Sunday, 17 October 2010

Travel Notes - Paris to Burgundy - Part Two

Saturday 14th August

Train from Paris to Montbard
Montbard - Venarey-les-Laumes - Saint-Seine-l'Abbaye - Dijon
45miles

So I finally left Paris on the 1.24pm train for Montbard. As it was really just a glorified local train, my travel time would be abit more than 2 hours. Significantly slower than the TGV option, but then I didn't want to pay 50 euros when I could have paid 25!

The journey was pretty straight forward, and at nearly 4pm, somewhat later than scheduled, I began my ride to Dijon. This area is quite scenic with lots of old dukes' palaces to visit and hill-top villages.

On this Saturday afternoon in August there was hardly anyone around. It was brilliant just having these quiet roads to myself. My ride on Friday through Normandy had been flat with hardly any hill to deal with. I had ridden almost 70 miles without thinking about it.

Today's 45 mile ride was actually quite challenging. It would be the pre-cursor to what I'd be riding in the Alps I guess. There were a number of mini hills and climbs with switchbacks. It looked as though this might be an area where they hold cyclo sportives or time trials as there were lots of markings and people's names written on the road, and "Allez Allez" slogans. So it's not just on the Tour de France climbs where they write stuff.

If I had more time I'd quite happily come back to this area between Auxerre and Dijon, known as the Côte d'Or, and make a long weekend of it. There are lots of cycle lanes around, some of which climb quite high. So no worries about getting in a good work-out. Then finish your day with a glass of locally produced wine - maybe even from the nearby village of Chablis.

Sadly, on this particular day I was riding against the clock so didn't have time to stop and visit sites. My target was Dijon and I needed to get there before dark. After meandering around lost and lonely burgundy villages I was then dumped on to the main road to Dijon and gradually counted down the remaining kilometres to reach my destination.

Although it was the main National 71 road, this was pretty quiet. It just constantly twisted, turned, dropped down rapidly and then climbed up steeply all the way to Dijon. Along the way, I got a great view on the approach to a village called Saint- Seine-l'Abbaye, a very old settlement at the bottom of a twisty steep drop. That part reminded me of the villages you see in certain mountainous parts of Italy, where you approach the down via a steep twisty switchback.

I'm not sure if it was a good idea to stop here, but I couldn't resist it, and wanted to rest a little. Seeing the sky turning intermittently grey and black at the end of what had been a sunny day was a sign that I shouldn't hang around too long so I pushed on reached Dijon around 7.30pm that evening.

My stop-over was the Formule 1 hotel on the other edge of the town, out near a big retail park known as La Toison d'Or. It was handy having shops and a cinema nearby, but it was hardly the most touristic part of the city.
By the time I'd checked in it had started raining heavily so I decided that sight seeing around the city would have to wait until tomorrow.
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