Montbeliard

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We decided to take a train part of the way to avoid another day of over 100km, so on the advice of our couch surfing host we headed for Vesoul.

The weather was fine and the scenery beautiful. This is a rather untouristic and (for France) unpopulated area where there are longer distances between villages. We rested by the Saone where Ian did his exercises (all going pretty well, augmented by medication when necessary) and had a coffee in a small town with open shops. These are quite rare!

French drivers do not consider it necessary to stay behind a cyclist. They find it more convenient to pull out, scream past and then quickly swerve back to avoid oncoming vehicles, often with seconds to spare, making it quite safe.

M. Garmin guides us through the bois

In the early afternoon heavy grey clouds were gathering and we could see rain approaching. It soon caught up with us about 14 km out of Vesoul, so we sheltered on the front porch of a house, conveniently furnished with table and bench, and ate the nougat from Claire and Alex, and then the Jatz biscuits and peanuts from KLM. Just goes to show it is worth keeping them!

After the heaviest rain had passed we continued into the town and looked for a cafe. We found one near the station, but no food was to be had. ‘C’est fini’, said the man. He asked where we were from and enquired about the time of day at which people ate food in Australia. We said ‘anytime’. He said ‘Well, you are in Vesoul…’. But we found Chez Claudine where they were happy to sell us hot chocolate and sandwiches – but the girl had to run over to the boulangerie to get a baguette first.

French trains are good – space for bikes, they go fast, they leave on time, it’s easy to buy a ticket online with MasterCard.

In Montbeliard we met Nicolas who was hosting us. He lives in a small flat on the main square of the town. He’s a surfer, a bike rider and works for an IT start up company. He told us about the huge Peugeot factory that is the main employer in the town and that the downturn in the car industry has caused a loss of population. The French government is providing subsidies to attract new economic activity and that was the reason he moved there. He cooked us a nice dinner of Montbeliard sausage with potatoes and salad and we had a good evening talking about politics, France, surfing, bike riding and travelling.

Montbeliard square from Nicolas's kitchen window

Cycle route:
Vittel to Vesoule (and then by train to Montbeliard

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