Aujourd'hui nous sommes le mmardi 13 novembre 2018. C’est la fête de Saint Brice.


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Cycle Tour of Burgundy

From Mike

En route:

After 2 days in Dubai including a Dune Safari and Dinner in the Desert, and 2 days in Rome, we zoomed up to Florence in first class in the Trenitalia Frecciarossa high-speed train that reached 150 Km/h.  What a treat – so smooth and non-stop !

After a week in our villa in the hills nearby Florence (amazing, and beautiful weather too) we flew to Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes district.

There is only one airline that flies direct and that is HOP! (yes, including the exclamation mark).  It only started up in 2014, but as is primarily owned by Air France we felt it would be kosher.  A very efficient old turbo-prop 30 seater.Arriving in Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport, we took the Rhônexpress tram/train thingy to Gare Lyon Part-Dieu and caught a taxi to our apartment.

We stayed at an Air BnB apartment which was actually a spare room, at no. 3 Place Jules Ferry which is reasonably central with a Metro stop and Lyon Part-Dieu nearby. Lyon is a pretty city and is the 3rd largest in France.  Two days there, checking out the architecture and local cuisine etc etc.

Le tour

June 7th. A regional train to Perouges (pop. 1,234), where our 9-day cycle tour of Burgundy began.

The tours are run by Barbara Grieve of Hawkes Bay, and are excellent. We rode on another tour across the Languedoc from Carcassonne to Avignon in 2010.

From the start point, your main luggage is sent to the end of the tour, and you are given a large day-bag which is sent to that night’s hotel.  So all you have on your bike is your gear for the day – helmet, gloves, camera etc.

Lunch is usually bought at a local market where members of the group are chosen to buy bread, wine, meat, fruit, hors d’oeuvres etc.  We usually ate at a picnic spot by a river (the Saone, a couple of times) or in a village square.

Our night stops were –

Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne – lunch at Villars-les-Dombes

Blace – Saone picnic lunch

St Amour-Bellvue – lunch near Fleurie. Beaujolais country. The hotel was a surprise – a 1-Star Michelin restaurant with a 7-course degustation.

Cluny - the centre of the Benedictine monastic movement, 1088-1130

Sennecey-le-Grand – lunch at medieval village of St Gengoux-le-National

Chalon-sur-Saone – another Saone picnic lunch

Puligny-Montrachet – Chardonnay country

Beaune – wine capital of Burgundy

Dijon – picnic near Nuits-Saint-Georges.  Was the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy in the 14th century.   And mustard of all flavours and sizes of course.

It has to be said that Barb’s tours are highly organised to a very high standard. She has been running them for many years across most regions of France. A delightful person for whom nothing is too much trouble.

There so many beautiful architectural buildings and wineries we visited (grape vines disappearing over the horizon) that it’s hard to remember them all, but the thousands of photographs will help. And SO much beautiful wine.

And of course the countryside – lots of flat plains and a few gentle rolling hills. Littered with chateaux, cute villages and medieval towns.

Post Tour

From Dijon we took the TGV to Paris, arriving at Gare de Lyon in 1 hour 35 mins. Another smooth ride, but no speedometer visible.

We stayed in the 14th arrondissment in an Art Deco apartment owned by our 2010 host Bertrand, a very courtly gentleman with a lot of style. With the Alésia Metro stop just around the corner, we were just a hop, step and jump from everywhere in the city.

The Metro is brilliant – very efficient, clean and dependable.  It is said that every part of central Paris is within 500m of a station.  Of course, you have to watch out for pickpockets – my wallet was stolen from my camera bag in the Concorde Metro station. Didn’t feel a thing.

So, we saw lots of museums (Musée d’Orsay - fabulous if you’re an Impressionist acolyte), ate food, drank the wine for a week.  WILL go back.

June 21st is Fête de la Musique is celebrated every year in France in many villages, towns and cities where small concerts of every description pop up at many places.  It is promoted around the world by Alliance Française . We were fortunate that we were in the company of an old school friend (who I hadn’t seen for 50 years) and his partner, who is an ex-pat Parisienne.  So we were treated to some off-the-beaten-track concerts.

From Paris we took the EuroStar from Gare du Nord to St Pancras in London (another seamless ride, 2 hrs 20 mins) where we went to our next Air BnB in Notting Hill. We stayed there for a week before training to Manchester to come home.

For more info on the tours,  contact: Barbara Grieve Cycling Holidays in France, Whakapirau, RD 4, Hastings.

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