Start of our cycling life | First 10 days of RAIN in France
First day of riding and first rain… We've cycled 36 kms and we are approaching the bridge… ...oh, the first border… ...which we probably won't even really realise that it's a border. As you can clearly see: I'm in France now, You are still in Germany, I guess. -I'm still in Germany? Yes! -Hello (in German) Hello (in French) -How are you? (in German) I am good. (in French) -Yeah! First new country, France! -Goodbye (in French) No, no... Hello! (in French) Remarkable how easy it was to cross our first border. Generations of our great grandparents had fought over the Alsace region for centuries.
Today I can only faintly remember that there used to be checkpoints. While cycling over that bridge was so easy, it still felt like a big step. During the months of preparation there had been questions and misgivings about all the unknown ahead of us.
Anxiety about our new way of life and leaving everything and all the familiar faces and places behind us. That is how thick his leg is now. Ready! Take care of yourselves! We'll see you on your trip. Ring, ring! Wohooo! One of our friends accompanied us out of the city, but soon enough we were on our own. There is just overwhelming excitement left, no space for doubts, at least for now.
Just one hour after entering France we reach the Canal du Rhône au Rhin and with that the EuroVelo 6 long-distance cycling road. It connects the Atlantic coast with the Black sea. We will follow it over 300 kms in the west, southwest direction, but more on our route later.
One of the many questions that will accompany us every day: Where will we sleep? Camping wild is a challenge for us. We have zero experience in this and now we are even in a foreign country. For the first night a lovely couple from warmshowers.org helped us to ease into our new way of life. On night two though all of our courage is necessary, as it is time for our first night of wild camping.
Mathias is especially uneasy about finding a “safe” spot for our tent. But there is only so much you can do, tired and with nightfall on your heels. - Hello from… what was the name? Pomm... Pom-Pierre? -Pompierre... Pompierre-deux-... -sur ... sur-Doub! Pompierre-deux-Soub! - No: Pompierre-sur-le-Doub! Ok, some French town. It's just over there.
You can later read it here, maybe. We spent our first night in the wild and survived. It was actually pretty comfortable, apart from rain from 8pm to 6 in the morning. So, I at least was a little bit distracted by all the noise. But I still feel very relaxed.
It was not cold, it was comfortable. The night, in the tent! Muhahahaha! Our first bivvy spot probably wasn't legal, but we put up our tent at sunset when no one saw us. Cow-selfie time with our neighbours. Okay, they saw us, but nobody listens to them anyways. I guess we will figure out wild camping with time.
To settle into our cycling life more gently, we will go all the way around the Alps. There is just a laughable total positive climb of about 3700 metres on the 1000 kms stretch that leads us from Freiburg in Germany to the French Mediterranean coast. But first let us take care of the most important things. Hello! We found a bakery… -“Artisan” means that they do it themselves, I think.
Hello Pain au chocolat?! And one coffee please! -One coffee? Yes! Breakfast! -What do you have? Two "pain au chocolate" -What? "Pain au chocolate"? Like chocolate breads. -Chocolate bread? Enjoy! Actually, there is a lot of air inside, but it's not that much. It's tasty because of the butter and sugar. -Apparently the best drinkable water in France, you can find in the cemeteries.
We didn't have any water since yesterday, so it's a luck we found one. Actually, we‘ve had a lot of water these days. It‘s getting late in the year and colder by the day. -That is s*** now. -The tent becomes wet now.
-How and where do you want to dry it, dear? It's a rainy, rainy day! (singing) -This is by the way an example for "I told you so!" Still, we enjoy the wonderful views on the EV6, which is either winding next to the river or goes straight like the canal that connects the Rhine with the Rhone river. Especially now that autumn is in full swing, the deciduous forests are showing off their most radiant dresses. It feels like beauty, peace, freedom and solitude. After the stressful preparation phase this is just what we need. We almost fly through the mist and rain to Besancon and reach it in the evening of day 3.
One thing we have learned so far is that we should take breaks sooner rather than later. Our hosts invite us to stay a second night. We take a day off from cycling to explore the stunning medieval city, with it's gothic cathedral, impregnable fortress, and narrow alleyways. Vauban While Besancon is a stunning beauty, this could be true about most of France.
We are amazed by the sheer prettiness, history and elegance of everything we see around us. We are leaving the beautiful city of Besancon now and... After 3 days cycling, 4th day of the trip, like 5th day today, actually.
We decided it's time to send the first stuff away. So, we are at the post office, which is in that building. Maybe you can take a look… It's basically most of our camera bags, a lot of little things that we decided are just too heavy. And also the extra bowl and an extra cup.
We still have one of each, but that should be enough... and some books. Yeah, so that's probably 3 kgs at least and we also found some other stuff that we can get rid of in the future. And also we get rid of those. They are just too long. We don't need them and they are also pretty heavy. So that all can go back to Germany! I'll bring this away.
Having taken care of that we leave the city via the canal below the fortress. The 391 metres long tunnel was built from 1878 to 1882, almost 50 years after the main canal was finished. The bread is a little bit dry and hard. Never eat a two-day-old baguette. Never! Is it two days old? Three days maybe… Baguette always fresh! Where did we buy it? Second day in Mulhouse.
Oh really? Okay... So this baguette is about 200 kms old. Now in November we can not stop very long. When not moving we start freezing very fast. It is cold, windy and rainy again and we still follow the EV6.
We arrive in Dole when it is already getting dark and it’s still raining. For the night we found a couchsurfing host at the last minute. He heated his fireplace and prepared a delicious Gratin Dauphine for dinner. We even get a classic aperitif: local vine with Creme de Cassis. After a restful night, in the warm and dry, it is time to get going again. We really want to get to the south as quickly as possible.
But when our host suggests a short tour we have to agree. Dole seems to be another little gem, so we take a peak of the early renaissance Notre-Dame de Dole and a few alleyways in the historical centre. -Louis Pasteur was born in this house! Louis Pasteur? Louis Pasteur is the guy who, among other things, invented the pasteurisation of milk to make it more durable. And he was born in this house in 1822? Yes! Who would know – Louis Pasteur of Dole, Burgundy, France, yes? No! Burgundy, no. Franche-Comté! Oh it is still Franche-Comté? Oh no, oh my god! Okay, sorry, sorry! Franche-Comté! So, this is Verdun-sur-le-Doubs. We did almost 64 kms today, coming from Dole heading to Chalon-sur-Saône, but it's too far.
We need some water now, and then we'll find a place for the night. Thank you very much, mister. I don't understand, sorry. Thank you very much.
Goodbye. Have a nice day! Water for the day. Let's go! On the evening of day 6 we took all our braveness together and set our tent just next to the river Saône when it was getting dark. It seems like public land and should be ok. Just a handful of people walking themselves or their dogs saw us, but nobody seemed to bother.
I'm about to check the time. So we did almost 360 kms so far, rode for 25 hours, with an average speed of 14.24 kph. So this time is wrong, because I haven't changed it yet. From the summer to winter time change. So it's 7:30 in the morning.
It is 5 degrees celsius. The forecast says light rain for today. Let's hope it's more light than rain. Light. Rain. No. -Woohoo!
No. It's their privacy. They don't want to be photographed. Come on. Hello! Hello? No. They really don't like you.
And me... We are in Chalon-sur-Saône and I'm going to buy bread here. A beautiful farmers market. Hello! One banette.
Oooh, kaki. I have to take one, those are very tasty! I take one. My French is not very good. Thanks! So, I have one baguette, one kaki and I don't know. If I find some tomatoes, I'll take some. But if not, we have enough food. Like you can see: France is a cheese paradise! Look, who I've found here. Hello!
-Hello madame (in French) -Oh lala, a baguette! -Super! Oh, it's warm. And I bought one kaki. - Kaki? Okay. -Oh, wow, it's really ripe. -That will be very tasty. But I'm freezing to death.
Shall we get going? -We should. Also, I think it's going to rain soon. Yes, I see. The clouds are getting darker. Then let's go. We'll be riding this old railroad line that was converted into a cycling road. Now we ride this amazing, flat levelled road all the way to Macon. But we'll need to take a little lunch break soon, because I'm getting hungry.
How about you? Are you hungry? -Yeah, always! We are making a little detour. Away from the Voie Verte to Givry. We managed to do 9kms since Chalon-sur-Saône. Oh my god! It's just not funny anymore! Wherever you stop, it's only these beautiful old town centres with these sweet, old, tiny houses. We'll take a break somewhere around here. Yeah! - What is it? We just hit 400 kms since Freiburg.
Goodbye Mathi! Wow. Mathias. I think we found a place to sleep for tonight. - Wow. Have a look!
Looks like this will be a very dry night with a good view. -What a beautiful place! -What do you think, was this a bar? No. I think it's public actually. So, In France it's allowed to spend the night in a small tent, if you put it up only for one night.
I believe it must be later than 7 pm in the evening or at least after the sun goes down It's almost winter, sun goes down at close after 5pm. Let's go check this place out! We'll have very comfortable seating possibilities for dinner tonight, which is amazing. Even dry. The bar is locked.
The bar is closed, that's sad! Well, here is a door. Okay, this one is also locked. But look! Maybe, if we are a little bit cold tonight, we might be able to put up a little fire later.
So, this one is actually open. Look at this! Wow! It even has working lights. -What? It's a public toilet. Fantastic! -I was already searching for the toilet paper. Ok, there is no toilet paper. But let's check. Yes, we have water!
What was in this room? It's just another toilet and some impressive piece of art that is not for young people to watch. So, we'll probably have to blur this area out. Uh uh. Much more of this art here.
*hysteric laughing* Oh my god! Ok, there is a lot of art in this place. Let's put it like that. Great! Let's hope that the people that made this art in the restroom, don't come later and to do some practice. Let's rather enjoy the view over there.
The sun is going down. Get ready for a little fire here. Yes. That is great! Ladies and gentleman. Dinner is ready.
We have some supermarket noodles, cooked with peppery nut sauce. Lots of onion and garlic. Now I invite you to dinner, with me. Good! So, I brought our bread to warm it near the fire. Maybe I can put it here.
And then we are going to have some goat cheese with fig sauce. Mathias' mother gave it to us when we started. So, thank you! This is a very delicious breakfast. Our beautiful breakfast. You are right on time! You made fire, I put new brake pads on my bike and I cleaned my chain. See you from the road? Maybe in Lyon.
For now we continue our way on the Voie Verte, which wanders off from the river Saône, into the hills of southern Burgundy. One of many French regions famous for its excellent vineyards. It is about 100 more kms to Lyon, a big city half the way to the coast.
We found a family that will take us in for a couple of days. On a local farm we get some supplies and a bottle of vine as a guest present. Check. Buy wine in Burgundy. Amazing! -6 Euros. Hello! Cou-Cou! A waitress in Chalon-sur-Saône told us that Burgundy, where we are since yesterday, is famous for its wine, obviously, but also for its beef. I believe like this one.
I can imagine why they are famous for their beef. They have a pretty good life here: chilling on the grass the whole day, playing, feeding grass. Do you have the most beautiful eyes? And you have a friend… Come on, let's go! Today so far, we did just one kilometre. Yes, let's go! Despite the fabulous surroundings, off camera the two of us start nagging on each other, arguing even.
There it is again, the pressure. Now more than ever. The near constant rain, low temperatures and exhaustion from days full of pedalling are taking their toll and this time our bikes are even heavier. There are so many decisions we have to make during one day and we have different opinions most of the time. Mathias for example is almost paranoid about not being seen when we set up our camp. This disturbs me a lot, as it makes me feel very uneasy and unsafe.
We finally made it to the city of Lyon. So far, it looks really nice. Old buildings everywhere, squeezed between the river and the mountains on each side. Yes, we are pretty tired and on edge, but at least we did it. We will rest here for at least one day, because we have to handle a lot of stuff: clean the bikes, wash our clothing, everything. So, maybe we'll even stay for two days.
We also need to go to an outdoor shop and get some stuff to become more practical outdoors. Yes, we will see. Apparently “Au Vieux Campeur '' has six stores down this road. We've been in all of them at least once, sometimes even twice, and "just" 1,5 or 2 hours later after all we got two things from our list. Another headlamp and a wool scarf. Also we got this emergency blanket: It's supposed to insulate against the cold.
We will put it below the air-mattresses on very cold nights and by this we hope we can get rid of our third sleeping bag, which is 1,6 kgs and also pretty big, which will be great. That's day one in Lyon, we are tired now, we go home, do some work and tomorrow we do sightseeing. Walking in this 2000 years old city left us amazed with its historical buildings like the cathedral and the roman theatre. Look at this! Reaching Lyon means we made it half of the way to the coast.
Our main destination from now: to the sea, the sun, the south, to Marseille. But where are we headed in general? Once we reach the coast the climate will be more pleasant and we will then start to head towards the east. That is where most of our longing places lay. First Yerevan, in Armenia, where Arev grew up, Southeast Asia and later South Korea, where my mother is from. But step by step, shall we? After two days of rest we feel the urge to hit the road again.
There you have it. Until next time!