Soon to be as reputed as Compostela
President of the Champagne-Ardenne Regional
• Is the GR© 145 a recent invention ?
“The GR© 145, called Via Francigena, was officialised in its Champagne-Ardennes part in 2012, and the year before in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. This will doubtless be the case for Picardie and Franche-Comté in 2015.”
• What route does the GR© 145 take ?
“It follows about 90% of the path taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 990. The rest has become impractical due to roads and motorways that have since been built, as well as houses and successive regroupings of lands. The route stretches across 397 km in Champagne-Ardennes, 950 km in total in France. It takes about 15-20 days to cross it in our region.”
• Is it accessible to all ?
“It doesn’t present any particular difficulties. The land is flat, apart, of course, from in the Jura. We have also tried hard to follow existing
routes as much as possible. The GR© 145 thus follows the GR© 14 that leads from Paris to Bouillon in Belgium, and the GR© 654 that goes from Namur in Belgium to Vézelay. The latter is one of the routes on St. James’ Way, leading to Compostela.”
• The Via Francigena is thuspartly jumbled up with the Routes of Compostela. Do you think that it will one day become as famous ?
“I am convinced that the Via Francigena will achieve the same notoriety. All the legendary routes, be they religious or cultural, have been seeing a renewal of interest. It was also pilgrims who asked us to set up the Via Francigena. In Champagne-Ardennes, we’re on 200 pilgrims a year, but I think this will go up to 300 or 400.”
• Are shelter and accommodation guaranteed ?
“Our specifications ensure accommodation every 20 km. They also guaranteewalkers a route of less than 20% tarmac. As for points of
interest on the way, these are many: Reims cathedral, Notre-Dame-en-Vaux in Châlons, the Champagne wine region, the Aube lakes, the Haut-Marne forest and the commune of Langres, for example…”