Vezelay - Toutry: Campground? Restaurant? - France Again - Cycling in Burgundy - CycleBlaze

August 5, 2008

Vezelay - Toutry: Campground? Restaurant?

After a very good night's sleep in our hotel beds, we walked through the town and visited the cathedral, certainly the most impressive so far on our trip. In the Middle Ages, Vézelay's basilica was a major pilgrimage destination thanks to its claimed relics of St. Mary Magdalene. It was also a major starting point for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important of all medieval pilgrimage centers. Pilgrims were the tourists of medieval times and as today, they brought prosperity to the towns they passed through.

Street in Vezelay
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Window in the early morning sun
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The Benedictine church of Sainte Marie Madeleine is one of Europe's largest and best-preserved Romanesque churches. The sculpture on the outer facade was largely destroyed during the French Revolution; the portal and the sculpted capitals of the interior have undergone some restoration and are magnificent.

Vezelay Abbey, interior
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Charmaine RuppoltWow, what a church!
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3 months ago
Sculpted capital, Vezelay: David cuts off Goliath's head
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The Mystic Mill capital depicts the grinding of grain to produce flour, but also for Medieval pilgrims an allegory referring to the reconciliation of the Old and New Testaments
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The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela has experienced an amazing comeback in the past years and we were surprised that we saw no pilgrims here. They would be easy to recognize with their sturdy hiking boots and heavy backpacks often adorned with a scallop shell, symbol of the Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James.

Vezelay
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The terrace behind the abbey affords a pretty view over the surrounding countryside and is of historical significance as well. It's a long story but in a nutshell it was here in 1146 that St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the same St. Bernard who established the high-minded work ethics at Fontenay, preached the Second Crusade, which was to have catastrophic consequences.

View overlooking the countryside from the terrace of the cathedral
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Charmaine RuppoltWhat a beautiful view!!
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3 months ago

We spent most of the morning in Vézelay and then cycled under blue skies to the not very distant town of St. Père to have a look at its splendid Gothic church, the church of Notre Dame, built from 13th and 15th centuries.

Facade, St. Pere
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St. Pere
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Gargoyle, St. Pere
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From the facade at St. Pere
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Parking, St. Pere
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The ride continued through beautiful countryside but with some substantial climbs on the way to Avallon.

A beautiful ride
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Avallon is a well preserved, fortified town situated between two ravines - which of course meant for us that we had to climb again. We looked around a bit and had a picnic lunch while we enjoyed the atmosphere.

Avallon
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The rest of the day we had a lovely route, the hills were milder and we reached Toutry in the late afternoon.

Montreal, picturesque town on our way
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Janos spotted a "short cut" on his map, which would have worked if the train tracks hadn't been between us and our destination in Epoisses. According to our map there had been a crossing at one time, but since the advent of the TGV, a train that travels at the speed of 320km/h or 200mph, these little crossings have been closed.

The short cut turned out to be an unnecessary detour on bumpy roads, but once back in Toutry we found the main road to Epoisses, just a few more kilometers. To our dismay, the campground in Epoisses closed years ago. We were informed the closest campground would be in Toutry - where we just came from!

We were very happy with the simple and peaceful camping in Toutry. There was only one other couple there, a Dutch couple here for rock climbing. We set up our tent and headed for the only restaurant we saw in the little town.

Solitary camping in Toutry
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The restaurant was open, thank goodness, but oh no, they only served lunch, not dinner. We did it again - no food in our panniers and no where to eat. The proprietor was very kind and took pity on us. He prepared a generous plate of different kinds of noodle and potato salads topped off with fresh tomatoes, and of course baguette, for us to take back to the campground. That and a few beers made an enjoyable evening meal.

Our evening meal, supplied by the owner of the local restaurant who also happened to be the custodian of the campground
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Charmaine RuppoltHow kind of the camp host to offer you food! :)
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3 months ago

Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 259 km (161 miles)

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