We left the Loire today having north east along the Canal du Centre to Montceau les Mines from our rest day stop in Digoin. It was a steady but very gentle climb, initially along the towpath and then on a quiet country road, the D974. The latter part was “off piste” as the official route took even more minor roads but, crucially, strayed into the surrounding hills with a couple of arrows on the map signifying steeper climbs. Thanks but no thanks!
The countryside changed as we moved away from the river with smaller fields separated by hedges giving it a much more English feel. In addition the towns and villages became more “industrial” than the agricultural centres we had been passing through as we entered a former coal mining region. There was some interesting sights of disused industrial buildings – see photos page when updated.
After a brief lunch stop Christine started to develop one of her occasional migraines – only a relatively mild one thank goodness. She took a pill but the best cure is a lie down in the quiet so, with no campsite within reasonable cycling distance, we headed for the nearest hotel in Montceau.
The town is obviously making an effort to move on from its coal mining past (which came to an end in 1992 according to that invaluable source of reference known as Wikipedia) and looked far more presentable than some English towns of similar heritage.
Christine’s couple of hours sleep did her the power of good and we treated ourselves to a dinner in the restaurant attached to the hotel. As we are near Charolle where the Charolais cows originated from we both thought it would be remiss of us to not have some of the local beef – and very tasty it was too!