Travel day: Avallon to Tonnerre

Walking in France: Getting ready for today's train ride
Getting ready for a train ride

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distance 5 km
Duration 1 hours 5 minutes
Ascent 71 m, descent 1 m

As our train did not leave until 9:46 am, we rose at leisure, but even so we left before any of our fellow campers showed their faces.

We scrambled up the now familiar goat-track and into the high street, which was in morning shadow, with the flags of Bastille Day hanging motionless.

Walking in France: Returning to the high part of Avallon
Returning to the high part of Avallon

On the way to the bar we picked up our usual ration of pastries – three croissants and a pain aux raisins – and took our time enjoying them with coffee.

It was already hot but for once we did not have to worry, as we were not walking.

Also the stinging from yesterday’s encounter with the blackberries and nettles had greatly decreased during the night and was now almost gone.

Walking in France: Bastille Day flags in Avallon
Bastille Day flags in Avallon

The train station was only a few hundred metres away and the journey to Migennes took about an hour. We felt like royalty, being wafted along effortlessly in soft, air-conditioned seats.

From there to Tonnerre the train was replaced by a bus – something to do with track work – and another pleasant leisurely hour went by.

The bus followed the Canal de Bourgogne, and as we skimmed along, we paid attention to any bars along the way, as we would be walking back on this route over the next two days.

At St-Florentin some passengers wanted to get off in the centre of town, but the driver said that he was only allowed to let people off at the railway station, which in this case was a couple of kilometres away, across the canal. In the end he good-naturedly opened the door and let them out, whilst muttering darkly that he hoped he wouldn’t lose his job.

Walking in France: Breakfast in Avallon

At Tonnerre, the bus sped past the turn-off to the town, giving us a moment of panic, but then it circled back to the station, where we got off with some relief.

This town had been the end of our walk along the Canal of Burgundy in 2015, and our aim this year was to finish the job by continuing to the end, where the canal pours into the river Yonne at Migennes.

Walking in France: A very fortifying lunch in Tonnerre
A fortifying lunch of arrival in Tonnerre

It was now lunch time and we remembered a delightful restaurant in the hotel where we had eaten on our last visit, opposite the huge Hôtel Dieu. We hurried up the street and were shown to a table on the terrace, which hung out over a side lane.

The lunch menu offered three courses for €13, two for €11 or one for €9.50. We had the single course, as we intended to come back that evening, and it was totally delicious.

Keith, predictably, had steak, and I had lamb, cooked lightly in the style called “rosé”. Both were garnished with a lovely array of roasted vegetables. With this we had a half-litre of white wine and of course a basket of bread.

At the next table was a jolly old fellow of 87, who lived a little way along the canal and came here for lunch every day.

He asked Keith about his profession and, on hearing the word mathematics, started addressing him as Einstein. What about me? I asked plaintively, but he did not respond. No doubt the concept of a female involved in mathematics was beyond his grasp.

Walking in France: Daily washing duties
Daily washing duties

Eventually we emerged, well satisfied, and strolled down, under the railway bridge and over two branches of the meandering Armançon river, then beside the canal until we reached the camping ground.

We had stayed here before and it was still lovely, with spacious lawns and plenty of trees.

Beside the reception was a little terrace with tables and umbrellas, where you could buy drinks, or even simple meals, and the sanitaires were positively palatial.

Many of our fellow campers were long-distance cyclists, who seem to be magnetically attracted to canals, but once again there were no other walkers.

Walking in France: Will these shorts make it to Auxerre?
Will these shorts make it to Auxerre?

After our ablutions I amused myself by sewing yet another patch on my disintegrating shorts, which by now had patches on patches. Fortunately they only had to last three more days.

In the evening we went back to the same restaurant that we had visited at midday.

This time the terrace was bulging with diners and the only tables free were in the sun, but we thought that it would not be long until it set behind the houses, although the local man at the adjoining table said exasperatedly that they had already been there for half an hour and the sun had not moved at all. I predicted five more minutes, which turned out by a fluke to be right.

Walking in France: Crossing the Armançon on the way to dinner in Tonnerre
Crossing the Armançon on the way to dinner in Tonnerre
Walking in France: For starters, a buffet of fresh crudités
Entrée – a buffet of crudités

Another couple arrived, Germans from Cologne, and they spoke a bit of French, so we all conversed in French until the French couple left, whereupon we swapped to English.

They were on their way to a holiday house in Seville, a drive of 2,200 km, which sounded appalling, even to our Australian ears.

Walking in France: Followed by a struggle with our mains
Followed by a struggle with our main dishes

We started our meal with a buffet of fresh, delicious crudités, but then discovered that we did not have much appetite left.

Walking in France: But there was still room for crème caramel field work
But there was still room for crème caramel and ice cream

Our grand lunch and the lack of walking was catching up with us. I put most of my duck leg away, although it was delicious, and even Keith could not finish his escalope of turkey.

However he did somehow manage a crème caramel and ice cream after that.

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