The Exile Route

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THE COLUMBAN WAY IN FRANCE 

This is the route made approximately   by Colombano and 12 monks in the European region which currently coincides with France between 590 and 610

Due to its length (3.815 km) it has been divided into followuing 4 itineraries

This first section of the Columban Way on the European continent takes place mainly in the plains and in the countryside. It starts from Saint Coulomb, on whose beach in 590 Colombano and his monks landed after leaving Bangor and after touching present-day Cornwall. The group of monks went inland to the east to the foot of the Vosges, where they settled for about twenty years. The exact route is not known except in some places listed in Colombano’s biography, written in 640 and the proposed itinerary passes through the most important cultural and historical points of this northern part of France.

This part of the route retraces the exile of Saint Columban and his fellow Irish monks from Luxeuil to Nantes. In 610 Colombano they were expelled from the monastery of Luxeuil founded 20 years earlier and were escorted by armed soldiers along the Loire to Nantes who where they received the order from Queen Brunechilde to embark them on a ship bound for Ireland. 

Once reached the port of Nantes, the squad of monks, barely aboard, managed to free themselves and to escape far and not be captured again, they began an incredible travel following mainly the great rivers, and touching important cities such as Rennes, Rouen, Paris, Reims and Metz.

The route resumes in French territory for a stretch of 209 km crossing Alsace from north to south following mainly the river communication routes of the Rhine and its canals. After a detachment of 470 km, entering Luxembourg and Germany, it hangs up north of Alsace in Lauterbour, the first town closest to the border with Germany, to reach Switzerland.

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