Exploring Ancient Roads on the Way to Mindfulness

by Anna

After eight more hours behind the wheel, having passed many yellow rapeseed fields, it feels like I am getting a pressure sore on my heel. Why was I driving the whole journey again?

Something in me resonates with our connection to ancient trade routes, wondering how old and much travelled the road I’m currently travelling on is. For starters, you don’t get that feeling with flying. There you get catapulted high up into thin air only to be plunged back down onto mother earth a few hours later, where you are then let loose again, slightly disorientated and confused about your precise whereabouts in the known universe.

The town I live in in England has a relatively new harbour (opened in 1993), which was developed from the beachland and gives me a similar feeling of confusion that I get from flying. All the buildings there are build in a similar new style and the roads are newly mapped. Every time I go there, I have the overwhelming feeling of being lost. And I’m not the only one who gets lost there, nor am I someone who easily gets lost in the first place. A thought appeared that maybe it is because it is all newly built and therefore bears no connection to any old or ancient routes, which is why my unconscious route planner has no signal to pick up on in regards to which way to go.

There are a lot of places on earth that I feel an immense connection and sense of awe with. Some might be unconscious, e.g. the fact that I learned after I had booked myself into Plum Village (where I am heading at the moment) that there is a cave nearby in which my prehistoric ancestors survived the last ice age about 24 000 years ago. And also the fact that I left my home country of Germany to live in England, where I feel much more at home. To me, that means a lot.

Most of the early ancient trampled pathways are nowadays big major transport links. This became visibly clear when approaching Langres, France, which is an impressive big town, towering on top of a hill, clearly visible to everyone from a long distance. I could also judge this by road names such as “Route de Paris, Route de Dijon, Route de…” you get the idea. Like how Napoleon had set up avenues of trees so that his troops could walk in the cool shade.

After discovering that Dijon has indeed a very strange smell about itself, the Route des Grands Crus, or road of the great wines (approx. 60 kilometre tourist route from Dijon to Santenay in Burgundy, France) brought me to Vougeot, where a colleague had arranged a room for me in a hotel she used to work at. Amidst many, many acres of vineyards, including a small castle, I settled for a much earned overnight break.

Castle at Vougeot

Castle at Vougeot

Hunting for food, in the literal sense, can be difficult when you are travelling in a country whose language you’re not quite capable of (and if you have a slug phobia and are terrified the French might accidentally serve these to you). I’m, however, quite pleased with the few words I had learned and accordingly barged into a hotel restaurant saying: “Je voudrais la carte s’il vous plait”. And whenever anyone started jabbering in French I politely said: “Je ne parler pas France, parle vous Anglais?.” Excuse my spelling mistakes, I can just about master talking 🙂


So I found myself sitting at a table with a deep wine red coloured table cloth, looking over the opposing empty chair through a massive panorama window onto the garden with pool and a mill wheel, which was merrily turning around itself in the small river that bizarrely disappeared under a house. Most of the time I felt uneasy sitting there on my own … once again the expectations of others … but then I heard myself talk in French and it strangely put me at ease with myself. And then I even topped myself with “Excuse moi, monsieur , je voudrais la addition s’il vous plait.” Why, the French language is quite beautiful and soo serene 🙂

Plenty of wine

Plenty of wine

Still, despite this being famous wine tasting territory, I did not try any, simply because I just don’t like it.


Travelled from Germany (2) to Vougeot in France (3). Click for larger image.