Day 28 — July 28, 1996 (Sunday)
28.07.1996 - 29.07.1996
Ed’s knee hurt and my toe blistered so we decided on a “scenic” drive today. Had a camp breakfast and started out the D973 south to Autun and tried to follow a route given in “France Today.” The place names were great, but the route numbers were not completely accurate. Fortunately Michelin was with us! [Keep in mind that most of these route numbers are different today so use town names, not route numbers if you follow the trip.]
At Autun we picked up D978 to Château-Chinon, switched to D944 and at Vauclaix to D977 bis on to Corbigny. At Corbigny we followed D985 north to the D951 at Dornecy. We followed the D951 into Vézelay and were glad we did “France Today’s” tour in reverse. You round a curve in the road — having gone though much forest in the Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan — and high atop a hill is the beautiful medieval city of Vézelay. You really never get that view if you come in the other way, and it is truly overwhelming. There is no great wall but it is as thrilling as the first view of Carcassonne.
We parked at the “Parking Obligatoire” and hiked a hundred miles straight up the hill to the Basilique Ste. Madeleine — stopping at several galleries and stores to catch our breath. The hike was worth it; the church is wonderful. They have used two colors of stone — dark and light — to create interest, and the carvings are magical. The windows were clear glass but cast colors on the floor when the sun shone through them.
Ate lunch at an outdoor café near the church. We were a bit annoyed to discover shaded parking behind the church after our uphill hike! Vézelay also has the worst bathrooms in the entire country of France . . . . gaaaaack! I suppose it’s not the fault of the French that many tourists are slobs, but it was truly disgusting. [We've returned to Vézelay any time we were near and have made a point of finding "facilities" in a nice restaurant rather than using the public ones so perhaps things have improved in the ensuing years. It was just a shock since everyplace else had been so clean.]
We walked all over the beautiful village taking pictures of cobblestone houses and streets, enjoying monks and nuns walking around in sandals and looking in tourist / pilgrimage shops. This is still a pilgrimage site so you do see pilgrims on the streets. It's a wonderful village.
On our return we took the D957 to Avallon where, as Ed put it, we saw the running of the bulls. A police car stopped traffic (us) and two men walked through town with about five or six cows followed by another police car. Naturally I whipped out my trusty camera and took a picture to prove it!
Took the D944 south to D977 bis — this time east to Saulieu where we picked up N6 to Arnay-le-Duc. There we got on D17 to Bligny and after one minor unplanned detour on a C road, the D970 into Beaune. Beautiful countryside! Getting lost here is a pleasure. [Years later we returned and rented a farm cottage (gite) for a month in the area so we would have time to really enjoy it.]
Decided to eat dinner at our campground — enough riding for one day. Had Boeuf Bourguignon carte and went to bed early for our trip to Paris tomorrow.