Cycling France, from Saint Louis to Nevers
Back when we were planning where to go on this cycle tour, one of the options we thought of was nipping over the English channel to France and spending a few weeks meandering through the French countryside. In the end we settled on going from Romania to England of course, but I like to think that these last two weeks in France were similar to the French tour that never was.
My last post ended with us leaving Saint Basel in Switzerland and crossing over into Saint Louis in France. We started following the eurovelo 6 signs north along the Rhine and then questioned why we were going north, when England is due west. We reviewed the map and worked out the EV6 route went up to Mulhouse and then does a u-turn back to Montbéliard. So we decided to do the obvious and cut straight across to Montbéliard and save some (and effort!).
We arrived in Montbéliard just before lunch so nipped into a supermarket and bought a baguette, cheese and a custard cake. Not wanting to eat in the supermarket carpark we cycled on through the city and eventually found Parc du Près-la-Rose and a shady spot to relax in. I caught a glimpse of these giant ant monstrosities and so we both went to investigate, resulting in two very different approaches.
Thomas decided to be a cowboy and climbed on top. I took the opportunity to re-enact THEM! a film I watched many years ago about giant radioactive ants that attack in the New Mexico desert. My parents were very puzzled when they got it unexpectedly through the post from lovefilm.
We cycled another 32km along Canal du Rhone and then found a lock gate that allowed us to get over the other side. We explored down a grassy track and found out that it was an island, sandwhiched between the canal and Le Doubs. We camped beside a weir in river, taking the opportunity to go swimming before the sun dropped completely behind the trees and we lost the warmth.
A heavy mist had settled when we awoke the following morning. I spotted a fisherman on the river shrouded in the now rapidly rising mist.
The good thing about river mist in France is that it commonly signifies the start of another hot day. By mid-morning the sun has burnt it all up and the rest of the day is baking hot blue skies. We cycled on past the craggy cliffs around Baume-les-Dames.
I first starting bicycle touring in 2008 (I think), with my parents and younger brother. I was around 13, Thomas would have been 11! After a few short tours around Cornwall, and Wales we did our first one abroad in 2011 and flew to Jura, France. The trials of time have taken most of the photos from that cycle tour, but the best that I had saved separately are in my Bicycle Touring through Jura 2011 post.
You’re probably wondering why I relayed that little bit of information. Our next stop following Eurovelo 6 was Dole, just a few miles away from the airport we flew in to 7 years ago. Cycling through Jura brought back some memories from that cycle tour, though mainly ones of overindulging in Comté cheese.
The cycle into Dole is one of my most memorable ‘arriving in town’ moments of the tour. We had been following the canal all day and towards the city it is lined by massive Plane trees that darken it considerably. The trees ended by an arched bridge and a small ramp up where we were welcomed by a glorious view of the canal harbour and Collegiate Church Notre-Dame dominating the town.
After Dole we cycled a little bit north and joined La Saone. We cycled on and on, trying to find a spot on the river but also hidden from the cycle path. We passed a few that didn’t quite look good enough and eventually found a place where the bank flattened out into a small glade surrounded by brambles and stinging nettles, with a twisty path down to it.
We followed La Saone down to Chalon-sur-Saône and decided to catch a train for the 130km short hop through the countryside into Nevers where we would re-join the Loire. That evening we couldn’t find an open shop so went to a restaurant and then cycled just out of the city four about 11km and found a grassy bank and beach beside the river.
Just after Nevers we were cycling along the river and spotted the town of Charité-sur-Loire in the distance. We had decided not to cross over into Nevers previously so I decided that we should visit here instead.
And I’m so glad we did! We cycled over the bridge and then a tiny distance into the town found Église Notre-Dame de La Charité-sur-Loire.
From Charite-sur-Loire we decided to stay on Loire à Vélo all the way to Saint-Nazaire and the end of the Eurovelo 6.
The cycle tour so far:
Romania – Departure and the Danube Delta
Romania – Cycling through Transylvania
Romania – Up and over the Transalpina in Romania
Serbia – Through the Iron Gates
Croatia – Eurovelo 6 in Croatia
Hungary and Slovakia – Hungry in Hungary
Austria – Bicycle touring through Austria
Germany – Cycling the Danube in Germany
Germany – Bicycle touring south through Germany
Switzerland – Rheinfall, and cycle touring through Switzerland
France – Cycling France, from Saint Louis to Nevers