With two Warmshower hosts living at the far end of the rail trail, one in the regional centre and one in a small village in the heart of the famous Pouilly Fuisse wine region, we set off from Cormatin unburdened by camping equipment for a few days of exploration, good company and good wine. We were not to be disappointed on either account. We have come back to Cormatin feeling as though we have experienced a month’s worth of highlights in three days. Where to start?
In fact, it could have started a little more fortuitously … wiithin 5km we had a broken chain. The running gear on our bike is getting close to the end of its life.
First highlight, Cluny. The medieval town’s Benedictine abbey was once the largest built monument in Christendom. Today only a small part of the abbey remains but, standing in the abyss where once it rose, it’s not hard to imagine its former glory.
A few km out of Cluny saw Argie Bargie upside down yet again on the side of the trail. (Every time we stopped, Tom would pull out the iPad to get an update on Le Tour.) Turns out the morning’s chain incident had inflicted severe damage to some of the teeth on a chainring – nothing that a rock, a spanner and a bit of bashing couldn’t straighten out…but it’s definitely time to replace all the rings and chains on the left side of Argie.
We limped on – nervous now about putting too much force through the chains – to ride through the longest dedicated cycle tunnel in Europe!
With the various mechanical challenges slowing us down, we had to forego some anticipated side-trips to villages and a castle, although our commitment to degustation remained strong.
Two degustations (one friendly, one not) and a wine purchase later, we arrived in Macon. Our Warmshower hosts for the evening, Alexis and Val, lived in a 400 year old building now split into five large apartments replete with massive windows and high, high ceilings, situated off the main pedestrian shopping street. We settled in easily, the kids playing with the two children 2 year old Vadim and 1 month old Zelie.
Val shared the story with us of going into labour when a Warmshower guest was staying with them; they left him to manage the house in their absence and answer all the incoming calls! These home-stays certainly take you right into people’s lives!
Day 2 of our baggage-free sojourn down the voie verte saw Shane and Helen shopping at Decathlon, the wonderful ‘Bunnings of the outdoor world’ in France, while the kids hung out with Val. We got a few routine maintenance things for the bike and replaced those things that you just can’t wash the smell out of after a while – bike gloves (2 and 5 euros!) and socks. S & H also picked up some new school workbooks we’d purchased online from Amazon and had delivered to a campsite. The kids are always excited to get new books.
A quick look around Macon and we headed off to Warmshower 2 at Vergisson. We were pretty excited about this visit; a few folk had told us Vergisson was in a beautiful location and the emails from the hosts had been particularly encouraging. The only thing we weren’t too excited about was the long climb up to the village… we popped in for a degustation to get some ‘bon courage’ and purchased a very good bottle of Pouilly Fuisse for our hosts.
Little did we know then just how wonderful our stay at Vergissonn would prove to be…