Ride Day 28 – Merzig to Luxembourg 71 km – 1047m

We are now entering the fat burning stage of the trip. None of this namby pamby cruising along rivers and canals for a while. We have swapped to the overland river to river system. Saar, over to Mosel and over again to Alzette. There were some shocking inclines on this and there was a lot of pushing, swearing at legs which wouldn’t perform and panting.

We woke to rain in Merzig. Chucking it down. Duncan had work to do and after a German breakfast, which was delivered to the room and in true fashion, enough for breakfast and lunch. Julie made rolls from the cheese and ham, we ate the cereal, yogurts, fruit, fruit juice, croissants, coffee. We left the sausages, jams and preserves! The rain stopped, we packed up and left at 10.30. We climbed out of the Saar valley for the first 10 km. Good job we had a good breakfast!

We then found ourselves unexpectedly back in France – hadn’t spotted this when planning. Duncan did a fine job of avoiding any busy roads. In fact, the great thing is that now the cycle paths are subpar, the roads are fantastically maintained and even some new roads going through many areas. Saw virtually no cars.

So, we are now on the ride along the border, literally, top of the ridge, France on the left, Germany on the right. Wind turbines whizzing around and marvellous sculptures leading the way. Stones on the Border – created in 1986 with many countries contributing. Unexpected and just fabulous riding other than the head wind.

Then we dropped down to the Mosel and completed about 10km of the ride we did with Nancy, Rick and Tony two years ago. At the start of that ride, just prior to Perl, there was a border check. I think Rick took a photo at the time (where the mini Eiffel Tower was). Anyway, someone obviously decided they didn’t like it or what it represented.

We then came across the CHAIR. Just the two of us this time.

A stop in Remich for a good coffee and shared Tiramisu at a proper Italian restaurant. The Italian owner was very entertaining and enthusiastic on seeing our trip and proceeded to tell everyone in the restaurant. We managed to escape and then the climb out of the valley west which wasn’t any fun at all. Great route once up and just lovely scenery along an old railway track. A handful of road cyclists in small pelotons enjoying the steep inclines but no other touring cyclists.

So many cycle routes Criss crossing. Plenty to keep a day cyclist happy in this region.

Duncan had planned the route into Luxembourg City around the forested path alongside the river. This was just glorious riding and what a gift for Luxemburgers. Walkers, skaters, cyclists – so peaceful. Imagine if you had this around the inside of the M25.

Amazing properties just sitting under the cliffs around the edge. Not sure I fancy that but I guess they’ve been there a long time.

We then approached the climb into the city. Flipping heck, just what you need afte a long day. Tony did warn us. Roadworks abound, we rode across the bridge we shouldn’t have and arrived at our very peaceful, top of the cliff hotel – no road noise. Ten minute walk into the city. Had a rather mediocre meal at the hotel as too stuffed to go far. Tomorrow is a rest day so we can explore then.

View from hotel garden.

Ride Day 27 – Zetting to Merzig – 71 km

We started out from Zetting on just a perfect morning – smooth riding, sunny, coolish, pretty little towns and river banks, very peaceful with the odd fast cyclists out for the usual Sunday morning rides. Perfect. We had been served a good breakfast but no Croissants 😦 Last photos from France. The village in which we stayed – boats on the River and a clever way to get the message across.

We turn a bend and then this – We have left France. After almost six weeks. We crossed the border after only one hour from Zetting. Welcome to Germany.

The route was pretty much following the River Saar. The GPS went slightly bonkers but we did literally ride alongside the river the whole way.

There were immediate differences between France and Germany and not just the language. We understand a bit of German and most Germans you meet speak excellent English. Julie’s been used to saying Good Morning for many years in the fashion of “Allo Allo”, so it’s “Gut Moaning” and finds it difficult to say it correctly and therefore will be just using Guten Tag instead just to be on the safe side. Duncan can order beers, the bill and say thank you in many languages.

We were on the outskirts of Saarbrücken. It’s a big city and it was having an annual Fair so it was pretty chaotic and there were Police and Security everywhere and as the Fair was on both sides of the river and using the actual cycle path, we had to dismount and walk with the bikes.

As luck would have it at the Fair – a coffee bike. Served a spectacular coffee, about 70% as good as home and quite a bit less in cost than France, so that’s a good start. While we drank this, watched a game they were playing beside us, a beer crate Jenga, suspended five metres in the air. Ask me about it ….

This area is very, very industrial – steel. Large barges full of coal, massive plants which ran for 25 km minimum with pipes, towers and a multitude of other heavy industry. All alongside the river and if that wasn’t enough, the major highway ran alongside the bike path for many of those kms. it was NOT a quiet ride!

So, let’s cover the major changes, being as polite as one can with such a bizarre situation. Having now done some research into this. Ebikes are everywhere. We gave up counting after two hours at 500+. Granted, it was a Sunday. Sales of bikes went up last year by 36%, just 2% to non electric bikes. Based on this, that’s around €13 billion in sales according to figures released.

It’s great that people want to get out and about but it’s not helping the waistline. The diet is not quite going to plan here but there are people wearing Lycra on these ebikes in sizes we did not realise could be made. The sizes must come in BGS and not XX – that’s beer gut size by the way. They need to upgrade the cycle paths as there were some near misses when people were passing – enough said. we did see one cycling accident due to this.

The next issue was the smooth bitumen paths in France had given way to Sectioned concrete made with a stone mix. This creates a dip or rise at each join. Basically, with 200 of these each km, we were exhausted when we reached Merzig. Our knees, wrists, shoulders all ached. We are on roads from tomorrow so that may help!

We saw a cyclists picking something from a tree, so stopped to investigate. It was mirabelles, a type of plumb. We helped him fill his basket, and he gave us some ripe ones to eat – lovely sweet ripe red fruits. Also paused a couple of time for blackberries. We have been keeping an eye on them for five weeks, and finally they are perfect.

Arrived at our perfect accommodation at 3.30. The Chef and owner greeted us. Our room with balcony was on the lower floor, bike rack, two large beds joined with two quilts- perfect. He then said he knew the exact beer we needed and as we took the bags into the room, he turned up with these we love him! BTW the beer mat is to stop wasps.

Had a wander around the town, which was very nice considering what we had cycled by. It was quiet. We had a delicious meal at the restaurant and fell into bed at 8pm.

Ride Day 26 – Niderviller to Zetting – 81 km

This will be the last full day of riding in France. A day of unusual sights and total wilderness along with a reminder just how close to the border we are.

We set off from Niderviller with the aim of locating food for the ride. There are very few villages before the big empty stretch starts. Signs are still out for Boulangeries open but many are closed for August. picked up quiche, no sandwiches.

Quite lovely open countryside – farming as usual. Didn’t take us long to find the canal. Saw as many boats today as bikes. turns out the benches below are the only ones we see for 80 km – a bit early for lunch.

Headed off into the Sarreguemines lakes area. It’s sunny with some cloud and cool. pretty much the perfect weather.

The first encounter is we are supposed to turn right after the path above and we are on the left. We then spot the bridge and Duncan thinks “oh shit, we may have to go back” but they we see that the bridge has a rail for bikes. Up we go – not easy ….

Unless you are some smart arse with a bike that weighs nothing and panniers that contain only your sandwiches!

Found a grassy bank for lunch. This area would be great for just relaxing in a big box boat, which you can hire. Fishing, bird watching, lazing around. Some people do just that for a week – we would go mad. moving boats to the left, lazing about boats to the right.

Found a coffee finally after lunch, perfect timing. Here is the map of the area. It’s still the EV5 following the canal through the lakes at this point and there are maybe a dozen or so travelling in the opposite direction. Very few walkers but many single cyclists out for a peaceful ride on the weekend.

Then we cycle by this – a sure sign we are getting close to the border, which we shall do tomorrow morning. Another oddity for today is that people have stopped saying Bonjour – it is now “hello”. Coffee shop and most voices are now German. The place names have been German for most of the Alsace but now more so. This bunker is part of the Maginot Line – Aquatic.

Zetting is a bend in the river. We are staying at the only accommodation we could find. There is one restaurant in town. This combination beforehand left us a bit nervous but a miracle happened for our last night in France. The accommodation is an architecture miracle inside an old farmhouse. The owner is stylish and the bedroom huge with massive bathroom. Then we have the best meal on the whole trip so far. Simply superb. Just opened with new chef 200m away. Perhaps this little place may get a reputation.

Ride 25 – Strasbourg to Niderviller – 73 km

Due to terrible internet, this is a day late!

We were both quite happy to leave Strasbourg. Another very large city which Julie thought a cross between Paris and Colmar. Very busy and at times, chaotic. We managed to stay on one of the busiest roads into the city and close to a set of traffic lights and unless your entertainment is watching cars and hearing horns blowing, it’s not the place to be. Getting from there across the bridge into the city with roadworks, four crossing trams, buses, cyclists and too many people was quite nerve wracking.

Once in the pedestrian area or down by the canal or river, it was pleasant and we did a lot of walking but mainly Duncan worked. Julie went on an endless and fruitless search of fresh green veg. The walks around Petit France and the dam looking back to the four (no longer) covered bridges was lovely. The architecture was gorgeous and there were many fine Prussian buildings.

We met Wolfgang for supper and after several Flam whatevers, we walked around the city on the river – in the rain. Wolfgang stayed in Strasbourg overnight, so we had plenty of time catching up and hearing all his news. Very good of him to make the journey to see us outside his free transit German Pass Zone.

We set off at 9.30 as usual. It seems difficult to get out before then.

The first 20 km were a little dull and suburban but we soon reached a canal and enjoyed the smooth and quiet route. We found a town in which to top up our cheese homemade sandwiches with apple tart. This was a brewing town and something was slightly off – other than the smell. There seemed to be quite a lot of rough looking guys around that weren’t particularly attractive but they seemed to have rather inappropriately dressed women with them as if the town was having a “dress like a hooker” day. Not sure what was going on but the women could have been hanging onto the men because they couldn’t walk in their high heels unaided (sorry, no photos).

One missed turn involved going over a closed bridge and scrambling down to the correct bike path on the opposite side.

Now in the Lorraine Department. We cycled through Saverne, a very pretty town where we stopped at a bike shop. Duncan has been looking for a bike pump for two weeks and Julie has had a sticky gear problem for a very long time. €10 well spent although another gear is sticking now. While in Saverne, we were approached by Cheryl, from NSW, who was travelling with her husband Rod for six months on their river boat. Every now and again it seems rather appealing. To be able to make a cuppa or have a nap when the urge takes you would be lovely. And you also get to go on this ….

This canal has been the busiest for boats we have come across. It is beautiful countryside with pretty towns but we wonder if the Le Plan Inclin̩ adds to the curiosity for some. We instead used the now defunct Ecluse (locks) route of 8 locks which has been turned into a hiking/cycling path. Through some stunning countryside. The locks were every 150m or so. We are not sure which would take longer Рgoing through the 8 locks or queueing for ages to wait for Le Plan Inclin̩.

All in all a very pleasant day, still on the EV5 but with a handful of cyclists. Back in the high forest areas and instant cooling. Tranquil when resting off the bikes. Very good accommodation in a well oiled B&B and dinner at the recommended canal restaurant where Duncan had venison and Julie a fine river fish – there was even a bit of veg!

Things are looking up in an area we were very nervous about. Tomorrow is even more remote.

Ride Day 24 – Barr to Strasbourg – 50 km

With only 50 km to ride today, we decided to take the luxury option of having breakfast in the hotel. Many places have breakfast included whereas others charge an extra fee. This has varied between €7 in the country locations, hitting €14 to €20 in others. We set off around 10 after Duncan’s work commitments.

Decided to stop and explore Obernai. Parked the bikes and immediately a guy came over to ask questions. Neither of us were wearing our usual tops today as didn’t have time to wash them but Duncans bike has a Bootleg sticker on it which also says Western Australia. People always want to know how routes are, which are the best spots and they then share their info. This is the third person to recommend the north of Italy but raved about the Doubs Valley too.

It’s sunny again, the rain has gone and it’s a pleasant 23 degrees with a cooling breeze in the countryside.

Obernai was another very attractive town, still touristy and full of the joys of the Tour excitement. It’s going to take these places quite some time to remove all the road installations and painted bikes hanging from anything they can tie them to.

So many small towns on this route, no sooner have you left one, the next appears. All just very pretty, well kept, most competing in the Fleur *** annual competitions so quite a delight to see what people have come together to produce and amazing they’ve kept it going through two heatwaves. There are enough pretty places to visit and avoid the mass tourists.

Found a massive Boulanger and Patisserie in one town. It was hugely popular and the queue went out the door. Restraint is required in these places as the temptation is to try everything. We opted for quiche and a tart. Challenge was then on as usual to find a spot in the shade on route to eat it, which we did and the view below.

A few more hills to deal with until we started the descent into Strasbourg. The vineyards are disappearing, as are the wineries, most of which we’ve missed. Our timing is terrible which is probably a good thing as my Father would be complaining there is no more room in his cellar and my mother convinced we are all alcoholics!

Onto a canal once again. Not navigational for boats, locks removed. What a relief to be on the flat again! We have never been on such a busy cyclist stretch anywhere. Hundreds of bikes, mostly locals but a few heading to Rome on the EV5. Reached Strasbourg about 3.30pm. Checked into our hot apartment, showered, shopped and did a quick walk into the centre.

So far the jury is out on whether we like it. It’s packed with people, not just tourists. Big shopping centres. Shopping isn’t dead here. Found a small wine bar for a glass of Riesling before going back to cook dinner.

The urban heat makes visiting big cities during summer questionable. We have been here for almost six weeks and have struggled in the heat, especially in accommodations. The majority of Frances’s electricity (75%) is nuclear, only 5% of properties have air conditioning, it’s hotting up every year. A while back nuclear power plants had to be shut down when it got too hot as the rivers they needed to cool them down were too warm. Hopefully the plans are in place to cover what extra power will be needed for all those that are now installing aircon.

Very little greenery in the city, just hot granite and stone on all sides, so no cooling down at night.

It can be damn hot at home sometimes too but we seem to be far more adapted to dealing with it and we have the airflow and the afternoon breezes to cool us down. Travel is fun but it also reminds you just how fortunate you are too. Slightly missing home.

Ride Day 23 – Colmar to Barr – 56 km

Someone switched off the heater and switched on the tap. Rained all night and was still drizzling when we left Colmar. Amazing that when you are living with high 30s everyday and it drops to 20, everyone gets their jeans and coats on. Just like at home.

Colmar was a very pretty town with plenty to keep you occupied without the need for the endless tour shops. Museums and wineries within the city “walls”.

We didn’t need to worry about keeping warm as someone had decided to spice things up a bit with the hills. Just goes to show that 22 days of riding doesn’t make you fit for hills. Very hard slog up some, walking even and the damn wind didn’t help. I’m sure the bags are getting heavier.

We trudged along until we got to the highest climb and this was needed to reach Riquewihr. A return visit, having first been there in 2006. We stayed in the town then. It was much quieter then than now, as crowded as Colmar. As Lizzy has just said in an email, some towns and villages are dead and others are packed due to being in a tour book of the best spots to visit. We found a cafe we had been to previously and had a good coffee and quite awful piece of tart seemingly made with the cheapest of ingredients and I’m sure made to increase profits as it was €7.

You certainly see some sights! We are not sure how he is helping this poor lady!

Passed through many gorgeous towns. It would have been nice in the sunshine but the vibrant colours of the buildings help to brighten it up. Sunday, so of course the 50+ wineries we passed were closed. Never fear Father, there is a case on its way to you from Colmar!

Car Rally, food festivals, wine fair, more rain, restaurants that were full but we finally found a place that we could eat and get out of the rain. Had those flammekueches, which are very similar to a very thin pizza but instead of tomatoes and mozzarella, they use large amounts of creme fraiche. Haven’t seen too many slim locals in the Alsace so far!

The rain came and went and Duncan decided he was going to wear his new cycling poncho – it was like riding behind a frill necked lizard or something reminiscent of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Not sure it kept him dry in strong wind. I kept on my rain jacket.

On reflection, due to the towns being so close together with lovely paths in between, I think a walking holiday would be excellent in this area. It’s such a treat for the eyes as there is so much to see on every turn.

Arrived at 4pm to our grand looking hotel on the edge of town. Julie so exhausted, she flopped on the bed immediately and fell asleep. Finally went to dinner at 7 and found a small local restaurant serving quite delicious food and good wines. Very reasonable too.

The sun is out now for our ride to Strasbourg and with any luck, wineries will be open today as well.

Ride Day 22 – Mulhouse to Colmar – 61km

Well, the Tour obviously had difficulties with the weather and reduced their ride. We increased ours. We were ready to leave when a thunderstorm hit Mulhouse. Lightning and heavy rain hit about 9.15. Finally eased at 10, with another block coming in. We set off in the “gap” between the storms. On the left in the green area (big hills) is a Mountain Bike Route. We took the EV5. In the opposite direction from Canterbury to Rome. Again, really clearly marked and 95% off road on good tracks.

Mulhouse had been interesting. It has supposedly improved dramatically in the last ten years. There were quite a few bio co-ops about and some wine bars and all the major stores were present in a large pedestrian centre. We were staying ten minutes from the centre in what can only be described as very basic accommodations. Located in a newish building, already showing signs of decay in the Arab, Muslim neighbourhoods with associated stores. Last night was 34 degrees and with no aircon, pretty revolting. as shown on the BBC website, only 5% of France has aircon compared to 82% of Australia. That may well change.

We feel like we left France back in the Doubs Valley as this area has such a different feel And obviously more German. However, we found some excellent Italian Enotecas and admit to enjoying the service, wines and food from Italy a great deal.

So off we go. After the heavy rain, it was like cycling in Singapore. Luckily, today was almost all downhill but for a few bumps. We extended our ride to cover more of the Wine route but after 18 kms, we were still getting this ….

But after an hour or so, it turned to this ….

We went through some lovely towns and villages. We found coffee and lunch quite easily on route and found what turned out to be the only pic-nic area all day but it was shaded and there were benches. This statue appeared on the edge of one town.

The town below is Rouffach, which at lunchtime was empty.

We arrived in what Julie is unkindly calling Chinese Disneyland. We last visited Colmar in 2006. It has gained enormous popularity since and even Duncan says its gone beyond the pleasant visit. It’s impossibly pretty but almost every shop is tourist based. We just hope that we find some unaffected towns and villages between here and Strasbourg. We are staying just behind the yellow building on the right in an apartment which is very well equipped.

Ride Day 21 – Geney to Mulhouse 91km

The alarm went off at 6am. Breakfast was served by the pool by a most attentive host and the best breakfast so far- we had scrambled eggs from her own chickens and home made cake to take with us. We paid our bill for food etc and it was €32. She said the washing was complementary to cyclists and the ice cold beer was free – a gift for cycling up the hill to stay with her. This accommodation has made its way into the number one slot!

We were on the bikes early with 4 litres of iced water. It was warm already. Luckily, the hill we trudged up to get here was a joyful and delicious start to this ride – all downhill. This is our longest ride ever.

Going through the town at the foot of the hill we caught up with Gerhard from Salzburg. He and many of those solo riders are camping. Gerhard tagged along. He was a bit slower than us and I could see Duncan was increasing the speed by half a kph every couple of minutes until he was happily chatting away at 19kph! Duncan noticed his bike and it’s nuances. It was grey and the chosen colour to make it look cheap. Ah ha, this was all intentional so at first glance you believed it not worthy of stealing. It was however, a highly technical and custom built bike similar to a Koga. No chain! Clever Gerhard.

The steep forests of the Doubs valley flattened out and slowly they fell away, leaving us with the ubiquitous wheat and corn. The coolness of the forests gave in to a warming breeze that by the end of the day was just damn hot. We have never ridden 91 km before and we didn’t appreciate doing it in 38 degrees. Others reckoned it was over 40, and that’s the temperature in the shade – sadly not the case for us in the afternoon. Some rare stretches of trees on the canal.

We broke away from Gerhard to take one of Duncan’s calculated diversions (the sort that drove Tony bonkers). We rode for 5 km on a busy but flat road to cut out a 60m climb. Duncan had explained why he was doing it to Gerhard but he wanted to stick to the route.

We found a coffee shop at a marina. It was the worst coffee we’ve ever had – so bad that even with extra packet milk Julie couldn’t drink it – €3 each. Then Gerhard appeared, he had gotten 1 km into the hill and thought “stuff this, I will go Duncan’s route”. He was heading to another town for a shorter day, so we bid him farewell. If you ever feel like moaning or complaining, think of Gerhard, age 78, carrying everything and having a wonderful time along the way, meeting new friends. He was an inspiration and very very fit having had a serious illness and heart attack, so he gave up work and started cycling!

Then we had a bit of a diversion to find the only Decathlon store on the whole trip so far, within reach and open. We needed salt tablets as had run out. Crucial to our long rides in heat. Closed roads, blocked bridges, irritating to say the least but finally found along with some rather good baguettes from another close by store that didn’t contain ham and cheese.

Above is a weed remover – simply ride up and down the canal collecting weed and dumping it on the bank. Quite a nice job perhaps!

Determined to get 50km notched up before stopping for lunch but then had to keep going for much longer to find shade and a seat. We had moved into another department and one which obviously didn’t consider the hundreds of cyclists cycling through with absolutely nowhere to take a break. We finally found a bench next to a lock keepers house and took a break to eat, while some local lads swam in the murky canal. Now in mid 30s. A woman rode past and shouted “are you the Australians, I’ve heard about you”! this comment threw us a bit.

Finally got to the top of the canal, where we found a road closed sign and diversion. Ignored that, and 2km later literally cycled over the barrier at the other end, then downhill through a flight of 12 locks to start the final 25 kms into Mulhouse. Running out of water. Cyclists all over trying to find the same – nowhere open on route yet again. We now know that in every town and village there is a church and a graveyard – both provide drinking water!

We caught up with Claudia from Frankfurt who had heard about us from Gerhard. We said we were stopping at the first bar on route. She found us there thirty minutes later and we had an ice cold shandy while watching other cyclists slam on the breaks when they spotted this shabby bar. She loved this verboten sign

Mulhouse – staying in an aged care apartment block! It was cheap and well located but it’s in a rather tatty bit of the city. It’s quiet and spacious but very bare and no aircon! Due to be hotter today. Duncan working. Will explore later.

Ride Day 20 – Besançon to Geney – 73km

When organising accommodation for this trip, it wasn’t always easy finding a place that fitted in with the daily kms. Today was one of those. When downloading the route to Ride With GPS Duncan was concerned that at the end of a long day, did we really want a 5km climb. We agreed there wasn’t much option.

We didn’t have the breakfast at the hotel as it was €13.50 each, so being in a large city, we found a place around the corner where we had fresh baked chocolate croissants and coffee and bought a chicken baguette, total €10.20. That was us fixed up for the days food. managed to leave at 9.15. In any city in Australia, the UK or the USA, a city would be buzzing with noise and activity at 9.15. It was Monday. Dead. Saw one bus and a handful of people.

Within 5 minutes we were on the cycle path EV6 again. Citadel below behind us as we leave.

Today was just as good as yesterday. Fast, smooth and very quiet, other than for travelling cyclists, people out for a morning ride and fast cyclists. We were passed dozens of times by a fast whizzing sound as a fully Lycra wearing streak of colour went past. The speed limit is 20kph on this route. These guys were doing well over 30. This went on for the first 40kms. The surface is so good, it’s no wonder they take advantage of it.

We are cycling the Doubs Valley of which the EV6 goes through. We’ve picked up a small book containing much information which we will take home should anyone want to to give it a go. From Beaune to Mulhouse would make an excellent week’s riding with a couple of days in the key towns and cities. We saw about 200 cyclists today, maybe ten cars at the end and only three boats.

Found a decent coffee stop at 11.30. Lycra clad riders were also there – and they were drinking beer! Cyclists were the only customers. Found a shady picnic area for lunch on the river for a good break. Another guy was there from Saltsburg, on his way home after a month. He was pushing 80 and was camping. He reckoned this stretch was superb and we agreed.

We reached our accommodation at 4. Well worth the trudge up the final 5km. Hamlet of 125 people. Host brilliant. Cold beer on arrival, took our clothes for washing, cooking us a meal – what more could you want – a swimming pool and a room with a Moroccan feel!

Bed and asleep by 9.30. Up at 6 for early breakfast and an 87 km day into Mulhouse. It’s going to be very hot. Fingers crossed the trees are with us all the way.

Ride Day 19 – Dole to Besançon – 61km

Just over the half way mark, approx 1200 km. Turning out to be the best riding so far on this trip and would go as far as to say, best riding of all trips for scenery, flat smooth paths, all off road and quiet.

We set off at a decent hour – averaging 9.30am mostly. Speed has increased significantly due to quality of paths. At least we were able to make a sandwich from our breakfast spread and take that with us. We did manage to find a coffee but not until the afternoon.

We pass by many small houses, some shacks, all lining the canal and river. Some look like permanent residences and others probably weekend escapes. It wouldn’t be hard to sit for hours and ponder life watching cyclists and boats go by.

Many fabulous views from every turn, both canal and river. It’s warm and sunny but we are surrounded for the next three days by France’s second largest forest. High slopes on both sides ensure we have nature’s own air conditioning. Even when you are in full sun in the middle of the day, a cool gentle breeze descends upon you. It’s totally perfect for keeping you comfortable.

Just over half way, we come across Gene, who is sitting on a bench eating his lunch. He joins us and in a short while we find a quiet shady spot to eat ours. Later on we find a place that has been hosting a community lunch. Gene chats his way past a volunteer so we can get some coffee for a Euro each, in bric-a-brac cups.

Approaching Besançon, we can see the walled citadel, which seems unnecessary given how vertical and high the cliffs are. It was so expensive that when it was built, King Louis XIV questioned if it was made of gold. The approach was quite spectacular. No wonder Victor Hugo was inspired as would anyone living in this fabulous city. Such a shame we only had one night.

Arrived with Gene, cycled through the tunnel which was path and canal and arranged to meet Gene and his wife Kay for dinner.

Checked into our very good hotel with aircon and a large bed, got organised and then did the walking route of the city. Marked with a clock because there is a museum of time. Is that a tautology?

Besançon is beautiful. Wolfe said it would be the best place we stay in two months, and it isn’t far off. Definitely worth a return trip. Lots of handsome buildings made from the local multi-coloured Stone. The centre is pedestrianised, and they even have a tram. And a Roman gate.

Being Sunday, difficult to find a restaurant open but found a great Brasserie eventually. Had a lovely evening swapping stories of cycling and life.

Good luck on the rest of your ride Gene. More great riding ahead – it’s just getting better everyday.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started