Beaune was a great stop over; charming old city centre full of interesting sites and busy in a nice way. Not too rushed.
Decision time. Head direct towards Lyon meant using the busy N6 to Chalons Sur-Saone, totally unsuitable for cycling, or finding a parallel route on the eastern side of that road. This would take me through what looked like pretty unintersting scenery on the train journey up.
I always wanted to start my Camino cycles in Le Puy or Cluny so I figured going there would at least mean I got to fulfil my desire to visit Cluny. and the land west looked more interesting as it rose towards the Massif Central.
Getting out of big towns and cities is always challenging on a bike. For luck I found a quiet road, D18, to Blingy les-Beaune and onward to Demigny along the D19. This as it happens is the ‘proper route’ towards Lyon. Terrain is very flat, road is reasonably quiet and there is a walking path for about half the distance.
While this was a rather long diversion when heading towards Cluny, it was perfect foe cycling and I left the proper route here and took the D62 west to Chagny.
Chagny to Givry was a straight run on the D981, a main road but thankfully it wasn’t too busy and it held out the promise of better routes ahead. Soon enough I was in Boxy and a little bit of climbing broke the boredom of the road.
Not having done much preparation for this cycle meant every rise was hurting and Cluny seemed a long way off. After I passed through the sráidbhaile, St Boil, I noticed a sign indicating a Voie Verte – a greenway.
Unbelievable it was going all the way to Cluny. It was laid over a disused rail line and consequently it had some very long straight stretches but it was heaven on a bike! Much of it was shaded as it was tree lined most of the way and provided great shelter from the heat of the midday sun.
Long straight roads are the enemy of cyclists and walkers alike, but at least there were villages to break the journey if desired. The Voie Verte certainly improved my kms per hour although the long straight stretches made it seem like it was taking forever to reach my destination.
A great surprise was that the Voie Verte took me into Taize, the great spiritual retreat centre that has attracted thousands of young people since the 1940’s. Worth a stop over but it was so close to Cluny I kept moving.
I was really looking forward to Cluny. At it’s height it was the wealthiest monastery in Europe and the Church was the largest in Christendom until St Peter’s Basilica was built. Only a tiny portion of the Abbe remains and it is still impressive.
It now houses the national stud and is a major tourist attraction. Surprisingly enquiries about the Camino Frances were met with shrugs and lack of information – even in the Tourist Office. I could see no makers for the route around Town; given the popularity of the Camino Frances and Le Puy which isn’t that far away it was disappointing.
There was little sense of pilgrimage about the Town and certainly there were no pilgrims about.