La Grande Boucle

that is how the Tour de France is also called, is already over. We now ride our own, always following our nose or, where it is beautiful and the sun shines. Three weeks, 21 stages. That is the plan. We travel with the german cross-country ticket right to the border Germany-Switzerland-France near Basel.

Bicycle compartment in the regional train

Stage 1 – Prologue Müllheim (DE) – Mulhouse (FR) 33km – flat

For newcomers: the prologue usually rides the racers into the coveted shirts, ‘yellow’ for the overall leader (Astrid), ‘green’ for the best sprinter (Astrid), ‘red and white dotted’ for the mountain goat (Astrid) and white for the young professional (not occupied).

Since there are only two of us, we take off the yellow and that consists only of a yellow safety vest.

Free ride for free citizens

We pass the border crossing over the Rhine at Neuchâtel. The bridge is closed to cars until next spring due to its renewal. We cycle happily and unspectacularly to the other side. Camping l’Ill near Mulhouse welcomes us. The last rain clouds do not harm us, as we pitch the tent under trees and there are places to sit and eat. Diner is tortellini with tomato sauce.

Stage 2 – Mulhouse – Baume-les-Dames 100km – flat

The EuroVelo 6 which leads to the Atlantic Ocean sets the direction. First along the Rhin-Rhone Canal, then along the Doubs.

One of the countless locks on the Rhin-Rhone Canal
Doubs – one of the French rivers with five letters
Blackberries, as many as at home. Every day we could capture them in the picture. Harvesting them is impossible.

We see two kingfishers, we almost bump in a family of ducks, and join a lot of cyclists, with and without luggage. After this summer, many people enjoy cycling.

Stage 3 – Baumes-les-Dames – Dole 110km – flat

The Doubs Valley is flanked by impressive rocks.

Baptismal tunnel, here you enter under a Madonna with the canoe and are blessed
Rolf watches the blessing from the other side
We know the nice campsite in Dole from last year. At 28oC temperature, the muscles are easily relaxed in the on-site pool.

We thought some crisp stages and we are at the Atlantic. After 210 kilometers we see this sign and be aware that it will probably take a little longer. The sign shows 900 kilometres to the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes, 3400 kilometres to the Black Sea in the other direction.

Information about the next section of the EV 6 is available at the tourist information office in Dole.

Stage 4 – Dole – Chagny 110km – flat

Cruise on Canal Central. A bit of Holland. Small cottages, numerous pets. In Chagny, the first campsite we have not been before and it is full of Dutch, the travel-loving people are on their way.

Stage 5 – Chagny – Paray-le-Monial 104km – moderate mountain stage with obstacles

Our destination today is Florence’ tip. We met her in Chagny and picked her up on the way to Parey-Le-Monial after an accident. We accompanied her with a sprained wrist to the nearby train station.

Florence has injured herself so much that she rides one-handed. On our next visit to Tours on the Loire, she will show us her birthplace.
Cathedral of Paray-Le-Monial

The cathedral belongs to the Diocese of Autun.
(The pretty place where two of our four MTBs were stolen from us a few years ago).

We stay at a great campsite, use the pool, the fridge and the seat. It remembers us of a place in Lithuania at the Mehmel.

Stage 6 – Paray-le-Monial – Decize – 98km – moderate mountain stage at over 30oC

While Primoz Roglic wins the 17th stage of the Vuelta (spanish grand tour), our stage becomes a heat battle.

View of the ‘wild’ Loire
Canal across the Loire

At our todays’ final in Decize we meet the fit old ladies who ride from the Black Sea back home to the Atlantic in around 100 days. They could be our mothers. With tent, self-cooking, diary and card game we meet them at the campsite. We take their city tip La Charite-Sur-Loire with us. A freshly tapped beer in the pretty town in the balmy evening completes our stay.

Stage 7 – Decize – Cosne-Cours-Sur-Loire – 105km – flat

After 10 km we meet the two ladies of yesterday again. They take a gym break at the lock on the canal.

La Charite – twin town of Biedenkopf
La Charite

In Cosne a freakishly relaxed, wonderful natural place awaits us. Homemade fries. Shopping across the street in town.

Stage 8 – Cosne-Cours-Sur-Loire – Chateauneuf-Sur-Loire – 100km – flat

Cycling makes you free

Lots of touring cyclists, some drive 35km, some 180km a day, but everyone seems to love freedom, fresh air and sport. There are no doping controls. Only at campsites with pools we are asked for the vaccination certificate.

Stage 9 – Chateauneuf-Sur-Loire – Cande-sur-Beuvron – 110km – flat

Rolf saves a lady from suicide without being asked.

From Cosne it goes via Gien to Orléans.

Lunch break in Orléans
All of Orléans is a party.

Monday, 06 September Restday

Because of private reasons we disrupt our tour, go on the train through all France and also through Paris. Because of train stations in each direction, we arrive in the south ‘Gare de Austerlitz’, have a ride hour in Paris, the city of love, and leave in the east, from the ‘Gare de l’Est’.

Place de la Republique

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