Burgundy by bicycle
If a day before you had a five-hour dinner in Michelin restaurant then I may guess with the probability of 100% that you will need a recovery program the very next day. For us I chose a day trip on bicycles in Burgundy, in Macon region. It was a combination of both sport activity that our bodies needed after eating four-course dinner and enjoying the vineyards, landscape and wine, of course. As I was a lazy tour planner, I didn’t book anything in advance. Never, never repeat it, especially, at the hight season. Especially, in France. Fortunately, we got our bikes, even upgraded version of them with electric power, which was very helpful while cycling uphill in vineyards. As for the cave visits, August is not the right place if you want to visit small family-run caves. Almost all wine producers were off on vacations as the only time they can do it is August, right before the harvest. Only big domain and wine shops were open. However, it was more for selling wine, than visiting caves and proper wine tasting. Therefore we just enjoyed randomly opened caves, hot Burgundy summer, endless vineyards and bicycles on electric power :).
Burgundy boasts nearly 1000km of signposted and safe cycling trails, the majority of which form part of the itinerary of “Le Tour de Bourgogne à vélo”. They are made up of Greenway routes and cycling routes, usually running alongside canals along the towpaths, but also travelling down former railway lines or across small roads and pathways through the vineyards. If you plan to discover the region by bicycle there are many websites with detailed itineraries and plans. I list some of them at the end of this post.
1.We got our bicycles in a tourist office in Macon. The first stop was Prissé village, with picturesque river and a mill on it.
3.Then we arrived to endless vineyards of Maconnais vine area.
4…And got lost on the way to Vergisson village.
5.The view on the valley is breathtaking!
7.Just to remind you – it was mid August, mid of vacation season, very very hot and empty. I don’t remember how long we stayed in that shadow. For sure we had the rest for some while to chill and refresh.
9.Vineyards to the horizon.
10.La roche de Vergisson hangs over the village. Similar to the rock of Solutré, the rock of Vergisson has limestone nature. Both of them were formed during the Mesozoic era when Burgundy region was a bottom of a warm sea. Yes, imagine, that 160 million years ago all the territory was covered with water and instead of vineyards there were coral colonies.
13.La roche de Solutré is a remarkable rock of 493 meters height erected in the middle of vineyards.
15.That feel when the entire Burgundy belongs to you!
16.Peaceful – this is a correct word to describe Burgundy landscape in August.
17.The rock Solutré and the village Solutré-Puilly at the foot of the rock. This area belongs to the famous domain Puilly-Fuissé and the main grape variety (cépage in French) is Chardonnay.
18.It was almost end of lunch time, we were hungry and exhausted when we arrived to Solutré-Puilly village. A French country side may seem to be empty and deserted in August but not at lunch time. Every single table in the only village restaurant will be full and waiters will be busy with serving aperitif, wine, bread, water, main dish and, finally, coffee. We got our table and the chef agreed to serve some starters and salads which was pure luck! Yes, you need to remember that the lunch in France is served between midday and 2 p.m. Then restaurants are closed and you may only get coffee / beer with some snacks after 2 p.m.
20.A lunch and a bottle of good wine gave us energy to continue our trip. The electric batteries were still half-charged and we went back on the road. The next stop in our itinerary was Puilly village.
21.Roses… They are best friends of wine makers. Do you know the reason? Grapevines and roses are prone to infestation of a fungus known as powdery mildew (Oidium) that flourishes in warm unpredictable climates, with roses being more susceptible they served as an early warning sign to the vineyard manager to take the necessary precautions to protect vines from damage. If powdery mildew appears on the roses, it’s a warning to immediately spray the vineyard with sulphur, which does not cure powdery mildew, but will prevent it. Downy mildew is another deadly mildew that attacks all the green parts of the grape vine. Once Downy mildew is detected on the rose bushes, the grape vines are immediately sprayed with a solution of copper sulphate and lime.
25.While cycling in the region the only people we met were other cyclists. All locals gone for vacations or were hidden in courtyards.
28.The church in Fuissé village, another famous village which gave its name to the wine, belongs to Appellations Villages.
32.The view on the most remarkable rocks of the area – the rock of Solutré and the rock of Vergisson. All the area in between belongs to AOC (l’Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) formed by Solutré-Pouilly, Fuissé, Vergisson and Chaintré villages.
34.After half a day and almost 25 km of cycling we arrived to Macon. Although, the day was almost over so we made small tour along the river and headed toward the tourist office to give back our bikes.
35.What a pleasure to relax in the shadow of plane-trees and sip cold Chardonnay from local cave!
37.This is a map of our day-trip in the Macon area.
Fortunately, the bicycle tourism is very well developed in France. There are bike shops and stations almost in all villages, the cycling paths are well organised and you may select any distance and any direction you want. To plan my trip I used the following web-sites:
Burgundy by bike offers 13 bike itineraries with detailed descriptions and plans.
France velo tourism is the most full and complete source of information on itineraries, roads, maps and plans for bike tourists. The site offers 5o itineraries in Burgundy from half-day trip to a week cycling of different difficulty level (Family / Intermediary / Expert). You may even select the theme of your trip: castles, vineyards, channels, rivers etc.
Macon tourist office offers bikes for rent, if you don’t have your own bike. As I mentioned, you will need to contact them in advance to book your bikes, especially during vacations.
Other posts about my Burgundy trip: