Day 22: Tuesday 26th May
Palinges – Verdun-sur-le-Doubs 120km
An early start (8:30am) along canal roads, riding was easy and we made relaxed progress in good cycling weather (light clouds and breeze). We rode up 20 odd locks and back down another 20 on the Canal du Centre. The height gave us great views of the rolling Burgundy hills.
We considered taking our planned camp in Santenay but instead elected to push on along the canal-side Voie Verte. The cycleway was great with the only exception being Chalon sur Saone which was a nightmare for navigation. After frustrating U-turns and lots of compass-work we left the city on busy roads and some mixed section of Voie Bleu to arrive at camp at 6:30pm.
Today was our greatest distance yet and while it wasn’t easy it certainly wasn’t hard. The muscles felt normal at days end!
Day 23: Wednesday 27th May
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs – Seurre 29km
Most civilised breakfast yet – banana, orange juice and baguette on picnic rug (we usually pick up breakfast en route). We had a late start and after an unsuccessful attempt at the marked Eurovelo route we reverted to roads for easy riding to Seurre.
After an espresso, croque monsieur and free Wi-Fi at a local cafe we decided that Seurre was a great little town and pitched camp. We spent a relaxed evening updating blog, cooking sausages and sipping rose on the riverside.
Day 24: Thursday 28th May
Seurre – Dole 57km
It was a late start after deliberating alternative route options in order to spend the planned week in a Burgundy gite from 1 June – our rapid rate of progress would have us over the border and into Switzerland if we didn’t change plans.
We passed through small empty towns in the morning; classic burgundy roofs (shiny bright coloured tiles) peppered the landscape.
The afternoon travel along well maintained canal paths was a breeze and a nice ride (no need to take marked detour). Dole, on the banks of a river, looked like a pleasant stopping point and we rolled into camp early.
Day 25: Friday 29th May
Dole – Besancon – Dole 133km
Some last minute planning had us riding unladened bikes to city of Besancon for a day trip. The 60km up river into 25-30km/hr. headwinds made for slow and painful progress. The scenery however made up for it with delightful villages and changing landscape into the hilly French Comte.
It was great riverside riding and Besancon only came into view after the vista of its hilltop fort. The cycle trail followed a canal tunnel cut under the mountain and we enjoyed riding the biggest tunnel yet. Besancon has a great city atmosphere: lots of cafes, squares and red roofs in the old town which is bounded by a bend in the river. We visited the UNESCO fort which coincidentally housed a menagerie of animals – Ethiopian highland baboons, mongoose, and kangaroo amongst others. There were great views from the fort.
It was a quick 3hr trip back down river with a rewarding tailwind, and we arrived just in time to buy dinner back in Dole, exhausted!
Day 26: Saturday 30th May
Dole was humming in the morning with a medieval fete for Pentecost weekend so we were allured into spending the day wandering the streets and taking time off the bikes. We spent a leisurely afternoon sipping beer and lounging by the pool in the summer heat.
Day 27: Sunday 31st May
Dole – Santenay 97km
In the morning we started back along the canal towards Burgundy and our gite.
We turned across river at St-Jean-de-Losne and found our way through forest and sleepy towns on the burgundy cycling loop. We hit the pleasant tourist town of Nuits-St-Georges just before the Cote d’Or and enjoyed splashing some water on ourselves from a local fountain. There were no cycle signs so we made our own way through the vineyards to Beaune.
South of Beaune we found the main cycle route, and groups of day-tourists riding through the vineyards. This was delightful riding through pretty towns and vineyards with pauses to pick wild cherries. We stayed the night at a vine-side camp ground in Santenay at the southern end of Cote D’Or.
Day 28-35: Monday 1st June – Sunday 7th June
A break from the cycling was refreshing. It was great to have a bed, washing machine and fridge for a week.