Our 10 day guided tour is designed to give a taste of the Via Francigena in France. It covers almost 400 km from Calais to Reims along the path that Archbishop Sigeric walked in AD 990 on his return journey from Rome to Canterbury. This tour aim to satisfy the needs of the modern day pilgrim and has something for everyone.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Here is a taste of what you will experience:
We arrive in Calais and meet at our hotel. Then we have a welcoming lunch and introductions. Our tour of Calais begins with our first French Pilgrim Credential stamps at Notre Dame Cathedral. A highlight of Calais is seeing Rodin’s ‘Burghers of Calais’ sculpture outside the Town Hall with its UNESCO listed Belfry. Interesting tours include a visit to the Belfry and the Fine Arts Museum. In the evening we relax for the evening end enjoy our first taste of French cuisine.
Today is a walking day! We enjoy a 20 km walk along the scenic coastline from Calais to Wissant. There are exceptional coastline views from Le Cap Blanc-Nez. We stay in a seaside hotel and enjoy the turquoise waters and white sands of the Opal Coast. It is thought that when Archbishop Sigeric returned to Canterbury from Rome in AD 990 he crossed the English Channel in a boat from Sumeran (79) somewhere near Wissant. Today the same sort of boat known as ‘flobart’ is still in use and can be seen at Wissant.
We begin the day with a 7 km walk to Hauteville where the Boulonnais hills offer views of the ocean. Hidden in the hills is the old military fortress of Mimoyecques. Then we drive to Guînes or Gisne, the 78th stop in Sigeric’s diary. Here we enjoy some lunch and the colourful houses in Guînes. After lunch we walk 17 km through the Guînes forest to Licques. After visiting Licques we continue to our B & B for the evening.
We start by driving to the little village of Guémy with its panoramic views and the ruins of St Louis Chapel. Then we drive to Tournehem-sur-la-Hem and visit the village and castle. Next we drive to Wisques and visit Saint-Paul and Notre Dame Abbeys. Our 18 km walk for the day begins at Wisques where we cross L’Aa river and walk through Bois de Esquerdes and Chaussée Brunehau and continue to Delettes. Then we drive to Thérouanne or Teranburh, Sigeric’s 77th resting place where we visit the historic church of St Martin. A little further on is our B & B at Liettres where we visit the Castle and the historic village of Amettes.
We begin with a walk of about 12 km from Liettres to Amettes. Amettes in the Artois region is renowned for its natural springs or artesian wells. It is also renowned for three saints. St Benoît-Joseph Labre, the patron saint of pilgrims and homeless was born in Amettes. Today large numbers of pilgrims pay homage to the saint each year where Saint-Sulpice church houses his relics. After our visit to Amettes we will drive to Bruay-la Buissière where we stay for the evening at Sigeric’s 76th resting place, Bruwaei.
Today’s tour begins by driving to Ablain-Saint-Nazaire where we visit the church of St Pierre and the ‘Old Church’ which was ruined in the World War. Then we visit Notre-Dame de Lorette, a huge white basilica, war memorial cemetery and war museum. There is also a Ring of Memory war memorial. Then we walk 21 km from Ablain-Saint-Nazaire to Arras. Half-way we come to the Mont-Saint-Eloi ruined abbey towers, a result of French Revolution pillaging and World War damage. We arrive in Arras and settle into our hotel. Then we visit the Tourist Office with its flamboyant gothic Belfry. Arras is renowned for its two magnificent Baroque squares its belfry and its Citadel which are UNESCO World heritage listed. This is Sigeric’s 75th stop at Arras, or Atherats.
Leaving Arras, we drive to Bapaume stopping to visit the chapel of Our Lady of La Salette in Boisleux-Saint-Marc and other villages along the way. At Bapaume we visit St Nicholas church and the British war cemetery. Then we continue driving from Bapaume to Péronne with many villages to see along the way as well as many wartime cemeteries. Our walk for the day is 18 km from Péronne to Trefcon visiting Doignt, Sigeric’s 74th resting place. We walk beside rivers, through farmland and several small villages. Arriving in the tiny village of Trefcon we visit St Martin’s church. Then we meet our driver and head to Saint-Quentin for the evening.
We begin our day with a 10 km walk from Saint-Quentin to Seracourt-le-Grand walking through forests beside the river Somme. Seracourt-le-grand was Sigeric’s 73rd stopover and in his day, it was known as Martinwaeth. We meet our driver and continue on our way visiting Clastres with its light-coloured Saint-sulpice church and the red neo-Gothic church in Montescourt-Lizerolles. We spend a little time in Tergnier where there are many interesting things to see. Then continue we drive to Laon, Sigeric’s 72nd stopover. There are many interesting historic places to stop and visit along the way. The ethereal outline of Laon is visible for miles and there are many remarkable historic sites to visit in the city.
Our last day takes us through three walking stages from Laon to Reims. We are entering the Champagne region of France and will do two walks along carefully selected wine trails. The first is a 12 km walk from Chamouille to Corbeny with a visit to Sigeric’s 71st stopover, Corbunei with its Romandesque Saint-Quentin church and Saint Marcoul Chapel. The second wine trail is from Cormicy to Merfy where we meet our driver and head into Reims, Sigeric’s 70th stopover. Reims has many famous monuments to visit, especially the UNESCO listed Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Tau and the Saint-Remi Basilica. We spend our evening touring the ancient city and enjoying a farewell dinner!
Our tour ends in Reims! We check out of our hotel and say our farewells taking away many happy memories of the Via Francigena in France and our time together!