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Final Day in Burgundy

I think I can, I know I can, Godammit I did! We have completed the bicycle portion of the trip. I have travelled some 105 miles by bicycle over five days and the lovely Laura Lee, having taken two optional rides, has travelled about 155 miles.

Today, we left our hotel and travelled about two hours by bus to Avallon, a lovely medieval town. There, we got back on the bikes for a 28.5 km final day of riding. We went downhill into the Vallee du Cousin where we followed the Cousin River through a forest, then up and down through small villages, all a part of the Parc National du Morvan. After a final killer hill we arrived at Vezelay, a walled village built in the 13th century. After a great lunch in a little bistro there and a tour of the Basilica, it was an all downhill run of 1.9 km to our hotel L’Esperance, another country inn and restaurant with a three-star Michelin rating, a little like the hotel where we spent our first three nights in France. Just in case we haven’t had enough calories, we will enjoy a three-star dinner with wine here tonight and head back into Paris by bus tomorrow morning.

I have to say that this has been the most magnificent trip I have ever taken. I have always wanted to see Burgundy and learn of the most famous wines in the world, and there is no better way to see it all than by bicycle. As we have gone through each little village, we have experienced the sights and sounds and smells of wine making and cooking in a way that would never be possible passing through in a car.

2006 France 132.jpgButterfield and Robinson has done a magnificent job. The hotels and food are incredible. The bikes are tuned and ready each morning, water bottles are filled, and our guides Lisa and Sarah have always been nearby, one in the van and one on a bike. They have been helpful, cheerful and good-humored throughout (and, of course, cute and fun).

I have a new appreciation of the history of this area, the people, the food, and the wine. While all of the wine is outstanding, the Grand Cru is overpriced in relation to its quality, only because of the laws of supply and demand. There is only one small vineyard designated Romanee Conti Grand Cru, so there is no way to increase the supply. Demand continues to grow and prices spiral in response. Nevertheless, if I can buy a few bottles during my lifetime, I’ll do so. You only live once.

We’ve enjoyed the company of an interesting, fun and adventurous crowd this week, not the type of people you’d usually meet on a cruise or a tour bus. Here’s to our new friends:
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Owen Billes, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada




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Bob and Esther Hougham, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada 





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Mark and Jeanne Juneau, New Orleans, Louisiana




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Patrick and Kelli Brandner, Las Vegas, Nevada

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Kirk Resler, Shelter Island Heights, New York




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Marne and Peggy Obernauer, New York, New York




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Andy and Dede Kohn, St. Louis, Missouri



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Brian and Susannah Bristol, New York, New York




You can see all the trip photos here.

I’ll report back in sometime. Next week the Ship’s Log returns to logging the ship “Steel Magnolia” as she moves south from Lake Michigan to her new home. Stay tuned.

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