Hooray! We found internet again! :) For the last four days, Martin and I have been cycling through the burgundy region in France. Ooh la la!
The trip was not without its mishaps, however. It started badly with us missing our train out of Paris to Macon. We had allowed 20 minutes at the train station to find our way to our train. This would have been plenty of time. Unfortunately, the local metro train that was taking us to the larger train station randomly sat at a metro stop for 20 minutes. We missed our train by 2 minutes. :( So, we ended up having to buy new tickets and throw away the ones we had already purchased. Not a good start.
Once we arrive in Macon, our guide drove us to our first hotel: Chateau de Pommiers.
This was like straight from a novel. It was so beautiful and such a welcome sight after hanging out at the train station all day! This was literally the view from our room!
That evening we had the most fantastic meal with four of the other guests, who were all English. The owners of the Chateau were also English and had been operating this little piece of heaven for nine years.
The food was so good, I only remembered to take a picture of the appetizer: a spinach roulade. I have been hesitant to try to make one of these before, but now I am convinced I must try to recreate this. I would have licked the plate had I been alone!
The chef had been a vegetarian for a while, but now living in France had made that lifestyle nearly impossible. However, that meant she really knew how to make great vegetarian food!
The next morning, we left the little town of Ige and headed on our bike ride. We decided to take a 9 mile bike ride before beginning our journey to the town of Cluny (which was another 14 miles). In hindsight, we probably should have skipped that extra ride in order to spend more time in Cluny.
Sometimes we rode on the road, but much of our first day was on the Voie Vert (Greenway) that was only for non-motorized vehicles, and, ironically, the same width as regular roads! We often rode along side the vines.
The scenery around every corner, every hill, every valley was picturesque. I had to keep reminding myself that it was real!
Then, we encountered the bat lane... Martin and I will often call shortcuts "bat lanes" in the spirit of Batman. This bat lane was a shortcut, but it was also a home for bats. Officially called, Tunnel du Bois Claire, it is one of the longest tunnels in all of France. It is 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) long! eek! The cool air felt wonderful, but it was scary and damp. The light at the end of the tunnel never looked so good. We had to ride back through this tunnel on the second biking day too.
We were thankful our bikes had 21 speeds. We spent most of our time either in the first or twenty-first gear... or walking our bikes up the hill...
In the picture above, this was one of the 3 times on the first biking day that we went up a hill we didn't need to. Little did we know this was actually a driveway to someone's house. It took 20 minutes to walk up. And less than a minute to bike down. Such is the way of biking in this region.
We often had picnics for lunch during our bike rides. One day, we found a little grocery store that had yogurt. We didn't have any spoons, so we used potato chips to eat the yogurt. Who would have ever thought to put those two foods together?
Cluny is an adorable little town that we wish we could have explored more. We had hoped to access internet in this town, but by the time we arrived, all the internet cafes had closed and were closed all of Sunday too. Oh well.
On our second biking day we explored the Puilly-Fuisse wine region. We travelled through so many small towns it is difficult to keep them all straight. Again, the views were breathtaking - not only because of their beauty, but also because of the intense hill it would take to see the sights.
On the second day, Martin's bike got a flat tire... We noticed it before we left the hotel in the morning and tried to pump it up with the little portable pump the guide had given us. It did not work well. Fortunately, the hotel had one we could use.
Unfortunately, only a few miles into our trip, Martin's tire went flat again. So, this time we decided to change the tube (our guide had supplied a couple tubes as well). The portable pump works, just not very well. I managed to ask a nearby van for a pump, but she didn't have one.
After much ado, we were able to pump up the tire enough to finish our journey.
The point in the picture below was a good point of reference, but also an annoying reminder of where we were. Let me explain. When we arrived in Vergisson, we stopped to have a little picnic lunch. Then, we were to bike from Vergisson to Solutre for a wine tasting. It was only not quite two miles away...it took us over 2 hours to find our way! We went down two hills we shouldn't have, found a town from a different road, and tried to pantomime our problems to a local Frenchwoman. Every time we had a panoramic view, we could see Vergisson and this summit. It was like it was following us around the countryside! Let's just say that the wine in Solutre never tasted so good!
A vast majority of the vineyards in this area grow Chardonnay grapes. I really dislike Chardonnay, until I came to France. This Chardonnay tastes nothing like the Californian super oak-y wine. This is slightly fruity, dry and fantastic.
Finally, we arrived in Fuisse and our bed and breakfast: La Source des Fees. This is also a winery. Before dinner we had a fantastic wine tasting with a couple from Holland, a couple from Belgium, and a couple from England. It was fun to taste wine with people who had such a refined pallet.
After tasting wine for over an hour, we finally retired to the dining room for supper.
The appetizer was a baked egg in a creme fraiche sauce and a salad. The dressing was a very spicy balsamic vinaigrette.
The meal was served family style. Everyone had rice, tomatoes, and green beans. The meat eaters had pork and I had stuffed eggplant. Martin had both and says the eggplant was better than the pork! :)
The cheese course was goat cheese with a jelly made from their white wine. Then, we had an apple crumble with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Never say no to vanilla ice cream in France. That should be everyone's mantra!
This morning we said goodbye to our beautiful bed and breakfast.
We have now arrived in Lyon and will head to Nice tomorrow. We still have not yet found a couch to surf in Nice... So we are formulating a Plan B now.