The Canal Central

Shortly after leaving the Loire we spotted this beside the Canal Central. There was a high street nearby and we found a great little place to have a drink and some lunch. The bar lady in particular was impressed with our story.

Leaving the Loire at Digoin we picked up the Canal Central towards Paray Le Monial. We had me another Pino couple earlier in the day. I mentioned that our rear wheel had snapped a spoke (I think it happened in Portsmouth, but had only I found it a day or two before. It was snapped by the nipple and still in place, so was difficult to spot. They told us of a bike shop in the town, right by the canal, so we couldn’t miss it. I wish we had!

Sure enough, we spotted the shop and I popped in to see about getting a broken spoke replaced on the rear wheel. I had noticed it several days before and we had been looking for bike shops that looked like they would be able to do the job. The Rohloff hub gear adds a small complication, as the spokes are shorter than for a standard rear wheel with cassette.

JMV Cycles. We left the bike with them to replace a snapped spoke but it turned into more.

JMV Cycles said it may take a day or two and he recommended a hotel nearby where we could stay (hopefully) overnight. We went and found the hotel, checked in and I rode the unloaded and trailer-free bike back to the shop, leaving it there.

After a couple of days I called in and was shown the rim, which was splitting along between spoke holes, so it was no longer just a spoke replacement that was needed, but a new rim rebuild. The shop was having difficulty sourcing a suitable 32 hole rim. I left them to it but they would be closed Sunday and Monday, so it would be at least another three days. After six days they still had not moved forward, so we put the wheel back together (they had replaced the broken spoke), and we moved on at last.

The Basilica at Paray Le Monial.
Paray was a nice little town, but after six days we’d seen it all and were desperate to move on.
It gave us time to paint though it was still very hot and for much of the time it was too warm to be in the sun for long.
We tried most of the eateries in the town at some stage – it was very pleasant sitting outside on the warm summer nights. They guy at the next table to us at this place did a runner!
Karon celebrated her XX birthday the day before we eventually left Paray Le Monial.

We were well into the second heatwave that hit Northern France by now and the day we left Paray Le Monial would be the hottest of our entire trip. Not long before we reached our hotel for the night – there were no campsites in the area we were stopping in – the mercury hit 42°C – 107°F!! Our hotel, though nice, had no aircon in the room, but as we were at the top of a stairwell, and there was a nice cooler breeze coming up, we propped our door open to try and keep the room cooler.

There were very few stretches of tow path along the Canal du Central but the road that ran beside it was quiet.
42°C – we had reached the high point of the Canal du Central, from here the locks stepped down towards the River Saône.
Our hotel in the relative cool and still of the morning.
A rare stretch of new cycle path following the Canal du Central.
On the Canal du Central.

When we arrived at Chalon Sur Saône the place was heaving. Every available space by the river had tents on. As we headed across the river to the campsite I had earmarked I was doubtful that there would be any pitches left, but fortunately there were a few at the very far end of the site. We set up camp and rode back into town to some food. It turned out that the town was hosting a festival of theatre – the biggest in France – a bit like the Edinburgh Fringe I guess. It meant though the place was packed. But it also meant everywhere was doing a roaring trade and was open for business. There were street vendors too, so no shortage of food. We opted for Sushi for a change.

Karon tucking into some salmon – she left most of the rice. There was a large Asian contingent in many of the larger towns we passed through, which helped when we were after some low-carb lunches or dinners. Sashimi is a firm favourite – lots of protein and no carbs to speak of. The choice here was a bit limited and all came with rice 🙁

The Saône >