• ⚠️ Emergency contact in Spain - Dial 112 and AlertCops app. More on this here.
  • Remove ads on the forum by becoming a donating member. More here.

Search 69,459 Camino Questions

LIVE from the Camino Back on the Via Francigena

irrie

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 Camino Portugues 2024 Via Francigena
We (my husband and I) are in Peronne right now on the Via Francigena. After the camino frances and camino portugues we wanted to try something different. Last year we walked from Canterbury to Dover in 2 days. And on the 17th of may we started from Calais to continue the VF. We want to go as far as Lausanne and return in september to go over thr St. Bernardinopasd and do the last part to Rome next spring.
So far we met about 10 pilgrims. The VF is quit different from a camino. We want to do about 20 km a day and that means we have sometimes to make our own route. Bur so far this was not a problem. I booked through booking.com, airbnb or contacting the accomodation directly. I am surprised how much French I can speak!
All in all this is a great adventure.
The coffee with eclair is waiting for me now.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Before the VF was marked as a GR, which has quite strict rules, the VF in France was a little more freeform- generally moving between towns but with leeway on the route. I know one forum member forged a route using the canals. I had Raju's older Cicerone guide which had less quibbles about road walking than the GR rules allow for - and i often meandered on my own route - sometimes with a minor adventures - like a disappearing path in a wood. The GR markings are not prescriptive!

And one great thing about the VF or Compostelle (camino) routes in France is the baked goods - enjoy all those croissants and éclairs!
 
I rode my horse Leo from Canterbury to Rome along the Via Francigena (mostly!) in 2006 - admittedly I took what was then the little known secondary route by leaving the main VF at Châlons-en-Champagne and rejoining it at Pontremoli, having crossed directly into Italy from France at Mont Cenis, which was more straightforward with a horse than travelling through Switzerland. I was intrigued to see from your post that you've met very few pilgrims so far. That was certainly the case for me all those years ago and I was surprised to see not much appears to have changed, but in a way it added to its charm. And in those days there was very little VF signage in France, whereas in Italy there were far too many contradictory signs and instructions! Accommodation wasn't too much of a problem because I was riding for charity and my husband Peter drove Bessie the Bedford horsebox (1984 vintage) so we could sleep in it and keep costs down. We managed to meet up in the evenings, apart from the time when Bessie failed to get over the highest part of the Alps (and had to trundle the long way round at a considerably lower altitude) while Leo and I went over the top and we camped out in the wilderness for one of the most memorable nights of my life.

It took me three and a half months to reach Rome, but it was an enormous adventure from start to finish and I wouldn't have missed any of it despite its various problems (mostly the suitability of GR routes for a horse). I managed to keep off-road for about 80% of the time and stuck as close as possible to the VF itself when it wasn't practical for Leo and me to follow it exactly. I had previously ridden from Canterbury to Santiago, which although a greater distance was much easier in terms of signage and accommodation, but I must admit that, although the VF did pose some difficult and puzzling situations that needed to be solved, what I particularly loved about it was its very unpredictability and the great sense of adventure that carries you all the way, along with a very necessary sense of humour! I hope you have a great time.
 

Attachments

  • 30900033.JPG
    30900033.JPG
    737.5 KB · Views: 14
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Fascinating @Mefo Phillips and @roving_rufus Many thanks.

Interesting that in 2018 things had not changed all that much in France I think, since 2006. though the GR was there for those who wanted it!

I have the sense that numbers of pilgrims are increasing quite a lot and the waymarking is steadily increasing but this applies much more in Italy I think. In 2018 there was not a lot of specific VF waymarking in France. There was plenty for GR145 but it is not so "kindly" or user friendly as the VF marking in Switzerland and Italy.

I used a mix-and-match approach in France with old Cicerone (Alison Raju), Lightfoot, and the Terre di Mezzo. [I like guidebooks!] Plus of course Google maps. I was unconvinced (but unconcerned) that there really was a genuine "official route". I enjoyed the route plotting each night!

And in France I met 15 people, a couple, and a group or 13. That was it.

The group of 13 were great. Kind of at retirement age, friends since primary school, from Pas de Calais. I walked with them for 5 or 6 days and that was my real introduction to GR. They were GR fanatics - in a very nice way. Whenever we found ourselves on tarmac for anything more than about 20m a halt was called.. The cry "un doute" went up, apps and printed maps were checked and nearly always we were indeed off the GR.

I hadn't realised just how tarmac-averse the GR is. So that if you find yourself on tarmac you do need to check. On the other hand, it will lead you a merry dance sometimes to avoid a much more straightforward route.

My 13 friends and I parted in Switzerland and they went home. There were doing a week twice a year. I am happy to report they did reach Rome eventually.

The GR abbreviation is found in different countries. So there is the the GR (Gran Recorrido) network in Spain and I was quite excited to find myself on the GR1 for a while last Novmember. It is the Sendero Histórico horizontally across northern Spain. I was on the Camino Ignaciano, close to Genevilla
 

Attachments

  • A5334625-D103-453C-96C0-FCCF34568DAB_1_105_c.jpeg
    A5334625-D103-453C-96C0-FCCF34568DAB_1_105_c.jpeg
    445.5 KB · Views: 8
Last edited:

Most read last week in this forum

Hi, I'm starting in Geneva in July and I'm struggling to find a guidebook or accommodation list for the route. Everything on gronze is expensive hotels, is this what the situation will be in...
We are in Chateauvillain. What an adventure! The VF is much different from the camino’s we did. Less pilgrims, since my last post we’ve met 1 pilgrim. The everyday planning takes more time...

❓How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2024 Camino Guides
Back
Top