Monday, September 22, 2014

La France Profonde

Those of you who enjoy reading about expeditions to obscure corners are in for a treat this time.  It may seem as if we have just returned from Scotland, but in fact several weeks of regular life passed without incident before we set off to the Franche-Comte and the Jura Mountains.  This is an area in Eastern France, south of Alsace, and quite close to the Swiss border.  It's one of those regions which has changed hands many times in the past.  We were there for a cycling holiday, starting in Besancon.

The whole area is made spectacular by towering limestone escarpments, above loops of the River Doubs, and then the River Loue.  We knew that the cycling would be challenging for us, but we had no idea what a five kilometre climb would be like in reality. ( the answer is: a three kilometre walk.)  Some of the descents were even more memorable: hairpin bends carved through cliffs, down into the river valleys.

After ten days, cycling alternate days, we have returned, our thigh muscles more clearly defined, and marked by some quite extraordinary bruises.   I now have a cyclist's tan: brown forearms and white hands where my gloves were.  But we were also very fortunate in the weather, with no rain for the entire ten days apart from overnight and the last day.  Cycling through rain would have been no fun at all.

Roman arch in Besancon

We started at Besancon, where we had booked an extra day for acclimatisation purposes. The old part of town is contained in a loop of the River Doubs, a loop which goes round a  high cliff at the top of which is the Citadel.  This dramatic fortification, designed by Vauban, has a fascinating history, in its origins and during World War Two.

 Now it houses a number of exhibitions, as well as quite an extensive Zoo.  This delightful bird is a kia, described as friendly and sociable.  It's a kind of parrot and it really enjoys interacting with people - either that or it was humouring us as it used its beak to play football with a nut under the glass of its cage. 

Earlier in the day we had visited the Museum of Time - Besancon was a centre for watch-making.  Alongside the many time-pieces on display were some wonderful illuminated mauscripts from the fifteenth century.

We finished our day's sight-seeing with a circular boat-trip, passing through the tunnel under the Citadel rock.  We would next see this tunnel at the end of our trip, when we cycled through it back into town.

Mary - In the Comments you ask about the "pattern" for Windfalls.  Of course, I am combining a number of different charts.  Log into Ravelry, and then search for Stranded Celtic.  There are the patterns for the Celtic Knotwork hat by Joannie Newsome, the Celtic Fair Isle Beret by Patons, and the Celtic Cowl by Theresa.  Each has a chart which I used pretty much as it stands.  Hope this helps.


1 comment:

Mary said...

Thank you!