Day Thirteen: Cluny to Macon to Lyon: Punt! - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

April 9, 2017

Day Thirteen: Cluny to Macon to Lyon: Punt!

The day began with a shower, which seems a pretty normal, not really bloggable thing. But at least once in every European trip I need to burble enthusiastically about plumbing, and specifically showers.

Really standard North American showers use one tap for hot and one for cold. You juggle these to get the volume and temperature of water that you want. It works sort of ok. Then there are the single lever controls. You twist them one way for temperature and another for volume. For me, this always results in a lot of random twisting. Then there is the even more lame single lever control, like the one we ended up with in our cottage project. You start with cold water at some volume, and the single lever adds hot and volume together as you twist it. Lame.

Now bring in the European system. One valve controls volume and another controls temperature. Logical. Brilliant.

In last night's Hotel de Bourgogne, they added to this system a "sunflower" type shower head and a huge volume capacity. The result was like a warm waterfall, as enveloping as a bath. Wonderful.

Logical shower control Volume left, temperature right
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Sunflower style shower head
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Also wonderful was the breakfast buffet (even though 11 euros). This was equal to a German one, and that is high praise.

We were well informed (by friends on Crazyguy, the hotel, and our maps) that the veloroute from north continues from Cluny down to Macon. This includes, we understood, a 2 km tunnel. But the staid looking hotel manager knew well that the tunnel was closed. He must be a secret cyclist. We could think of no reason why the tunnel would be closed. Surely not flooding, as conditions are dry.

Dodie came up with a theory. The tunnel is known as a bat refuge. Maybe this is their breeding season. One surely would not want to be jumped by a horny bat 1 km into a dark tunnel!

While we are on slightly risque topics, there is my French lesson from yesterday. After arranging for the hotel room, I told the reception lady that I would go fetch my wife. Only thing, I called her "mon mari". As everybody but me knew, a "mari" is a husband. A wife would be either "mon epouse" or "ma femme". So in this enlightened land, the lady was waiting for me to bring along my husband and was surprised to find that Dodie is a girl. All evening then I practiced referring to her as mon epouse!

It was all true about the closed tunnel, so we found ourselves walking over another mountain. This of course was nothing new. What was new, though, was the appearance of vinyards. This makes sense because here in the Burgundy region they need these to make the Burgundy wine! It was too bad for the Charollais cattle, though. I took one of the last possible photos of the two famous food items sharing the same terroire.

Downtown Cluny
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Oh, oh, tunnel closed
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Off down the rail trail anyway
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The top of today's climb
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Vines vs. cows
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The chateau - too high for us today
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We are in wine country now. Beaujolais now, Cotes du Rhone coming up.
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Dodie is not too happy about the next hill.
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Had we not walked over the mountain we might have been willing to ascend to the Chateau de Berze le Chatel. We knew that there is to be found La Chapelle des Moines. This was a private chapel of an abbott of Cluny, and it presereves 12th century murals, indicative of what had also been in Cluny III. We looked at the chateau on the hill, checked the knees and the calorie reserves, and regretfully pedalled on.

The veloroute took us through wonderfully warm Spring weather and past many lilacs coming into bloom. Eventually we arrived at Macon, though we used the GPS to make a few course corrections, without which we might have blown past, in the direction of Lyon.

The vines here are severely pruned to just one whip each.
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Spraying already. Clearly not organic wine here.
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Since we do not drink wine we rely on pilfering a few grapes here and there. Too bad this is totally the wrong season for that. The sign descibes what is up with the vines in each of the four seasons.
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Lilacs in bloom already.
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Macon struck us as a workaday town. The street we followed into town had wht seemed like an overabundance of those boring but necessary service businesses: hairdressers, travel agents, beauty shops, shoe repair, driving school, etc. all in what looked like early 20th century buildings.

Downtown was the Church of Saint Pierre Macon. It dates from 1865 and has a neo-romanesque style, plus extremely sturdy looking columns. Opposite the church was the closed Tourist Information. These guys were not fooling around with a little lunchtime recreation. They were closed today all day and tomorrow too!

So fine, we decided to beat it out of town. To be fair, that was our plan anyway. We had been warned about traffic when coming into Lyon, the next stop, and given that we are already behind our time plan, we decided to punt, and take a train.

The train station, remarkably, had an open ticket sales office. It was simple and cheap to buy tickets to Lyon. Of course to get to the platform we needed to jockey our bikes and gear down a steep set of stairs and up another one. But we had the game plan for this. Almost all pannier came off the bikes and into Walmart fabric shopping bags. Then we waited to find out which platform was ours, and dragged everything down and up. We put it all back on the bikes, because we knew we would have to race up and down the platform to find the car with the bicycle space.

When the train came, it turned out our car was the last one, so we charged down there, and instantly pulled off almost all panniers again. An exception was the front two bags on my bike.

The door to the carriage was extremely narrow and up two high steps. I shoved my bike forward, but it got jammed. Here is where Helene, who Dodie had been talking to on the platform, came to the rescue. She was already on board, and could pull while I pushed. We threw bike 1 down inside and returned for bike 2 plus the remaining bags. It was 30 seconds of high adventure!

It turned out Helene was changing trains at Lyon, and she offered to give us a hand there. With three people, the process worked twice as well as with two. Thanks Helene!

Outskirts of Macon
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The largest church in Macon
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Romanesque style and thick columns distinguish this church
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Downtown Macon
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The panniers are in Walmart bags, ready to try boarding the train to Lyon
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Thanks for all the help, Helene!
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We were dazed country folk, stepping off the train from sleepy Macon into the bustle of big city Lyon. First off, there were just plain more people around than we had seen since Paris. And the racial mix was far more diverse than in the countryside. Still, unlike London for example, the people at the train station were not frantic, not striding around, or pushing. There was just a lot of them.

The weather also seemed warmer than at Macon. We felt like this small step in distance had been a greater jump in climate.

Even though we fully expected it to be closed, we decided to head for the Tourist Information, since it would generally be in the middle of the tourist action, and after all we are tourists. We pedalled through city streets, dodging cars and often other cyclists. At one crosswalk, with zebra stripes under foot and a little green walking man on the traffic light, cars crossed in front of me. I pointed out the zebra stripes to one driver - she could not have cared less. We're in the city now!

The city itself has many personalities, as we bagan to see for ourselves and as we read in pages we had ripped out of a Rik Steves guide. There is a section with some tall towers (one of them, a hotel Radisson, wanted 530 euros a night - and I bet bike parking would be extra!), a shopping and restaurant district on the so called Presque-ile section between the Saone and Rhone rivers, and the old town, with its Notre Dame cathedral high on a hill.

Through the city as we pedalled and dodged, we got the impression of people really enjoying the river frontage roads and the warm weather, many of them out on bikes.

We never did find the Tourist Information (TI), though we circled where it should have been. So I ventured into a nearby hotel, hanging for dear life onto my 530 euros, and came out with a room for 65 and a secure place to stash the bikes. The desk clerk helped us carry everything and put away the bikes. Could be another closet cyclist.

Sitting on our bed, which is about all that could fit into the postage stamp room, Dodie read out Rick Steves' story about where we had landed up. We realized that the TI is just across the street. At least it is supposed to be. We almost want to go out in the night now to see just where the darn thing is hiding. Next, we are within walking distance of the old town and the funicular up to the cathedral. So for tomorrow our next moves are coming into focus.

Part of that focus involves of course the cathedral and the old town. But another part involves what we call in our family mythology the "Russian Sleigh Ride". What this is about is the image of being in Siberia on a horse drawn sleigh being chased by wolves. And they are gaining. So you look at things you have on board that otherwise would be deemed essential. To lighten the load first you throw the food overboard. That might even distract the wolves momentarily. But then you have to throw your buffalo robe overboard. You might freeze later, but it beats getting eaten now. And so forth.

So tomorrow we are going to mail back the tent. That's a move that could cost about 3000 euros, as we will land in hotels on the last 1/3 of the trip while passing through prime campground territory and weather. Russian sleigh ride! Also tomorrow we will do a further jump by train - about 100 km south.

But listen, Russian Sleigh Ride or not, we can not jump beyond Tain l'Hermitage. That's the site of our favourite chocolate factory. Let's stay real, eh!

The streets of Lyon
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A few tall towers in Lyon. We read of one called the "crayon" (pencil) but not sure where that is. The round one in the foreground is a hotel (probably no pilgrim rate!)
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Downtown Lyon has a Parisian air in terms of architecture
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Cycle paths by the river
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The public enjoying the river side
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The Grampies have returned to the Rhone!
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Notre Dame Cathedral, up on a hill. Lyon's answer to Montmartre in Paris.
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In the hotel lobby, today's newspaper. Sorry the photo is hard to read. It notes the American strike on Syria, without congressional approval. Trump, thinking himself king of the world is saying "Being king of the world has to be good for something".
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Today's ride: 38 km (24 miles)
Total: 638 km (396 miles)

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