An overcast day – good and not raining – good! The first part of the route took us along a canal – flat. We passed lots of small locks, many with lock keepers who live right beside the canal. Passed the occasional fisherman. At one lock a French woman of mature years spotted us and called out something that we couldn’t immediately understand – but she was offering us water (de l’eau, de l’eau!).

At Joinville it seemed like a good time to stop for coffee except there were no brasseries open. We cruised around for a while and found a bar-tabac on the way our of town. These are like a combination of a bar, cafe and the TAB and seem to be rather manly places. However, we got good coffees and enjoyed the ambience. When Ian ordered a second coffee in his excellent French, the bar man thought he wanted a Pernod! This is probably what a real French man would have at that time of day.

Ian sans pernod

Our route took us past cows, fields of wheat, corn, canola and sunflowers, forest tracks, a wind farm, lots of villages. We saw a deer cross our path along one of forest routes.

At lunch time we stopped to shelter in a small park as some light rain was falling. Some people began to arrive in their cars and were obviously gathering there. It turned out to be a walking group. We spoke to a woman (of few teeth in the lower jaw) and she told us that they meet regularly to walk in the area. She said they wanted to do the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, so we told her about our meeting with the pilgrims on the previous day. All the walkers told us Vittel was not far away. They didn’t know about Garmin who often takes the long cut!

Vittel is a spa town and a famous brand of bottled water. We stayed in a slightly down at heel resort hotel where we had an enormous room – about 3 times the size of our room in Paris.

Cycle route:
Saint-Dizier to Vittel

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