Woods near Bellechaume to Tonnerre

Day 12 and 13

Ride to the Rock for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Ansell Stage

The outer skin of the tent was saturated and my morning wee was interesting – especially when the fly sheet stool to my leg as I climbed out.

We left the woodland camp just after 0800.

I’m still feeling a little rough. My cough is persistent! So I’m really looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and a bed. We’ve booked this for tonight.

After a couple of miles on the road we arrived at a town called Brienon Sur Armancon. Here we enjoyed a coffee in a Tabac. From here a short distance connected us to the Canal de Bourgogne on the Dijon – Migennes section.

We stopped at a bench and ate baked beans and bread – warmed on the camp stove. The sunshine was beautiful and the water on the canal glistened, and our simple food felt like we were eating like kings.

Next to the bench was a lock. The locks are fortunate to have small stoned house – a simple but pleasant way to work and live.

As we were sat a boat waited to pass through and Andy looked like Christmas had arrived. So I encouraged him to ask if he could help. The lock keeper agreed and full of excitement – Andy independently opened the lock gates.

The boat passed through and waved to say thanks.

Continuing towards Tonnerre the canal was calm. We saw 2 otters playing together and some beautiful herons waiting for fish to pop their heads up and get a BIG surprise when they did!

This kind of cycling makes the day pass pleasantly.

Then something unexpected happened. What appeared was – like 2 kids coming home from school. One behind the other 2 goats trotted towards us – only a foot away.

So we stopped – as not to scare them. They didn’t seem bothered by us – walked straight past and trotted over the lock bridge.

One goat sat by the lock cottage front door and the other appeared to wait for us. Andy went over to see if it minded been stroked.

It didn’t mind. Andy stroked the goat and it leaned against him. Super cute. I was a little reluctant because I’ve got memories of one pushing me as a child and I was frightened. We had a break through today – I made a new friend!

We said our goodbyes.

We came off the canal and cycled into Tonnerre. Tonnerre is stunning and captivating and looks like time has stood still. However a lot of the buildings are decaying, signage is fading, and the money to sort this just doesn’t seem to be here. Few shops and restaurants are open, but the people are friendly and welcoming.

Day 13. A day of rest.

I’ve been under the weather! So we decided I needed a rest. We explored the town of Tonnerre.

I asked the lady in Tonnerres tourist information office if the towns economy was struggling. She said big employers had left the town and as a result the town is suffering. This is a sad situation because the town is stunning.

At lunchtime we went to Les Vieux Volets (the old shutters) a small restaurant run by Patrick Gallot and his daughter Marion. Lovely people who spoke superb English and were very kind to us.

We talked about our mutual backgrounds, Patricks wife is Japanese and is currently in Japan, Marion is engaged to a Japanese gentleman and will be moving to Japan soon. Fascinating people who generously donated to Médecins Sans Frontières after they heard our story.

After this we visited the churches, a market and relaxed in the centre.

Tonnerre has an ancient spring known as the Fosse Dionne or Dionne Pit. This is a natural water source and was used during Roman times to supply clean water to a nearby palace.

During the 18th century, a stone rim was built around the pool, with a spout at one end to allow the water to run off.

I dipped my toes.

Back on the bikes tomorrow.

Goodnight.

My new friend

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