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Category: Europe Cycling 2012

Holiday cycling in Europe – Munchen to Craon

19 May – Along the Rhine to Herten (just outside Rheinfelden)

19 May – Along the Rhine to Herten (just outside Rheinfelden)

A slightly longer ride today at around 100km. Overcast with no wind but surprisingly warm. The chill has left the air since we descended from the Bodensee.

We have followed the Rhine the whole day through changing landscapes. In the morning we cycled through part of the Schwarzwald (Black forest). We also crossed into Switzerland again for a while over a toll bridge (bikes dont pay!). Also some cycling along bike paths over farmland. There are quite a number of other touring cyclists on these paths with pannier bags. Some have whole families including little children on bikes or in towed wagons.

We spent about an hour finding accommodation, due to a bike tour/race that is happening in the area. The hotel we have is OK but not as good as our previous accommodation (we are getting spoilt!). However it does have internet.


  • Riding on an island (which is a nature reserve) on the Rhine just outside Shaffhausen
  • Stopping to buy (and eat) cake at a bakery
  • The beautiful border town of Bad Sackinnen – cobbled streets etc again. Most notable were the bridge over the Rhine into the old town and the stunning gothic cathedral.
  • Riding through a few wooden covered bridges (some of which cars cannot go through)
  • Another swan with cygnets (the male almost attacked Kris).


  • Kris broke another spoke! Luckily this time it only took about 20 min to fix. I am becoming a handy bike mechanics assistant.
  • The outskirts of Rheinfelden were seedy with broken bottles on the road etc. Across the border on the Swiss side it is a beautiful historic town but seemed very posh.
20 May – In France

20 May – In France

A long day, we did at least 100km, reaching the small town of Autrechene which is near Belfort.

We reached Basel early in the morning and enjoyed riding around listening to the church bells. Nice and quiet as it is a Sunday. Basel is interesting as the city spans three countries – Germany, France and Switzerland. It spans the Rhine and there are some lovely paths alongside the river and many bridges. There is alsoa large port.

Then we crossed over into France and made our way on a road (no bike path) over rolling hills. Very much like the Eastern Transvaal with a huge sky. It was quite hot in the middle of the day.

We reached Ferrette after a long but fairly gentle hill climb. It has a ruined castle on the top of it’s hill. There we used a tourist info map to map our route through small towns (about one every 2km) to Delle. This was the best part of the ride, very pretty rural landscapes and towns.

We felt sure we would find accommodation in a town the size of Delle, but found the two hotels had closed in 2010 and despite various directions from locals we couldn’t find anything.   The town seems to be going downhill as there are a number of derelict buildings. This seems to be as a result of economic conditions.  Eventually we moved on to the next town (Grandvillars) with same result and so on for couple of hours. Eventually we found a place after more advice from locals, but this was full. They phoned ahead to another place to confirm they could take us and directed us here. This was around 4km away. So we only found our accommodation at 7pm, having started looking at 4pm. We had visions of sleeping under a bridge at some stage. We were exhausted from riding for longer than desired, but still in good spirits.


  • Poppies growing wild on side of road
  • Beautiful landscape
  • The accommodation we found is lovely – (Le Bambios) – it is at the top of a large house in the country surrounded by well kept gardens and far vistas. We have a large room and bathroom/ kitchenette. The decor is gorgeous, like someones home, and the lady owner very helpful. She has booked our next night accommodation and washed our clothes!


  • Kris broke 2 spokes in the morning and then another in the afternoon at Ferratte. We have concluded that his spokes must be from a bad batch. Probably we will have to replace all 32 on this trip, especially as the weight of Kris with his baggage is considerable.
21 May – EuroVelo6 along the Doubs (to Baume-les-dames)

21 May – EuroVelo6 along the Doubs (to Baume-les-dames)

We have found our way onto a cycle route along the Doubs river.  It started out as a towpath along a canal, when we left Autrechene, eventually becoming a path alongside a large river. Saw quite a few people fishing along the banks but no boats.

Most of the ride was flat and easy. We ended up doing around 100km, even though our destination was only 70km away, due to going in the wrong direction at the start and then spending some time riding around Montbeliard. Kris bought a French mobile phone chip (expensive) and I bought a pastry (the bakeries here are a joy). We also bought groceries.

More trouble with the spokes put pressure on getting to our accommodation in the evening. Our accommodation was difficult to find but was lovely – rooms at the top of a large farm house.


  • herons on the river banks
  • locks at regular intervals
  • seeing the river grow and the banks change from farmland to cliffs and trees
22 May – EuroVelo6 to Besancon

22 May – EuroVelo6 to Besancon

Today was a shorter (rest) day – only did around 60km on a flat road. It was wet but not cold. The bike route is still along the river and sometimes on towpaths along a canal which has been built to the side of the river. These canals were built in 18th to 19th century and are not functional today. However we began to see quite a few houseboats moored along them today.
We spent quite a bit of time in Besancon, both at the tourist info and looking around the city. We also visited 3 bike shops but none of them could sell us a new wheel for Kris’s bike. Kris is resigned to replacing all the spokes, we think it is due to poor quality spokes as the bike mechanics can’t see anything wrong with the wheel (never buy an Avanti! We have friends that had the same problem with Avanti).

We found our accommodation through the tourist info – it is a bed and breakfast at the top of someones house, practically on the cycle path. It is at Beure, just a few km outside of  Besancon. He charged us 5E less because we arrive on bicycles. The other guests are French and also on bicycles – we all had coffee together when we arrived and a conversation in a mixture of French, German and English.


  • breakfast at the farm B&B- our best so far. All farm or local made products. She had made the best apricot jam I ever tasted. Also wonderful cheese. Coffee served in bowls.
  • Reflections of the trees in the canal
  • The rain stopping and fresh feeling in the air
  • Coming around a bend in the river and seeing the Besancon citadel emerge out of the mist up on a hill (looked like something out of Lord of the Rings)
  • riding past citadel fortifications which are UNESCO world heritage site
  • bike path going through a tunnel alongside the canal on entering the city (with water dripping on you from above)
  • Narrow streets and tall white stone buildings in Besancon centre


  • 1 spoke broken today
23 May – To St Jean de Losne

23 May – To St Jean de Losne

A good ride at around 85km in cool overcast conditions.Still on EuroVelo 6 next to the canal and river- nice and flat.We passed Roquefort but couldn’t find anywhere to buy cheese, so went on to Dole.

Dole is a beautiful small city – the birthplace of Louis Pasteur. We stopped at the tourist info to book our accommodation and then went to the supermarket where Jenny was overwhelmed by the range of cheeses (yes, we did buy Roquefort cheese, plus red wine and pastries – this is the life!).

After riding around Dole and seeing Pasteur’s birthplace we went on to St Jean de Losne where we found our accommodation at around 3pm. We had a picnic on the riverbank and then a few beers and coffee at the waterfront bar adjoining our accommodation.


  • a man playing the violin on the other side of the riverbank
  • Dole Cathedral interior with huge paintings illustrating life of Christ up high on the nave.
  • seeing boats going through the locks for the first time and chatting to some South Africans who were on the boat, on a canal boating holiday.
  • Picnic on the river at St Jean de Lesne – alongside all the tourist barges.
  • Enjoying the atmosphere at the riverside pub including French music – European tourists, our hosts with their dog, smoking while waiting on table – don’t give a damn in typical French fashion and cannot speak any other language. Numerous locals walking dogs – they really love their dogs here.
  • No broken spokes today!


  • The accommodation the worst yet – at the back up a narrow staircase off a dark hall  – all a bit seedy. However after spending some time at the cafe out front we warmed up to the place. We should have been warned by the very cheap price – next time we will ask the tourist info for something a little more expensive!
24 May – To Givry via Chalon sur Saone

24 May – To Givry via Chalon sur Saone

Terrible sleep last night- itching all the time, I’m sure there were bedbugs or fleas in the bed (we slept on our sleeping bags). I hope we don’t catch something nasty.

We were out of the hotel as soon as possible and on the road at 7.30am (no breakfast provided).

A nice cool misty morning and easy road along the river. However the EuroVelo6 was not as easy to follow today and we left it on several occasions (we later met some British cyclists who had also lost it, so I think it was not just us). Mostly the landscape is very flat here, all farmland interspersed with small villages.

We found some pastries for breakfast – yum.

More mechanical dramas today. Kris’s rear tire was losing air slowly so we decided to change the inner tube. We had three brought from NZ. One we donated a few days ago to a down and out cyclist on the road with an ancient bike and a flat tire (we have come across quite a few of these – they  are like tramps – one of us gave us direction today). So we replaced the tube and had trouble with it bulging when we inflated the tire. Half an hour later or so the tire was flat again. So we replaced it with our last tube. By this time around 10km from the city of Chalon sur Saone. Anyway, this one lasted to the city outskirts before the whole thing fell apart and Kris was pushing his bike. By this time the sun had come out and it was really hot. We walked into the center and found a bike shop – luckily they were very helpful. We were so relieved he could fix the bike right away and have it ready by 3pm. So we had an hour to walk around the city, go to tourist info, buy groceries etc. They also straightened the wheel and replaced the tire which was getting worn.

Then we cycled about 10km to the beautiful little town of Givry and our wonderful accommodation there. I really am quite taken with this town, it is really pretty, and at the start of the next bike route, which evidently goes through vineyards.

All up we did around 70km today.


  • Picnic in rose garden at Givry- Kris likes drinking the red French wine out of the bottle. We have no glasses with us.
  • Our accommodation is amazing and our best yet. It lifted our spirits after a difficult day. It is in a converted barn attached to the back of a house near the centre of town. Very private through our own entrance off barn/ garage where we store our bikes. There is a kitchen at the bottom with a stone floor and wall (looks ancient). Upstairs is a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. Elegantly decorated. The only hazard are low beams which are an original feature of the building (Raewyn needs to move in here, the rest of us have to duck). Outside the window we can see the town and church steeple. Behind our place is a large garden enclosed with old stone walls. In the centre a large cherry tree with delicious cherries – we can eat as many as we wish. The hosts are friendly, also go on cycling holidays and speak English.
  • Walking around the town at around 9pm, temperature still 19 degrees and the light fading into sunset.
25 May – The green route (Voies Vertes)

25 May – The green route (Voies Vertes)

We completed the green cycle route today, doing around 70km from Givry to Creches-sur-Saone. We started fairly late at around 9am after a delicious breakfast with croissants. The first 50km or so were very easy – the best cycle route we have been on. It is so well graded, tarred throughout and totally separate from the road, you can make good time. Very gentle slopes. All through stunning countryside with rows of trees shading the way, fields of wild flowers, eventually also vines. It is at its most stunning when we were taken a little way up and had a vista over the surrounding farms.

We past Cluny and went into the town to see if we could see the Abby, but it was disappointing, very busy with cars on narrow streets: However the buildings were stunning – all made of old stone. (why don’t they make the center pedestrian only like so many other towns?)

After Cluny the bike path became a bit steeper in parts until it eventually ended. We made our way on to the town of Creches-sur_Saone at around 3pm (very hot by this time), which is a pretty bustling place with several hotels and large shops. We are in the Comfort Hotel – part of a chain and pretty standard hotel.


  • the Tunnel du Bois Clair few km after Cluny – it is only available to bikes or walkers, 1.6km long. It is pretty cold inside (relief from the heat) and lit by electric lights. There are bats which hibernate from Oct to March when the tunnel is closed, but we didn’t see any.
  • Talking with a Dutch couple on the other side of the tunnel who had cycled from Barcelona and were on their way back to Holland – quite a bit older than us and doing similar route.
  • Shopping at the Carrefour near our hotel – it is like a hypermarket with hundreds of cheeses and a whole isle of yogurts to chose from, quite overwhelming:
  • Eating hamburger and egg at a Belgian cafe in the mall – we were beginning to crave protein.


  • One spoke broken – at least the rate of breakage seems to be slowing
  • The computer keyboard is no longer working (at least a few keys aren’t) – must have taken a knock. We bought a cheap keyboard at a local shop and that works for now, but it is French so some of the keys are in the wrong places (a,w,m and .) which makes life difficult. Also one more thing to carry – we are wondering if we should buy a new netbook.
25 May (Saturday) – Lyon

25 May (Saturday) – Lyon

We had been debating whether to go round or through Lyon as big cities are no fun on a bike. Today we ended up going through it.

We started out without a bike path today and lots of traffic leaving Creches-sur_Saone. However Kris ably navigated us to some quieter country roads to the east of the Saone river and we had an enjoyable ride through some very picturesque towns – all ocher walls and old men tending immaculate vegetable patches. Roughly going south along the Saone, but not usually in sight of it.

Some of the hills in this area really remind me of the Western Cape.

We stopped at the tourist info at Trevoux, a beautiful town right on the river with ancient stone buildings. They were very helpful and booked our accommodation and provided maps.

Then onto Lyon. We navigated through along the river the whole way and out the other side without veering into central streets. Coming into Lyon was lovely – there was a bike path, albeit part of the road, and we traveled along the river looking at all the buildings; cafes; bridges; avenues of trees etc. Towards the center it became denser and denser – some parts very nice along the waterfront and others difficult to negotiate. It is a huge city. Caught sight of some stunning old buildings but also some very unusual modern architecture on the southern side.

Leaving was a bit of a nightmare with bike access disappearing and cars in all directions. Kris did wonders again guiding us onto back streets and then through to the town of Irigny on the outskirts.

In all we did around 85km. It was extremely hot in the late afternoon – the temperature seems to build up during the morning and peak at around 3pm – then not cool down until around 9pm


  • Having a cold beer at the top of a long hill in Irigny, only a few hundred meters from our destination – very friendly garden restaurant-pub.
  • Our accommodation in Irigny -in a nice residential area – we have a flat at the bottom of a large home with it’s own entrance. There is a large garden. Full kitchen, bathroom and bedroom very nicely decorated. Very comfortable and private. Also full Internet access here (cable not wifi).


  • Two spokes broken
27 May – Along the Rhone to Serrieres

27 May – Along the Rhone to Serrieres

I am writing this blog from the balcony of our hotel room, overlooking the Rhone river in the fading light. It is past 9pm but still light and warm – I am only wearing my T-shirt.

Today we only did around 65km and arrived here nice and early at around 3pm.

The Saone river joins the Rhone at Lyon, so we are following the Rhone down south from now on.

Our day started with a detour from the motorway which took us up a long hill climb of around 3km – a bit of a shock to the system after all the river rides. It took us onto a plateau with very prosperous looking farmland and farmsteads. This was the most scenic part of the ride. Kris asked directions from a old codger who was amazed to see us – the first time he has seen cycle tourists up there.

Once we came down the hill we made our way to Vienne  – another ancient town on the river overlooked by a ruined castle on the hill. Here we were surprised to find the tourist office open as it is Sunday – picked up a map of the cycle route south.

The cycle route south was pretty good – off road along the river most of the way to Serrieres.


  • Passing through a nature reserve on the cycle route, forest type environment together  with hides for bird watching
  • Walking along the promenade by our hotel in the evening and then having a drink at the local pub
  • Seeing four swans flying together low along the still river at dusk


  • Kris breaking a spoke and then Jenny also breaking a spoke in the heat of the day. Kis spent at least an hour fixing spokes today.
28 May – to Valence and then Etiole Sur Rhone

28 May – to Valence and then Etiole Sur Rhone

Had a nice early start today due to no breakfast at hotel. Instead we had coffee and yummy pastries from next door bakery.The bike paths were not too difficult but did disappear at times. We did around  85km following the Rhone.

We stopped for info and accommodation booking in Valence and then onto the supermarket before it closed for the afternoon, as it was a public holiday.

Our accommodation is out in the countryside on a farm – took a bit of riding around through wheat fields to find and also took us a bit off route. Still we got their nice and early just after two, with the heat just building up. We have a self contained room built from stone off the side of the rambling farm buildings. Lovely roses growing outside and chickens wondering around.

We enjoyed a bottle of red wine and strawberries on our patio before falling asleep for a couple of hours!

Quite a relaxed day as no spokes broken!


  • The early morning ride next to the river with the reflections of trees on the still water and an easy bike path: Passing two swans with cygnets.