15: Fribourg to Romont

Fribourg’s little sister

 

DIDIER HEUMANN, ANDREAS PAPASAVVAS

 

We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/de-fribourg-a-romont-par-la-via-jacobi-4-67290147

It is obviously not the case for all pilgrims to be comfortable with reading GPS and routes on a laptop, and there are still many places in France without an Internet connection. Therefore, you can find a book on Amazon that deals with this course.

If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page.

In the canton of Fribourg, there is Fribourg of course, but there is also Romont, which is a bit like its little sister. Romont comes from the Latin Rotundus Mons and means “round hill”. The small city has 5,000 inhabitants, with charming streets like the Grand Rue or the Rue des Châteaux. The castle and the towers marking the route of the old medieval walls, contribute a lot to the picturesque silhouette of the medieval city. The city is surrounded by 1,500 meters of ramparts, which were covered with roofs until the XIXth century. Of the many towers that adorned these ramparts, only four remain today. Walkways, loopholes and battlements offer beautiful views of the surroundings.

The canton of Fribourg is above all an agricultural canton. More than 60% of the territory is devoted to agriculture, on no less than 4,000 farms. Meadows and pastures alone account for almost 70%, mainly devoted to the production of milk, butter, cream and cheese. Who does not know the famous double cream and Gruyères cheese? Of the 550,000 dairy cows in Switzerland, 4 breeds take center stage, but no cow today is a pure breed apart from the famous Hérens cow. The Spotted Swiss represents 48% of the herd. This developed in the Bernese Oberland, from different local varieties and the spotted Simmental breed, of which only a few purebred specimens can be found. It has been crossed extensively with the Canadian Red Holstein, to increase milk production, while maintaining meat quality. The Brown Race represents 37% of the herd. It developed in central and eastern Switzerland. Crosses with the American Brown Swiss breed have increased milk yield. As for the original Swiss breed, it has almost disappeared. The black spotted breed or Holstein (13% of the herd). In Switzerland, it comes mainly from crosses between Fribourgeoises and black and white Holsteins, which has made it possible to obtain a more productive milk cow. Holstein cows are the most common dairy breed in the world. The Hérens black breed represents less than 1% of the herd. It’s almost a curiosity, but don’t say it in the canton of Valais, where these beasts play their magnificent horns to compete in epic duels.

Difficulty of the course: Slope variations of the day (+488 meters/-357 meters) are very reasonable for a stage of more than 25 kilometers. The only really striking slopes, positive and negative, are at the start of the stage, when you have to cross the valley and the gorges of the Glâne River, or even, halfway through, when the route rejoins the Glâne River near Posat. The rest is almost a real walk.

Today it is a course that takes place almost on paved roads:

  • Paved roads: 17.4 km
  • Dirt roads: 8.9 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For “real slopes”, reread the mileage manual on the home page.

 

We have divided the route into several sections, to facilitate visibility. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the route and the state of Via Jacobi.

Section 1: The long crossing of the city of Fribourg.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

To leave Fribourg, the indications for Via Jacobi are not obvious. It is best to leave the station, take Rue des Arsenaux, then turn right on Passage du Cardinal. There, you join the Avenue du Midi, which extends into Route de la Glâne. The Glâne road is the RN12main road which leads from Fribourg to Bulle. Via Jacobi starts from this axis a little lower, towards Villars-sur-Glâne, but it is not necessary to walk there because the route makes many turns, at the risk of getting lost. The best solution is to follow Rue de la Glâne on the sidewalk.

Beyond the station and the surrounding streets, you will pass the chimney of the old Cardinal brewery, take a look at the cow of a famous chocolate company here.
The Route de la Glâne crosses all the districts to the south of the city for a long time.
Do not follow potential track directions here. Just stay on the sidewalk and slope down towards the end of the city, after crossing the railway line.
Much further, you leave Fribourg to arrive at Villars-sur-Glâne. There is no transition between the two. Here, the Glâne road begins to descend more steeply towards the river.
At the end of the street, you will come to the large bridge over the Glâne River. Here, RN12 road heads to Bulle, the second important city of the canton of Fribourg.

Near the bridge, a signpost shows a host of directions. Here, it is imperative to follow Via Jacobi 81 which gives the direction of Ste Apolline and the Bois de Monterban. The road descends to the right of the bridge towards the river.

Here the road sinks into the dark leafy woods.

At the bottom of the descent, you will find in the middle of many directions the Via Jacobi 4, which comes back from Villars-sur-Glâne. Now you are back to Santiago track.

The site is magical here. The current bridge dates from the XVIth-XVIIth century. Called Pont de la Glâne (Glâne Bridge) before the construction of the large bridge on the cantonal road Fribourg-Bulle, it is built entirely of tuff stones, with a single arch. In a state of disrepair, the bridge was repaired in 1805, but the existence of an older bridge dates back to the XIIth century.

The chapel of Ste Apolline is mentioned for the first time in 1147. It was modified several times, and the last repair dates from the previous century. Many decayed teeth were found around the building. This Saint, virgin and martyr, was burned in Alexandria in 248, after having her teeth pulled out. She is implored in cases of toothache.

The Glâne River is one of the beautiful rivers in the canton of Fribourg. You will have the opportunity to meet it many times on the course.

Section 2: Over hill and dale in the Fribourg countryside.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: some slightly more difficult slopes near Froideville.

 

Beyond the bridge, a pathway climbs on the other side of the river in the meadows, then crosses the road to the Moulin Neuf.
Opposite, turning around, you discover Villars-sur-Glâne, one of the suburbs of Fribourg, where Via Jacobi 4 normally transits.
The fairly stony pathway climbs fairly steeply along an undergrowth, next to a gravel pit.
It soon emerges on a small road which leads to Froideville hamlet.
Higher up, it then climbs in the grass towards the forest of Monterban.
There, an almost straight forest lane climbs steeply into the forest. Here, as is often the rule in Switzerland, beeches are the kings of deciduous forests.
At the exit of the forest, the slope is gentler on a wider pathway. And the light returns.
Beyond the large oak tree extend into the plain the villages of Posieux and Hauterive. There are still more than 5 hours of walking to reach Romont.
Via Jacobi then runs into the meadows and isolated trees.
Further on, it joins a small dirt road through cereals and meadows until it crosses a bridge.
Here, it’s a small road that goes to Matran, another suburb of Fribourg near the highway, which you can see beyond the meadows.

The dirt road then quickly joins a paved road.
The road then gradually approaches the first houses of the village of Posieux.
The road heads towards a district of Posieux, with its relatively recent constructions. You see quite quickly when you arrive in French-speaking Switzerland that the planning of the territory does not have much to do with that of the regions of German-speaking Switzerland that you have crossed. Here, there are real new housing estates away from the villages, whereas before it was mainly new constructions integrated into the villages. It should also be understood that in these villages which used to be entirely agricultural, commuters who work in the greater agglomeration of Fribourg often live here.
The road crosses Posieux, passes a little away from a chapel. Yes, with the shell signaled, you are walking on the Camino de Santiago.
Further on, it passes two beautiful specimens of peasant architecture in the canton of Fribourg.
You then join Posieux and the RN12 which goes from Fribourg to Bulle. This one runs towards the motorway.
Via Jacobi then passes under the highway which really crosses the village. The road reaches Ecuvillens, on the other side.

Section 3: A small airport and forests.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

 

In recent years, many administrative changes have taken place in the region. Ecuvillens and Posieux merged to form Hauterive in 2001.
But whatever the administrative negotiations, there remains a great unity and majesty in the splendor of these beautiful farms of the past.

Some farms still proudly display on the facade these beautiful poyas, naive paintings showing the climb of cattle to the mountain pastures, typical of the canton of Fribourg. These paintings are on a par with the naive paintings of the cantons of Appenzell and St Gallen.

The road passes in front of the school and the church. In this part of the village, the peasants still apparently rule the roost.
The road soon leaves a fairly large village.
At the exit of the village, a dirt road heads towards the airport.
Ecuvillens is a modest countryside airport.
The pathway runs to the end of the airport in the middle of meadows and corn.
Behind the airport a dirt road, the St Jacques road, reaches the undergrowth.
Further on, the pathway crosses the woods for quite a long time, where hardwoods dominate, beeches of course, but also oaks and maples.
At the exit of the wood, the country opens onto a vast panorama of small hills where crops and meadows alternate.
A road then descends into the countryside towards Posat.

Section 4: A beautiful river and cows in the meadows.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without difficulty, except for the crossing of the river.

 

Posat is a small peasant village lost in nature.

And as is customary in the canton of Fribourg, you will almost always find the sacrosanct cheese dairy, which collects local milk and produces cheeses, including Gruyères and Vacherin, the two ingredients of the famous fondue, in the Swiss French-speaking.
Below the village stands the Notre-Dame chapel, a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, whose chapel, rebuilt by the Jesuits in the XVIIth century, has recently been renovated. Under the chapel, a spring is supposed to cure eye diseases.
A small pathway descends, quite steeply, into the dale below the chapel. There are even barriers and small stairs on the steep slope, but it is safe in a rather sumptuous landscape, it must be said.
At the bottom, the pathway crosses the Glâne River in the forest.
The river is wide and very calm here and you are welcome for a short break in the coolness of the woods.

This will give you some time to soak up the deeper meaning of the maxim inscribed on the stake.

A fairly stony pathway climbs on the other side of the valley, with a less severe slope on this side.
Higher up, it emerges from the undergrowth.
Then, the country opens again on meadows and small crops of cereals and corn especially. The maize here is a supplement for the cattle in winter. On your left, your gaze falls on the Gibloux hill and its antenna, a place that can be seen from many places in the canton.
Shortly after, a wide dirt road crisscrosses the countryside, between meadows and small crops. It soon arrives at the hamlet of Crétausaz.

Here, a beautiful cross marks the road, in a canton that has remained very churchgoer.

The small road crosses the scattered hamlet of Crétausaz, sometimes with an isolated farm and cows in the meadows.
It is claimed that the canton of Fribourg has more cows than inhabitants. But it’s wrong. It’s almost half, but it’s still the country of Gruyères! Here, the dominant cows are unmistakably black and white Holsteins, as is the township.

In the past, a very robust breed of cow grazed here, the “Fribourgeoise”, a black and white spotted cow, at the origin of an epic worthy of a Greek tragedy. The black piebald cow, in cantonal colors, quickly becomes an emblem of Fribourg. We are in the XXth century and at that time, the peasants are still in love and proud of their horned animals. But, while foreign farmers refine their selection, try artificial insemination, local farmers fall asleep on their laurels and breeding changes little. From 40,000 head in 1920, the herd falls to 25,000 in 1946. What then? The pastoral Switzerland of that time knows above all the German Swiss browns and the spotted Simmental cows. But, since the 1950s, the peasants have changed, and not only in Switzerland! Whatever the breed, you have to sell milk, and always more milk. The Fribourgeoise cow only offers an average quantity of milk. We have already seen the problem when we were walking among the herds of Aubrac. To improve the quality of the animals, the breeders then begin to make selections, crossbreeding the Fribourgeoise with Pie-Noir Frisians, in fact the Prim’Holstein, which is already a cross between the original Frisian and the Holstein. The results are mixed. Farmers then try crosses with black or brown Canadian Holsteins. In 1966, 1000 doses of Holstein semen are imported from Canada for the first time. The Holstein is better dairy than the Fribourgeoise and does not suffer from genetic defects like the latter. The choice is understandable, especially since they want above all to preserve the black and white color of the animal. It is a success and the lumps of butter accumulate in the country. And what becomes of the poor Fribourgeoise cow? It dies and disappears. In 1975, Héron, the last authentically Fribourg bull, goes to the butchers.

The peasants of Fribourg do not admit it, but the disappearance of their race has made them bitter. So, they run the planet to find their queen, because the Fribourgeoise cow was exported wonderfully. Recently, black and white cows with Fribourg ancestry have been spotted in Chile, but alas, they are crossbred too. So, business to follow… Just to show you that not all cows are black and white. You will also encounter brown and spotted Red Holsteins, but very rarely other breeds of cattle. In the canton, each cross-breed has its union.

And from farm to farm the road arrives near the village of Autigny, a small agricultural village of 796 inhabitants, where you can find accommodation and eat.
The neoclassical Church of Saint-Maurice dates from the beginning of the XIXth century. It is very bright with beautiful stained-glass windows.
There are some beautiful old houses here with great charm. Here you are still 3 hours walk to Romont.

Section 5: In the Fribourg meadows.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: : course without any difficulty.

 

The road descends below Autigny in the meadows towards the Neirigue brook.
In the small plain, it runs along the stream that meanders throughout the plain.
It soon passes to a place called Le Moulin. There, it crosses the Glâne River, where the Neirigue brook also flows.
Here, there is no longer a mill, but in a very beautiful site on the river, a second-hand dealer has established his residence.
From there, the road heads towards a small undergrowth, where the deciduous trees mingle.
It quickly joins the first houses of Chavanes-sous-Orsonnens. On your left you can still see the Gibloux antenna which is getting closer.
The road arrives at the top of the village, near a fountain and a chapel.
The chapel of Chavannes-sous-Orsonnens is dedicated to St Jean-Baptiste. It dates from at least the XVIh century, although it has since been restored.
The road descends beyond the chapel into the village. It is an essentially peasant village. Here, as throughout the region, the farms are lined with livestock badges, gleaned from competitions. Fribourg is above all an agricultural canton.

The road leaves the village on the so-called La Fortune road.

AAt the side of the road stands a beautiful and large iron cross mounted on a stone pillar.

Further on, Via Jacobi changes direction. It quickly takes a small road to the left which flattens into the countryside between meadows and wheat. In the plain the Neirigue brook still flows through the undergrowth.
The small road runs along the meadows. On your left still flows the stream in the undergrowth. Here, you are opposite the Gibloux branch on the hill.

Section 6: In the meadows, wheats and corns along the farms.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

 

From here, Via Jacobi will ignore the small villages and just pass close to isolated houses or farms. The small road first intersects the road that goes to Fuyens on the hill.

The land is good here, because there are also many cereal fields, especially wheat, which is rare in the canton.

Then the road continues through meadows to cut a little further, at a crossroads near a cross, a larger road that climbs to Massonens also on the hill, above the Neirigue brook in the undergrowth.
Further afield, the road runs into the countryside to Courts Champs, parallel to the Neirigue brook. It’s beautiful open countryside here.
Further on, the road joins the place called Planchevret, where a road allows you to cross the river and climb to Massonens and its small church.
Via Jacobi then descends the Route de Longeraie in the middle of the meadows and rare farms of the Longeraie. Pilgrims are sometimes bored on these long crossings of the countryside where nothing happens, except for an amused and reciprocal look at the cows who are always wondering who these curious animals are with a bag on their backs.
The slope is gentle here. A little further down, the road crosses one of the many tributaries of the Glâne River.

At the bend in the road you soon see the city of Romont perched on the hill.

Section 7: Romont looms on the horizon.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty, with a slight slope up to the city.

 

The road descends a little further to get closer to the city.
Another old Fribourg farm by the side of the road and the road reaches the sports center of Romont.
Shortly after, it crisscrosses the countryside a little more before a dirt road reaches the undergrowth where the Daughter of God Convent is nestled.
Here the pathway again cuts the Glâne, a small stream here, then another stream called Glaney. Actually, this region is often called Les Glânes.
The route then reaches the convent. The abbey, founded in the XIIth century, is a monastery of Cistercian Trappist nuns of strict observance, without apostolic activities, devoting themselves fully to the contemplative life. The buildings here were extensively renovated at the end of the last century. You can stay there, if you justify your pilgrim status with a credential.
After crossing the Glaney brook again, the small road reaches a roundabout at the entrance to the city.
The city center being on the height, Via Jacobi climbs in a sustained way by the road of the Brits.

It arrives near the Tour de Fribourg, also called Porte de Lussy. This round tower, in molasse, is pierced with gunboats. As the city gates obstructed traffic, they were destroyed.

At the top of the climb, you get in the city center (5’500 inhabitants).

Section 8: Brief tour of Romont.

Romont, a small medieval town, is well worth a visit. There are beautiful walks to be done on the ramparts.

Beyond Fribourg Tower, the ramparts extend towards Billens Tower.
Beautiful residences, often very old, and small gardens are suspended above the walkway.

Below the walkway is the station.

There are still other small towers spread around the city, such as the Sauvage Tower, now a cultural space that hosts exhibitions of artists. You have to go all the way to the west to find the big BoyerTtower. Formerly called the “Petit donjon”, the Boyer Tower, to the west, was built in the XIIIth century. It is 38 meters high, but is not directly connected to the ramparts. It was originally a castle complete with enclosure and main building. During the last centuries, it was mainly used as a water tower.
But Romont is also its imposing castle and its round keep, very similar to the Boyer Tower. You enter a large green and shaded courtyard under the wooden walkways. The entrance to the castle suggests that once there must have been a drawbridge here, especially since you can still see the remains of a moat around the castle.
Entering the inner courtyard of the castle, you find a large well with a depth of 36 meters, with a majestic wooden wheel to raise the buckets.
The castle houses part of the administration of the city and the Swiss Museum of Stained Glass and Glass Arts. Unique collections of stained glass and paintings under glass from the Middle Ages to the present day are housed there.
At the end of the Rue des Châteaux stands the recently renovated Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. This XIIth century Gothic church has beautiful old and contemporary stained glass windows. Are we not in the city of the Stained-Glass Museum?

 

Lodging on Via Jacobi

 
Froideville
Guestroom, breakfast Rose Chervet, La Maison des Anges 026 400 06 51/079 519 21 49
Posieux/Hauterive
Accueil jacquaire, dinner, breakfast Marie-Claude Chatton, Route de Matran 47 079 692 41 76
Hotel, dinner, breakfast La Croix Blanche, Route de Fribourg 71 026 411 99 00
Ecuvillens
Gîte (straw), breakfast Roger Galley, Long Praz 11 026 411 10 23/079 230 70 48
Accueil jacquaire, breakfast Marie-Claude Etegny, Ch. des Granges 14 026 430 00 28/078 664 42 46
Guestroom, breakfast Anne-Marie Cruchaud, Chemin des Granges 110 079 689 44 41
Autigny
Guestroom, breakfast Aux 4 éléments, Route de Chénens 2 026 477 07 26/079 308 27 29
Guestroom, breakfast Claudine Berset, Impasse du Félon 7 026 477 23 03/079 543 78 55
Guestroom, breakfast Marie-Rose Schneider, St Garin 21 026 477 12 82/079 709 58 83
Guestroom, breakfast Luciewn et Dominique Haller, Route de Chénens 2 079 308 27 29
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel Restaurant de l’Ecu, Au Village 43 026 477 11 26
Orsonnens
Guestroom, breakfast Pavillon Paisible, Route de Massonens  40 026 652 36 36
Accueil chrétien, dinner, breakfast Monastère Notre-Dame de Fatma, Roote de Massonens 7 O25 6532 19 60
Romont
Accueil chrétien Abbaye de la Fille Dieu 026 651 90 10

 

Accueil jacquaire, breakfast Daniel Zimmermann, Chemin de la Maula 27 026 652 22 24
Guestroom, breakfast B&B Demierre, Grand Rue 44 026 652 14 73/079 329 87 52
Guestroom, breakfast Anne et Daniel Stern, La Maladaire 9 026 652 40 01/079 423 20 02
Guestroom, breakfast Carole et Pascal Richoz, Chemin du Brit 9 079 509 57 34
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel du Lion d’Or, Grand Rue 38 026 652 22 96
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel St Georges, Grand Rue 31 026 652 44 10
There is no difficulty of finding accommodation on this stage. Book anyway for security.
Feel free to add comments. This is often how you move up the Google hierarchy, and how more pilgrims will have access to the site.

 

Next stage: Stage 16: From Romont to Moudon

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