Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 11 - Langres to Dampierre sur Salon - 63km

Loving the quiet roads

After a few longer days on the bike we looked forward to a nice short and easy day ahead to recharge the batteries.

Langres was a bit of a letdown once again, a beautiful city but lacking atmosphere. Very few restaurants and only a few bars, which were all empty and quiet. After a run do good hotels, we had booked a cheaper option just outside the old town, which turned out to be in the industrial outskirts, not very inspiring, and a horrible trudge through construction site footpaths into the old town. We dreaded another picnic dinner in the tiny hotel room, which although non smoking smelt like a smoking room at Dubai airport. But dropping into the supermarket it was quickly forgotten when we remembered how well you can eat here. Pate, Terrine, cold meats, 1000 cheeses, not to mention the 4euro bottles of wine that taste incredible.

Picnic in the tiny hotel, cotes de Rhone tonight

So we setup our picnic in our tiny room, with the door to the carpark wide open to get some fresh air and snuggled in with the bikes and watched the only English thing we could find on tv which happened to be a doco about the prohibition era in America.

In the morning, due to the short day we had decided to have an extra hours sleep waking at 7am, we packed quickly to get some fresh air, and rode back into the old town via the Boulangrie picking up supplies and stopping for a quick espresso in the old town before moving on to eat our pastries on the old ramparts overlooking the countryside valleys below.

Breakfast views in Langres on the ramparts

Following the route out of town was a bit of a nightmare, in the end I gave up and went by instinct eventually getting were we needed to be.

Shortly out of town we came across a brittish couple going for a walk, we got talking and they had just driven from Turin over the alps, the look on their faces when we told them we were heading in that direction by bike to Rome was priceless!

We followed mainly countryside roads for the morning, criss crossing through tiny villages, with barely a person in sight, let alone a car. It varied from open fields of wheat and other crops like corn and potatoes and through long sections of forrest. We avoided most of the longer offroad forrest sections today, as the minor roads mostly followed the same route. One long section of road from Les Archots to Grandchamp was fantastic, only one lane wide it snaked through the dense forrest for about 5k, we only saw one forestry workers car the entire time.

Old rail tunnels
French village
Cows are cool

I had researched today's villages and Champlitte only 17k from the days end had quite a few restaurants, which often seems to be the case when the village is close to the major highway.

Rolling into town we instantly saw a great little bar restaurant on the corner overlooking a giant Chateau, with a few menu options on offer we were not sure we could handle such a big meal with still maybe 2hrs of riding left including navigation. The house speciality was mushrooms by the looks of the menu and Girolles are just in season. We have overdone the steak the last few meals so we went for an authentic French omelette. We quickly had food envy though as the table next to us got their entrecĂ´te which is basically a big fat steak, and was served with mushroom sauce and roast potatoes! Waiting for our omelettes all I could smell was steak, but once they arrived I was more than happy, a giant omelette filled with Girolle mushrooms, served with a mound of chips, a basket if fresh bread and a salad. Perfect bike food.

Champlitte, were we ate lunch on the right opposite a the Chateu now a museum
Omelette with Girolles mushrooms and local Pinot
After lunch glow

Looking at the map at lunch we had just left the Champange region and entered Franche Comte. And we are really close to Burgundy at the moment home of French Pinot Noir. We couldn't resist washing our beers down with a bottle of local Pinot noir, thankfully they had half size bottles.

It was a great lunch stop, our table actually looked straight into the kitchen, the chef was what I imagine a stereotypical French chef accept for one thing! grey pony tail pulled back, glasses on the head, chefs whites, except he then wore board shorts and tevas! I tried to get a good inconspicuous photo to no avail.

The board short chef

Once we were done with lunch, and some espressos to wash it down, when clearing the table the waiter who was obviously the owner tried talking to us. With Rishi's improving French we got across that we had to keep riding after lunch he thought that was funny. It then came time to pay, which in France is no easy thing. No one ever wants to take your money they will let you sit there forever, so Rishi went into the bar and the chef happened to be in there as well, he tried talking to her as well to not much avail and the waiter gave him the bill and told him something and then they were all laughing, we can only guess it was the fact that we just ate a rather large lunch a couple of beers and some wine and were going on riding!

Forest roads

With only 17k left to ride we took most of the trail for the rest of the day. Some dark clouds started to roll in with a few periods of heavy raindrops falling, but it looked like it would really rain, thankfully it cleared through back to blue skies.

We got lost a few times but found our way through mostly dirt farm roads arriving in Dampierre sur Salon. A tiny village of only a few thousand. We had booked into a Gite through our hotel in Reims, a lovely little place which is well restored. They have a B&B style wing with 3 large rooms. I think he was disappointed when I knocked on the door and asked if he speaks English, he gave us the tour in French obviously liking the company.

Dark clouds rolling in

Another night in the Gite means a chance for another home cooked meal which is always great, giving the wine a break we also used the fridge to buy some French beers for the evening, although it was tempting to grab the Belgium ones!

The Gite, we are in the room on the top right
Pre dinner snack
















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