I like Sundays in France.
Being here on a Sunday always reminds me of a time in the UK before the politicians caved in to the greed of commerce and allowed the shops and just about everything else to open on the seventh day. Sunday’s were special at home back then and thankfully they still are in La France. Almost everywhere is shut, except for mostly small family restaurants, the odd grocery store that opens until noon and of course the small artisan boulangeries.
The wonderful ritual daily tradition of purchasing fresh bread transcends everything, even the Sabbath!
This morning as Baby and I began the long slog across France to the Rhine valley we also partook in a spot of “Pain achats” (bread shopping) to make a sandwich for lunch. It’s a simple pleasure, yet quite wonderful, to queue in a small bakery and be embraced by the heady smells of fresh bread. Our boulangerie was in Mehun sur Yevre, a small somewhat down at heel place, about halfway between Vierzon and Bourges. At €1.10 for a pain traditionnel, I think it was good value for a crispy golden baton of fresh bread.
Pleased with my morning purchase I hit the road, hard. Bourges to Clamecy on the N151, 100 miles of largely straight old Roman road across rolling countryside and at times dense forest. The sort of road where you have to be careful, too many hidden dips where approaching traffic can lurk to catch out the inattentive overtake and where the long straights can bring on mind wandering boredom, if you are not careful!That said, it’s also a delight on a Sunday with very little traffic.
We crossed the River Loire on a lovely stone built multi-arched bridge at La Charite, pausing just to grab a photo.
By Clemacy, we were in Bourgogne; land of fine if a tad expensive wines, endless wheat fields and superb herds of Limousin beef. We took the more serpentine D951 for Vézelay and Avallon, time to enjoy some twisty bits!
Vézelay is a lovely hill-top town that is reputed to be amongst the most beautiful in France, but as a result get stuffed full of tourists and today was no exception! The town and it famous 11th century Romanesque Basilica of St Magdalene are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.
After Avallon we hit the Autoroutes; first the A6, the infamous Autoroute du Soleil where the Parisiens try to kill themselves during the annual holidays as they race flat-out towards the Mediterranean! Next we took the A36 and dropped into the Saône valley.
I’ve got to say that although Baby is ideal for mile munching, riding these Autoroutes is as tedious as it gets! I was delighted to turn off at Baume les Dames and onto the D50 for a bit of chilled exploration in the Haute-Saône region of Franche Compté.
What we found, I’ll tell you about in another post!
Tonight our overnight stop is near the Swiss border; 340 miles today and I’m glad to see the back of a lot of them!
“Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
Catch you soon.