OE Day 6 Munster to Freiburg 69k

A border day along a lovely route. Over the mighty Rhine and into Germany. The grape lined Munster Valley took us through Colmar. Failing to find a bike shop for shoes for Barbara, it’s downhill most of the day.

Entering Germany, the very south, and things change quite quickly. More cyclists, light industry, towns. And what is this thing “cash” they want: no tap’n’go here: it’s rummage and count.

Freiberg is our rest stop. Shoes bought in a cycle shop which can house the entire collection of stock in all the cycle shops in Wales: every thing shuts tomorrow Sunday. The Allstadt is relatively new: 300 UK bombers destroyed 80% of it in Nov 1944 (nothing strategic here, just people and a statement, plus ca change). The stunning cathedral wasn’t damaged. So rebuild in the medieval style: makes you wonder what Swansea or Coventry would have been like if we’d adopted the same approach.

So rest tomorrow. Ha!, you’ll be lucky my inner voice tells me….

OE Day 5 Plombiers to Munster 80k

We’re deep into Alsace Lorraine or Alsace Moselle as it’s now called. Heading for Munster, where I was hoping to see people serving mash potatoes (Monster Mash…). Have to be satisfied the people here are referred to as Munsterians. The historical truth including recent is rather murkier of course with the territory being fought over. 85% of buildings destroyed in WW1.

Now it’s a nice wee place to wander through. Route March to begin with to find Barbara some new cycling sandals.Temporary fix gives us time to explore the Protestant church. Entering Lutheran country so expect a laugh a minute. Most of the textile factories are now shut. The storks are a great sight.

To get here was over a col which has featured in a few Tour de France. I suspect they were faster and didn’t stop for photos. Skiing better in winter with supporting Infrastructure. Before that was a lovely rail trail path. Here theRoute. Almost alpine in nature. The ascent is for us like chinning combining the Bwlch and Rhigos into a continuous ascent of 600m in 10 miles. With a decent descent. Sweeping pay signs that say Ferme Schmidt hints at a change.

Tomorrow into Germany.

OE Day 4 Chaumont to Plombiers 122k

Plombiers les Bains to be precise. A spa town and like our spa town is a living proof of hey day might be in the past. The 1600 residents may differ though. Fine buildings, many slowly fading. Nice place though.

It’s also at the top of a hill. Which is how our day finished. We started along a nice wide canal. Soon the landscape opened up to what could have been mistaken for rural England with its arable fields, rolling hills and patches of forest. Apart from the giveaway of the stylish (and still deserted) villages.

After we realised the flags weren’t for us, we thought we’d struggle with stops today, Bastille Day. Luck prevailed and coffees in Tabacs and cafe kept us topped up. Lidl Aldi and InterMarche open too. The roads were quiet, which is more than can be said of the fire crackers last night. Almost a diplomatic incident: google translate was too polite to offer me suitable words. (Another early rise to avoid the worst of the heat).

Plombier have its name to a dessert: I wonder what we’re having tonight?

OE Day Troyes to Chaumont 112k

An earlyish 6:30 to avoid the later heat. Good plan. Soon leaving Troyes we pick up a cycle path Le Velovoie des Lacs. And came across some lakes. Here’s the Route

First grapevines of the trip. Marvin Gaye was happy. Champagne ones too according to the sign boards and increasingly larger Chateaux. Apart from that vast areas of farming punctuated by the occasional deserted village. In between our first cattle (white), sheep (also white).

Chaumont is notable for its 1856 railway viaduct. It is impressive. A lovely day.

OE Troyes

Troyes, a living monument of 13C onwards buildings. Not preserved in cotton wool; adapting renovating and breathing. A great mooch around, hugging the shade offered by the narrow streets.

Churches and Cathedrals abound competing to outdo each other in scale and opulence. So lots of stained glass and one lacy rood. Cool though, so we loiter. Most seem from the 12C onwards and paid for by the trades of the day, mainly textiles. The mystery is where did the congregation come from to fill them all? The population was smaller then and I can’t imaging the surrounding country was very busy. Maybe they toured around to find the best confession.

Early bed, early rise to get out whilst it’s cool.