Day 18: Arcy-sur-Cure to Vermenton

Walking in France: Coffee and cold pizza for breakfast
Coffee and cold pizza for breakfast

Tuesday, 27 June 2006
Distance 12 km
Duration 2 hours 30 minutes
Ascent 94 m, descent 103 m
Map 28 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)

There was heavy thunder at dawn, but no rain (we are out of the rainy Morvan now). It had a soothing effect, evidently, as we slept in till 8 o’clock. By that time the little drink kiosk at the reception of the camping ground was functioning, so instead of our usual muesli, we had a tray of coffee at an outdoor table, and accompanied it with the leftover pizza from Avallon and some of yesterday’s bread.

I had my French lesson for the day from the jolly red-clad manager, in the course of which he told us of a short-cut along the river bank to the bridge.

Walking in France: Bridge over the river at Arcy-sur-Cure
Bridge over the river at Arcy-sur-Cure

Taking his advice, we were quickly over the bridge and found another short-cut on the opposite bank.

This led us back at river level past our camping spot and on to a little road, which wandered through fields to Bessy-sur-Cure, a neat, solid hamlet flanked by a graveyard bigger than itself.

Once past the graveyard, we entered a forest. The track was wide and easy, following the Cure downstream.

Walking in France: Following the Cure river in the forest
Following the Cure river in the forest

Emerging at last into hayfields, we left the main track at a wayside cross and turned right, making for Vermenton, whose spires were already visible across the meadows.

As we turned off, we just missed meeting a party of walkers approaching from Accolay, and had to content ourselves with a comradely wave.

A series of crossings – of railway line, then canal (with boat harbour), then river – got us up into the town. Despite a couple of graceful old churches, the place was unattractive, dominated by the truck-infested N6 which cuts it in two. But we were not complaining.

A fine coffee at the Hotel du Commerce, with croissants from across the road, made up for any aesthetic deficiencies.

Walking in France: Crossing the railway line near Vermenton
Crossing the railway line near Vermenton

With our boots off and our toes waggling in the warm breeze, we read the local paper’s analysis of last night’s match, but most of the coverage was of tonight’s match between France and Spain.

Walking in France: Office of Tourism, Vermenton
Office of Tourism, Vermenton

It took us some time and legwork to find the camping area, which was beyond the railway station, not near the boat harbour as we had supposed. A tiny little man took our €6.40 and ordered us brusquely to site number 22. Most camping managers give you the choice, but number 22 was very nice anyway.

This was one of our shortest walking days, so we had plenty of time. The showers were lovely. We were noticing a distinct improvement in the standard of the showers this year in French camping grounds.

Walking in France: Dinner at l'Esperance, Vermenton
Dinner at l’Esperance

After lunch we went to a big supermarket on the outskirts, having got a map from the gnome at the reception. We needed lunch supplies for the overland crossing to Chablis tomorrow. We had been doing such short distances lately that 30 km seemed quite frightening.

On the way, getting slightly lost, we had an involuntary tour of the back streets, which were a lot prettier than the main one. On the way back we had another coffee break, just because we could.

As to the evening meal, we found very few restaurants on offer and we ended up at l’Esperance on the main street. Inside the grey facade was a dainty room with two tables already occupied, which pleased me as I prefer not to dine in a morgue.

Walking in France: Camping at Vermenton
Camping at Vermenton

We had the two plats du jour, one casserole of chicken and one of pork. With a half-litre of red it cost €28.50.

At the next table was a party from a canal boat, who were moored at the harbour for the night. Half were French and the rest German. When the French went outside to smoke, the Germans confided to us that they did not really like France. There was too much history still rankling between the countries.

Back at the camping ground, people were watching the France-Spain match on a big screen. It was a thrilling win for France. We were now devoted followers of les Bleus, since Australia was out of the contest.

Previous day: Avallon to Arcy-sur-Cure

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