To Beaune - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

May 18, 2022

To Beaune

It was in 2009 that I took my first cycle trip through the vineyards of Côte de Beaune. I hadn’t biked in over 20 years, but a self-guided cycling trip in Burgundy was the only way to entice my sisters to join me for short vacation in France. It was a trip that changed my life – an introduction to a way of experiencing the world that I embraced and grew to love. It was only natural that Côte de Beaune was included on my first self-supported ride, chronicled here in my first Cycle Blaze journal. But today’s trip is made even more special because I will rendezvous with other Cycle Blazers for a multi-day mini-tour. Those who've read the current journals of Team Anderson and Suzanne Gibson already know of our plans for what promises to be a delightful romp through Burgundy.

 On today’s ride, I wanted to integrate parts of the past with the present and, perhaps, the future. Most especially, I wanted to experience again some of the memorable places I visited in 2009, the ones that drilled into my soul. But I was also keen to ride through the vineyards with Scott and Rachel, who would be coming through on their way from Chalon-Sur-Soône. I designed two routes – a direct route that overlapped with Scott and Rachael’s and a second route with that looped west through the towns of the Haute Côtes de Beaune.  

The first part of today’s ride was sheer bliss - almost seven miles of gentle downhill on the Nolay to Santenay Voie Verte, with vineyard neatly arrayed both above and below. Santenay marks the start of the Voie des Vignes, a 14 mile route that twists and turns through vineyards – you are in the midst of some of the most renowned Burgundy domains in the world. After passing through Santenay, I contacted Rachael to see how they were progressing – and wondering whether to wait and join them for the ride into Beaune. I found the only shady spot in Chassagne-Montrachet for a rest, a croissant, and to consider my options. Though I really wanted to wait for Scott and Rachael, I knew I would be riding with them for the next several days – and today would be my only chance to revisit the places where my cycling fever first took hold. So I left the Voie des Vignes and headed for the towns of the Haute Côte de Beaune.

Leaving Nolay under blue skies and sunshine
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Do you know the way to Santenay
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On the way to Santenay
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On the way to Santenay
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On the way to Santenay
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Sampigny-lès-Maranges sits among the vineyards
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In Santenay
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Wine tractors and other wine vehicles are common sites in the small towns of the Côte de Beaune
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On the Voie des Vignes
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On the Voie des Vignes
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The twists and turns of the Voie des Vignes
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Much of the care of highly valued vines and grapes of the Côte de Beaune is done by hand, rather than machine.
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On the Voie des Vignes
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The only shady spot in Chassagne-Montrachet
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As extraordinary as it is to cycle through the vineyards on the Voie des Vignes, one of the most memorable parts of the 2009 Tour des Soeurs, was the climb to the Château de La Rochepot, “a 12th century neo-Gothic, fortified castle".  Leaving Chassagne-Montrachet, I wound down along a small road through the town of Gamay and then started the long climb up, up through the town of Saint-Aubin and then up the winding roads that traversed the hillside. It was blistering hot, and after seeking respite in a small patch of shade I was unable to remount and propel myself forward, walking the final 50 yards to the top. From there, it was only a short way down before the Château de La Rochepot appeared on the far hillside, a spot captured in one of the classic photos of the 2009 tour.

Leaving the Vois des Vignes
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On the way to Saint Aubin
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Yes, vineyards are sprayed with chemicals
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Église Saint-Aubin
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Winding up across the hillside - if you look closely, you can follow the road most of the way to the top
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Looking down from part way up
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View from the top toward Côte de Beaune
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Looking north toward the Haute Côte de Beaune - I'm headed toward those far cliffs under the clouds on the middle left
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Château de La Rochepot, 2022
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My sisters Jeanie and Ann and the Château de La Rochepot, 2009
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I continued down through the town of Rochepot, then up and down through the small towns strung like beads below the cliffs of Haute Côte de Beaune: Baubigny, Évelle, Orches, Saint-Romain. In 2009, it was the  swooping downhill through and beyond Orches that sealed the deal, that made me a cyclist. It was thrilling to relive that moment today, albeit a bit more cautiously. At the bottom, I looked back at where I’d been - over the last two hours and over the last thirteen years. It’s been a wonderful journey, but it was now time to get back to Beaune and keep moving forward, this time in the company of some good friends and fellow Cycle Blazers. 

Cow of the day
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On the way to Baubigny
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Évelle
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Vivien George looking forward to Orches and the downhill swoop
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Orches
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Looking back up toward Orches
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Looking across in the direction of Rochepot
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Saint-Romain
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Back on the Voie des Vignes, with Beaune in the distance
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I met Suzanne and Janos at their studio apartment, with hugs for Suzanne and a warm introductory handshake for Janos. We embarked on the short walk to La Table du Square where Scott and Rachael were waving excitedly. After more rounds of embraces, we took our seats at an outdoor table in the shade and spent the next two hours in animated conversation while downing a bottle of wine and some seriously good food. Though this was the first time we were all together at once, we fell  easily into the camaraderie we each experienced last fall in Germany. There was little time for pictures - only excitement that the long-awaited day had arrived. 

Porte Saint-Nicolas, Beaune
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Hôtel de Ville, Beaune
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Today's ride: 29 miles (47 km)
Total: 980 miles (1,577 km)

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Kathleen JonesYay! Have a great time.
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