Day 8, from Auxerre to Collan via Chablis - 34 kilometers
Route conditions: Busy roads with moderate to heavy traffic. Some moderately steep hills. Directions: East on the N65 to the highway. Once past the highway, continue on to Chablis, the road changes to the D965. Leaving Chablis, continue on the D965 to Fleys and the marked turnoff on a small country road to Collan.
It was laundry day. We loaded the bikes and were at the laundry by seven when it opened. The owner came in and tidied up while we were doing our clothes. We said our hellos. Our lack of French stopped us from doing more.
Laundry finished, we rode back to the hotel and loaded the bikes along side a group of four German tourists, also touring on bikes. We had two choices of how to reach Chablis, go on the main road which was supposed to have relatively heavy traffic, or take a northern route on smaller roads that was a little longer. We stopped at the tourist office before leaving town to ask their advice. The girls told us that the northern route was very hilly and would take much longer. We opted for the main road.
We left town under puffy clouds and rode the shoulder with heavy to moderate traffic passing us with a good number of trucks mixed in. We were heading for a major highway and I was hoping that a good portion of the traffic would leave us at that point. The road had an up hill grade so progress was slow.
It slowed even more when I noticed that we had a flat with the front tire on the tandem. The Schwalbe Marathon Slick had picked up a small shard of aluminum that pierced both the Kevlar casing and the tube. I put in a new tube and we started up again. We passed under the highway and traffic did thin out some, although not as much as I had hoped. The hill got steeper and we had to dismount and walk our bikes on occasion.
After about 15 kilometers we reached the summit and the road started a long downhill. With our combined weight, the tandem flew down the road and we were showing over 50k on the computer, even with the drag brake on. Roxcie did not roll as fast on the single and, a little nervous about the speed, kept herself under 40 for the ride down which took us all the way to Chablis. We had been a little sweaty at the top of the hill. When we rolled into town we were completely dry!
Chablis, the town that has the claim of creating the wine of the same name, is a cute little village with lots of boutique wine tasting "caves" mixed with sidewalk restaurants. It was a little early to mix wine tasting and bike riding so we opted for a lunch at one of the fancier cafes. I had a terrine followed by a salad with a wine sauce/gravy with tiny sausage slices and of course, the ever present French bread. It was one of the most incredible meals I've ever eaten. The girls had equally delicious food. The cost was a little pricey but we expected that when we sat down.
We spent several hours walking and riding around the town. The buildings were interesting and flowers were everywhere. I left Jeanette and Roxcie sitting on a bridge watching the river and walked to a little grocery store and bought supplies for a simple pate and cheese dinner. Collan, the town we were riding to, looked very small on the map and I was unsure if we would find any place to eat.
Back on the road, we found the turnoff to Collan and were again riding on a small country road. The road got steeper and we ended up walking the bikes frequently. Jeanette, still suffering from her cold and tired from the morning's uphill ride, asked with a lot of irritation in her voice, "And why are we staying here?" I explained that the place where we were staying looked really nice on the internet and I thought she'd enjoy it. She quieted down, resigned to her fate of having to walk uphill, tired and with a cold.
It was only 6 kilometers of sometimes steep uphill and we arrived around 5:00 in the afternoon. I was right, Collan was a very small village and didn't appear to have any restaurants or cafes. We found La Marmotte, our bed and breakfast and checked in. Our hostess, Madame Lecolle, had her sister and her family over as guests. They had just returned from Italy and they were looking at the pictures on her computer. I took a walk around town taking pictures while Jeanette and Roxcie rested. When I returned, I asked if I could have some time on Madame Lecolle's computer since I needed to pay some bills at home. Madame Lecolle was obliging since the picture viewing was over and the families were having a picnic in the side yard.
The B&B featured a guest kitchen and large room with a table. We took out our supplies and made a dinner of pate and cheese sandwiches and soft drinks, sat and talked about the day, wrote postcards and filled in our journals before climbing the stairs up to our rooms and bed. I was a little disappointed in that our host, Madame Lecolle didn't spend some time with us as is usual with B&Bs but her sister and her family were visiting just back from Italy and they were all excited about the trip.
Accomodations and Recommendatins: