Too much apartment organisation had left us with a hankering for a lot more cycling. Strolling along the road from the station one day found us entering the premises with a view to making a cycle rental booking. And so it came to pass that Dear Jude and I hopped on the train at Beaune, bound for Nuits St Georges for the start of a ride north-bound to Gevrey-Chambertin, just shy of Dijon.
Arriving at the bike hire shop at 9:10, just in time to catch the 9:41 am local train to Nuits, we were informed that the bike hire shop did not open till 10:00 am on Sunday mornings. We had booked yesterday and had explained our intentions, so the shop MUST be open. And, happy it is that I am able to report, it WAS open. The chap was MOST helpful and we were soon on our way to the station. [Mind you, by the time we had our bikes, there was a crowd of eager bike-hire-ers keen to set out on their Sunday riding adventures. These chaps really need to take a Good Hard Look at themselves and their marketing plan for Sunday rentals.]
Spewing ourselves out of the train at Nuits, we headed into the town and were blown away. Gorgeous! Should we have really bought here? No, but it really is a cute town. Much smaller than Beaune and with a pedestrian mall and all the trimmings , but just not "home".
Heading north, the trick is to find the tiny road that meanders along the bottom of the Cote through the vineyards. Avoid the D974, with it's rushing cars and trucks and keep to the track at the bottom of the hills to the west. Directions obtained (in perfect English and broken French) put us on the right path and up through the vineyards. MORE gorgeous villages, MORE wonderful chateaux took us through Vosne-Romanee, Chambolle-Musigny, Morey saint-Denis (coffee here), and finally Gevrey-Chambertain for morning tea (pain aux raisin X 2).
Here, at the northern-most planned destination a question arose. Do we return via a suggested ascent into the hills, or back the same way. "Never go back" has always been my preference, but the wise old head of DJ prevailed and we rode back over our tracks to Nuits. [We did try the alternate way through the hills, but we're informed by some intrepid runners emerging from the forest that the road was unformed and unsuitable for easy cycling.]
Rather than wait two hours for the next local train back to Beaune, we decided (after a tasy lunch of pâté, baguette, cheese and terrine) to return via Chaux (I assume you are following all this on a map.). Quite a grunt it is from Nuits to Chaux, but worth the effort, especially given the shoosh down the hill to Comblanchien. Thence alongside the railroad we wandered into Beaune, encountering en route a couple of Dutch chaps hoping to make Madrid on their bikes within three weeks. Good luck!
Bikes easily returned to the shop at 4:00 pm, the chap was very impressed that we had covered the 55 km in such a short time. We are an amazing pair of cyclists, so it came as no surprise to us!
Back home to 28 Rue de Lorraine we made coffee in the apartment and took it and our books down to the cute square (triangle really) outside the florist shop for a half-hour read. Heaven on two sticks! [I am reading "1000 Years of Annoying the French" by Stephen Clarke, which is great for historical perspective and a good laugh. DJ hooked into a copy of the DKI guide to the Dordogne picked up from the free library at the bike shop. Is that where our next purchase is to be?].
Darkness has descended on Beaune and on us. DJ has drifted off to sleep, as soon shall I. I feel that there have not been as many blogs as there might have been, but I have been mindful of my chums. We have been VERY BUSY with setting-up tasks, which are not very exciting and prose-worthy. Nonetheless, general feelings about Beaune and surrounds are of interest and on these I shall report subsequently. In the mean time I am headed for the Land of Nod.