After 20 years in Luxeuil, Columbanus and some of his closest followers were banished by the Queen and King, and ordered to return to Ireland. Escorted by guards, they headed west towards the port of Nantes, stopping in Besançon, then down the Loire river.
The Exile Route follows the same route. An important stage ends in Tours, where Columbanus paid his respects at the tomb of Saint Martin. Reaching the sea, where a boat was waiting, the wind miraculously dropped and the guards, afraid of the power of the holy man, released their prisoners.
The Exile Route then heads north and north-east, as Columbanus did, back through Brittany and Normandy and passing through Paris, to the Marne Valley. In this area, the ‘Pays de Brie’, there are a number of important monastic sites that can be visited, including the Abbey of Jouarre and of Faremoutiers, both still active.
Columbanus then headed east towards Metz and Germany, then up the Rhine on his way to present-day Switzerland.