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Namur - Vezelay (GR 654) without a tent?

Luka

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Next: a Christmas Camino?
I am walking the Via Monastica now (Den Bosch - Rocroi, via Namur). In August I would like to walk from Rocroi to Vezelay. I have heard that there aren't many places to stay on this route. Does anyone know if it is possible to do this route without a tent?
 
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I will start on Tuesday for the section "Moulin-Manteau" (Belgian border) to Reims.
Without a tent.

Look at the site http://www.randonneurs-pelerins.fr/rocroi-r.html
You will find plenty of information (in French).
They have some information about where to spend the night.
Appartently plenty of villages have either a 'gite municipal' (often free for pilgrims) or not too expensive rooms.


NB VIA MONASTICA : there is a sign at the entrance of the 'vallée de l'Hermeton' saying it's impraticable.
Well it is - but I took that way nevertheless not finding any alternative...; it just took a long long time - sometimes very 'sporty' and plenty of fallen trees, fallen "in groups", mostly on the versants of the hills.
It is not impossible but you should be VERY attentive.

If you understand German : look at that site for information about accomodation (updates of a German Wander book) http://www.conrad-stein-verlag.de/p/ver ... 3071269349

Buen camino !
 
Thanks for your quick response and useful information! I remember you wrote earlier that you were ahead of me. I am at Diest now. Will check out the 'fallen trees' part and see if there is a decent detour. Or otherwise try to be as adventurous as you were!
 
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I picked up this path at Bar-sur-Seine in 2009 (haveing walked from Troyes) and detoured out to Chaource beofre picking up the path again at Tonnerre.

I found that by going to the Tourist Office they would refer us either to the pilgrim refuge or alternatively to someone who would accomodate pilgirms. I beleive there was a refuge at Chaource, buit it was full and so we had to go onto a fairly expensive hotel. There were a couple of beds at the Scout Hall in Tonnerre, a delightful lady's home at Chablis (sort of like a gite - but not called that), a youth hostel in Auxerre and we stayed in a cabin at the camping in St More.

By the way, because we arrived on a Sunday (and late at that too) in Bar-sur-Seine there was NOTHING open - not even the tourist office. We did find a pizza place open to buy something for dinner, and then after dark we crossed the road and slept in the ditch as not one hotel would answer the door!

I got the impression that there were more and more places opening for pilgrims. Cheers, Janet
 
Thanks, jl! So if I don't want to end up in a ditch, I should plan something in advance for the Sundays... :wink:

FatmaG said:
NB VIA MONASTICA : there is a sign at the entrance of the 'vallée de l'Hermeton' saying it's impraticable.
Well it is - but I took that way nevertheless not finding any alternative...; it just took a long long time - sometimes very 'sporty' and plenty of fallen trees, fallen "in groups", mostly on the versants of the hills.
It is not impossible but you should be VERY attentive.
Where exactly is this part? Is it at Hermeton sur Meuse? The path seems to follow the N96 there. But that way can hardly be blocked by fallen trees, can't it?

Have fun with the part to Reims!
 
I found that, as I walked, I would loose track of what day of the week it was and would invariably forget to organise Sunday's accomodation. It was a potential problem on a couple of occasions, but somehow there was always someone nearby who could help extricate me from it! I remember one place I went to (Charost) which had a lovely refuge above the school. The problem was that I should have organised with the Marie on the Friday evening - before they closed for the weekend - to gain access. It had not crossed my mind that it was the weekend and so on arrival I began to stress as to what to do when the neighbour across the road from the refuge came and took charge, telephoning various people around the distirict until he found out where the key was hidden and what the code was to gain access to the it. Good luck and enjoy. Janet
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Luca,

goodness, no I did not speak about the N96...
So, if your guidebook leads you along that one, you will be fine - I followed the GR 654 from Namur to Reims (just home now after 5 marvellous days on the Camino!!!).

The part I meant is following the small river Hermeton from the village of Hermeton to Soulme...

"Bon chemin", I wish you as much sunny days as I had !!!
 
Hi Fatma
Ah, I follow the Via Monastica till Rocroi. Maybe there is a slight difference between both routes. Good to hear that you enjoyed your little Camino! I hope to walk the parts Diest - Namur and Namur - Rocroi in or around June.
 
Another question to my more experienced counterparts :wink:
I read on a blog that there is a lot of competition among pilgrims to find a (cheap) place to sleep between Namur and Vezelay. I can hardly imagine this, since there are so few pilgrims who walk this route. Maybe it was the season (he walked in April, my plan is to walk in August). Does anyone know to what extend this may be a problem?
 
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I will just copy the post I made before Luka. These places were quite cheap - pilgrim prices - somewhere about the 5 - 10 euros from memory, although the "camping at St More was dearer.

.....I found that by going to the Tourist Office they would refer us either to the pilgrim refuge or alternatively to someone who would accomodate pilgirms. I beleive there was a refuge at Chaource, buit it was full and so we had to go onto a fairly expensive hotel. There were a couple of beds at the Scout Hall in Tonnerre, a delightful lady's home at Chablis (sort of like a gite - but not called that), a youth hostel in Auxerre and we stayed in a cabin at the camping in St More.

We ended upo stying in an expensive hotel in Chaource, because the refuge was free, but another pilgrim on the path at the same time was met by a woman and taken home to her house to stay. I suspect that along this part of the path people are quite generous like that.

Oops - time of year. My son and I were walking in the first week of July, and I would imagine that it would still be easy to find beds in August.

Good luck, Janet
 
Till now, I just can tell you between Namur and Reims... :

- Malonnes - Monastry of Clarisses (sisters) - really close to Namur
- Dinant : Monastry (they have just few rooms - you should reserve)
- Hotel Val des Colverts (Hastière par Delà) - they have one cheaper room (25 or 30€?) but without showers! (only toilet and small bassin outside of that room)
- Hierges : chambres d'hôtes (not really cheap 38€) (Causerie des Lilas)
- Oignies en Thierache : chambre d'hôtes (bed and breakfast) : 30 € (Le K'Dor) - good and cheap dinner (special pilgrims' price)
-------- Till here you are in Belgium, in France it will be a bit easier because some cities have pilgrims' facilities...
- L'Echelle : "salle municipale" : you can sleep in one room of the townhall - if it is free
- La Besace - a really small village (3 or 5 houses) - bed and breakfast (and gorgeous dinner) - "all in" for 40 € (M and Mrs Carpentier)
- Chateau-Porcien : a very small room free for pilgrims - 3 beds (or 4) : go to the town hall before 17h
- Pomacle : in the village's "festivity hall" (salle de fĂŞtes, salle du village) - contact the mayor (free!) - they even invited me to share their dinner!!!
- Reims : Maison St Sixte - about 23€ for one night

I guess, there might be (at some moments) a rush because there are few (cheap or free) possibilites, but most people seem to be on that part in springtime (to reach Compostella in summer)
 
Thanks again for your replies ladies!

Fatma, that list is helpful! I hope to walk the next part in June. I am thinking of Diest - Dinant. I just bought the booklet of the GR 654 (Namur - VĂ©zelay) and saw that the Via Monastica and the GR 654 between Namur and Rocroi are very different. If I follow the Via Monastica I don't have to do the hard part you described near Hermeton.
 
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And me thinking I am on the Via Monastica .........
Well, what to say - landscapes on the GRs are spectacular especially between Namur and the French border but there is much up and downhill and often, you avoid villages or towns ...
You might switch between both (if distances are not too important)
(Do you have a website with information on the "real" Via Monastica?)


For the valley of Hermetton, have a look at that site - they might have another update till June :

http://www.grsentiers.org/grchang.htm#125-profondeville

Now, they propose to contact the Tourismn office when on that way :

l'Office du tourisme d'Hastière :
TĂ©l. : 082/64.44.34
E-mail : info@hastiere-tourisme.be


Oh, yes,
and the tourism information in the town of Rocroi (France) gives you a little booklet with an alternative way for pilgrims to Reims (+- 30 km shorter than the GR)
Or via website : http://www.randonneurs-pelerins.fr/rocroi-r.html
 
I found that booklet (shorter version to Reims) on the internet some months ago. I may use it, haven't compared it yet to the GR 654. Unfortunately the exact route of the Via Monastica is not to be found on the internet, I think. You read Dutch, don't you? My blog might give you an idea (well, until Diest so far...). I took a close look at both routes and found out that they only differ between Namur and Hierges. In fact, the Via Monastica just follows the Meuse between both places.

Diest - Dinant I will again use the little guidebook of the Via Monastica, but from there I haven't decided yet. I found out earlier that the Via Monastica doesn't care that much about scenery, but most about the shortest distance between A and B. Not always nice (sometimes just boring), but the detour the GR 654 takes between Namur and Hierges is huge (and yes, much more adventurous than the Via Monastica). Next to that, there are still so many hundreds of kilometres awaiting for me along GR-routes that I am sure I will get a lot of 'scenery' later on :wink:
 
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Sorry for my very late reply! You have probably found out yourself by now...

I walked the part Dinant - Auxerre last summer (without a tent). It is absolutely possible, but it requires a bit of planning. I booked my nights most of the time one or two days ahead. If a place is full, the next opportunity might be at least 10 kms away. I slept practically everywhere: in chambres d'hĂ´te, little hotels, monastries, a caravan, a Formule-1 hotel and sometimes places especially for pilgrims. Sometimes I had to pay a lot (for a hotelroom for example), but I also slept for very little.
 
Hi, any ideas on where to get the passport/credencial en route around Namur (in the direction of Vezelay)? Can't seem to find any info, other than the sites selling them online with unknown delivery times.

Any comments on suitability for bicycling this section (namur -> Vezelay)?

Thank you
 
jimbeans said:
Hi, any ideas on where to get the passport/credencial en route around Namur (in the direction of Vezelay)? Can't seem to find any info, other than the sites selling them online with unknown delivery times.

Any comments on suitability for bicycling this section (namur -> Vezelay)?

Thank you

Jim,

If you Google the words "Namur" and "pilgrim" you will get a list of many potentially relevant web sites associated with pilgrimage in Belgium. From that list you might refine down to a few to directly query about a Credential. As a starter what about the Cathedral of Namur?

By the way you might enjoy this current blog by a Belgian pilgrim named Antonio Machado. Here is the link http://2012compostela.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/ah-the-route/.

Happy research and Buen Camino,

Margaret

PS Try these two Belgian friends of the camino web sites.

• Vlaams Genootschap van Santiago de Compostela: Credentials. (Flemish)
http://www.compostelagenootschap.be/

• Association Belge des Amis de Saint Jacques de Compostelle: Credentials. (French)
http://www.st-jacques.be/
 
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Jimbeans,

The two associations mentioned by Margaret are the (two) Belgian associations busy with pilgrimage, pilgrims and camino issues in this lovely country which I call mine...

As to my knowledge, they just grant a credencial to their members. (membership being about 20€/year).

I once tried to find a credencial in the cathedral in Brussels, my hometown, the person present that day did not even know this exists. As to my own experience, getting a credencial here is much more complicated than in the bigger "departure towns" in France or in Spain.

Nevertheless, contact both of them, they must be able to help you further!


@Margaret, by the way, Antonio Machado is not Belgian, but a famous Spanish poet. One of his poetries became the probably most popular camino poem


“XXIX

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”
― Antonio Machado, Border of a Dream: Selected Poems
 
FatmaG said:
Jimbeans,

The two associations mentioned by Margaret are the (two) Belgian associations busy with pilgrimage, pilgrims and camino issues in this lovely country which I call mine...

As to my knowledge, they just grant a credencial to their members. (membership being about 20€/year).

I once tried to find a credencial in the cathedral in Brussels, my hometown, the person present that day did not even know this exists. As to my own experience, getting a credencial here is much more complicated than in the bigger "departure towns" in France or in Spain.

Nevertheless, contact both of them, they must be able to help you further!


@Margaret, by the way, Antonio Machado is not Belgian, but a famous Spanish poet. One of his poetries became the probably most popular camino poem


“XXIX

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”
― Antonio Machado, Border of a Dream: Selected Poems

Fatma,

What a lovely poem. Thank you for sharing it !
Thank you also for correcting my misunderstanding
of the opening lines of the post which is "2012: (Walking to | Op wandel naar) Santiago de Compostela Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar (Antonio Machado)" Now, of course, I understand that Antonio Machado is quoted in those lines.

By the way I always enjoy reading your Camino adventures and advice in your posts.

Keep up the good fight!

Maragaret
 
Of course you may like to learn Machado's poem in Spanish. 8)

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar.
 
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cote.lesta said:
Of course you may like to learn Machado's poem in Spanish. 8)

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar.

Cote.lesta,

Thank you for posting Antonio Machado's lovely poem in the original Spanish.

Although I must improve my very basic comprehension of Spanish in order to truly comprehend these lines, even in the English translation which Fatma kindly posted the poem is poignant and appropriate. The spirit is universal.

Margaret
 
Hi , thanks for the reply Luka, I have postponed my trip so am now starting in Namur on the 6th June and hoping to get to VĂ©zelay by the 6th July, I think I shall take a tent to keep the cost down. The Belgian association of St Jacques were great last year and we stayed with very helpful people so I'm sure this year shall be as interesting and we shall meet many good people.
Buen camino to all who are on pilgrimage in Belgium this year.
 
Hi Jimbeans,
I don't know what country you are from but I used a credencial from the English confraternity of St James when I was in Belgium and nobody minded, so perhaps you can get one from where you live before you start your pilgrimage,
I hope all goes well.

Alan
 
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Quick decision taking today:

Around Easter, I will continue towards (and till) VĂ©zelay.
Starting in Brienne-le-Château (close to Troyes, where I stopped the more direct way promoted by the "association RP 51"), I will now continue on the GR 654.

Probably "without a tent" (and without a mattress) but having done most reservations in advance.

Hoping for a little sunshine and meeting some pilgrims on that way...

It's such a great feeling, camino time is back!
 
Luka said:
Wonderful, have fun!

Thank you, Luka! I guess I will...

Now, I mostly have some questions - as I read your stages on your blog.

- La Loge aux chèvres: Did you stay in the gîte of Madame Perou (La Bulle de Vert)? I tried to phone several times to book a bed, but they never replied...

- Did you need a sleeping mat in Bagneux la Fosse? It looks a bit like a hall without equipment or furniture

- Where did you stay in VĂ©zelay? And had you to book in advance?

Thank you already for helping me with some information.
And a sincere "Buen camino" for your next adventure


.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
- La Loge aux Chèvres: I tried to find information, but I saw this place wasn't in my original plan. I only remembered that we phoned in advance and that it was at the end of the village (and that it was a nice little gite with about three bedrooms for about eight people). The names don't ring a bell, but that may mean nothing. It is probably the one.

- Bagneux la Fosse: no mat needed. There is an upstairs which looks like this:
 

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Ah VĂ©zelay, lovely! I stayed at a place of the Soeurs de JĂ©rusalem (or Sainte Madelaine or so) at the end of the main street (then to the left). There was an accueil next to the basilique.

But I just saw this:
http://www.basiliquedevezelay.org/#!faire-une-retraite
Looks like the gite is closed at the moment...
 
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ENJOY! Curious about your stories when you are back!
 
Hi Alan,
How do your journey go? I am hoping to walk from Holland via Vezelay to Santiago starting in May 2014 and would love to hear some more, particularly how you found accommodation, waymarking etc. Do you speak/read Franch and if not how did you manage?
 
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