Once more there was thunder, lightning and rain as we stayed overnight in Schwarzenburg. And unfortunately, unlike the two previous nights, it didn’t stop as daylight broke the next morning. We ate breakfast slowly, packed our rucksacks slowly, accepted the kind offer from our hosts of a further cup of coffee, all whilst we waited, hoping the rain would stop. Eventually the rain became very light so we finally decided to set out, but an hour and a half later than our usual start time.
After around three kilometres of walking, we crossed the River Sense, and so passed from the predominantly Protestant Bern Canton into the predominantly Roman Catholic Fribourg Canton. Soon afterwards, as we climbed towards the village of Heitenried, the heavens opened once more with a vengeance. Our guidebook spoke of the wonderful views there were to be had around Heitenried – unfortunately we couldn’t see them
What Heitenried did illustrate was the change in Christian affiliation with crossing the cantonal boundary – the village Church was Roman Catholic. But as we walked on, battling with soggy underfoot conditions, we eventually reached St. Antoni which is a two-Church village as the road sign clearly illustrates.
We ate our lunch, sheltering from the rain under the porch of the Reformed Church and took advantage again of their toilet facilities.
Here is the Roman Catholic Church, looking back from the Jakobsweg on our way to the small town of Tafers.
It continued to rain off and on as we walked to Tafers where there is this chapel, dedicated to St. James, alongside the town’s Roman Catholic Church. The illustration on the façade tells the legend of the hen and rooster miracle from Santo Domingo de la Calzada in Spain.
Within the chapel is this baroque altarpiece with St. James in the centre, together St. John and St. Peter.
Although we had only walked about thirteen kilometres, a combination of starting out late and constantly battling the wet weather meant we both felt it was time to stop. Within the main Church was a notice giving details of five homes within Tafers, who offered Bed and Breakfast accommodation to pilgrims. The first three didn’t answer Sybille’s phone call, but the fourth one did – a widow and retired archaeologist. It meant a walk of at least a further kilometre, nearly all uphill but we were made most welcome and had a peaceful night.
The next morning, Tuesday 12th August, dawned fine and sunny. We walked back downhill to the centre of Tafers and went to buy lunch supplies from the Coop supermarket. As we were leaving the supermarket, I noticed a sign saying that on Friday 15th August, the store would be geschlossen for Mariä Himmelfahrts Tag. We both agreed that we needed to make sure we had bought adequate food supplies the previous day, so as not to be caught out finding all shops shut on Friday. Fortunately as it turned out, on Thursday 14th, we crossed into the Protestant Vaad Canton, meaning that the next day, all shops were open
After walking for about five kilometres, we reached the edge of the city of Fribourg and another boundary, this time a linguistic one. As this sign illustrates, we crossed from German-speaking Switzerland into Francophone Switzerland. This was to be the last time we saw a sign saying Wanderweg.
Not only does the language change, so does the architecture. Over the following days we said to each other on several occasions that it would be very easy to believe that we were in France, rather than Switzerland.
This is the view that greeted us as we descended downhill into Fribourg. We crossed the bridge and then headed for the Roman Catholic St Nicholas Cathedral.
Within the Cathedral is a ‘pilgrim corner’ with details of possible accommodation and a rubber stamp for our ‘pilgrim passports’.
The Cathedral also has some wonderful stained glass such as this depiction of the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus.
However, it is very rare to see the slaughter of the innocents, (Matthew 2. 16-18), illustrated in stained glass!
Whilst exploring the Cathedral, we had a different linguistic experience. Sybille was trying to photograph one of the stained glass windows when a man standing behind her said ‘pozor!’ to his wife, telling her not to get in Sybille’s way. ‘Pozor‘ is Czech for ‘attention!’ or ‘look out!’ “That couple must be Czech”, Sybille said to me. I then saw the back of the T-shirt the man was wearing, which advertised a café in Brno
That afternoon, we first had to walk from the city centre, through the western suburbs of Fribourg, and then through the adjacent town of Villar-sur-Glâne, before finally once more reaching the countryside. The Chemin de Saint-Jacques, as I now must call our pilgrim way, descended into a wooded valley before crossing the River Glâne on this delightful bridge which is clearly several hundred years old.
For once, our accommodation that night was neither a long way off-route or up a hill. Instead, it was literally three minutes, almost level walking, from the Chemin – the Maison-des-Anges in the hamlet of Froidville bei Posieux. The ‘House of Angels’ is a very French-style Chambres d’hôtes as you can probably tell from this photograph, with pictures, carvings and statues of angels everywhere! It made for a very pleasant end to our first day of walking through Francophone Switzerland.