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Day 10 - Piney to Arc-en-Barrois

Patience is a virtue Possess it if you can Rarely seen in a woman Never in a man! That may indeed be true. I awoke this morning feeling fully revived after a day of rest in the salubrious surrounds of Piney.

Having spent the previous 24 hours cooped up in chambre neuf (room 9) watching all nine episodes of "The Bridge" (Skandi version with subtitles so falling asleep periodically was not conducive to plot following ) I was itching to get out on the road . But I digress. Back to the relevance of the proverb above - it was teeming with rain at 8 a.m. so I took a leisurely breakfast, did some more stretching and passed the time until eventually the rain relented. After all, time is something I have plenty of these days. With my "cyclopedia" (aka Gareth W.) back in the U.K. and with him my French interpreter, I knew it could be a challenge on the linguistic front. That became apparent last night when I had my first dinner in France without him. I thought I had ordered a salad of potato and tomato when this turned up....

My patience, however, for waiting for the rain to abate was rewarded with one of the most enjoyable days of riding thus far. Leaving Piney, the land undulated between three lakes and the towns I passed were all picturesque and the road surfaces well laid.

Traffic was also minimal on what were mostly country lanes but for a 10 km section outside Sur-Le-Aube. Prior to visiting, I was tempted to stop for coffee at the delightful St.Nicolas Hotel only for it to be closed until lunchtime.

The lie of the land made for good progress and I passed the regulatory coffee break at 25-30 km without slowing down. One of only two things I passed all day was this yacht . Clearly the sail (sic) of this to a new buyer has all but been wrapped up. Grooooaan.

Even the loo stops are a photo opportunity in France .

As lunch hour approached I fought off the rain gods which were a constant threat over my left shoulder.

Then I stumbled upon a heavenly lunch stop called "A La Table de Claudine " in the small hamlet of Forges St Bernard.

What followed was a seriously good, culinary experience. Approaching the whole dining/language issue with trepidation following last night's debacle I need not have fretted. No sooner had I sat down when a basket of bread appeared along with a plate of terrine wrapped in a light filo pastry. No sooner had I licked my knife clean when the next course appeared - boiled chicken with grilled mash potato and vegetables. As I finished that I was asked if I fancied a fromage. You can't begin to imagine the look on my eyes when this cheese board turned up.

Apparently it was an "all-you-can-eat" cheese board and it was left to me to take whatever I wanted before it was moved to another diner's table . Having melted a few blocks of Brie and blue vein cheese I made the international sign for the bill. The sole waitress - Brigitte - came over and with a smile said "Non!" and presented me with dessert. A creme brûlée to die for. My second attempt to get the bill was met with a chortle as she presented me with an espresso . Finally I got to leave . So I ask you, the panel .... the bill for this lunch: bread basket - filo terrine with salad - chicken mash and veggies - all you can eat cheese board - creme brulee - coffee - carafe of tap water - and two small glasses of house red ???? Total bill ? Wait for it .. EUR 18.80 As it turned out, without the wine, all of the above is the Dejuner du Jour for EUR 13.00 To top it all off, as I sat snug in the restaurant it hailed heavily outside only to clear once I was ready to leave. I then burped the last 30 km of the day's ride to Arc-En-Barrios. However, not before I passed "Mick"

Now you may recall a few days ago I met "Sam" the pilgrim who had taken a different route that day to his fellow pilgrim. Well that fellow was Mick! Again, on this day, Sam had decided to take a different route ending up in hopefully the same town of Chateauvillain.

I slowed to walking pace and enjoyed a 10 minute chat with Mick. He is a retired fire-fighter who lives in Canterbury at the start of the Via Francigena and after reading about Sam embarking on this pilgrimage decided to join him. Unlike Sam, his age has brought wisdom in regards to sun protection and you'll notice that in the nose! Like I said about Sam, I say about Mick and in fact anyone who walks the 2,000 km from Canterbury to Rome. #respect. Shortly after leaving Mick in my wake I came across the last of many beautiful views of the day. It would appear the Midwest of the USA and the outback of Australia don't have a monopoly on rusty windmills after all!

An hour later I rolled into Arc-en-Barrios still burping from that lunch but feeling truly glad for a superb day's ride.

Ponderings of the day:-

Insect carnage on glasses - 4 Number of complete strangers I passed and said "bonjour " to - 143 Number of complete strangers who replied "bonjour" to my "bonjour" - 143 Number of dogs I passed - 113 Number of dogs I passed that barked - 113 Number of dogs who were thwarted from taking a chunk out of my lily-white Aussie legs by either a chain or fence - 113 Number of tables Brigitte managed on her own - 14 Number of patrons Brigitte served on her own - 37 To Brigitte - #respect and #admiration

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