Friday, 10 July 2015

Day seventeen (Wednesday) Chaumont to Saint Dizier (Monday) Neufchateau to Chaumont 81km 4 hours 46mins

Cakes: 1 croissant each; 1 pain au chocolat each; 1 tartes aux almondes (John); Coffee 2 x each

What glorious cycling! We had been unsure as we'd packed up our tent (on a day chilly enough to wear a fleece while packing up) if the cycle route beside the canal would go for any distance with a reasonable surface. Not only was is a great surface but there was even a bit of a following breeze at the start of the day as well.

The canal was lined with a variety of fragrant wildflowers, as well as pots spilling over with geraniums and other brightly coloured blossoms, as well as old lock-keeper's places.

We ventured into some of the tiny villages that sat near the canal, noticing a greater prevalence of timber-framed houses. One we visited - about 30 buildings, a church, a hairdresser's and a tabac - we were met by a lovely old guy who told us (we guessed piecing together our broken French) that the church was open and we should visit.

The first thing that struck me walking into the church was the relative simplicity, the peace, and the beautiful light. As well as stained glass windows, some were edged with a lacy effect that mottled the flagstones. The whole place felt like somewhere you might want to stop and take a moment.

We continued thoughtfully on our way pleasantly meditative, and delighting as the kilometres purred away under our tyres. 

There was an interesting moment where I thought "stick on the path". Then another part of my brain kicked in at which point I realised that I was about to run over a snake. Not a good thing to do as I am pretty sure the snake (an adder I think) would have objected. Swerving a little wildly I missed the snake, slammed the brakes on and returned with my camera...maintaining a very respectful distance - beautiful.

Saint Dizier is an interesting little town and we meandered around the historic walk (a lot of intricate cast iron and metalwork castings), before settling in for a beer and a good meal. Another long day tomorrow, and maybe the route will continue along the canal.

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