Last Updated on: December 30, 2023
Tuesday September 20th it was time to begin returning north. Another day of road improvisation, and another unknown destination.
Well actually the returning north started the day before, just as we rode through Combe Laval. But this particular morning it was more the sensation of a turning point. Though adventures were to still to be had, including a lodging decision to remember (if not exactly fondly).
More about that later.
Returning north, in France
From Belleville-en-Beaujolais and our hotel, around 40 kilometers north of Lyon, we set course for Dijon. We started out on main roads like D906 and E42, then onto another D road, past Cluny. In hindsight we should perhaps have spent a little extra time while driving through.
There are interesting places to vist in the region, one such is Abbaye de Cluny.
There’s so much to see in France. Everywhere you go. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time for sightseeing. But we did choose to use D roads as much as possible. Occasionally also smaller local roads.
D roads are departmental (county) roads. These range from quite busy local routes and former national routes (now downgraded), to tiny country lanes. If you have the time I would say small roads wafting is the right way to see France. Well actually any country!
There are a total of 965,916 kilometers (or 600,192 miles) of local, secondary, main roads, and motorways in France. The overall road quality is very good. I’ve not done much gravel road riding in France though. That’s another thing to return for.
Chateaux, towns and National Parks
The number of castles in or chateaux in France is estimated to around 45,000. So more than 1 for France’s 36,000 communities. Chateau de Sercy, near a village of the same name, is one such. A beautiful chateau, right by D981 across a small lake. The way it sits in the landscape, well you can see for yourself.
We decided not to pay the castle a visit, and admired it from across a lake for a little while. Then continued riding north. Around 40 kilometers later we came through Chagny. On the town square a large French cock was placed in the middle. It could hardly have been more French!
We thought it perfect for a lunch stop. With Maison Lameloise, a hotel and 3 Michelin star restaurant right across the square. I’m sure the restaurant would have been a excellent choice for lunch. Posh, and pricey.
After the break we continued in direction of Dijon but chose to ride outside it for the most part. On the north side we rode through a section of Parc National de Forêts, a 560 km² large national park. One of 11, according to Wikipedia. Other (French) websites only lists nine national parks.
Parc National de Forêts was established in 2019, so time of publishing could have something to do with the number of official natural parks. Regardless, the inconsistency, also known as the internet, won’t be a topic for scrutiny in this post.
Returning north: the “Chemical Hotel”
We continued riding north for about 220 kilometers. Didn’t stop much. Reality had begun to catch up with us. We had to be in Hirtshals 24th of September, to catch our ferries. As a consequence of what quickly could become a real time constraint we decided to get as close as far north in France as possible.
It was evening when we stopped briefly to look for accommodation. Not far from Verdun. Truls-Erik found a hotel, and booked it. Hotel Le Privilège didn’t sound too bad.
We could not have been more wrong.
Arriving the hotel looked allright on the outside, that perception quickly turned out to be the illusion of the year. First, a rude hotel receptionist with no concept of English, customer care, booking, or computers. Walking up from the lobby/hall to the second floor, a chemical stench unlike anything we’ve ever smelled, hit us in the face.
My room had the feel of a prison cell. But worse was the intensity of the chemical stench, which had gotten so powerful I dropped my luggage and ran for the window. Snapping for air I slowly came to my senses. Some minutes later it was a little bit better. Then I saw the bathroom. It looked like it had been cleaned, a year before.
Inedible food, or close
If you ever decide go to Verdun, avoid this hotel at any cost. I see some people have written good to decent reviews. And can only conclude the chemicals got to them. That or the hotel actually have been refurbished. The rude staff sacked. One can always hope.
The restaurant served the worst meal of the the whole trip. Highly un-French. A shoe sole with fries. As it turned out, breakfast the next day was a new low.
It would not help much to complain. It would have been a “privilège” not to stay there. However, the view from the breakfast area the following morning was nice. Admittedly the image below has been a bit Photoshopped. Had to remove the stains of dirt on the glass.
Back soon with the next part.