Day Eleven: Paray to Suin (on the way to Cluny): Where's the Beef? - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

April 7, 2017

Day Eleven: Paray to Suin (on the way to Cluny): Where's the Beef?

As usual, things look better in the morning light, and this certainly was true of the Basilica. We took a quick peek into the cloister garden, but it seems nowadays there is just grass in these, rather than herbs and flowers.

Paray to Charolles to Cluny will be easy, right?
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The Paray Basilica in the morning light
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Marine LePen, the ultra right candidate, with appropriate graffiti. We will try to cover the upcoming election a bit in future pages.
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Before leaving paray, we ran into our first market. It had all the familiar components: cheese truck, BBQ chicken and pork, East Indian dishes, dry sausages, many great breads and buns, etc.
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Here are more Michel special brioches. The pink was not praline but kind of a candy. Still good though.
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I will never tire of great wood oven breads and photos of them!
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Our plan for getting to Charolles and then to Cluny involved the N79. Sure, our maps called this the Route Centre Europe Atlantique, but we had asked the Google little yellow man about it, and he showed it as being fine. So we pedalled to the outskirts of town and onto the N79. We lasted about 5 minutes, which was how long it took for the shoulder to disappear.

The N79, declared road of death by us. We beat a hasty retreat.
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Ahh, that's better!
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Some frantic consulting of the GPS had us backtracking a fair distance and launching onto a thready backroads itinerary. This turned out to be a good move, not only because we are still alive to tell the tale, but because we passed through some extremely gorgeous countryside. A special feature was hedgerows, criss crossing the verdant hills, and no doubt there because of the Charolais cattle. These white animals look great againt a green backdrop. They are also very calm, and I had a hard time getting a rise out of any of them. The bulls are kind of crazy in that they have huge, heavily muscled bodies but kind of baby faces. They are probably sweethearts, and are usually in with the rest of the family rather than being confined to some bulls only paddock,

Racial segregation? The brown cows are sitting apart from the white cows.
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Lovely Charollais. Note the idyllic background.
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A lone bull, has a high perch with a view.
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The landscape definitely started to rise and fall in gentle hills as we approached Charolles. Still it was captivating. I tried to imagine what kind of lovely village Charolles might be, to fit this setting.

As it turned out, Charolles was kind of average. I did my best to get an attractive shot of it, but this was rather at a distance. The church downtown did have a great feature, which was the way the stained glass threw coloured light on the columns. Downtown also had a butcher called At the Heart of the Charollais. This was a well taken name, since he was dead centre of one of the greatest beef areas going.

We spoke to a friendly policeman about the way to the Maison des Charollais, and also the way out of town afterward. He agreed that the National 79 was unsafe, and also banned to bicycles. Sometimes the policeman is your friend.

Careful shot to make Charolles look interesting.
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This butcher shop in the centre of Charolles truly is a ground zero for beef.
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Interesting effect of stained glass on columns
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The Maison des Charollais is out on the far side of town, and getting there involved some further long hills. By the time we got there, Dodie was really struggling as her left knee had again puffed up and become super painful.

Temporarily our minds were taken off knee pain by the onsite restaurant. This of course specialized in Charolais beef dishes, though I noted that they just could not resist throwing in some escargots and foie gras offerings as well. Dodie got the equivalent of bouef bourginon while I got the "burger". Dodie's dish was flavourful and the beef good. My burger was really a treatise on how to make a burger - with a firm bun, chevre cheese, bacon, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and a firm patty of beef, about 1/2" thick. It would not be fair to compare this to a Big Mac, because this guy cost the equivalent of $25! (ok, came wth fries).

$25 burger. Felt like it was worth it.
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Lots of books about Burgundy and cooking in the gift shop
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Plus one special book for Ken Graham. Too heavy to carry, unfortunately.
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The materials about the Chrollais cattle, including yesterday's childrens' book, are very matter of fact. They say the Charolais are big and beefy, we like to eat them. Charollais calfs grow fast, so soon we can eat them! And in a book like this one- the cows eat the "terroire", which we taste when we eat them!
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With Cluny still about 40 km distant, we began to think about where we could get that knee to. At first the GPS said there was nothing, unless we retreated back down the hills into Charolles. But then it spotted a place at a dot on the map called La Gare. Google Maps refused to confirm this, but we eventually turned up the names of two places in that location. I phoned both, but no answer. So we set off anyway. (Aside from the restaurant and gift shop, the Maison Charollais had a "museum". But the 7 euro charge and the fact that we were now freaking about a place to stay had us give this a miss.

The hills continued, but Dodie pushed on. Still as we went we were running through what we we would do in various degrees of knee failure. We could pass on the Norte, for instance. Or we could buy an e-bike in Lyon and ship the Friday home in a box. During this, the hills continued. But we finally arrived at the little spot with the two places to stay.

The first place was weird, with many buildings and decorations/knick knacks, workshops, barns, houses, etc. We circulated around everything, halooing here and there, but nothing, even though several doors were unlocked. There was a Gites de France sign too, but no one.

The second place was an "auberge" which we have learned does not generally have rooms. But there was also a faded chambres sign, so maybe. I went in and found an actual lady, and one taciturn guy sitting at the bar. No, she said, no rooms on the weekend. (Say what?) So I asked her about any other place to stay. This launched a disjointed conversation with the man at the bar. "How about MMe Lafortune, in (town name indecipherable)?" "Naw, she doesn't do it anymore, you want MMe Lafarge, in (town name indecipherable)". Steve: "But how will I find MMe Lafarge?" "Right, pretty much impossible". I exited the situation as fast as possible, before they reviewed all the other non-options in the region.

We backtracked a bit and headed up a steep hill, general direction of Cluny. We were now out of ideas and were just blindly slogging on. We went down one slope and found ourselves at the bottom of a 1/2 km hill so steep that I was just at the limit of being able to push my heavily loaded bike up. We trudged 30, 40 steps at a time and rested. My heart was pounding, and it never does that at slow Grampies pace.

We needed a church, so as to put our tent on the grounds. But there were no towns anywhere around. We trudged on - more hills. I had no idea how Dodie was keeping on. I tried to remember the French emergency digits (112?) and also realized that I had no idea what road we were on. Still we carried on.

Finally we came to a sign advertising a gite d'etape (hostel) with an arrow. Gun shy, we asked a man nearby if it truly existed. At first he denied the existence of the sign. For heaven's sake, he lives right beside it. Then he allowed the gite was 400 m ahead on the right, but of course there was no telling if it was open.

We carried on and pushed the bikes into a farm yard. A man came out, and yes, it was all true. He showed us to a room. Toilet and shower down the hall. Heaven! We had been 10 minutes away from pitching the tent right by the road side. With nights getting uncomfortably close to 0, it would not have been pretty.

We have Dodie's knee elevated on a pile of pillows as she lies asleep on her side. Tomorrow will be another day!.

Gite failure number one
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Auberge failure, number two. No rooms on weekends?
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Back on the road with nowhere to go that we can reach. This shot is looking down a hill we are coming up.
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Miracle gite in the middle of nowhere.
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Today's ride: 42 km (26 miles)
Total: 577 km (358 miles)

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