Via Francigena



This ancient pilgrimage route, initiated in 990 by Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, is now a leisure and discovery trail for our region.

The Via Francigena in the Pays d’Opale.
After passing through the Calais region, take a trip through the Pays d’Opale and its varied landscapes!

The stages
After the journey in Kent from Canterbury to Dover, we offer you stages of around 20 kilometers, on paths recognized for their quality, to discover the countryside and heritage.

From Calais, the walker heads for Wissant, along the GR du littoral. Then it’s on from Wissant to Guînes, in the last foothills of the Boulonnais region. From Guînes, an itinerary in the heart of the Pays d’Opale follows in the footsteps of the monks of Licques Abbey.

Along the way, you’ll pass through the Domanial Forest of Guînes. You’ll come across the Colonne Blanchard, a monument commemorating the first crossing between England and France by gas balloon. Nearby, you’ll find picnic tables for a well-deserved break. You can have your credencial stamped at the Communauté de Communes du Pays d’Opale. On leaving the Forêt, turn right towards Hermelinghen. You’ll find a picnic table at Le Mât, where you can stop for a break before continuing on your journey. Continue your adventure through the village of Alembon and the Licquois valleys. Take your time to marvel at these sumptuous landscapes. As you pass through Licques, you’ll be amazed by the majesty of the abbey church. It was founded by the Premonstratensian order in 1075. From here, you gradually move away from the Pays d’Opale and enter the Audomarois region, passing through the villages of Audenfort and Yeuse.

The story
Today resurrected as an itinerary for hiking, leisure and discovering our region. This path dates back to 58 BC, when Julius Caesar opened a “Road from Rome” across France. From 725 A.D., this route was known as the “Lombard Way”, then the “Iter Francorum” or “Via Francisca”.
It is the major pilgrimage route from Northern Europe to Rome.
The initiator of this itinerary was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigenic, who himself walked to Rome in 990 to meet Pope John XV and receive the pallium and mantle of his investiture.
From this historic Via Francigena, we know with certainty the towns of Guînes, Thérouanne, Bruay, Arras in Pas-de-Calais, then Cambrai, Reims, Besançon, Pontarlier, Lausanne, Aosta, Pavia, Siena and Bolsena to arrive in Rome. A total of 80 must-see stops from the Saxon archbishop’s travel diary.

Recognized by the Council of Europe in 1994 as one of the “Caminos de Europa”, the Via Francigena, like the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, is today an itinerary project that links Europe’s history, religion, art and economy like a common thread.

On the paths of the Via Francigena
through the Pays d’Opale region…

“Following the paths of this famous pilgrimage through the Pays d’Opale is a wonderful cultural, heritage and even spiritual journey! With rucksack and map in hand, I criss-cross the paths of this beautiful region of incredibly rich landscapes! Colorful fields surround me and intoxicate me with a scent that awakens my senses. The golden-yellow rapeseed reflects the sun, the greenish barley fields in full growth come and go with the wind, the desire to touch them is stronger than I am, hum’ this sensation of softness… The poppies mingle with the wheat where rabbits, pheasants and other species cohabit in harmony. It’s time for me to discover the forest, a world of its own, where the sun’s rays play hide-and-seek with the leaves of birches, ash trees and majestic firs. Birdsong echoes in the distance, wildflowers stand proudly on either side of the forest, and suddenly I cross paths with a doe, time seems to stand still… I’m in awe, I know she’s going to make a run for it, 1…2…3… this magical moment flies away in a fraction of a second, and I leave full of energy! In the distance, I catch sight of an increasingly bright source of light, my beautiful adventure in the heart of the forest is coming to an end, my magnificent experience continues its course through undulating landscapes, there’s going to be some climbing, I love it! My legs are getting tired, but the exceptional views afforded by this journey to the heights are breathtaking – I could almost touch the clouds! Now it’s time to head back down to “civilization”, and in the distance I see a beautiful abbey towering over the village, signalling the end of this emotionally-charged day. Now it’s time to rest and think about the beautiful images that are filling my head.

Nolwène Henquez