Into Burgundy

The rain continued for most of Friday so we had a relaxing day wandering around the town of Decize and a chance to catch up on admin chores and reading.

Saturday saw us following the Loire valley for the last time as we crossed from the Centre region into Bourgogne. We only saw the river occasionally as we followed a quiet country road initially before getting onto another Voie Verte on a disused railway line and then the Canal Lateral towpath again.

The rain stayed away for most of the day but then started to get more serious as we approached Digoin. We managed to get the tent up before the heavens opened but with the forecast for Sunday looking pretty dire it was not a difficult decision to take another rest day, particularly with the only local church service that Christine could find being at 11 o’clock. In addition the campsite has a washing machine and drier which will make a pleasant change from using the Scrubba (a small but significant step up from hand washing – do a Google to see what we are talking about) and draping wet clothes over panniers!

Some Thoughts After Two Weeks on the Road

  • Gosh! The worries of the last few weeks seem to have just evaporated. Concerns now centre around “Where are we going to sleep tonight?” And “What are we going to eat?”
  • Plus, over the last few days, “Is it going to rain tomorrow?”
  • Living in a tent (most of the time) is going OK.
  • But getting up to go to the loo in the middle of the night when it is p!$$ing down with rain is not much fun!
  • It takes a surprising amount of time to set up camp each night and take it down and stow everything away in the morning!
  • Riding with fully loaded bikes slows you down much more than we had anticipated!
  • Averaging 80km per day with these loads is looking to be ambitious. But hey, what’s the hurry?
  • We’re in the 21st century and WiFi is wonderful! Who would have imagined, a few years ago, that you could lay in a tent in a field in France updating a blog?
  • Some of the equipment available these days is brilliant! Thermorest mattresses are really comfortable (but not very wide), our tent is so easy to erect and light to carry,  drybags are wonderful, our micro backpacks are SO useful,…as is Christine’s micro handbag!
  • The bikes are going well. Thanks Roberts Cycles!
  • We’ve chosen a brilliant route (so far) – barely a hill encountered. Canal towpaths, converted old railway tracks, and quiet roads in river valleys make for great cycling.
  • France is very big compared to England!
  • There is a department called Allier. Who knew? Not Christine and she used to live in France!
  • France is beautiful in the spring – but especially when the sun shines.
  • BUT French loos can leave something to be desired! No paper, no toilet seat, “barbaric” holes in the ground – yuk! But there is probably worse to come outside Europe! But then, they wouldn’t consider themselves one of the most civilised countries in the world!
  • We’re still “together” despite Stephen leaving the tent door unzipped and letting an 8 legged critter in! (But that was a close run thing!). And Christine’s ‘slow’, some might even say ‘tortoise speed’ cycling!

Avoiding the Rain!

The rain arrived late yesterday (Thursday). There were a few spots as we neared the end of the ride alongside the Canal Lateral de la Loire so Stephen”rushed” ahead to the campsite in Decize to get the tent up before the heavy stuff started – and just about succeeded! But it then set in for the night. Looking out at the grey skies and the growing puddles this morning we both reached the conclusion that a judicious rest day was in order.

Decize campsite in the rain.
Decize campsite in the rain.

The following shows the progress that we have made with overnight stops indicated.

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We will shortly be leaving the Loire and heading more east towards the Rhine and Germany and Switzerland.

Along the Loire

We’re back in 2015 as this campsite has WiFi after two days in the Dark Ages! So you are being subjected to another update.

In the past 3 days we have covered about 100 miles heading upstream from Orleans to La Charité sur Loire. We have now joined the Eurovelo 6 cycle route which we will be following all the way to the Black Sea. We did the first part, from the Atlantic to Orleans, a couple of summers ago with Eleri, our daughter, so it feels good to be back with an “old friend”.

It has been fairly flat and along wonderful cycle paths almost the whole way – generally away from roads but if not then the roads were very quiet. Christine survived the fall in temperature to 10C on Monday by wearing full-fingered gloves, a beanie hat under her helmet and 5 layers of clothing! It has warmed up a bit, and best of all we have been spared rain!

Since Orleans we have been camping and making inroads into the  overspend against budget following the “blow out” at the wonderful hotel in St Pierre du Vauvray with associated meal. (Well we are both accountants so we hope you’ll forgive the reversion to type!) And, wonder of wonders, the campsites since Orleans have all had toilet paper in the loos – none if those before did. But still no loo seats!! (Why is that?)

The cooking is going well – or at least as well as can be expected  on a little gas stove with just one burner.  Here is tonight’s feast:-

A veritable feast!
A veritable feast!

It’s a couscous/bulgar wheat concoction from a packet with added ham and a tomato and some of the local vino, Pouilly Fume, in case you were wondering! Hardly cordon bleu but it’s fuel! It was followed by a slice of cake and a banana.

We are realising just how big France is, as we are still only about half way across it!

A big thank you to everyone who has sent us messages. We love getting them! We will update again when we next have wifi.

The Loire Reached!

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First sight of the Loire!

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April.
We have reached Eurovelo 6, the long distance cycle path that we hope to follow all the way to the Black Sea! It was a long hard day from Chartres to Orleans on Saturday. The pretty river valley was swapped for prairie style fields. Much less picturesque, but it did mean most of the day we cycled to the sounds of skylarks! Highlight of the day was a car slowing down and inviting us in for coffee at the next village. We chatted to the delightful Yves-Marie who spent 9 months last year cycling from Kyrgyzstan home to France! When we left he presented us with a jar of the honey from his and his brother’s honey business. We also felt we were cycling in the footsteps of the Romans, as most of the roads were straight! We were delighted when we finally saw the Loire, but less pleased to discover that of the 2 campsites in Orleans, one only accepted motorhomes, and the other was closed! As Stephen was feeling unwell we splashed out on a cheap hotel!
Decided in light of Stephen feeling under par, Christine’s wish to go to church on Sunday morning and the forecast of very heavy rain in the afternoon, to take a rest day in Orleans. A wise decision. And a chance to catch up on washing, sorting photos etc. back on the bikes tomorrow!

We’re Really Under Way!

We are back on wifi so can provide an update. Wednesday morning started with a brute of a hill to get from the Seine valley to the Eure valley, but after that it was glorious cycling yet again both then and Thursday. For 2 days we followed the river Eure upstream along its beautiful valley, almost always on cycle paths or very quiet country roads through very dozy villages. And a further 2 warm days under cloudless blue skies. We camped at a small campsite on Wednesday in Ezy sur Eure and on Thursday at a larger one in Chartres, both by the banks of the river. We had cycled just under 70k both days. We have had a wonderful start to our trip! Low point was using the facilities in a bar/cafe en route and finding it was a hole in the ground! Seriously!

Today, Friday has been our first rest day. We went to look at the cathedral in Chartres, and were blown away by it; absolutely magnificent. Probably the best cathedral we have visited.

This evening we are going to treat ourselves to steak on the camp stove, rather than the usual pasta with a ready made sauce. We are getting used to the camping, and Stephen is proving to be an excellent chef.

Tomorrow our first rain is forecast, which we are not looking forward to, as it is a long day to Orleans where we pick up Eurovelo 6, the cycle path we hope to follow all the way to the Black Sea.

Day 4 Update

Just a short 30k today. What a perfect day for cycling. France at its beautiful best! Cloudless blue sky, temperature warm but not too hot, mainly cycling very quiet lanes through green river valleys, and finishing along the banks of the Seine. We are staying at an excellent hotel which Stephen has used when visiting Intertek’s French operations nearby. This is the view from our room.

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