My significant boo and I decided on a recent trip to France we would take a leisurely booze cruise through 100 miles Burgundy wine country by bike. After eight weeks of Sean T's Insanity workout program, I felt ready. After four days of prix fixe dinners in Paris, I felt bloated. After peddling up our first hill, I felt winded.
We took a train from Paris to Dijon, where we rented hybrids, packed everything we would need into two panniers and stored our luggage. To our terror, the Dijon train station's luggage hold was under construction, and we had to check our bags for the next five days at a nearby tavern that the train station was using as a temporary facility. The friendly bartender tagged our bags and tossed them right behind the bar with a smile. "AU REVOIR!" he said. "Au revoir?" we replied.
In the morning, we were off, and like the U.S. Postal Service, we were determined to deliver through rain, shine, snow, sleet and nervous trepidation.
Day One: Dijon to Beaune, 28 miles
We started our bike trip from Dijon taking the Route des Grands Crus, a challenging, hilly path that took us through tiny villages and across vast vineyards. About 20 miles into the trip we encountered what can only be described as a small Mt. Kilimanjaro. Midway up my quadriceps refused, indignant, and I slid backwards like a cartoon coyote. As I reached the top, a white haired couple in their late 60s decked out in full cycle gear breezily passed me by. "Bonjour!" Bonjour indeed.
Day Two: Beaune to Puligny-Montrachet, 10 miles
Once in Beaune we picked up a véloroutes, the Voie des Vigne (the vineyard way). The véloroutes in France are old train tracks that have been converted into bike lanes. It was a short trip to Puligny, which left plenty of time for imbibing.
We stayed at a chambre d'hotes so charming you could have just up and passed out from the charm. You can't spell chambre without charm after all. It was run by a cosmopolitan British couple bestowed with all the graces that I thought lost in old etiquette manuals. It was over dinner that night, speaking to their equally sophisticated and charming guests that I realized I have no such sophistication. I brought my champagne glass from the drawing room to the dinner table. Major faux pas. The joke's on them though: Turns out you don't need to know which fork to use in order to stuff the salmon into your eager gullet.
Day Three: Puligny-Montrachet to Givry, 28 miles
From Puligny-Montrachet we took the Voie des Vigne to the Voie Verte (the green way), a dedicated cycle path that picked up halfway through our trip to Givry in Santenay. It dodged away from the vineyards, but ran alongside the canal, farmland and sun-dappled mustard fields. After two days of hills, the flat smooth cycle path made for a breezy trip (aside from getting lost in Chalon-sur-Saône, a town that could easily be mistaken for Ft. Wayne, Indiana if one were not paying attention.)
We had a mouthwatering dinner in Givry, including an incredible local wine and my favorite meal of the trip, oeufs en meurette, which translates to "murdered eggs," or poached eggs in red wine sauce.
Day Four: Givry to Cluny, 27 miles
We continued on the Voie Verte, enjoying the flatland, regular quiche stops and local sights like the Château de Cormatin, a well-preserved castle with an exquisite garden including a hedge maze and shrubs cut into the shapes of pigs. I love a good comedy shrub.
Day Five: Cluny to Macon, 15 miles
Our final day on the Voie Verte provided some unique geography and an exciting hilly detour onto the main road. Still, I was glad to be wrapping up. My butt had formed a callous and despite 100 miles of cycling my stomach is vaguely starting to resemble a puff pastry. We headed back to Dijon on the train the next day, bikes in tow. What had taken us five days by bike took just over an hour by train. How does it go in French? Ah yes, c'est la vie.