70km Besancon to Dole
The rain cleared overnight, leaving us with slightly grey skies as we made our way out of Besancon just before 8am. We followed the river out of the city for the first 10km or so, before drifting along minor roads away from the water, and therefore up more hills than we`d seen in previous days. These roads aren`t always the most direct, but they are quiet and it`s nice not to have to worry about traffic. We were partly following a trail from a tourist bureau, which was marked as easy, but we started to doubt that `easy` rating after the sixth climb or so. A coffee around 20km into the day really hit the spot! A few more kilometers down the road, what was marked as a street turned out to be little more than a farm path through fields. Definitely no worries about cars there! We might have turned around, thinking we were going the wrong way, if we hadn`t asked for directions from a local man, who assured us we were on the right path. As he wished us `bon voyage` he added that he too had done some cycling in his time. Oh really, we asked, thinking he`d maybe participated in some local races. Yes, I was in the Tour de France, he said. Eh, oui. Just a little cycling experience then. We continued to see plenty of cows and also signs for the `Vers La Mer` cycle route, which we`d first noticed coming out of Strasbourg. It apparently goes to the Mediterranean so it`s possible we will follow it along much of its length. In the early afternoon the skies got quite dark and it rained a bit, although nothing nearly as heavy as the previous two days. We pulled into Dole about 2pm and first went to the youth hostel, but after discovering we would have to wait 3 hours just to see if they had a room and with some doubts about the general neighbourhood, we instead opted for a room in the Formule 1 chain. They are very basic rooms, with shared showers and toilets, but clean and only 30 euros a night, the same price as the youth hostel. We stocked up on food at a discount grocery chain next door, and made ourselves a little salad nicoise. Not too shabby for a cheap night in. The weather is still looking distinctly grey, so we`ll continue to head south as quickly as possible.