Day 35 – Pontarlier to Jougne

Toussaint, the most unhappy man of men!
Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough
Within thy hearing, or thy head be now
Pillowed in some deep dungeon’s earless den….


Friday 4/5/2018

Distance 26.3km Total Distance from Canterbury 840.3km

Pontarlier is famous for absinthe. Absinthe is, or was, a much-loved alcoholic drink, renowned during the 19th century. It was a spirit, with a high level of alcohol, and flavoured with a variety of herbs including wormwood and aniseed. It was invented, if that is the word, in Switzerland, but Frenchman Henri Pernod bought the recipe and opened a distillery in Pontarlier in 1805. By the end of the nineteenth century the French were consuming over 13 million litres per year and there were more than 1,000 distilleries in the country.

Continue reading “Day 35 – Pontarlier to Jougne”

Day 34 Mouthier to Pontarlier

The better part of valour is discretion;
in the which better part
I have saved my life. (Shakespeare: Henry IV Part 1)

[Yet again let me clarify that I am publishing the days of my walk with the dates that I walked, but I am actually writing this in September. ]

Thursday 3rd May

Distance 30.4km Total Distance from Canterbury 814km

The image at the top is of Falstaff by Eduard  Grützner (1846–1925), a German artist who specialised in two things, paintings of Falstaff and paintings of monks, as you can see here

I dined last night with my new-found French friends and then returned to my quaint gîte where I slept very well. It rained quite a lot during the night and was quite misty and certainly cool when I awoke. Somehow I missed the French group in the morning, although in fact our arrangement to meet had been rather loose. But I knew I would meet them again in Pontarlier where we were all going. Pontarlier will possibly be my last stop in France, (although always the route is ‘subject to modification’!) Continue reading “Day 34 Mouthier to Pontarlier”

Day 33 – Ornans to Mouthier

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Tuesday 2/5/2018

Distance 15km Total Distance from Canterbury 783.6km

My original plan for yesterday had been to walk to a town called Etalans, following my Italian guidebook. I had tried several times, by phone and by email, to contact a small restaurant there with rooms, the only place listed to stay. This town is listed in my other guidebook. I had no particular reason for choosing one over the other, except for the question of accommodation. The routes were of similar length. I could get no reply so I had to change my plan and travel instead to Ornans. Continue reading “Day 33 – Ornans to Mouthier”

Day 32 – Besancçon to Ornans

The Fifth Station of the Cross: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross

Monday 1/5/2018

Distance 26km Total Distance from Canterbury 768.6km

So back on the road, on another public holiday. May 1st is the Fête du Travail or Workers’ Day/ Labour Day. It is a day for demonstrations in support of workers’ rights in France. Last year on this day there was rioting in Paris, and hundreds of arrests, and the same happened today. But not in sleepy Besançon. And the events today, though given blanket coverage in the French media did not compare with Les Événements of May 1968, fifty years ago. These were riots of both student and workers over an extended period which led, at one point, President de Gaulle to flee the country. Continue reading “Day 32 – Besancçon to Ornans”

Day 31 Rest Day in Besançon (2)

“If you can’t fight, wear a big hat”

Monday 30th April

0 km walked  Distance from Canterbury 742.6 km

The picture above is by Rubens, of St Jerome, dressed as a cardinal (which he never was in fact). He is wearing the traditional galero, the ‘red hat’ which was one of the symbols given in the past (after the time of Jerome) to a cardinal when he was appointed by the Pope. However, its use was suppressed in 1969 and cardinals wear much smaller red hats now. But the galero still has a traditional use which we will come back to.  Here is a picture of the current red hats: Continue reading “Day 31 Rest Day in Besançon (2)”

Day 30 – Rest day in Besançon(1)

Monday 30th April

“Yeah but, no but, yeah but….”Vicky Pollard (in Little Britain)

[A quick word of explanation, written on 4/9/2018, for people who are confused. I set out to blog every day on my trip to Rome, (probably), but the blog came to a halt shortly before I walked across the Alps, mostly because of the extreme difficulty winding wifi regularly. I continued to post on Facebook most days, and did a few real time updates here. I arrived in Rome on 28th June on my 89th day of walking. I am now back in Ireland, and plan to continue the blog to cover the remaining days.] 

A reflection for a rest day. I will tell you something about Besançon tomorrow.

Qu’est-ce que votre but? This is a question which several people have directed at me – a man in a bar, the brother of my host one night, a woman in the street. So it seems like a  common question in France. It is a fairly simple question to understand. It means ‘what is your aim?’ or, ‘what is your goal?’  Continue reading “Day 30 – Rest day in Besançon(1)”

Day 29 – Gy to Besançon

Like a dry, weary land without water

Sunday 29th April

Distance 34.2km Total Distance from Canterbury 742.6km

The above line comes from Psalm 63

O God, you are my God, for you I long; 
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you 
like a dry, weary land without water.

The European summer has produced a lot of dry weary lands this year, more than usual in the northern regions. Continue reading “Day 29 – Gy to Besançon”

A real time update (4) Nearing Rome, relatively speaking

I am grateful for the concern of various kind people who have been worried about my wellbeing because of the interruption on the blog. I am in fact fit and well. Today is my 79th day from Canterbury and I am getting near to Rome. I am in a small and inconspicuous town called Ponte D’Arbia, after Siena. Several things have conspired to prevent the blog continuing, temporarily. I will continue when I can. It is not a daily travel diary – it is something different from that and takes some time. Continue reading “A real time update (4) Nearing Rome, relatively speaking”

Day 28 – Dampierre-sur-Salon to Gy

A good name is to be chosen, rather than great riches… Proverbs 22:1

Saturday 28/4/2018

Distance 30.3km Total Distance from Canterbury 708.3km

So today, a simple question. How would you pronounce Gy, the place I was aiming for today? It’s only two letters. There are not unlimited possibilities. But still, you could be right or you could be wrong.  You could be conventional or you could be creatively individual – though you need French people to understand where you are referring to. Commit yourself now and I will tell you later. Continue reading “Day 28 – Dampierre-sur-Salon to Gy”