France Adventure, Page 1
Pictures and Stories About Bicycle Adventures
Bourgogne Region, France,
-- Itinerary --
By Bicycle, Sep 28 - Oct 9, 2003
Day 1: Paris, Quick drive through,
Eiffel Tower Champagne Toast
Days 2 - 5: Avallon Stay; Bike Chablis, St Bris,
Auxerre, Fonttenay, Semur en-Auxois
Days 6 - 8: Beaune Stay; Visit Dijon; Bike Cluny,
Meursault, St Denis, Pommard, Buxy, Vougeot
Days 9 - 10: Paris, Our time, Opera, Louver, Mona Lisa,
Left Bank, Cafés, Fall Foliage, Wine,
This Itenerary wont match the Tour Guide because we don't count travel days here.
Above: Day 1: It did not take too long to make it through customs and immigration. We waited in the parking lot of the Charles De Gaul International Airport for another couple to arrive via a different flight. I just happened to look up at a taxiing jet and notice that this aircraft is flying a Russian Flag. This is the first real life Russian anything that I have ever seen. It was strange to me. Communist Russia has been my country's enemy for almost all of my life. Now, without the communist government, our countries are friends.
Left: This is the tease image, just to demonstrate that we made it to Paris, France.
Above Left: See Saint Dennis! Upper-Right sign posting. The deal is that I, Dennis, discover for the first time in my life that there is a Saint Denis (in English, pronounced as San Den-nee - the French do Not pronounce the 's', 't', or 'e' at the end of a word - e is not the same thing as é). More about St Denis later.
Above Right: Eiffel Tower, shot straight up from dead center beneath the tower.
Above Left: We are about to Drink a Toast with Champagne and Current Liquor to a successful journey, at the base of the Eiffel Tower. This is a traditional French touring toast, bon voyage!
Above Right: Here's a happy gal (Terry) with a Post Card of the Eiffel Tower, purchased at a souvenir stand at the base of the Eiffel Tower.
Above Left: Auberge du Relais Fleuri (Inn of the Flowered Relay [station], located outside the Town of Avallon). This will be our home for the next three nights. It was wonderful. We would have lovely evening meals here each night. We learned that if you request a glass of water for a meal, it will always be delivered halfway through the meal. You are expected to either buy bottled water (with or without gaz) or to order wine. No one from Europe drinks tap water, even though it is safe to drink in most places. This custom was hard on us bicyclists, as we usually just got through riding our bikes and our bodies were dehydrated.
Above Right: I saw this Golden Retriever enter one door and one micro second later, the dog exited another door, two or three rooms away. I did a double take. Soon I realized that there were two Golden Retrievers. The French country establishments have dogs every where, just like the American West, like in Colorado country establishments.
Above Left: Its a Communications Tower. First of all I have never seen one before, ergo the picture. I didn't know what it was and I had to ask.
What I like about this communications tower is that many different commercial businesses use this one community signal tower. To me, this is a better idea than what we see in the US where each different business has its own tower which results in many more towers spoiling many views (and much higher overall operating costs).
Above Right: Day 2: Nice wood craftsmenship! This was the Pontigny community hay and feed storage barn that is now used as a bus passenger and tourist queuing area.
Above Left: Abbey of Pontigny. France, more or less is all Catholic (ergo ...). This church is huge. Most churches become fortresses or sanctuaries when the local kingdom are under attack. We are about an eighth of a mile away in order to capture all of the church for this picture. I can't pretend to explain the different building eras, but there are noticeable differences in structure in different locations. Notice the flying buttresses on the near end - that's the original church.
Above Right: This is an intricately and delicately carved wood pulpit.
Above Left: The text, pictured, was painted on the wall inside the Abbey of Pontigny. We recognize the first Latin word, and that is all. Intriguing, eh?
Above Right: These are ceramic flowers on top of a grave's stone cover. Only a handful of graves have ceramic flowers, but they seem so much more practical than live flowers placed often. The graves are located inside the Abbey's enclosure (clos).
Left: Sign for Entering Chablis,
"Village of Flowers."
Above Right: Sign for Leaving Chablis.
Most of Europe has this style of Town/Village
Entry and Exit (Slash) Signs.
Above Left: We are in downtown Chablis. Pictured is the Chablis Bar. Behind me, in the other picture, is the Chablis WWI and WWII Monument. Chablis is world renowned for its white wine made from the Chardonay grape, but they also produce Pinot Noir (red) and Aligote (pronounced Ali-go for English). Aligote is known as Burgundy's other white wine. Terry and I actually like Aligote better than Chardonay, but its yet another French wine that you pretty much can't get outside of France. In Europe, no city, state, or business can use the Chablis name for any product.
Above Right: Every single town in France has a dedication to its WWI soldiers. France lost something like 30% of its fighting age male population in WWI. Most towns have added WWII memoriums to their WWI monuments. Contrary to popular belief, we found French people to be very aware of American/Allied help in both wars. Later, when we visit Dijon, we will have just missed Liberation Day celebrations, that is US Army liberation from Nazi Germany, still celebrated annually.
Above Left: Over looking a village near Chablis from our bicycles.
Above Right: We have biked to the village of Chitry. There is a building with a little entrance and a little bitty sign that states that this is the Coop Cave for the Vins de Chitry (meaning, not actual words). We proceed down old stone steps to a vastly connected series of tunnels. There are different kinds of wine containers everywhere. During WWII, this town hid Howitzers underneath this town, in these same caves.
Above Left: Barrels of Pinot Noir. The red stains near the plug result from testing. The property owner's cat's name is Prise. If I understand correctly, this is the name for the Plug that seals the wine Barrels.
Above Right: This is the emerging Director/Manager of the Coop Cave for the Vins de Chitry. His name is written on a piece of paper somewhere and I can't find it, also I don't quite have the village wine name correct. While the new manager gave a tour and explanation in excellent English, his father the retiring director was in attendance and beaming in pride. At the end of the tour, they give samples that are hidden in a wine barrel (very clever these French). We bought a delicious bottle of Aligoté.
Above Left: We are looking at the gated entrance of Noyers-sur-Serein, one of the oldest French villages to keep the looks of its origins. Except for a car parked in a few places, this village looks like it could be a movie setting for the Three Musketeers (or even for the Robin Hood time period).
Above Right: This flower box display in the village of Noyers-sur-Serein was beautiful. Most homes had flower boxes or flower gardens - This home seemed to stand out to everyone.
Above Left: Day 3: More about St Denis: St Denis was the leader of two other priests sent by the Roman Catholic Church to convert France (Gaul) to Catholicism. The locals rebeled and beheaded the Church Leader (Denis). According to myth, Denis' body walked over to his separated head and picked it up and held the head in front of his accusers.) Only recently has the church stated that the myth is unvalidated. This statue picture was taken inside the Saint Germain Abbey, Auxerre. The Abbey is located next to Canal de Nuvernais.
Above Right: We are biking along the Canal de Nuvernais. This happens to be near the Village of Le S'Vincent. Our group is composed of six couples (12 people in all). Its a nice group and we all seem to enjoy each others company.
Above Left: We have entered the Cave de Bailly. It is litterally a cave which resulted from lime stone quarrying that dates back to the Roman Empire. The term Cave, in French, has come to mean, a cooperative, a storage area (cellar, above or under ground), and/or a sales area (similar to the English term Winery). Pictured is the Sparkling Wine (or carbonated wine) area. Sparkling wine outside of the Champagne Area is called Crémant, in France [However, Crémant actually means: A Wine of Mixed Grape Varieties, complicated these French]. Each one of these bottles is rotated a quarter of a turn, once or twice a day, by hand. This upside down rotation allows the lee's (sediment) to collect near the head, which is frozen in a brine solution and unpluged (dégorgement), and then topped off in equal volumn with liqueur d´expédition or dosage.
Above Right: The final products. Most of this wine will not leave France but the little that does leave will pretty much stay in Europe. The Germans are buying wine by the boxes this day - Mercedes are everywhere. We buy Crémant for Terry's office staff.
Above Left: We are biking along a Burgundy Canal (Canal de Nuvernais). We are the only bike travelers - our quiet time is so refreshing that we just enjoy the moments. There is some boat traffic, about one or two boats per hour. Half of the locks are operated by the boat owners. We get to watch a few lock operations. All boat owners (drivers) are gracious and friendly - in fact, most boats have bicycles on the deck or on the bulkhead.
Above Right: We take a break and feed the geese in Le S'Vincent along Canal de Nuvernais.
Above Left: We return to Auxerre via our bikes. We are far enough away to be able to take a picture of the Saint Germain Abbey and get a good picture of the town of Auxerre and capture the Canal de Nuvernais
Above Right: While riding the bus back through Avallon, going to the Relais Fleuri, I realize that the hotel D'Avallon Vauban has hand painted a tree in such a way as to make it look like the real flowers in their flower boxes are a part of the Artwork. Its really quite nice. Notice that the trunk of the tree has a shadow on the building.