GR654

Itinerary, description of stages, practical informations, accomodation, GPS tracks of GR654 from Namur to Vezelay on the way to Santiago.


Suivre les étoiles – D’Aix la Chapelle à Compostelle 

The book (in french) – Following the stars from Aachen to Santiago

Amazon Kindle shop – available on Apple IOS and Androïd

Suivre les étoiles

One night, Saint James appeared to the emperor Carlomagno and asked him to deliver his tomb from the Moors. To achieve this, he had to follow the stars,  the milky way until the western end of Spain, to Galicia. Carlomagno left Aachen and went until Santiago.

Yes, its a legend, but what a beautiful one ! Following the stars, going ahead each day further, slowly at the most natural pace. Walking the first way to Santiago. 3000 kilometers through Belgium, France and Spain.

I made my way, each day going further and I discovered the history, the legend of Compostella.

If you want, also to discover my way and this history, if you can read in French…this book is for you.

You will also find plenty of useful informations of some unknown parts of the way as Via Mosana,  GR654 (Namur-Vezelay), Vezelay-Cluny, Cluny-Le Puy, Conques-Toulouse or Toulouse-Le Somport through Saint-Bertrand de Comminges.

The book “Suivre les étoiles” available on Amazon. 2,99€ (with french VAT)/3,73$

GR654 from Namur to Vezelay

Overall, I followed the GR with occasional shortcuts. The principal shortcut I took, is the direct path from Tonnerre to Arcy sur Cure in 2 days walk avoiding Auxerre. I walked from Namur to Vezelay 563km (297km from Reims to Vezelay).
After Namur, the GR654 goes up and down along the Meuse river. If you strictly follow the GR, there are beautiful climbs and descents with a special mention for the Hermeton valley! On a rainy day, it can be “tricky”.
Beautiful route. Even on the flat parts of the Marne, it is not so bad (it follows the shady way along canals).

Websites for Belgium :

Website of “Les amis de Saint Jacques en Belgique” with adresses of families for accomodation : http://www.st-jacques.be/

Description of the day route in Belgium : http://www.xacobeo.fr/ZE4.03.Belgique_voi.htm

Detailed guidebook in pdf to upload of the way through the Namur region : Saint-Jacques-Namur

Tales and pictures of the Via Mosana

Websites for France :

Randonneurs pèlerins du 51 : alternatives ways through Reims – accomodation list between Rocroi and Vezelay

Maps on the web :

Belgium (site de l’Institut Géographique National) in french or in flemish : http://www.ngi.be/topomapviewer/public?lang=fr . Apple Application similar to Geoportail with belgium maps : http://www.sitytrail.com . It is possible to register your route. You will find mine on the name Via Mosana

France (maps of the Institut Géographique National) : http://www.geoportail.fr/ with Applestore application : Iphigénie http://iphigénie.com/?lang=en

GPS Track
GPS Track of the GR654 and of all the hike (this GPS track has been remade after the hike)

7 Namur – Anhée
31km Stage profile : the GR is going up and down along Meuse river. Straight up after the youth hostel, straight down after Petite Sibérie view point then again straight p to 7 Meuses viewpoint before going down through a good path to Rouillon
8h Notes : the part between Petite Sibérie and 7 Meuses viewpoints is wonderful. After Rouillon, I used nice paths through Annevoie, bois de Warnant, La Bossière then the old railway line to Anhée
Logistic : bar and Intermarché supermarket at the crossroad of two traffic roads above La Charlerie (Bois de Villiers). Bakery and bars in the center square of Bois de Villiers. In Anhée, very nice family for accommodation (See adresses for accommodation above in the practical informations.
8 Anhée – Blaimont
27,5km Stage profile : it depends on your choice. We stayed along Meuse river until Leffe. Then up to Dinant citadel. Then again along the Meuse river until a steep climb above Freyr rocks (it really worth to go there, the view is amazing). Then steep down. Around Crétia and until Cascatelles, there are many up and down. It can be muddy when it’s raining.
8h Notes : I recommend to go to the top of Freyr rocks in order to have the beautiful view over the castle and the valley. The Cascatelles valley is nice also.
Logistic : After Anseremme, a bar above Freyr rocks.
9 Blaimont – Niverlée
32km Stage profile : the Hermeton valley is quite difficult. When it’s raining or for people who don’t like steep climbs, I recommend to stay along Meuse river using the Ravel. There are ropes to help to climb the steepest slopes.
8h Notes : Beautiful and wild Hermeton valley. Then the countryside is typical of Ardennes hills with some nice villages. The distance is going straight along Meuse river to Hermeton sur Meuse then using the GR via Soulme, Vodelée, Doische and Gimenée
Logistic : nothing from Hastière until Doische. Nice accommodation for pilgrims in Niverlée (see the website for Belgium above)
9 Niverlée – Oignies en Thiérache
29km Stage profile : nice and easy walk on good paths
5h30 Notes : Direct Niverlée-Treignes then Vierves and Olloy sur Viroin. It’s possible to shorten the distance avoiding Olloy or to make it longer through Hierges and Mazée. The villages are nice. The path is easy
Logistic : groceries in Treignes and Vierves. There is everything in Olloy : ATM, 2 bakeries, butchery… Grocery in Oignies. Gite : Françoise JOYE-MATHY – +32 (0)60 399 444 – +32 (0)474 704 136 valleedespres@belgacom.net – 45 rue Pairiere – small grocery inside the gite
10 Oignies en Thiérache – Lac des Vieilles Forges
30km Stage profile : nothing difficult, almost flat
7h30 Notes : it’s possible to avoid the Vieilles Forges lake going straight to L’Echelle (see Randonneurs Pélerins du 51 above in Websites for France). I didn’t know the way but the countryside by the lake is nice and the next stage is going through beautiful villages.
Logistic : in Rocroi. Excepts mobile home in camping, not other possibilities around Vieilles Forges lake….
11 Lac des Vieilles Forges – Aubigny les Pothées
32,5km Stage profile : first part easy then some ways up around Remilly les Pothées, Servion et Vaux
8h Notes : After the typical Ardennes countryside, the sweet hills Thiérache. Beautiful small villages. Again, a beautiful day.
Logistic : nothing after Rimogne. Nice accommodation in Aubigny les Pothées
12 Aubigny les Pothées – Hauteville
31,5km Stage profile : it’s getting flat
8h Notes : to shorten the day and go until Hauteville : direct after Signy using the forest track of Bois du Château until la Ficelle. Then direct from Justine-Herbigny to Hauteville along Vaux river avoiding Séry
Logistic : make your shopping in Signy l’Abbaye (Carrefour Contact, bakery). Then nothing . You can stay for free inside the town hall in Hauteville (you need to bring a mat – no cooking facilities – no shops or restaurants) . A pilgrim refuge is planed
13 Hauteville – Neufchâteau sur Aisne
31,5km Stage profile : it’s going down then flat, straight and flat
7h Notes : along the canal some parts with vegetation (nettle or bush – better to wear long pants…). Otherwise, shadow and easy walking.
Logistic : small shops in Château Porcien and Asfeld (Shopi) . Bakery in Neufchâteau. Hôtel Le Cheval Blanc (30€) without breakfast – no restaurant. Only a gastronomic restaurant in Neufchâteau…
14 Neufchâteau sur Aisne – Reims
26km Stage profile : going through Brimont will shorten the day and ad a hill to a flat day
6h Notes : from Orainville, I let the GR to go straight to Brimont. I found back the GR along the canal in La Verrerie
Logistic : nothing from Neufchâteau to Reims suburbs. In Reims CIS, discount fare for pilgrims (17€ bunk bed)
15 Reims – Trépail
27km Stage profile : the Reims mountain has only the name of mountain. Easy path up after Sillery
6h45 Notes : I walked on the GR until Verzenay then just before Verzy, I followed Arboxygène signs until the top of the hill then Observatoire du Sinaï and les Faux de Verzy to find back the GR
Logistic : in Sillery, the bakery is near the church on the main road. The grocery is on the other side of the village on the road to Châlons. Grocery in Verzenay. Bakery in Trépail but no grocery. Pilgrims accommodation : Mme Jacqueminet (0326578229)
16 Trépail – Châlons en Champagne
28,5km Stage profile : down after Trépail (perhaps loosing 10 meters of altitude…) then and down to cross bridges…well difficult to find slopes…
6h Notes : from Trépail, I went straight to Isse along Trépail stream then some trails in middle of fields. After Isse, I stayed along the canal avoiding some detours of the GR
Logistic : Bakery and bar in Condé sur Marne but no grocery. In Châlons, youth hostel (take care of the opening hours). In Notre Dame en Vaux church, information for pilgrims with accommodation possibilities
17 Châlons en Champagne – Vitry le François
38km Stage profile : flat, flat, flat along the canal
8h Commentaries : I followed the GR until Moncetz Longevas where I joined the canal intending to follow it until Vitry le François (avoiding St. Amand sur Fion). Mosquitoes attacks forced me to walk on the road above the canal
Logistic : shopping center in Pogny outside the village on D60 road. Bakery and bar in Couvrot. In Vitry le François, it’s possible to sleep in la Doyenné du Perthois – 19 rue de l’Arquebuse (Tél : 0326740666) – donativo (10 to 20€)
18 Vitry le François – Outines
28km Stage profile : flat
6h Notes : from Vitry, I followed Marne to Saône canal until the bridge near Luxémont. Then I went to Norrois and Neuville to join back the GR
Logistic : Saint Rémy en Bouzemont : grocery, bakery, bar Le Lion d’Or. It’s possible to sleep (ask to city hall). In Outines, beautiful village with nice gites near the town hall (15€ for 1 person – 30€ for 2 and more) – call the mayor (0607965050)
19 Outines – Brienne le Château
28km Stage profile : still flat
6h30 Notes : easy to loose the way about 3km after Outines. From Villeret, I let the GR to go straight to Brienne through Hampigny and Vallentigny using trails and small roads
Logistic : nothing all the way…in Brienne le Château, the tourist office has accommodation (for free) for pilgrims (3 beds, cooking facilities, no reservation)
20 Brienne le Château – La Loge aux Chèvres
24km Stage profile : it’s just beginning to be undulating after Amance
7h Notes : From the Brienne pilgrim’s gite, a trail is going directly to Brienne la Vieille 1km further. Then, GR until la Loge aux Chèvres
Logistic : bakery, grocery, bar in Dienville. Bar in Amance. Gite in Unienville, Amance and la Loge aux Chèvres
21 La Loge aux Chèvres – Bar sur Seine
25km Stage profile : some hills (up in Fralignes – steep down to Bourguignons)
7h Notes : I went on the GR except directly after Villeneuve au Chêne and back on the GR before Villy en Trode. Then direct from Marolles les Bailly to Fralignes
Logistic : bakery with small grocery in Villeneuve au Chêne. In Bar sur Seine, lodging for pilgrims in the presbytery.
22 Bar sur Seine – Bragelogne
25km Stage profile : a bit hilly after Bar sur Seine, Avirey-Lingey and Bagneux la Fosse
6h Notes : Beautiful day with vineyards, hills, forests. From Bar sur Seine, a way at the bottom of the hill is going straight to Polisot. Then, I used the GR
Logistic : In Bragelogne, typical bar-grocery-bakery. Beautiful gite : contact Miss Collin at 0325293928 (12€ per person)
23 Bragelogne – Tonnerre
31km Stage profile : undulation with a significant way up after Chamelard
7h30 Notes : Direct from Bragelogne to Villiers le Bois – Same after Villiers. After Etourvy, I went through la loge Robin and le val de Blanchot to reach Melisey. Direct after Melisey. Down to Tonnerre by a trail between D944 and Epineuil
Logistic : nothing between Bragelogne and Tonnerre. In Tonnerre, for the gite, ask to the tourist office
24 Tonnerre – Poilly sur Serein
17km Stage profile : it’s going up after Tonnerre and sweetly down to Poilly
3h45 Notes : it’s possible to go to Vezelay through Noyers sur Serein where there is a gite (the village is beautiful). I went to Poilly because I had accommodation there. So from Tonnerre, I went directly to Vézelay : after Tonnerre, up to château des Brions then D117 until after Val Saint Nicolas farm then a trail on the right to Yrouerre by Saint Nicolas valley. From Yrouerre, nice trail in the valleys of Vau du Bas des Vignes until Vau Dupuis
Logistic : grocery and bakery in Poilly sur Serein.
25 Poilly sur Serein – Arcy sur Cure
29km Stage profile : succession if valleys so up and down
6h30 Commentaries : most of the day is on small trails in beautiful landscape with hills : after Poilly, join le Petit Vaucharme by Pourceau valley. Then the trail “GRP Pays Restif de la Bretonne” until Sacy. Then a trail via Le Val du Puits, Le Val de Malon, Pourly, Joux la Ville jail to reach Arcy
Logistic : bakery-grocery in Arcy (closed on Monday) – in the camping, it’s possible to rent a tent.
26 Arcy sur Cure – Vézelay
21km Stage profile : some nice ways up and down after Le Camp Cora and les Hérodats and final way up to Vézelay
4h45 Notes : I avoided Saint More to go directly to Camp Cora. Way through Saint Jacques in Asquin. Nice views to Vézelay after les Hérodats
Logistic : nothing after Arcy sur Cure. Pilgrims registration and accommodation in Vezelay
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