Saturday 30 August 2014

The Drive to Calais

The drive to Calais It was another excellent evening meal in the restaurant. We had booked demi pension and it is normally a set meal but this year we had a choice of starters and main courses. This caused a little confusion as we both ordered the duck for the main and a duck and salmon course arrived. In the ended it was easier to share and it gave us a taste of two courses rather than one. In the morning we were up early for our now traditional ride along the Marne canal. By 7:30am we were off. The sun was low in the sky and only provided some warmth on our way back. Lyn complained she should have brought her arm warmers. The canal was very quiet and apart from the occasional fishermen we did not see anyone else. The wildlife was in abundance with lots of rabbits and herons along the route. We returned to the aurburge and were in breakfast at 9:00. A lot of English cars had already started their dash to Calais as we tucked into pancakes filled with fresh fruit salad. We showered after breakfast and left at around 10:30am. Rather than joining the motorway we headed first on the minor roads towards Les Mesnil sur Oger looking for a Champagne house that was open to have a tasting. A lot of them are shut on a Saturday. We eventually selected one in the village of Avize and had a degustation at J. Lanaud's. We selected 4 bottles and ignored the pressure to add another 2 to fill the box. We then continued to Les Mesnil sur Oger to a get some provision for the trip. It has an excellent boulangerie that does excellent ficelles filled with a variety of filling. We selected one with lardons and one with goats cheese and we all set for the 3 hour 20 minute drive to Calais. We stopped at the larger E.Leclerc at Champfleury just before the D951 joins the peage. We had to park on the road outside as height barriers discourage customers with a vehicle over 2.1metres in height from shopping. We stocked up on fruit, cheese and some Madeline moulds. After refuelling we were on the peage. The first toll of 40 cents is after a couple a minutes and then it was all the way to the outskirts of Calais before the next one. It’s around 22 euros from Reims. We stopped on route for a late Brexton lunch. There we said goodbye to Basil who traveled with us for the past two weeks. We came off at junction 3 again to stock up with beer at the Pidou. We had to queue before we could get off as the queue to the port extended back past the junction. With the beer safely stored we ignored Kate and drove towards Calais centre. Kate eventually relented and guided on the minor roads through the outskirts of Calais to the front of a very long queue. We still had a 20 minute wait to clear UK border control and then found out our ferry had a 40 minute delay. Plenty of time for a Brexton coffee.

Friday 29 August 2014

We awoke to an overcast sky. There had been some rain overnight but it was dry when we walked to breakfast. Everyone must have made an early start as we were the last two in. We paid and decided to ride another section of the Bourgogne canal. This time we drove to Marigny le Cahouet and headed south after applying a liberal dose of sun cream in case the sun decided to come out! We turned around after approximately 10 miles at Saint Thibault. The boulangie there looked uninspiring so we decided to wait to purchase lunch. We arrived back at the car at just after one and set off. We had found a good producer of Chablis just outside Tonnare last year and headed towards there first. Whilst diverting thought a village looking for a shop for lunch we spotted another producer and decided to heading for a tasting. We need some more red. Their Bourgogne white was good but Chablis was disappointing and they had sold out of red. The next vintage was being bottled on Monday. We purchased a few samples of white and headed on towards Tonnare. There we stopped at a Lidl but they has sold out of cheese topped rolls so we resorted to a MacDonald’s salad. Despite anabundance of staff and no customers we had to order at the touch screen display board. Having made our choice it would then not accept my preloaded Euro Mastercard and we had to start again. We paid for the lunch using all the spare chance we had. The next stop was Domaine de Bellevue for wine. He had sold out of his excellent Chablis we had gone specifically to buy and so had to be content with some of his Tonnare. We then followed Kates directions to the A5 vis Troyes. We came off before Matouges and headed towards Les Mesnil sur Oger. It was past 6:00 and all the Champange houses were closed but it made a pleasant diversion. We arrived to the Aurberge du Moison just after 7:00. The car park now included a charging station for electric vehicles. A quick shower it was time for dinner.

Thursday 28 August 2014

A ride along the Bourgogne Canal

Fortunately the weather forecast in France is as accurate as some days in England. We awoke to an overcast sky but the forecast rain stayed away all day. Breakfast was a good choice and in addition the French stable of croissants included a good selection of fruit, breads , cold meats, cheeses and Fromage Blanc. After a good breakfast we were ready for a bike ride. We had selected “Les Verger sous les Vinges” because of it close proximity to the Bourgogne canal. A cycle path runs alongside the canal and it was just a 6 mile ride from “Les Vergers”. The only downside was the 200m plus of ascent and descent before we reached the canal. We joined the canal at Marigny le Cahouet and rode along it in a northerly direction for approximately 24 miles turning round at the little village of Aisy sur Armancon. The surface varied was mainly paved with short sections being just a track. We had a short diversion where they had block the route to make repairs to the canal bank. In typical French fashion no division was sign posted and the route was just blocked. We followed a minor track past the works where and abundance e of frogs that kept jumping out of the way. After a scramble up the bank we were quickly back on the canal path. We stopped to investigate hire boats for a future trip and even looked round one boat. We left the canal at Marigny le Cahouet and had to climb over the hill again to get back to Villeferry. This time the climb seemed easier. After a fast descent stopping for the occasional photo we had the short climb to the village and then had the choice of the steep and more gentle assent thought the village to Les Verges.

“Les Verger sous les Vinges”

The place we are staying is a cross between a BB and hotel. Les verges is owned and run by the village. The accommodation is in old houses that have been refurbished. Breakfast is taken in a room above the reception but for the evening meal you have to climb a steep track and eventually come across a building towards the top of the hill. It offers fantastic views across the surrounding countryside especially from the terrace. The meal is a set 4 course dinner with no choice. We were very happy with it but we are not fussy about what we eat. The cost and 28 euros is all a little high but it’s a far better option that driving to the nearest town to try and find a restaurant.

Our room is the one with the arched window


Wednesday 27 August 2014

A Long Drive

A Long Drive Full post to follow. Pictures of the day are below.
Chambre D'hote Parrat

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Rodez - A day of Culture

Rodez. A day of Culture Full post to folLow. A day in pictures below.

Musee Soulages

Pierre Soulages Paintings

Cathedral Stained Glass

Monday- Barred from Crazy Golf

Our stay in Le Buala in 2013 was one of the highlights of our holiday so we decided to return again this year. As we only confirmed our plans at the last minute they could only fit us in for one night. We were welcomed by Rudi and Karine and had a welcome drink before going to our room to change. We had booked the dinner with them again this year. Rudi and Karine are excellent cooks and the meal with wine is well worth the 28 euros. We sat outside and shared their table with a Belgium couple, Chris and Madeline. Chris was a mad keen cyclist who made my ride look like Sunday afternoon stroll. He had planned a week of cycling and it included climbing the Tourmalet 3 times and lots of the other cols in the area. His wife’s holiday seemed to consist of a week of support driving following him round in the car. His GPS was set to alert every 350 calories he used at which point he required his next feed. He showed us his Garmin GPS and his week’s supply of supplements, energy bars, recovery pills and honey cake he had brought with him. He even gave Lyn and I a couple of bars to try. I pointed out I managed to climb the Aubisque with a Quiche Lorraine and piece of bread from breakfast. The meal was excellent, tomato tapenade as an aperitif, homemade pate for as starter, chicken with nutmeg for a main course and a lime bavarois with fruit compote to finish. We retired to bed well feed. Breakfast the next day was excellent and the best we had so far in France. We left the car at the Le Buala and did a short 20 ride from the guide book we purchased last year. If offered some fantastic views of the Pyrenees and we climbed towards the village of Huite. The ride included a fast descent to the spa town of Bagneres de Bigorre . We visted it last year and decided to play another round of crazy golf. The course well maintained is set in a beautiful garden. The cashier watch us lock our bikes but when we came to pay said my cycling shoes we not allowed on the course! We returned to Antist via Lidl, to buy some lunch. We said good bye to Rudi and Karine and started the 3:30 minute drive to Sauveterre de Rouergue. The drive was uneventful. We stopped for a late Brexton lunch before we joined the motorway. Kate got a little confused on a new section of road that did not exist on the updated maps before Rodez . We arrived at the BB before 7:00. We walked into the Bastille village and had our evening meal in a pizzeria in the main square.

Le Buala Maison

Lyn having ridden 2000 miles on her bike
A Brexton Lunch

Monday 25 August 2014

Sunday- A ride to Lourdes

Full post to follow. A 40 mile ride on the velo vert to Lourdes and then a detour up the valley and a climb to the village of Germs-sur-l'Oussouet.