Day22 Bertaucourt to Laon – Warm up those climbing muscles

Sleeping last night in a pasture was so relaxing. Ok, it used to be a pasture but now the upper half is a building site of a new gite. I slept wonderfully! Mark…meh.

Morning Sunrise

It is early morning again but what a beautiful place with all these rolling hills and a beautiful sunrise to greet us. We said goodbye to Bertaucourt and began our journey to Laon today. We found a place on the side of a path to enjoy our breakfast. It is amazing what satisfaction my growling stomach can receive from a chocolate pastry. The only way to elevate the experience would be to add coffee. Unfortunately, I had to use my imagination since no villages we travelled through today had any cafes.  Pretending my water tasted like a rich cup of coffee had to do for the day.

We mostly walked on well defined forest paths today. No bushwhacking our own paths today folks. And as I mentioned before, we love hills. Well, be careful what you ask for because all of a sudden today real hills with elevation appeared in our path and our climbing muscles went into shock.

Personally, we do love mountains.  Just the contrast from the flat open land would have been enough, but the joy of not knowing what is around the next corner is a thrill.

Our path took us along the Chemin du Abbeyes.  In a dark section of the woods, all of a sudden a large stone wall appeared.  A few hundred feet later we’d climbed to an overlook to view the abandoned Benedictine Abbey of Saint Nicolas.

A hidden Abbey deep in the woods

After more beautiful woods walking, we stopped in a clearing next to some cows for lunch.  As we were eating, the owner of the field drove by with a fork lift carrying fencing.  We had a brief conversation, and he went about his work building a temporary corral.  Then with a call “la,.  la” and a tap of a bucket he was carrying, the cows came running. 

Tall Ferns

It was free entertainment for our luncheon. 

Soon enough after rounding a curve we spotted the clear outline of a cathedral on a hill up ahead.  When I say “up ahead” we are still taking about a 4hr walk away.  It was a sight to see!  I imagined medieval pilgrims being awe inspired by the sight. 

Laon in the distance

Just before we entered the city we passed a German WWI cemetery.  What a contrast the grey crosses made to the white marble headstones of the allied cemeteries we’d seen.  At the same time it began to rain lightly. 

German WWI cemetery

Just as we were about to make the climb up to the city center, our heads hunched inside our rain gear, we heard an “Allo….Pelegrín…Pelegrín”.  A man (Guillian Herbecq) at his front gate heralded us and beckoned us to come over.  As it turns out, he and his three buddies will be attempting the walk from Laon next May.  He was happy to greet us, and he received a key for his pilgrimage.  We had our picture taken together. 

Guilian “ bisous” and his key

After saying our goodbyes, we again headed up the hill in the rain.  But moments later we heard a car behind us beeping.  It was Guilian.   He insisted on driving us up the hill and ended up giving us a quick driving tour of the city walls (beautiful views).  He even got us an early entry for the Gite in which we are staying tonight.  More about that tomorrow. 


The day ended with a tour of the Laon Cathedral and receipt of our stamp for the day. 


Published by

Mark Dowty

"An Intentional Life"

9 thoughts on “Day22 Bertaucourt to Laon – Warm up those climbing muscles”

  1. Mark and Allison,

    I have enjoyed this so much, I have re read several of the days. Your hitting the wall video was inspiring as you “liked” each other enough to keep pushing. The people along the path seem to be as most of us want to be, loving and caring.

    Keep on! Oh…Allison is the better story teller, Mark is the better videographer…in my opinion

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was wondering. I’d take credit for the excellent editing on my part but we all know Allison is the better story teller. I am afterall an engineer. Haha. Glad you are following us.


    1. Long story but great question. I will give you the short answer. The symbol of St Peter, and thus Rome, and thus the Via Francigena is a set of keys. This comes from the time when Peter answered Christ’s question to the disciples “And how about you, who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Christ of God”. Jesus replied, “Simon, you are now called Petra (meaning Rock), to you have been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and upon this rock I will build my church”. .


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