Good evening everyone from a delightfully warm and dry Macon. Harley and I have just enjoyed a super day romping westwards across France.
The first 120 miles were largely on Autoroutes, not ideal, but hey it munches miles fairly quickly and Harley is just the job when it comes to cruising.
I’ve got to say, that regardless of my comments about Parisien drivers earlier, one of the many things I like about France is the standard of driving that one generally encounters; it’s pretty good! I really feel that it generally knocks spots off the appalling standards one frequently sees back home. For example, lane discipline on dual carriageways and motorways; in the UK lane hogging has now got so bad that a new law has just been passed to try to deal with the problem of the “Middle Lane Owners Club” and the “I’m driving in Lane 2 Because I’m far Too Important/Fast/Lazy to Pull Over Into Lane 1 Club”. Here in France the only time you see a vehicle in lanes 2 or 3 is when they are actually overtaking; oh sorry I forgot, or when an ignorant Brit in an Audi is cruising ingoring everyone else and is too pig stupid to move over, like I saw earlier! Rant over!
So, back to the trip. Chinon to Bourges, autoroute. Then D976 to Nevers. The road passes by Avord Airbase, but some very grumpy looking armed guards persuaded me not to take any photos, but in the nearby village I found this old Mirage IIIB on display.
At La Grenouille the Canal Lateral-Loire crosses the River Allier.
Harley and I then popped into Magny Cours Circuit for a nose around. There was a track day in progress for sport bike types but otherwise it all looked like a prisoner of war camp and felt about as welcoming. James Hunt was right, it is just about as far from anywhere that you can get in France!
We took the D978 and enjoyed a super ride through hills and pine forests of the Morvan National Park. The hairpins entering Chateau-Chinon were delightful, shame about the rest of the town though!
Autun is a fascinating place, quite busy with modern, ugly, French apartment blocks rubbing up alongside Roman ruins. There is also a delightful medieval quarter and an impressive cathedral as well. As an example, here is the Roman Amphitheatre, into which the cunning French have put a football pitch! Brilliant, I love it! Perhaps the Romans invented football as well?
The view over the town.
Just outside Autun is a real oddity, the remains of what is thought to be a 1st Century Pyramid. What purpose it actually served seems to be subject to some debate, there have been burials found nearby but nothing in the edifice itself. Unfortunately there’s not that much left, as most of the stone has been nicked by the resourceful locals who have used it as a help yourself quarry over the centuries. Still looks pretty awesome to me though!
Next up was Le Creusot and something I have wanted to see for a long time. Many of you know that a bit of industrial archeology is always guaranteed to get me going, especially when powered by steam. So get a load of this baby!
It’s a 100tonne steam hammer, last used about 1930 and now mounted on a traffic island on the entry to the town. By 100t, that’s not what it weighs…that’s the force that it could pound metal with! It has a five meter drop on the hammer part as well; it is said that a skilled operator could shell nuts with it, such was the control that was available. I love it! This whole area was once alive with iron works and coal mines, now nothing except a few museum pieces…Funny thing is, I once studied this area as part of my Geography A level; bit of a bugger that I didn’t come here when I was doing it, cos it makes it real and I would have been able to relate much better. Kids should go see the places that they are studying, not just watch videos or read books.
Anyway, we slipped nicely into Bourgogne, Burgundy to the Brits. Wow, it’s lovely! That’s all, lovely and mellow and lush and nice! This is Chateau Birze Le Chatel.
Tonight’s billet is Chambres D’Hôtes Clos de Flace, just outside Macon.
Very nice, very traditional French and with lovely owners. Then blow me, along rolls a couple from Ebbw Vale…I ask you, South Wales! Need my mate Greg here, sorry, “year”, to translate valley speak tidy like! Je peux faire face à la langue Francais!
That’s it for today, you up for it tomorrow? Good, breakfast at eight then.
The roar of the engine I love that sound.