Brienne-de-Chateau to Clairvaux to Chateauvillain

Hello to everyone,

Well here we are now in Chateauvillain, a lovely little town, our accommodation for the night, an equally lovely little Chambre D’Hote run by an English couple….who have been very kind and welcoming. To top it all off..we are paying half the price of Mme Collabars B&B in Le Meix, where in the middle of the night ( I forgot to tell you ).. I had to scramble around for pillows to precariously lay myself along…… in order to avoid waking up with bruised hips! The bed was sooooo hard : ( Also I forgot to mention when in Le Meix, Jo was sleeping on a plastic sheet, which scrunched every time she twitched…resulting in no sleep!

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My bed in the morning at Mme Collabars.

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My bed at the Chambre d’Hote in Chateauvillain : )

The last two days have passed in a blur and now that once again I have Internet access, I will try and recount a few details to you. I love the manner in which time passes when I travel very long distances by foot. I’ve mentioned this before in this blog and indeed on my blog of the Camino Frances. Each day consists of waking,eating walking, eating, sleeping…and at the end of the day, some decisions of where to end up the following day and where to sleep….nothing more and nothing less…. Time passes effortlessly..sure there are many challenges but these just seem to meld themselves into the mesh of the day….which just becomes part of the cyclical nature of the journey.

Yesterday, we walked through some very beautiful areas of France, as indeed we did today.
I absolutely adore the rich palette of greens that the French countryside is offering up to us…I think we have been given special treatment in the last few weeks as the trees are bursting into new spring growth…… stunningly beautiful!

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We left Brienne yesterday, after securing a ride into a nearby village with a friend of the hotel owner. Once again we were forced to make this decision as accommodation was very scarce! We decided that we would try and get to the village of Clairvaux, where we would stay with the nuns of the Saint Bernard Fraternity,which was about 30 kms away. We gave our trusty driver and the friend he brought along as assistant, directions…as best as we could in our surprisingly expanding French vocabulary…to a nearby village about 7 kms away…this would give us a 23 km walking day.
I think those special ‘helpers’ that have been hovering since we left Canterbury, we’re again out in force : ) These two men, so typical of the wonderful generous French country folk we have so far met, ignored our protests when they passed the village where we wanted to be dropped off and drove us all the way to Bar-Sur-Aube, about 14 kms out from our destination! They even tried to avoid payment, which we thrust into their hands : ) I’m so grateful to them for being so insistent…as after spending a leisurely time drinking good coffee, gathering much needed accommodation information at the tourist office and then visiting the beautiful village church….which was open : ), we set off for Clairvaux…then got lost in a very muddy field, walked some very steep mountains and finally fell into the welcoming arms of the nuns, quite late in the day!
On reflection, I’m sure the pilgrims of old would have always welcomed a ride on the back of a wagon or horse just to ease their aching bones…and for us, the offer of a lift is no different!

Some images from our walk yesterday…

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At last, an open church in France!

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Old meets new.

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Whoops…we got a little lost….and VERY muddy!!

After arriving in Clairvaux, we were greeted warmly by the nuns. We are so privileged on our pilgrimage to be able to stay where ever we can, in religious houses along the way. The cost is always ‘donativo’ and so far a comfortable bed has been provided, dinner with the sisters and breakfast. Always, the welcome has been warm and generous and although, as you know Im not religious…I cannot begin to describe the feeling of safety and nurturing that these women convey to you.
The original abbey in Clairvaux is massive…beautiful impressive, expansive buildings and grounds but now it has been converted to a high security prison…..I’m not completely sure of the progression to its present use but it appears, as the St. Bernard Fraternity decreased in number,the abbey which was its home, quite simply became far too large..

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Well now….seems like I’m withering fast ….10.44pm here and I really should get some sleep as we have another big day tomorrow.
I’ll try and fill you in on some of today’s antics in tomorrows blog….Internet permitting : )

Love and hugs,

Netia xx

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2 Responses to Brienne-de-Chateau to Clairvaux to Chateauvillain

  1. Suzanne Lynch says:

    Netia the sandwich looks amazing and Jo the mischievous look in the mud sums up the fun you seem to be enjoying and my goodness those beautiful burgundy trees light up the landscape – the light is certainly shining on you both – love sue L. Travel safe xxx

  2. Francis says:

    Doesn’t look as cakey as the mud down this way!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clairvaux_Abbey. Alas, founded after Sigeric’s time but, no doubt, equally hospitable. Not the only example of an abbey becoming a prison (at the time of the Revolution?). Example: Fontevrault (Down the Loire) where English Kings and Queens lie entombed.
    On On

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