Commuting South

We had discussions with Alison and David about our forward route. We let go the plan of heading west into the center of the Massif Central, since it was likely to be cold and wet. We are several weeks behind schedule relative to tentative route plan assumptions. This is due to scheduling of social interludes along the way. 

At first, we considered taking a train south to Montpelier to escape predicted wet weather. We soon decided we’d prefer to keep ahead of the rain under our own steam, and kept cycling south down the Saône and the Rhône to Bourg St. Andreol. From there, we planned to head west across the southern part of the Massif. We knew the Massif riding would be more challenging and scenic than riverside riding, and an interesting wrap up to our journey. 

2019/10/03: to Macon 61 km

The ride to Macon was pretty. We rode on small roads in morning mist, then met Alison and David at the Salorney market. After buying lunch fixings, we had coffee with them before heading to Macon on back roads and voie verte. 

View of Cluny from “voie verte”

2019/10/04: to south of Lyon 99 km
From Macon, we followed gravel towpaths and smaller roads to Lyon, which has some fabulous urban bike infrastructure. This includes the 1.8 km long Tunnel de la Croix-Rousse, which runs underneath  two of the city’s arrondissements. We rode through the separate tunnel modes douces (for cyclists, pedestrians, and buses) completed in 2013. We were aiming for a Hotel Campanile south of the City Centre, but a gap in cycling infrastructure meant google put us into terrifying traffic. We’d hoped for a low effort evening grabbing a bite in the Campanile’s restaurant, but it was closed. This meant we had to cycle to a pizza joint in a pretty rough area. 

Gravel towpath

2019/10/05: to Tain l’Hermitage 96 km
We found our way to the southward cycle path known locally as Via Rhôna, soon to become Eurovelo 17. It was provisoire at first, more suited to mountain bikes, but soon became the usual Eurovelo paved standard. In the afternoon, we were sent on a detour off the cycle path onto a road that led through the woods. We passed about ten white minivans, parked some distance apart along the roadside. Each was occupied by an African woman in revealing lingerie. All appeared to be equipped with cell phones. One chatted to a customer. Prostitution. Migration. Exploitation. Slavery. We’ve seen this before, notably in Italy in 2014. Travelling independently can be an eye opener.

2019/10/06-07: to Valence 26 km, and errands. 
We rode the short distance to Valence, where we knew we needed at least half a day’s rest. We soon realized we were pretty tired, and booked for a second night. This allowed us to buy maps, plan our forward route, and replace Chris’s aging pedals before moving on for our last day in the Rhône Valley.

2019/10/08: to Bourg St. Andreol 95 km
We could feel we were entering a warmer, drier area as we rode; there were kiwi orchards and olive trees. From here, we would leave the Rhône and head west.

During our travels, I’ve developed a soft spot for donkeys. In a town where we stopped to buy bread and have coffee, I noticed one tied to a signpost, wearing a packsaddle, the load removed and girth unfastened. Journey essentials lay on the ground nearby, but we never saw the associated human. 

What a patient companion! One day, I would love to travel with a donkey. 


4 responses to “Commuting South

  1. As we are reading this, Global TV has a lady with a miniature donkey on the program, used as a therapy animal for sick kids. Good new, our roof was replaced this week, in a beautiful sunny week…what luck! All looks well at your place.

  2. Thanks for you usual thoughtful commentary re the human condition. So very sad.
    Re getting a donkey companion, Call him “Charlie” then you can have travels with him.

    • As for donkeys, we are now several days past the Rhône and into the Massif. We have realized it is here in the Cevennes that Robert-Louis Stevenson did his trek with a donkey named Modestine, and then wrote his first book “Travels with a Donkey”. See And we’ve seen another donkey traveller, too. The working
      donkey was female, and a young donkey, possibly still nursing, was being led along with mother. This was along the highest part of the Corniche des Cévennes. I assume they were on the GR 70.

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