Saturday, 19 March 2011

How green is my valley

The first boucle I did was no. 10, with difficulty 1 (made for me!), distance 15 km and estimated time 1h30. The route comes almost past our house, and hence I joined the route at the end of our path. As the name of the boucle indicated, this circuit passes by some nice Romanesque churches, like the very small church of Lys (with remains of some medieval wall paintings), and the beautiful church of Chapaize. Lys also boasts an amazing amount of artisans, and Chapaize has facilities to sit on a terrace with a drink, or to stop for a meal. From Chapaize the road goes via Bissy-sous-Uxelles through Bessuge to Cormatin. And also Cormatin has ample opportunities to drink a cold glass of bear or enjoy a meal. Indeed, if you feast your eyes on the things you can see underway, you will be back at la Tuilerie roughly one and a half hour later.
Another plus point of these boucles is, that they are fairly well signposted, and that it is possible to link some boucles together to create a bigger circuit.
As boucle no. 10, some boucles are thematic. Boucle no. 11 for example takes you past a number of lavoirs or public washhouses. These are small open, covered structures, with a stone basin in the middle, where until the seventies the village women were doing their washing. The basin was provided with fresh streaming water by a nearby river or a brook. No. 11, difficulty 2, length 17 miles can be perfectly combined with e.g. no. 10. The route starts in La Tuilerie, and passes through Lys, Bissy-sous-Uxelles, Bessuge, and Cormatin. It continues via the Voie Verte to Savigny-sur-Grosne, carries on via Boucle 11 to Bonnay, Cortevaix, Flagy and Massilly where it joins the Voie Verte, which takes you underneath Taizé direction Cormatin until the road to Chazelle.
Other thematic boucles bring you past potters, through vineyards, etc. One of the frequently asked questions is whether it is safe to cycle along the roads. The answer is: yes. The boucles are generally following quiet roads and hardly “main” roads. Further, the French are sticking very well to their traffic rules. One of those rules is, that when overtaking an bicycle with a car, the driver has to leave a distance of 1 m (approx. 3’4”) in villages or 1.5 m (approx. 5’) outside villages between car and bicycle.
For more weathered cyclists there is also the possibility to test their stamina around here. Some of the boucles with difficulty 4 contain really vicious climbs; the real die-hards amongst our cycling guests have expressed their pleasant surprise about the possibilities to exercise their muscles.
In my next and last blog in this series I will elaborate a bit on the concept of the Balades Vertes.

This blog in 3 episodes is of course far from complete. For more information about this region I like to refer to the tourist page on our own website and to an extensive blog about tourism and activities around here.

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