72km Isle sur Doubs to Besancon
Between a dodgy hotel room and a night of constantly chiming church bells, we were keen to get out the door. By 7:30am we were putting the bags on our bikes and getting ready to go, when we noticed that the bar attached to our hotel was open and full of clients. On a Sunday morning, it seems our hotel was the first port of call for the local hunters and fishers. White wine spritzers, beer and shots were all on the go. It reminded us of the French version of the Market Porter pub – Andrew`s favourite in London where all the market traders go for a pint when they finish work in the early morning hours. We ordered a coffee and observed the goings on for a few minutes, before going back outside to start our journey. One of the men from the bar followed us out the door and asked a couple questions about our bikes, then said “didn`t I see you in the newspaper yesterday?”. We chatted for a while longer, while the owner of the bar tried to dig out a copy of the paper from the garbage for us. No luck, unfortunately, so we carried on under grey skies. We were a bit tired of canals, having been following them for several days, so we decided to try a mountainous route off the main roads. It was hard work, including a climb of several kilometers, most of which we walked, but we enjoyed some nice views over the river Doubs from the top and listened to the nearly constant clanging of cow bells. It was a very rural area, and many homes had the catch from previous day`s hunts hanging by the door. On our way down the hill, the rain started to come, first a few drops and then a downpour. We were soaked and there were no places to take refuge, except for a restaurant in the next town. It happened to be lunchtime and it was clear we wouldn`t be able to cook for ourselves in the rain so we ate lunch in the restaurant. Thankfully it cleared near the end of our meal and we carried on, following the river along a very flat road all the way into Besancon. The city turned out to be rather interesting, and if we weren`t rushing to get to Ardeche we might have spent an extra day there. A nice old town, lots of shops and museums, walks along the river, a fortress. We had a beer in a pub in the old quarter, got supper from a local kebab shop and returned to our hotel room.