Le Grand Départ
Yesterday Cortambert hosted the annual cycle race for the René Alamagny Trophy in conjunction with the Vélo sport mâconnais. A prestigious race as it’s part of the preparation for the championship of France. The race was 15 gruelling circuits of 6km starting at the foyer rural in Cortambert. The cyclists climbed the hill to Butte à Vent before descending swiftly past Les Sarilles and down to Varanges, round our corner and along the road back to Cortambert.
A technical descent into Varanges
We were relieved the weather was perfect, warm and sunny without the thunderstorms of last year.
Georges going off to marshal
The men were sent off to various outposts to prevent any traffic from coming onto the course in front of the pelaton. Cars could go in the direction of the race but not against it.
Meanwhile the ladies on the buvette worked tirelessly all afternoon providing gaufres and beer to the supporters.
There was quite a gathering after the race to see the winners being presented with their prizes by our mayor, Pierre-Jean.
We went home for an hour to catch the final moments of the Tour de France. Another celebration for France as Jean-Christophe Péraud and Thibaut Pinot came second and third. Jean-Christophe Péraud is feted here for winning the Cortambert cycle race in 2006 when he was still an amateur.
Afterwards Martine (Mrs Mayor) invited all the signaleurs and their wives to a very welcome meal held al fresco under the lime trees. A perfect finish to a very exciting day.
It has been a Bank Holiday in France today to celebrate May Day, traditionally La Fête du Muguet as it’s the day to go down to the woods to pick lily of the valley. But we’re ahead of ourselves this year as we did that nearly three weeks ago. Because of the mild spring and wall to wall sunshine in March and April everything’s a bit early this year.
The first group at the foyer rural in Cortambert
Having the day off was a good opportunity for an outing so Patrick organised a sortie en vélo. There was a very good turnout with 20 of us braving the 45km ride.
Others join us in Toury
We set off from Cortambert and turned north through Bray and Prayes, and began ascending the steep hill to Brancion. But Patrick was kind pour les allergiques aux montées and we went only as far as the Château de Nobles, a very impressive B&B and winery, before turning off Collonges sous Brancion. We passed through Etregny, Champlieu and Champagny sous Uxelles and returned via Chapaize.
The joy of cycling around these parts is the lack of vehicles on the road except for farm machinery. We didn’t take the cycling too seriously, stopping to ooh and aah at the little lambs and calves in the fields. In Chapaize we stopped by the medieval church.
The Romanesque church at Chapaize
The weather forecast wasn’t good, rain with thunderstorms for later. Fortunately the weather remained perfect for cycling, no wind and not too sunny.
Thank you Patrick for a most enjoyable ride through picturesque villages and lovely countryside.
Chris and Marie Antoinette enjoying a drink
And thank you for inviting us in for much appreciated drinks afterwards!
Ready for an early start
The Cortambert Cycle Club met this morning for a 41km ride which went through some of the prettiest villages imaginable. I loved this ride as, like Escher’s perpetual staircase, it seemed to be downhill all the way until the last few kilometres back up the hill to Cortambert.
We headed north via Bray to Lys, then to Chapaize and Champagny-sous-Uxelles, and followed the river to Bresse-sur-Grosne and Sercy, ending up in St Gengoux-le-National. We had an easy ride back along the voie verte past Cormatin before turning off at Massilly for the upward climb back to Cortambert.
The profile of our route
It’s wonderful landscape for cycling. You can stay within the Grosne Valley which is relatively flat, or you can tackle the challenging ascents over the hills into the next valley. And there’s very little traffic. We must have met half a dozen motorists at most during our ride. If you want to keep off the roads the voie verte makes cycling very easy with such slight inclines that you hardly notice.
Preparations are being made for a rather bigger event, the Tour de France, which departs from Liège in Belgium on June 30th . There will be a rest day in Mâcon and on Wednesday July 11th we will see the start of stage 10, a 194 km ride towards Switzerland, climbing the 1500m Col du Grand Colombier on the way.
This rather puts this morning’s ride into perspective!
The grandchildren came to stay last week and it was perfect weather for them with blue skies and warm sunshine. It was better than when they came in August as at the end of September there is little risk of sunburn and children tend to sleep better on cooler nights.
Maggie and Jo at the playpark at St Point
It was easy to keep the kids amused. They love going swimming and we tried out the lake at St Point. Perhaps it’s not so suitable for very little children as there is no beach and the water becomes deep quite quickly. But there is plenty of shade and a great playpark by the campsite.
The lake at St Point
We also returned to Lac de Laives where the little ones could dig in the sand and paddle. Hardly anyone else was there which surprised me seeing the weather was so good.
The beach at Lac de Laives
Cycling is a new craze for Maggie and we spent a couple of mornings on the voie verte at Massilly.
Maggie on the voie verte
The voie verte is a safe place for learning to cycle or simply going for a walk.
Chris and Jo set off for Cluny
The children like going into the old railway station with its colourful mural. There are tables and chairs inside for people to have lunch if the weather isn’t too good.
Maggie is also keen on horses and our kind neighbour let her ride Duchesse round the field.
And of course there was a visit to Gwendy every day. Gwendy is very gentle and is careful not to munch on little fingers.
Maggie feeding Gwendy
This Indian summer is due to end on Friday but we can’t complain after such a wonderful September.