Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 12- Dampierre sur Salon to Besancon- 64km

The Gite we stayed at last night was great! We had a really nice room with a nice hard bed and dark dark shutters. So we woke this morning feeling refreshed and recuperated. Breakfast was included with our room. Usually this is nothing much, but this morning it was great! Yoghurt, fresh fruit, the best chocolate croissant ever! (Still hot!) fresh bread, jam and juice and the most enormous bowl of coffee you have ever seen. The host insisted on giving Ben a refill, so he was buzzing this morning and ready to ride! We were joined at breakfast by two walking pilgrims from America. They have been doing the walk over a few years, doing a small section each year for a few weeks and then returning the next year to continue.

Bowl of coffee

We set out from Dampierre sur Salon in the sunshine with full bellies and smiles on our faces. Motoring along enjoying the day along the quiet backroads towards Gy about 20 minutes into our day we suddenly see the car of our host for the Gite pass us, tooting the horn, with the two pilgrims in the back seat waving out the back window to us! Haha! We could only guess that their next accommodation was too far to walk and they were getting a lift part of the way. We caught them by the 10km mark. This mornings ride to Gy was almost 30km of car free back roads and a trail which cut between a big forrest. It's so lovely to ride these roads first thing in the morning. All you can hear is the birds and the farm animals, and the light in the forrests that comes through the trees is just amazing. Some of the roads are just one lane wide and don't even look like roads at all, more like a rail trail or walking path. These are my favourite. We passed quite a few farm animals this morning. The cows here are HUGE! Big muscular beasts, but with such soft faces, and they always come to the fence as we pass and stop to say hi, not like the goats who just ignore us ;) the whole time we have been passing through big forrests here Ben has been on the look out for wild boar. We haven't seen any, but this morning as we were riding past a farm I saw this big fat black thing, and squinting I said to Ben "is that a pig?!?!?". A boar!!! Finally!!!!

Always happy to start the day in the sun!




Through the forrests


Fun times


Views of small villages as you emerge from the trees are always a delight


Single lane roads


Big fat boar

From Gy we headed off road onto some steep rocky climbs into the forrest of Gy. But before we did that we climbed up to the top of the village to admire the chateau. These places are amazing, and in so many of the small villages! I can't imagine what they used to look like when inhabited. Some now have been left to crumble, but the chateau of Gy has been well preserved and they actually take tours which I would have loved to do, but we had riding to attend to! The tracks through the forrest of Gy were fantastic! Challenging but fantastic. At times they had me wishing for my dual suspension Pivot back home (and to ditch the panniers). Single track weaving through the vines and trees, rock garden descents, bumpy climbs. Still great fun on the loaded hard tail though. Just as I was thinking about how great these trails would be for mountain biking we emerged to the trail head and....a mountain bike trail map! Whattayaknow! A massive network of trails.

Chateau de Gy


Cheeky has time to stop and take a photo from the top while I'm still chugging


Tight single track


Little rock garden
Beware the thorns


Enjoying the ride


VTT- French mountain biking

Come midday we usually stop for lunch, as that's when the French eat and if you don't eat then, you don't eat! But for some reason today we just weren't hungry! We are not sure if it was from the big breakfast, or the fact that yesterday we had a big lunch AND dinner, when we usually just have one or the other. So instead we stopped for a beer at a bar and a quiche from a patisserie. The bar was a little weird....the guy wanted us to eat in the restaurant but no matter how many times I told him we didn't want to eat and just wanted a drink he kept going on about not being a bar, being a restaurant. Too much French for me, but we got the beer in the end. I'm guessing his liquor licence didn't cover drinks without food, but we got away with it out of language difficulties ;)


More easy riding


We rode some lovely dirt trails around this lake
Lots of climbs

A bit more climbing and we made it to the outskirts of Besancon. It quickly became evident to us that we were arriving into a much larger city than any of the others we had visited. Suddenly there were more cars, and they were in more of a rush to get past us. We are used to the French politeness now. They won't pass unless there is room to go into the next lane, and will just sit behind you. On the descents they won't pass, so I feel like I have to go full throttle to not hold them up! Getting into town was a bit of a nightmare. So many turns! So much traffic! But eventually we made it to the tourist office and got them to book us into a hotel. Only problem, it was only 2:30 and we couldn't check in until 4pm, what to do but go drink our favourite beer Grimbergen in the town square ;)

Besancon is a great city. It's historic centre is huge, and there are actually people here! The architecture is amazing and there is so much history to see. We climbed up to the citadel which sits up on a hill above the city with a pretty spectacular view. My favourite though was the arch dedicated to Marcus Aurelius which framed a view of the cathedral rather perfectly. One more day in France and then we are into Switzerland!!!


Beer and bikes
My least favourite daily chore- hand washing


View from the citadel
Ben made friends with a local

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