Advice please-Biking along French canals

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Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:58 pm

Late 2014 I will be floating along the Nivernais Canal in France with , maybe 20 or so friends. Part of around ten weeks wandering around France, Italy and who knows where else.

I will be taking my unicycle and expecting to do as much riding as I can. The week on the canal looks to me to be the perfect chance to get a lot of riding in without affecting everyone else.

I figure that while the boat is floating from one spot to another, I can ride to an agreed pickup point further on. And, if the times are easy to meet then I can get to do a heap of extra time wandering and exploring while everyone is doing sudoku, quafing bergundy and eating croissants.

So, to those with experience on the Nivernais Canal, French canals generally and the Bourgogne area generally, I would value informed opinion on
  • the general proximity of the bike routes to the canal - it will be nice to see much what everyone else is seeing.
  • A 15km leg on the canal is likely to be how many kms on the bike route?
  • What is riding like in the area like wrt to track/road condition, elevations, ease of NOT getting lost (I don't speak French). Do they have pedestrian type paths, or am I gonna have to hit country roads a lot?
  • and anything else that may be relelvant

Our trip will be from Joigny to Corbigny - which is ???km over seven days.

Canal transport seems to be pretty slow so the distances look very moderate and the times generous. Sort of 10-15km water legs each day over three or four hours. These distances are a fraction of what I do anyway. And climate should be fine for a Perth-ite. I'd very much expect that the countryside will be very flat as well.

BTW I am advised that we should fly the boxing Kanagaroo on the boat in order not to be confused with poms which French seem to have issues with. I understand that Canadians fly their maple inorder to not be mistaken for yanks. :lol:

(I will, of course, still be getting to make up much wanted distance with everyone else who will be biking to and from the moorings anyway.)
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by BNA » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:10 am

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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby Howzat » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:10 am

Should be an easy ride. Canal country is always flat, obviously. There tend to be little roads runnning along the canals, perhaps diversions from time to time. Choose the smallest départementale roads you can find, which are often single lane roads. Not as direct, but traffic speeds are lower, and they are often irrestistably scenic. You might want to buy a hand-held GPS when you're in France, to accompany printed maps. You may be able to sell it to other tourists before you go.

:P While riding the unicycle, you could fly a Belgian or Swiss flag to fit in with local stereotypes. :roll:
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:47 pm

Looks lovely mate, I don't know much about it, but it is very popular. You may have to leave the canal a few times due to tunnels etc but I would expect it to be "ok" sign posted as it is such a popular route... anyway getting lost in that area is a pleasure :D .
Not sure what you mean by "late 2014" though... hopefully you mean late Summer?.
ps... leave your helmet behind :mrgreen:
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:47 pm

toolonglegs wrote:Looks lovely mate, I don't know much about it, but it is very popular. You may have to leave the canal a few times due to tunnels etc but I would expect it to be "ok" sign posted as it is such a popular route... anyway getting lost in that area is a pleasure :D .
Not sure what you mean by "late 2014" though... hopefully you mean late Summer?.
ps... leave your helmet behind :mrgreen:

About September - A lot of euro busineses shut up shop in August plus kids nd families taking up much space. So we will be avoiding that and arriving in France after that. Somewhere in that month we will be doing the canals with a fair few friends before working our way to Monza for Formula-1.
I don't reckon on any drama with heat - they have no idea what hot is!
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:49 pm

Howzat wrote:Should be an easy ride. Canal country is always flat, obviously. There tend to be little roads runnning along the canals, perhaps diversions from time to time. Choose the smallest départementale roads you can find, which are often single lane roads. Not as direct, but traffic speeds are lower, and they are often irrestistably scenic. You might want to buy a hand-held GPS when you're in France, to accompany printed maps. You may be able to sell it to other tourists before you go.

:P While riding the unicycle, you could fly a Belgian or Swiss flag to fit in with local stereotypes. :roll:

Thanks - that is the sort of thing I hoped to hear.

There are bike tours along the canal too which gives me a lot of useful resource material too.
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby marshmallow » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:02 pm

should be very pleasant. Canals are flat, obviously. You may be tempted to cycle away from path to other villages - you'll have lots of time. canal boats are very very slow :)
I rode across france via canal paths and rivers last year, including Burgundy.
wrote an eBook about it. sorry to push it on thread, but only $2.99, so hardly a fortune. cheaper than a very bad french coffee. they do everything well, except coffee, I'm afraid.
enjoy the trip.
http://www.amazon.com/baguettes-and-bic ... B00ADTILCW
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby toolonglegs » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:39 pm

Yeah September is a nice month to travel... A lot cheaper than August. The Summer temps are long gone in September, not that summer gets that hot anyway :-) .
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby clackers » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:37 pm

Would love to do this. Rick Stein was filmed doing his cooking show via barge down to the Med, but I'd prefer to ride rather than get cabin fever. :smile:
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:28 pm

clackers wrote:Would love to do this. Rick Stein was filmed doing his cooking show via barge down to the Med, but I'd prefer to ride rather than get cabin fever. :smile:

Aah, but you can get both. Barge as a base and ride as often and as far from it as you want. At least that is what I am hoping to do. :)

Besides, you can't carry much choice of wine in a backpack or panniers.
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby clackers » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:43 pm

True!

"Je m'appelle Colin, je suis australienne" will get you a long way, BTW.

The locals will be relieved you're not British or American, who they dislike even more than Parisians. :grin:
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby Sprocket » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:32 pm

clackers wrote:"Je m'appelle Colin, je suis australienne"


:D Might get him a few odd looks too - as he would be telling them that he is a female Australian - and having seen Colin out and about on his unicycle - I don't think they'll believe him :D :D

"Je suis australien"

And as clackers, says it does make a difference - as does any attempt to speak French. Also French are very big on their "please" and "thank you"s, and like to be said hello to before you ask for a train ticket/baguette etc. Small efforts to follow their etiquette can make an immense difference.
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby scirocco » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:58 pm

Sprocket wrote:And as clackers, says it does make a difference - as does any attempt to speak French. .


Amen to that. A "bonjour" and a smile goes a long way.

The OP might want to check out the following link. Even though the canals are around Toulouse and not where he's planning to ride, it's worth just admiring the photos anyway.

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/commuting-touring-ride-reports/commencer-fran%E7ais-275712.html
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby clackers » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:23 pm

Sprocket wrote:
"Je suis australien"
.


Ouch, Sprocket! :grin:

I did spend a week in Paris and the Cote d'Azure pronouncing that with the 'en' sound instead of 'on'.

I think they appreciated the effort even if I was urinating on their language.
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby wurtulla wabbit » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:26 pm

Beautiful countryside.
We used to holiday in Normandy at Easter.
No experience with canals but cycling there is sweet.
Driving is another story. (Paris is mental !! )
One of my favourite places on the planet !

Ps, don't worry about the poms, they all go to the Balearics and southern Spain ! :D
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby Sprocket » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:24 am

clackers wrote:I think they appreciated the effort even if I was urinating on their language.


I'm sure they did! I could recount many examples I've witnessed of trying in French making all the difference to a trip there - but I don't want to hijack Colin's thread to turn it into a French language one. :)


I'm sure Colin's going to have a great time! :mrgreen:
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:29 am

Sprocket wrote:
clackers wrote:I think they appreciated the effort even if I was urinating on their language.


I'm sure they did! I could recount many examples I've witnessed of trying in French making all the difference to a trip there - but I don't want to hijack Colin's thread to turn it into a French language one. :)


I'm sure Colin's going to have a great time! :mrgreen:

Don't worry - this will never ba a long busy thread anyway and it it wanders here and there so much the better - It takes my mind off the frustration of waiting and waiting for it to all happen.

Being seen to try in anyone's language anything more than g'day and good-bye is worth reminding. And even if I may know it, others will still take on board what is posted. And it pays to be reminded.

For the record I did make an effort to be able to give a range of greetings and responses to the amused locals (to the inevitable "le cloun, le cloun - Mama le cloun") as I rode around Mauritius last Xmas/New year.

I gather from our friends over there that I covered basic discourse with strangers rather better than they expected. But frankly I cannot remember any of it now. Well before I head overseas I will have to go back to my practic notes and fix them back into my fragile neurons.
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:39 am

Last time after France we spent three weeks in Italy. For one of those weeks 23 of us convereged on Perugia and took over an farm-stay many hundreds of years old. On the first day in Perugia about a dozen of us arrived at the equivalent of the local IGA Supermaket for supplies. There was one sour looking mama who was not very engaging. Quite aloof and rude in fact. However, as others were paying at the checkout I killed some time and pulled the juggling balls and the contact balls out of my pocket. I entertained some boy around 4 or 5 years old with a few tricks he and I could try. At a guess he was the woman's grandson or similar. Anyway, after that everyone in our party were royalty.

I never did manage much Italian. But if you can get someones grandkids to like you, the battle is won. 8)
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Re: Advice please-Biking along French canals

Postby elStado » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:26 pm

Hey Colin. I rode around 80km of canal paths last year when I was cycle touring through France in late August-September. It was pretty awesome! The canal section I went on was from Strasbourg (FR) to Breisach (DE).

You've basically got these long, wide, flat and straight paths running along a 20m wide, picturesque canal. It's really beautiful. Signage is quite good too. There's a small town every 10-15km which should have a camp ground and/or a super market where you can stop by at the end of the day to buy some tasty, cheap Belgium beer (71c for a 700ml bottle of Hoegaarden!) and maybe some fresh produce too.

Here's a link if you haven't seen it:
http://www.australiancyclist.com.au/art ... ?aeid=6932

This is a pic I took of what the path looks like.. pretty amazing. We were so happy to ride this as the previous days were quite stressful getting lost in cities and taking a wrong road into the hills..!
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