Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Walking in Burgundy

Walking is a very popular sport in this area. There are many small, safe paths, the terrain is not too mountainous that it puts you off starting, the views of the vineyards and the forested areas are well worth any effort you have to put in, but above all else on most Sundays from April to October, there are organised walks. These walks (randonnées) are laid out by the village and they range from the super slick huge walks like Chardonnay, where many thousands take part, to the tiny village walks which probably attracted a dozen or so.

The first walk we did this year was in Chapaize a couple of weeks ago, we were mainly attracted by the fact that it was a walk that went past a number of interesting sites and we were promised a lot of historical detail about those sites en-route. Sure enough when we arrived to start we were given a little booklet filled with lots of interesting information about the things we would see along the way and a map to show the route. The walk was 15km mostly off-road with the farthest point being Chappelle-sous-Brancion and because of the terrain it should not take much more than 4 hours. We started later than we would have liked, meaning we would have to have a very late lunch, but that would be more than compensated by what there was to see. Things started to go wrong less than 1km into the walk when we could not find the correct path into the forest, but we know our way around here and rather than walk up and down the road too many times looking for the hidden entrance, we would just go into the forest, find the lake and go from there. That worked
and we found the trail again. When we reached a T-junction where it was quite clear on our map that we should turn right, the indicators said left. We were confused to say the least. We turned right assuming that the left-hand indicators were for the shorter walk. Not a good move as we ended up in brambles and stinging nettles and even had to crawl on the ground to get under some overhanging branches, it was at that point we decided we might not be going the right way. Back to the T-junction and follow the indicators, which showed no sign of following the map we were given. When we came to the road and the indicators said to turn right (direction Brancion so they were probably correct) we decided to abort mission and go home. We had taken 2 hours to cover about 3km of a 15km walk and had by now lost faith in the indicators, the clinching factors were that it was lunch time and it had started to rain. It appears we were not the only ones who had not found the path into the forest and when I said that the map and the indicators did not match, the guy in charge said “Oh we know that, we decided to change the route”. Ummm. One person had made it back after completing the whole walk but I am not sure how many others did the whole thing.

So when some friends came round and told us they had been setting out new walks for their village walk this weekend, we thought we would give it another a go. With a bit of a giggle we were told that the short walk would surprise some people. The short walk (between 5 and 10km usually) is normally walked by the serious wimps and is a doddle, not so in this case we were told.
So off we set on Sunday morning to see how little of a doddle it was. Well the walk started as it meant to go on, up hill and up hill and up hill with the final haul being the notorious climb near la Moutonnerie that used to be part of the Cormatin 20km walk. As we all know "what goes up must come down" and boy did this walk go down, at one point I thought I would have to go down on my bottom it was so steep ! So we made it to the other side of the hill, yes the OTHER side. That meant we would have to do it all again to get back to our car. Back we went up and up, then down the final haul into town to be rewarded by some absolutely delicious pizza pieces.

We did not get lost once, at no time did we ever feel that we didn’t know which was the right way to go and apart from the road in the village and a small stretch in Blanot, we spent all our time exclusively off-road on some beautiful paths through forests, fields and vineyards. The views were stunning and even though my legs are regretting it today, it was well worth it. Bravo to the Foyer Rural de Cortambert for a superbly organised event and where did you get that pizza ?

La Tuilerie Website

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