but would take the first one I got. Fortunately it wasn't too expensive, only 56 francs, and it included breakfast. 

I crossed Alpine pasture .....

...... and raging mountain streams!

The next day was the final assault!  I left reasonably early, debating about taking the bus to the first village 6 kms futher on, however I really wanted to walk it and so I did. I walked through lovely mountain pasture lands, with trees on the steep hillsides around the valley, and lovely alpine flowers in the meadows.  The temperatures were pleasant for walking - warm but not too hot. After Bourg St Pierre the ascent really began in ernest, first passing a big dam, and then the tunnel entrance that goes through the mountain into Italy.  I climbed to, and walked through a  high alpine pature land passing a fascinating old farm house.  It was just after this that I found my first snow, though I had been surrounded by snow on the mountains above me.  This was snow that I had to walk around or through.  Fortunately I was able to walk around it fairly easy which brough me out onto the road which I then had to follow all the way to the pass.  The path was mostly under snow, and so instead of having only 2 kms to go I had the hardest 4 kms I have ever walked. Hard, because of the steady climbing (the road was a real zig zag), but also hard because by that time I was very sore - with a painful knee and painful feet.  

On the last 4 kms climb!

I have arrived!

I walked those last 4 kms through walls of snow.  I had to keep stopping not only to draw breath, but to admire the extraordinary views before me, and of course to take photos!  The road was closed to vehicles, and so I did not have to worry about traffic, but that also put the option of hitching to the top out of reach! There was obvious signs of avalanches near the top, and in fact I had to walk through a small gap that had been cut in what must have been one.  At times I was walking through walls of snow several feet taller than me.  The road was in the process of being cleared and except for the avalanche it was clear all the way to the hospice. 

What can I say about the Hopsice at Gran St Bernard Pass?  Anything I say would be an understament. The care and attention I received when I got there were wonderful.  I was told to sit down and had a jug of tea put in front of me and told to relax.  Then dinner was served (there were about a dozen guests that night), and following that I was wisked off to the infirmary where a Anne-Maire gave me Arnica pills and gel for my aches and pains, and she dressed the bad blister on my right foot.  After that the priest carried my pack up to the 4th floor where I had a room to myself, and after a hot shower I collapsed into bed with a luxurious feather doona and a lovely feather pillow.  I stayed there 2 nights in order to recover, before descending.  The motto of the hospice and the monks / priests who run it is "Here Christ is fed and loved"  - they live up to that.  

Looking at the Hospice from the Italian border.

Most of the guests had walked from the start of the tunnel, though Matilde, Michael and their little 2 year old Charlotte, had driven as far as the second air chimney for the tunnel and parked there.   During the rest day I had at the hospice there were people coming and going all day.  Some passing through on their way down the other side, and some who had just walked from the tunnel to come up to the Hopsice, have lunch or a cuppa and go back down.  It was in the aftenoon that I saw another (Texan) pilgrim - Steve Cooper.  We chatted for a while sharing our experiences, and when he gave me his card I realised why I recognized his name.  He is the authour of "Six Months Walking the Wilds (of Western Europe)".  He was quite surprised that not only had I read it, but owned a copy which was loaned out regularly!

I only went outside to take a few photos, but the beauty of the place is extraordinary.  The surrounding mountins were covered in snow, and in fact the main entrance to the hopsice is on the first story, because in the winter the ground floor is covered in snow.  There is a lake in front of the hopsice, most of it still frozen, and the road form the hospice to the Italian border was still blocked by snow.  There was a hive of activity about the place though as this weekend (June 2nd) the road is open for cars, and so the workers were out in force clearing the road, and replacing windows in the restaurant and hotel etc - all of which close for the winter period.  The people who live in the hospice live there all through the winter, just on the off chance that they are visited by cross country skiers etc.  The only way in and out is by ski or, I guess these days in an emergency, helicopter. 

Napoleon ordered that a tombstone be built for his friend General Desaix, who was killed in one of the battles, and he chose to desginate "as its guardians the friars of St Bernard".  This tombstone was carted to the pass by mule carts "each cart being trained by 30 mules"!  The manager of this event said that the road was "only 2, 3, 4 or 5 feet large, and it had slopes of 45 degrees, coasting frightful precipes".   This tombstone resides in the foyer of the hospice, along with a massive granite plaque - and a lovely grandfather clock! 
About to begin the descent.  The beanie an jacket soon came off and the sun hat on!  I had to walk/ stumble through the snow on my Left side (that's where the road is) for about 500 metres, sometime sinking into it up to my knees and once faling over - quite tricky getting up as there is nothing hard to push against!

Just because I was over the border the snow didn't vanish!

Eventually though the grass started to appearand the mountains grew more distant. 

That descent has left me with aches and pains in muscles I didn't know I had!  It took less than half the time to get down the same distance that it had to get up, though I had just as many stops to admire the view - of where I had been, and where I was going!  It was when I got half way down the mountain and found that my knee was too sore, that I decided to hitch to Aosta where I have been for the last 2 days. I have to give my knee and foot time to heal properly and so I am going to have to bus it for a few days, otherwise I will not be able to keep up with Carol and Elizabeth when they arrive! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A propostion declined!

I am not complaining, but now I have a knee that is caput!  I have been nursing it, rather unsuccessfully, for the past week, which is why there have been bus, train and boat trips, as well as walking, in my journey across Switzerland. 

The church in st Croix

In an effort to keep moving I caught the train from St Croix into Lausanne.  Here I met another pilgrim, Giogio, form Rome.  He was just beginning his journey and was very fresh, though like me I think he was a bit dissapointed that there was no one at the cathedral to speak to us. 
A view of Lausanne from the Cathedral

I was not in the mood for a big expensive city, and I didn't have the fitness to travel back and forth from the suburbs so that I could stay somewhere cheap and so I decided that I would follow my guide books advise and travel by boat along Lake Geneva to Villeneuve immediately rather than stay in Lausanne.  Travelling on the boat meant that I got to see the landscape from ground / lake level, and I must say that I was rather glad I made that decision.  This boat trip follows the coast of the lake, and from the boat one can see the terraced vineyards of Lavaux.  This land was originally owned by the church but gradually the state took it over and sold it to enterprising farmers who terraced it and turned it into vineyards.  It is intensive farming at a high level.  Vineyards are nice to walk through for a while, but these vignerons don't waste land by planting trees for shelter - it is all vinyards and it would have been VERY hot walking through it!  The whole area is now a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is also a very expensive tourist region!  This is where Charlie Chaplin, among other famous people, lived out his days and where the Nestle factory was established. 

Just some of the UNESCO protected terraced vineyards!

I managed to get a hotel for 55 francs that night, and though I had to share a bathroom, my room was like a palace, a double bed in a room large enough to hold 2 more!  What was especially nice was that it was just across the road from the church and so I could hear the clock strike all night!  Being on the road means that I miss such luxuries as chiming and striking clocks!

Again thinking of my feet I decided to catch the bus for a little way up the road and then walk - except I got lost!  I spent so much energy walking around in circles that I decided I had none left to walk, when I eventually found the path (it was my own fault I might add - not the guide book!) and so leapt on the train to St Maurice. 

One of the signs decorating the town of St Maurice - ready for the festival. 

I drew the short straw here too, as there was a festival on that weekend (I was there on the Thursday night) and so the Abbey where I wanted to stay was booked out, which meant that I had to go to the Fransican hostel.  It was here that the Swiss attention to detail was in evidence.  The room was very simple (at 50 francs), but there was obvious attention to little things.  This is a place used as a conference centre and so people needed security of possessions.  I couldn't work out how to open the cupboard for a while, and when the handle came off in my hand I thought I would try putting it back and turning it - lo and behold it opened, but if I shut it and removed the handle, it was locked!  Nifty detail I think! 

The tourist offic eassisted me in getting a room in Martigny - but she failed to tell me that it was in the next part of the town (Martigny Bourg), and because this was the first day I had walked the full day for a while, I was a bit shattered and so failed to see some of the things in the town.  I did however get to see the Roman Amphitheatre, and the outside of the Dog Museum!  I didn't see the St Bernard dogs, but I could hear them barking!  This is the town where they live in the winter time, only going up to the pass in the summer.  They are no longer used as search dogs because, according to my excellent guide book - they are too heavy to fly in the helicopter and too hard to train - German Shephards are lighter and easier to train. 

This was also the town where I was propositioned!  It still brings a smile to my face.  I stayed in a B & B here, and thought I had it to myself as no-one had put in an appearance when I went to bed at 9.30.  I left my door open and had the tele on when a bloke came in.  I sat up, had a bit of a chat, and told him he could turn off the tele but he wanted to watch it so shut my door and off he went.  A short while later there was a knock on my door and I responded with "oiu" - though not in the imperious way that french woman manage to say it - and he opened the door and asked if I wanted him to stay!  The exchange was brief - "No!"  " No?"  "No!"  Even now the comedy of the situation brings a smile to my face, though needless to say, I sneaked out of bed and quietly locked the door after that! 

Into Switzerland ......

As I was leaving Pontarlier I chanced upon a notice explaining about a fire that destroyed one of the absynthe distilleries in the 1730's (it also destroyed other buildings at the time too).  Anyway, one enterprising employee, realising the risk of an explosion, emptied the containers of  absynthe into the River.  Downstream at Ornans they had free aperitifs for a day or so!  This was how they discovered that the River Loue which flows through Pontarlier and Ornans was actually part of the River Doubs system which, if you remember from previous posts, flows in a big horseshoe bend around most of Besancon, because several days after their free drinks in Ornans, the river Doubs smelt strongly of absynthe too!

This area of France is known as the French Comte and is famous for it's clock towers.


I had wild thoughts of catching a bus from Pontarlier, There had been steady rain all night, and very heavy showers at breakfast time and I had thoughts for my poor feet!  After waiting though for 20 minutes for someone to come to the counter at the station I decided that I could walk it anyway!  And I did - except for the last 4 kilometres.  The first part of the walk wasn't the most pleasant as it was along a busy road, but the rain had stopped and just as a heavy drizzle started I arrived at a bar and stopped there for a hot chocolate. 

One of the sights on the road from Pontarlier - a wayside chapel

It was here that the walk really became enjoyable.  As I was walking up the hill my views were of lovely pine forests (not radiata though!!!!) ahead, and when I stopped to look back I could see the chalet perched high on a hill on the other side of the valley.  This, though I didn't stop to look at it, is now a museum of ancient weaponary.  I could hear the birds singing, and best of all I could hear the little streams running, and a couple of little waterfalls.  It is such a novelty for some Australians (probably most) to hear running water in the fields. 

I stopped near the top of the hill for lunch at a little layby area.  On one side of the road I had a herd of brown and white cows all watching me eat, and behind me was another herd all busy eating.  I didn't even have to look to know that because there was a cacophony of cow bells ringing the whole time!  I was still some kilometres from Switzerland, but the bells were well and truly sounding. 

This was the day that I saw my first ever ski field - no snow though - only the brown and white cows grazing on the grass. 

Crossing the border was interesting.  Though there are no longer any border guards, the cars still have to slow down and drive through a covered area - presumably so that in the old days the border guards were protected as they checked documents.  It was here that I noticed my first signifcant difference - the road!  There are narrow roads in France, but usually there is some kind of verge that you can at least stand on to avoid oncoming cars, but not here.  The road was narrow, and I had to be very careful when stepping to one side that I didn't continue down the slope.  After dealing with these conditions for a few kilometres I decided to hitch the last 4 into St Croix where I had a bed booked for the night.  

The border post - no longer manned

This was where I noticed the next big difference between France and Switzerland - the cost of everything!  I had been lulled into a false sense of security by the cost of my hotel room at the Cafe Hotel, which was only 40 swiss francs.  It was when I went to buy some food that it really hit me.  The prices were double and more in some cases, and this was to be the last cheap hotel room for my time in Switzerland. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yesterday started off a pleasant summer's day, though quite humid when climbing hills, and ended with a huge thunderstorm.  At 5.00 it was quite dark even though the sun would not be setting for another 3 hours or more!   
The first climb, on leaving Besancon!

My feet held up well yesterday as I walked up and down, but the last few kilometres on the hard road surface finished them.  One dear lady saw me walking, turned her car around and came back to give me a lift - she thought that things were "dificile" for me!  How is that for kindness!  She then drove me to the little town of Ornans, where the only accomodation I could find was a three star hotel, despite the fact that Madame insited on driving around the entire town checking that there was not another one open!  Even the hotel owner finds it strange that on the one day when tourists are out in force the Office of Tourism, is shut and therefore unable to give advice.

Yesterday's journey took me thorugh some pleasant countryside, with some wonderful views looking back at Besancon, and through yet more forests.  I think this part of France must be the lungs of the country there are forests everywhere.
Looking back over Besancon, with the Citadelle on the right.

Ornans is, to use my rescuer's phrase a "très, très, beaux village"!  It is right on the River Loue, and the houses sit right on the edge of the river, which is a reasonably fast flowing and wide one.  There are numerous bridges crossing the river - some car and some only foot bridges. The main road is very narrow with the footpath only about a foot wide in several places! So narrow that cars, truck, buses etc are continually stopping to allow vehicles to get through!

Houses on the rivers edge at Ornans

More chimney pots!

Because of the fragile state of my feet, I decided that with the rain of last night, and the projected downpours over the next couple of days, that I would be foolish to try and walk today.  The path would have been either very muddy and slippery, or it was on the busy main road - and neither would have done my feet any good.  Instead I caught the bus to Pontarlier, where I am booked into a single room in the Auberge Jeunesse (youth hostel).  The bus trip more or less followed the path, and I don't know which would have made me more nervous, as the driver swung the bus round corners and speeded up on the straight!  Some of the corners were so tight that he held the horn down for quite a few seconds as he went round them.  It was a beautiful road nonetheless, looking at the river as it rushed over the weirs in the villages, going through villages that clung to the hillside, and seeing the mist roll down the clefts in the cliffs, almost like a waterfall.  Finally the road broadened out from the river valley and the approach into Pontarlier was through forest and pastureland.  Pontarlier is an attractive town, the home of Absynthe - not that I will be trying any!  Its altitude is 840 metres.
The entrance to "centre ville"Pontarlier.

I keep forgetting to tell you about the weather.  Yes, the summer has arrived - on some days, but there are still days when it is quite cold.  Today it is only 11°, and last week in Besancon I had to get out my down jacket again!  There are downpours expected over the next 2 days, but then it is meant to fine up!

Tomorrow  ..........  Switzerland, and only 18kms for the next 2 days so the feet should be fine!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

After 4 days of leisure it is time to "hit the road again"!

Besancon is a lovely town as I have already mentioned.  Today I went to the Museum of time, and the Musum of Beaux Arts, and enjoyed the sights at both. I was surprised to find that the Art Museum also had a huge collection of antiquities, especially things from ancient Egypt (three Mummies).  There were paintigs by Rubens and Goya, and a delightful one by Jordain of 2 singers and a recorder player.   Sadly though they didn't have a postcard of that particular one. There was a marble carving of a baby lying on a blanket, and it seemed so realistic I just wanted to reach out and stroke its cheek!   One of the things I noticed with this museum was that the vast majority of art works were at head height, and there were, mostly, no restraints at all.  I was quite surprised, as other places have had barriers to stop people getting too close, or put the paintings up much higher. There were 2 things that I loved about the Museum of Time.  The first one (and this will come as no surprise to those who know me) was the sound of the clocks striking!.  It was so nice walking around and hearing them strike - I felt quite at home!  None of them were set properly, and so they were stiking at random times.   The other thing that I enjoyed were the 8 giant tapestries that were in one room.   They were so wonderful, telling the stories of conquests, crownings etc.  I could see the expressions on the faces of some of them and they really seemed to be talking! Earlier in the day I met NZ Jaqui at the Cathedral.  She is staying out of town tonight, but her hosts had brought her in to catch up with me for a while, which was very kind of them - a story I keep having to repeat, because so often both of us have met with kindess and generosity from the people of this country.   I forgot to say in a blog from earlier about the sounds that I hear on the way.  I got so carried away with telling you about the colours and smells!  Though I prefer walking in the autumn because of the more stable weather, one of the big differences between spring and autumn is the bird life.  I find that I am often woken by the dawn chorus, and my way is always accompanied by bird song.  I don't have the knowledge to recognize the calls, but I enjoy it nonetheless.  Mind you, I do recognize the pigeons, and I think that  a cuckoo  has accompanied me along the way on some days. The other sound that I love is the rippling of the streams and rivers as I pass.  That, for an Australian is a novelty! In Besancon, and the big towns in this area, the buses are unique.  They are often driving in semi-pedestrian areas and so they have to be quite careful that they don't knock anyone over!  They have a lovely bell like sound that they ring as a warning to people.  It is much easier on the ears than a beep of a horn! The sound that I enjoy most of all though, and sadly don't hear as much as I might have expected, is that of the church bells, and town hall clocks. The church clocks have a funny system here.  They stike the hour, and then about 3  minutes later, just in case you missed it, they stike the hour again!  They don't do this for the quarter and half hours though.     I, of course, love singing in the churches too along the way, but again, compared to my last journey, many churches are not open and so I haven't been able to do this as much. The other thing that I forgot to tell you about was the trafic in Reims.  There are many one way streets in that city, and the locals have figured out a way to get round that.  They reverse up them which means the car is pointed in the right direction - even if it is going the wrong way.  I even saw council vehicles doing this!   I am off on the road tomorrow.  Today I have bought some liner socks, new inner soles for my boots, and some surigcal pads and tape for the first aid kit. it is a short day and so I will see how I go.  In 3 days time I will  be crossing the border into Switzerland, and so I am expecting some Hills - and then the mountains of the Alps!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

In Besacnon, and on yet more R and R.

After leaving Brienne le Chateau, I got to Bar sur Aube, a delightful little town, made even more delightful by the wonderful people in it.  I went to the Presbytere to get my pilgrim stamp and met Armelle, who kindly took me in hand.  She organized for me to sleep in the Presbytere, right next door to the church, and there I had my own room, with access to the bathroom facilities.

Because my feet were still far from well Armelle offered to drive me the next day to help me.  It was organised that she would drive me to the town of Langres where I would spend 2 nights, in the hope that my feet would improve, which I thought they did.  I went to the Mass and there I saw Jaqui, the NZ pilgrim, who had just arrived.  Together we met Monique who invited us, through Armelle, to a wonderful lunch at her home.  It was a delightful afternoon with much talk and laughter, though English was not the common language.

The heritage gate to the Presbytere, where I stayed.

Langres is the most lovely town, again like Bar sur Aube with amazingly friendly and helpful people. It is a town with narrow, winding streets and little passages connecting the streets.  It is built on a hill and still has most of its ramparts and towers in place.  The streets are cobbled and hard to walk on with dodgy feet though.  Armelle organized for me to sleep in the Presbytere for 2 nights.  This was special as usually pilgrims are only allowed to stay in a place for one night.  My bed was a mattress on the floor in a catechism classroom, with access across the passage to the toilets, but no shower.  However the priest was very kind and let me have a shower in his own private bathroom one night, for which I was very grateful. Armelle and her friend Anne-Sophie, who came along for the ride, were very excited because the priest was young - a novelty apparently.

Armelle and I standing on the ramparts of Langres.

One of the narrow streets of Langres.

The sign at the gite I stayed in at Champlitte

After leaving Langres, I thought my feet were pretty good, but they deterioarated as the day wore on and so I organized, when I got to Champlitte, to skip a few days and catch a bus to Besancon.  The good thing about that is that I have had a really good look around, and a rest, but the sad thing is that I did not get to see a few of the things that I was really looking forward too.  Oh well, you win some, you loose some.

Besancon is a clean city, by which I mean the buildings are very clean.  I would have used inverted comms here, but can not figure out how to get them on this machine.  The stone that is characteristic of this region is a yellow stone whith a blue metal thread through it, and so some of the buildings are creamy in colour, and other are more blue.  My guide book describes it as ochre, but I would not go that far, not Australian ochre anyway.  It also means that the buildings, on the outside are quite light in appearance.  However, that does not apply to the interior of the churches.  I have found that the big churches here are quite dark inside, not helped by the large paintings and so on inside them either.  

Yesterday I went for a boat ride on the River Doubs, which has a big horshoe bend in it virtually making the city and island.  I met a delightful young man who told me a few stories about the town.  He told me that the Lumiere brothers, early film makers, were from this city and that  their first film was about a gardener who could not work out why his hose was not working.  there are statues in one place depicting this movie, and there are a couple of  photos below to show you.  The hose actually squits every few minutes, and gives him a wet face - just like in the movie.

The reason that the hose is not working is that cheeky scamp on the right has his foot on the hose.  

The other thing that has fascinated me here and I must say that I have not noticed elsewhere is the chimneys.  The skyline has a wonderful array of different chimneys, and in particular chimney pots. 

I think I will stay here until Sunday, as Jaqui is quite keen to have a companion to go over the alps with, and she is a day or so behind me.  That will enable my feet to get properly better.  I must say having a companion on that part of the road is quite qppeqling, as the other day there was snow down to 800 metres.  

The weather was hot last week, but I have had to get the down jacket out again this week.  Here I was having thoughts of sending it home, but that will not be happening for a while.   

 I have not been able to post any photos for a while, and at last I have a computer that will allow me to do so, so here are some of my impressions of the road, and some of the things I have seen.

The path followed, on several days, an old railway line which, like the old Roman roads, usually goes in a straight line.  This one had its fair share of water on it that had to be negotiated. 

Sometimes the towpath on the side of the canals was a little track, at other times a well defined path
Walking along the edge of the forest, I bumped into this group of Randonees, who were out for a Saturday stroll. 

 ....and here is the Roman Road.
This was lunch stop for the day, and it was just after this that I took the wrong road .
Very often though, especially in the last few weeks this is what the road has looked like.
Very quiet bitumen but very  hard on the feet.
This road is winding through one of the many forests.  

These are the flowering cherries that  scattered their petals, like confetti, over eveything. 

 Napoleon stands atop the gate of the military school that he went to in Brienne le Chateau, and below are some of the pollarded trees in the path leading to his former school.

More pollarded trees, knotteed and knarled, and
 below you can see what they look like as they start to shoot.  

I talked earlier about the scenery, and this is just one of the scenes I saw, repeated often, along the way.