France Bike & Barge – Day 3

Today’s ride was 29.61 miles @ an average speed of 9.44 mph. You’d think the pace might be a bit faster since about one-half of the group is on E-bikes, but we just seem to tootle along steadily at 9 -10 mph most days.

We were all getting into the routine by now.

The breakfast gong goes off at 8:00 AM. I’ve had thoughts that the rush to the breakfast counter isn’t that much different than the mayhem on Black Friday with shoppers storming through the store doors the moment they’re unlocked. At first I stood back until everyone calmed down… but it only took a day or two to notice that by the time I could take my turn, there wasn’t much food left…so into the fray I leapt!

We started riding at 9:00 AM most days. Miraculously, everyone was standing by their bikes ready to go on time every day. Unlike previous trips we’ve done, there was very little drama or delay at departure time.

Today started out with us riding through several streets of Chatillon-Cologny in a very confusing combination of turns, u-turns and back alleys -as if we were trying to lose someone chasing us (which would have been hard to do at 10 mph!) Everything was still closed. 😆

It didn’t take long before we were out into the countryside.

This is NOT a bike path! It is a road.

I take pictures when something interesting catches my eye -so some days I don’t have a lot of pictures. Today we were riding past a lot of farm fields. I was riding right behind Frederieke when she noticed a huge hay pile off in a field. She slammed on the brakes and said, “We’re stopping here for a group photo!” I started looking around for the scenic spot that had caught her eye…and then realized it was the hay pile.

Frederieke took a picture, but another rider set up his phone for a remote picture and he shared this one with me.

In the next little town that we were riding through at break-time, we were all amazed to find something that was open! It was like winning the lottery.

Not only that, it was across the street from a church! If you haven’t caught on yet – churches are about the only thing to see in most of the towns we’re riding through. Frederieke’s motto seems to be “No church left unseen”.

What was very nice is that some of the ladies on this trip have lovely voices and they enjoyed testing out the acoustics of the churches we saw with a little song – and it was beautiful to hear.

The back view
Interesting house across the street.
As we left town, I noticed this cute bike sitting on the wall of this yard. I don’t know if it was art…or that’s where they keep their bike?

I didn’t take any more pictures until we rolled into another town for lunch. Good thing we pack our own lunches every day. We were automatically starting to assume that nothing would be open…and this town wasn’t looking too lively when we rolled through. We stopped on a side street in a neighborhood near an old abandoned-looking building. There was room to park the bikes off the road in front of it. As a bonus, there were a couple of nearby benches and shade.

After most of us had eaten our lunches, Frederieke decided to take a ride back to the downtown area and double-check to see if she could find something open -at least for a bathroom break. She actually found this combination newsstand/bar open, so we gratefully swarmed the place.

The proprietor more or less shoo’d us out to the back garden area. It was actually pleasant back there in a shabby chic sort of way. There were some late season flowers still blooming:

I don’t know what these are!

After a long break, we were rolling out of town and I saw what was showing at the cinema!

I looked up how to say Barbie doll in French: poupée Barbie.

Frederieke had thought to have us stop at some sort of mineral/gem display – perhaps something like rock crystals? I wasn’t quite clear on what we were hoping to see. This was the road leading to it and the barns on the property. We rolled into the driveway. It looked a lot like a neglected farmyard. She walked up to the entrance…it was locked. Turns out the owners were taking their 12 PM- 2PM lunch break.

Frederieke doesn’t give up easily. She walked around trying to find out if anyone might be willing to let us into the display before 2:00. Finally someone came out from the house and firmly informed her that they were eating their lunch and no they would not be open until exactly 2:00 PM. Evidently, the 12 P.M to 2 P.M. lunch break is serious business in France!

Off we went to ride by cows instead… They didn’t care that it was lunch break time!

Roadside water break.
Cool gate leading to nowhere that I could see.

Our original trip was supposed travel North along the Loire Lateral Canal from Nevers to Briare. I hadn’t realized that the Loire is not really navigable for larger boats (at least in the area we were in), thus the Lateral Canal was built to move goods back and forth -including barges following a bunch of cyclists.

The new route from Montargis had us traveling South to Briare along the Briare Canal. This canal connects to the Lateral Canal in Briare.

This history of these canals is pretty amazing when you think of the technology they had to work with at the time they were built. The Briare Canal is 35 miles long and has 36 locks. Construction was started in 1604. Due to issues with the death of the king in 1611, work was stopped between 1611 and 1635. Around 1635, permission was granted to start working on it again and it was finished in 1642. Three hundred and eighty years ago. Amazing.

This canal provides a link between the Seine (near Paris) and Loire rivers and was originally used for transporting grain and other goods around the country. There is a large network of canals like this in parts of France.

Toward the end of the day, our wandering route brought us back to ride along the canal at the town of Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses.

It had been a really hot day and even though were only a very short distance from the barge, we paused in astonishment to see that a bar/restaurant we were passing was open!!! …so we took our last break there. They had chairs and tables set up next to the canal under tent/canopies.

The tables were actually across the street from the business. The staff had to look both ways before running across the street to take our orders and then to bring our drinks back.

The running back and forth was made safer by the conveniently placed pedestrian crossing. In France, if someone steps onto the pedestrian crossing, cars stop and yield to them.

We were within sight of a very famous spot on the canal. The early developers of the canal had built a series of seven “stair-case” locks to lift (or drop) the boats as they passed through. In 1887, the canal was redesigned to bypass these locks. Now they are part of a park-like area as a display of the history of the canal. It was amazing to see them and try to imagine seeing boats using them.

A short distance down the bike path, we found the Clair de Lune -next to a field!

The canal bike path was on the other side of the canal here!
Time to hit the showers!
View toward a lock from the “sun deck” of the barge.

This location for the night was off the beaten path, but it turned out to be a very quiet and pleasant place to be.

The dinner gong rang every night at 6:30 P.M. and it was usually around 8:30 P.M. before we took the last bite of our desserts. After that we mostly went to our cabin, organized ourselves for the next day’s ride and tried to get a good night’s sleep.


Categories: France Bike & Barge - Day 3

1 reply

  1. I was surprised that some people rode e-bikes. I would have been one of those people with a wide load bike seat.
    2 hours for lunch? Time for lunch and a nap. I needed that the last 5 years I worked. When I hit 60 I was always sleepy after lunch. The nurse caught me sleeping many times. 😉

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