Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Travel Notes - Burgundy Wine and Chicken

Sunday 15th August

Train from Dijon to Chalon sur Saone
Chalon-sur-Saone - Ouroux-sur-Saone - Cuisery - St Trivier-de-Courtes - Montrevel-en-Bresse - Bourg-en-Bresse(Peronnas) = 53miles

My trip to Dijon was abit of a non-event. Not that Dijon is an unpleasant town at all. On the contrary, with its Palais des Duques, and Centre Historique there's quite alot to see. The shame of it was that this was a pretty grim day and the forecast suggested the rain over this part of France was here to stay a while. Thing is people couldn't complain too much. This département was among the ones which had experienced drought for a large part of this year. Typically, the heavens opened when I arrived there!

So I made a decision not to hang around much in Dijon. Instead I took a train a few miles south to a place where I believed there would be less rain, Chalon sur Sâone. Sorry to say that I did not see the wine producing areas around Nuit St Georges or Beaune. The memorable moments of my trip to Dijon were firstly, having a very nice glass of Burgundy and secondly, falling off my bike when my wheel got caught on some tram lines. These instances are not connected - honest!

From Chalon sur Sâone I took the road direct to Bourg en Bresse. I could have ridden via Macon, but as the weather wasn't too brilliant I was more keen to get the riding over and done with. Chalon was pretty but didn't have much else going on, except for a suspension bridge. It looked quite impressive, though a little overstated compared with the unassuming sleepy town this was!

The terrain for this ride was quite easy. No real hills to speak of. It was definitely easier than the previous day's cycling. Thankfully as I progressed further south the weather improved, and after a couple of hours the sun even came out. As I passed more and more villages there were more and more signs of life in these country villages in the heart of the French countryside. It was Assumption Day and also a Bank Holiday in France, so some places had put up bunting and banderolles for a village fête. I wasn't sure if the festivals were for Assumption or for chickens. There seemed to be loads of monuments, posters and pictures of chicken everywhere. This place gave a whole new meaning to Henmania!

In one village - Saint-Trivier-de-Courtes - a local man got chatting to me. Intrigued by my panniers and my cycle touring get-up he asked where I was headed. When I told him Bourg en Bresse, he was very impressed and told me how I was in the best place in France because I could get the best chicken. It's the only place where I would find Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée chicken. I should therefore have a good plate of Poulet de Bresse with cream, and a glass of vin jaune,the local sweet wine, which would see me right for the rest of my trip. It's very important to eat well for long rides like this one to Bourg en Bresse. Take care now, he said as he waved me good day - you've got 30km so you'll be riding for at least 3 more hours!
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