In Search of the Canals and a Surprise Cycle Experience


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July 7th 2017
Published: July 11th 2017
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Canal de BourgogneCanal de BourgogneCanal de Bourgogne

A looking towards Chateauneuf-en-Auxois
Before leaving home we had this wonderful thought of how we would spend our time in Burgundy. Canals and cycles was somewhere near the top of our wish list. So today, being gloriously fine, we head off in search of “the canal”.

We had thought we could just go to the end of the road, get on a bike, and gently ride alongside the canal with our bread stick, cheese and wine. Wouldn’t life be grand if that could really happen. Instead we need to drive about forty kilometres to the town of Pouilly-en-Auxois where we can access the Canal de Bourgogne. This canal connects the Burgundy region with Paris and is the shortest way of traveling the distance. With all the locks it probably isn’t the quickest way.

Once we reach Pouilly-en-Auxois it proves a little more complicated to get to the canal easily so we drive along to Vandenesse-en-Auxois. Here we can park the car beside the canal and start walking. Unfortunately there are no bikes available. We’ll have to wait until later. This part of the canal is very quiet. Canal barges are tied up at the port along with private boats and a boat used
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Vandenesse-en-Auxois
for cruises. Our walk takes us alongside the canal for a distance. Renovated inns are now plush bed and breakfast accommodations. The lock keepers’ houses have been renovated and look very much like desirable homes. Signs along the canal edge advise people to look after the carp. Every now and then a carp breaks the surface of the water and enjoys a six-legged lunch. The modern day lock keeper appears on his motor bike and stops to take readings of the water flow and water level. Otherwise not much is happening along the canal today. We have been intrigued by a growth high up in some trees in the area. Beside the canal we can get a close-up view of this plant. We later do some research and discover we have been looking at mistletoe.

It is getting hot and we’re hungry. Time for lunch. High on the hill overlooking the canal is the town of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois. The prominent feature of this town is the château. We drive up the hill and park the car with many other international tourists. In the shadow of the château we find a restaurant serving our sort of lunch, a salmon salad and
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Vandenesse-en-Auxois
a roquefort cheese salad. This little town is attracting quite a large number of people. A couple from a Dutch TV company turn up. Soon they are joined by four other couples. Must be something big happening. As we are about to leave an outside broadcast van, support van and catering van turn up. Perhaps we’re going to be in a movie. We are unable to hang around for that special cameo performance because we have a date with a cycle or two at 4:45 pm.

We get back to the apartment for our mid afternoon nap. We need some energy for our next adventure. When we arrived here on Monday we had no idea of the events that were to take place a few kilometres away.

At 4:15 pm we organize Jane to take us to Argilly, a small town about 12 kilometres away. Everything is going well until our way is barred by a road closure. We just have to trick Jane into finding an alternative route without continually telling us, “If possible do a U turn”. With an eye on the clock and checking the GPS map we eventually get back on course and arrive at our destination on time. The roads around the town are all closed so we have to walk to our appointed spot. On arrival we find the whole area is decorated with signs, flags, and dressed up bikes. We didn’t expect such a reception for two world famous Kiwi cyclists.

But no, it is not for us but the world famous Tour de France. It will pass through sometime between 4:45 and 5:15 pm on the 7th stage from Troyes to Nuit Saint Georges. The support for the race from this little town is overwhelming. Argilly will get its few seconds of fame. You feel the excitement build as a police car or two go by, then the fleet of motorcycles with the photographers. A car comes, making an announcement in French. More police cars with lights flashing. Soon the leading trio raced passes our spot. Gone in a flash. Twenty seconds later the pelaton arrives. Two hundred cyclists career pass us at over 40 kph and are gone. You can feel the wind and heat generated by this body of fit young men. They have been cycling for about 200 kilometres in over 30 degree temperatures and still
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Our lunch spot.
have about 20 kilometres to go. Argilly is one small town experiencing the thrill of the Tour de France passing through. All over France other small towns will be doing the same. It was an incredible feeling just to be there this once, even if it was for five seconds of excitement. Did we see the yellow jersey? No. Who cares.

Back at the apartment it is boiled eggs for dinner. A busy day but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And the bike ride, perhaps another day.


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Vandenesse-en-Auxois

Looking down from Chateauneuf-en-Auxois
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Cissey

Harvest in full swing
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Villagers from Argilly prepare
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Leading three cheered on by Kiwi spectator
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The pelaton


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