Dimanche(Sunday) en France

Basically, everything shuts down…bakeries, butchers, tourist offices….the grocery stores are open until 12:30…then it’s all over.   Sooo, our usual routine of stopping at a grocery store on the way to our accomodation to pick up dinner (salad fixings, roasted chicken, if we’re lucky, veggies, cheese, chocolate, nuts, yogurt and fruit for breakfast) gets disrupted somewhat.  On a few occasions we have managed to find restaurants that are open, but sometimes even they are closed!!!!  Some of  the  really small villages don’t even have a restaurant!  The last small village where we stayed in a lovely Chambre d’Hote in Ousson-sur-Loire we ended up riding our bikes about 2 kms to the nearest restaurant for dinner.  It wouldn’t have been half as exciting if half the ride had not been on a very busy highway and if we didn’t have to ride home in the pitch dark!!!  I felt very lucky that our new bicycles had come equipped with a headlight and rear lights!  It was all fun when it was downhill into our village and we were safely home in bed!

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The village of Ousson….so small you can barely see it!

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The bouquet of the day…scented flox
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Keep on rollin’

Just finished our morning coffee and croissant in front of our picture window waiting for the sunrise over  Gien…

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That is the Eurovelo just below.  Yesterday was another great day from Ousson-sur-Loire…a few minor hills to climb but worth it for the vistas!

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We had a pretty leisurely day as we stopped in Briare to check out another canal and wander around the city….admiring the mosaics in the huge cathedral.

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This is the famous Briare canal over the Loire…

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One more note….2 years ago today when we were cycling on the Rhine…it was snowing!!!!

The Upper Loire

 

Rolling right along on a smooth paved trail….meandering between the river and the canal through small towns, on top of the levees (dikes, in Holland), and sometimes through the forest…our tires crunching over the thousands of acorns from the very old and very large oak trees lining the trail, birds chattering and singing…

Kilometre ‘0’ of the Loire Veloroute!

Finding lots of wildflowers along the way

Our hotel last night was on an island in the middle of the Loire River in the town of Charité-sur-Loire!

Over the hump…

Well, we hit the 1500 km mark on our trusty odometer the other day.  I can hardly believe it, but when I open my eyes in the morning I am still so excited to get going and see what the day will bring!  I suppose it helps that the weather has been so good to us….today is promising more sunny skies and temps in the 20C +!

Today’s challenge is to get the train from St. Leger sur Dheune to Nevers in the Loire Valley.  Well, we didn’t realize it was going to be such a challenge when we set out this morning…but after all, it is a train!  First, we rode to the train station in Chagny to buy our tickets…no one there, just a ticket machine…ok, well we will just buy it at the ticket machine in St. Leger.  Off we go onto the lovely cycle path…taking a side trip into Santaney to admire the lovely fountain.

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When we got to the train station in St. Leger…there was not a soul in site….nor was there a ticket machine…would the train even stop here?  Well it did, thank goodness and we were on our way.  Changing trains in Montchanin was a breeze with a lovely new elevator, but we still didn’t have a ticket….and…there was no ticket sellers only a machine.  I asked an official looking train employee when the train to Nevers departed and he says in 3 minutes!!!!  Oh no!!!  So he took me to the machine and he plugged in all the info required, I stuck my VISA card in and out came our tickets…I ran to my bike and then ran with it to where Mark was waiting by the appropriate bicycle car, and hoisted it up from the platform with help from the ticket guy and with not a moment to spare…the train was packed with young people and their luggage and their smart phones.  Off we sped…and then Mark had a look at the ticket…and it had our destination as Macon….yikes…the opposite direction to where we were heading!!!  As we sat in our seats we had a sign right in front of us….375€ fine for fraudulent tickets!

Arriving 2 hours later in the booming metropolis of Nevers only to discover that there were NO elevators!!!  Bump, bump down the stairs we go….take everything off the bikes, up the stairs… 3 trips…load up again and ride towards the Loire during rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon!  Luckily we booked a hotel out in the suburbs, about 5 kms along the Veloroute so we actually had an easy ride to get there and a quiet room to chill out in and be thankful that adventure was done!   Tomorrow we will be on the Loire Valley Veloroute!!!

Chalon-sur-Saone

Another great day of riding in perfect conditions!

All good except for the traffic along the last few kms getting into Chalon, but worth the effort to arrive at our beautiful hotel with a room overlooking (huge windows!) the Saone River.  It was a very different story trying to get out of the city the next morning which took us over an hour and 10 kms of city traffic, busy intersections and roadside riding.  When we finally saw the tranquil canal path we breathed a sigh of relief and swore we would not go back into that city, lovely as it may have been.  We had planned a fairly easy day so we could take a detour into the town of Fontaines which has a number of very ancient “wash houses”  which were, and still are, fed from a number of underground springs.

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It is quite interesting passing by so many locks…today we chatted to a couple from Britain who were living on a canal boat and travelling through the many locks.  Apparently they are all automated and do not require any staff to operate…thus there are so many abandoned lock keeper houses along the way….some with very pretty flowers…

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Tonight we are in the quiet town of Chagny…thinking about heading to the Loire Valley, famous for it’s castles and chateaus ( that’s west of here, over the mountains) by train tomorrow. The weather is looking very promising for another week…we’ll see!

Escargot anyone?

It is so easy to lose track of the days as we fly along this gorgeous route we have chosen…and easy to get into a calm, meditative, live-in-the-moment state.  We have stopped in Besancon and admired the huge fortifications on the hill as well as the ramparts in the town and lovely parks along the river.    A few kilometres along the trail we spotted a rather strange looking farm…at closer inspection we finally figured out what they were farming…

Then we carried on to Rochefort-sur-Nenon, a small, quiet village and wondered ‘where were all the inhabitants?’   We have left the limestone cliffs and the Jura hills behind and are now officially in the Côte d’Or of Burgundy (Bourgogne, in French).

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The French version of a scarecrow!!!!!

We often pass rows of these  huge old sycamore trees…the bark is very unique…

The town of Dole…lots of canal boats for charter from here…

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And today’s surprise….

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Yes, the detour sign!  Yikes but nothing to indicate how to get around it!?!  Thanks again to Pocket Earth we found a lovely detour all on our own…IMG_5204IMG_5199IMG_5200

And then there was this sign….hmmmm??????  What the….

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Impressive!!!

Well 2 days cycling the Eurovelo 6 and wow is it impressive!!!  Smoothly paved, very well signed,  (mostly) flat and 95 percent dedicated to bicycles and walkers only….well except for the rush hour traffic…

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There have been a few occasions where we had to cycle on a very quiet road and a few hills but it makes it very interesting.  We have been following the Doubs River/Canal Rhine Au Rhone through limestone cliffs and steep tree covered hills….Seeing many fishermen along the way.  Oh, and did I mention…no chance really of getting lost…well, unless you try to take a shortcut and don’t follow the signs!

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This morning (in a the small hamlet of HYEVRE PAROISSE) we awoke to a cool, drizzly, Scottish mist kind of day…and met a couple from Alberta, Rosemarie and Ron who were cycling the other direction toward Germany…had a lovely chat over coffee and got a few tips from them.  By the time we headed out it had mostly dried up but with the wind in our face it was quite cool and damp.  There was hardly a soul on the trail and it was so quiet…no busy roads, just the birds singing.