Published: June 1st 2012June 1st 2012
A Bike in Auxerre
I must be mad - but here's proof that there was a bike (and it was mine)
Following yesterday's breakfast with the masses, I made a conscious effort to ensure I was there early. 07h30 seemed a good time and I was relieved to find that I was the only guest in the dining room. By 08h15, I was still the only guest in the dining room - clearly, yesterday's UN resolution had been agreed and issued.
After a leisurely breakfast, I left the hotel about 09h00 and headed into town to buy some lunch. Having a bag full of bread, I went off to hire a bike for the day. Not having ridden for about 15 years, this was going to be and interesting experience!
My plan was, until lunchtime, to follow the Canal du Nivernais down to Cravant, where the Scots were thrashed by the English in an away game in 1423. After lunch, my intention was to head up into the vineyards - a total of 60km (or about 40 miles). There's nothing quite like ambition!
And so, in the warm sun, I strapped my bag to the bike and left under the old arch at exactly 09h30. I had to walk the bike down Rue Germain Benard due to roadworks (not
a good start) but then, I turned left, mounted and headed downhill alongside the Boulevard Vaubelle to the River Yonne.
Not wanting to take any chances, I used a couple of pedestrian crossings before joining the tow path at the Ecluse Auxerre. Following the canal to Vaux, I crossed the river by a narrow vehicular bridge, with traffic lights to control the direction, before locating a well-marked track taking me to Champs sur Yonne.
Continuing along this lane, I saw a large raptor, though was unable to get a good enough view to permit identification. Finally, I reached another bridge (cyclists were asked to walk across) which permitted me to regain the tow path.
Passing through to Vincelles, where a board described the flash locks
- the way the level on the Yonne was controlled to allow the logs to be transported down the river until the early 1800s.
Finally, I made it to where the cycleway crosses the Yonne using an old railway bridge. This marked the junction with the canal to Vermenton. And so, I turned round, and headed back to Champs, covering the 29km in just over 2 hours.
After lunch (and
Champs sur Yonne
On the return, this was my lunch spot
a short rest in the sun), I went back across the bridge and into the centre of Champs, where I took the road east. Crossing the railway and the busy Route National, I continued up a quite lane, through the vineyards, to St. Bris and ultimately to Chitry.
Here, there are many signs showing the location of wine merchants, though I didn't succumb! Getting into the lowest gear possible, I slowly climbed the hill, with a loop to
decrease the gradient, before being rewarded with an amazing view over the vineyards of Chitry.
After crossing under the motorway, I turn left down a very minor road and managed to find time to look at the famous wine village of Chablis to my right.
After the long ascent, it was nice to have the gentle descent down through Montallery, crossing the D965 and continuing on to Les Soleines.
Unfortunately, after the descent, there was a long ascent (2 miles) enabling me to recross the motorway and the final descent to Auxerre.
Back on the voie vert
, it was a simple matter of crossing the canal and heading back into the town to deposit the bike. Almost
The caverns close by (if my French is any good) were as a result of quarrying use in many 19th century Parisian monuments. They now store wine.
5 hours and 60km had hammered my legs and thus I rewarded myself with a Chocolate Éclair - an éclair filled with chocolate custard! Oh well, the day finished as it had started!
Back at the hotel, the éclair was gone but I decided that the legs needed a sauna. This was definitely a good idea although the beneficial effects wore off rather too quickly for my liking! Never mind, bed calls - although my legs won't be able to take me there!
There are more photos below