Cycling the beautiful Mosel River



Submitted by mag on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 11:29

Yesterday we headed on to France.   We packed up, cleaned the apartment, and made a shopping stop just before crossing into Luxembourg.   We needed German white wine, groceries for the first night and morning, and sheets and towels for the camping cabin.  We also needed to get a document notarized and hoped to get it done in Germany.  Our German is not great but our French is abysmal (even after both taking French in University and I even took a year at the French Institute in NYC. And spending months in France since then.)   It's just not a language that sticks with us. So we were hoping to get the matter taken care of in Germany, but the notary didn't work out so we still have that to deal with. We were headed down to the Bourgogne Canal district to a campground cabin we stayed in a few years ago.  It was a long drive for us & we were pretty worn out by the time we made it to our destination at Lac de Panthier near Vandeness-en-Auxois.    

Last summer in our travels over the Netherlands & Denmark and north Germany we were blessed with perfect weather... dry, hot and windless - I don't think it rained at all the entire summer.  This year has been a year of extremes...  often chilly and rainy up til now, and next week it looks like we'll the treated to a heat wave with temperatures over 100!   

Bourgogne is a fascinating area - for history buffs, castle fans, gourmets, wine connoisseurs, transportation and water management engineers, for cyclists and for those who can think of nothing more delightful than drifting slowly down a lazy river through an idyllic landscape. It's a huge plateau stretching for hundreds of km to the north, south and west of Dijon.  We are just west of Dijon and north of the classic wine town of Beaune.   Every major river in France originates or passes through Bourgogne -the Seine, the Loire, the Rhone, the Saone, the Yonne.  These rivers find the sea in the North Atlantic (via the Rhein/Waal) , the English Channel, the Atlantic at the Bay of Biscay, or the Mediterranean. It was only a small matter of connecting all these mighty rivers with canals to enable water-born trade to all of France and all the world - so that what's they did in the early 1800's, this "small matter" required constructing  a network of thousands of km of canals and demanded technology and  engineering feats far ahead of their time. This, combined with one of the best vineyards in the world make the Bourgogne worth the journey and multiple long visits.   Maybe you saw photos of our previous visit here - the miles of narrow canals that pass through idyllic small towns, soar over cities, dive underground for miles - even passing over huge rivers such as the Loire at Briare. Of course they are very narrow and no longer of industrial use - they only carry recreational traffic which is what makes the region so slow-moving, quaint and pleasant.  There are over 1000 km of canal trails to enjoy in the region. 
Naturally all these canals with their hundreds of locks demand feeding with massive amounts of water which must be stored for dry spells.  One such massive reservoir is Lac the Panthier - constructed in 1836 and now a recreational magnet for cyclists, campers, fishermen - and sailboat and sail board racing.  Last time we were here the water had retreated to the middle but now it is full and overflowing... cascading down the spillways into lower streams with huge roars at the few release points.   

Our cabin has everything we need - even a fridge with freezer! but all in miniature - spaces are so small we must dance around each other to shower & dress for dinner.  The cabins advertise as sleeping 6, and sure enough next door there are 6 brawney French fishermen... it would be entertaining to observe THEIR shower dance. 

We reserved for dinner at the campground restaurant and so were lucky to have the table closest to the lake.  Our appetizers were interesting if not appetizing!  The boeuf bourguignon was not nearly as good as what I had at the Vandenesse Restaurant on our last visit.  Hopefully we get to try it again.  After dinner we strolled along the lake shore and admired the cows who were tanning their hides and butts in the evening sun.  You can also see the tip of the medieval fortified town and castle of Chateunuef en Auxois.