Sunday, 21 March 2010

First Cycle Ride

ChapaizeIt is the middle of March and as is usual around here, the season has changed from the depths of winter to nearly summer. Some people call it spring, but spring is really an unknown season here in Burgundy, the weather changes like a light switching on and off. Tuesday night was minus 4 degrees and Thursday it was 18 degrees in the shade. That is not to say we won’t get any more frosts, the old saying “ne’er cast a clout till May be out” is just as true here as it is in the UK, but it looks like the summer is arriving. The birds are going crazy, all the trees have sprung new green life, the herbaceous plants are shooting out of the ground and Cees has got our bikes out of the shed.

Thursday was the first chance for us to go for a cycle ride in comfort in months and it was lovely to be out and about on the Voie Verte again.  I thought my cycling days were over when I left the Netherlands to come and live here (I only do flat) but the Voie Verte which runs very close to our house, is an old railway line that has been converted into a cycling path. It is safe and almost flat. The path travels from near Chalon-sur-Saône to Mâcon in almost one smooth ride. A bit of a warning about Cluny to Mâcon though, whilst there is the interesting Tunnel du Bois Clair, the path is very steep in places, far more than I can do. Having said that, we have had campers or people in the gites here that have even managed to do it on a normal bike however, a mountain bike and strong legs would be more appropriate.

So off we went, rather unfit after our winter of doing no physical activity and we set off on the boucle that goes past our property.  There are a number of boucles off the Voie Verte, they are graded signposted tours that give you access to the many interesting villages around here. The grading goes from one spot which is easy up to four spots which is very difficult (the trip to the tunnel for instance). So we chose an easy boucle for our first outing. This particular one goes up through the forest to Lys with its assortment of artisans (pottery, blacksmith, tapestry maker) and of course the adorable little church with relatively well-preserved wall frescos and then on to Chapaize with a church tower that can be seen for miles around but when viewed from the village itself definitely seems out of proportion and finally, all the way downhill, back into Cormatin. About 15km in all and it took us less than one and half hours after stopping to see the churches and having a beer in Cormatin to fortify us for the final leg back home.

We came home to find a happy little cat wanting to play and so we got the garden chairs out sat down had fun playing with her with string and ping pong balls. A very relaxing end to a beautiful day and hopefully the start of summer.

For a link to the Voie Verte check out the tourist information page on our Website

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