Friday, 23 October 2015

Cycling the Velovoie from Geraudot

As you might have guessed from a couple of words in that title, we are
Velovoie on the levee alongside the reservoir 
now in France. Nous sommes en France! I had probably the best ferry crossing ever - lying down in the cabin as we left Newhaven and only being awakened some four hours later by a banging on the cabin door which turned out to be one of the crew letting us know we had arrived. Those Stugeron travel sickness tablets are good! Perhaps I should have just had one instead of two?

Our first afternoon's driving took us to a campsite at Peronne which would probably be a fantastic base for exploring the Somme region in Summer, but was damp and a tad dingy in October. It was open though and many sites along our route south have already closed up for the season so we were happy to pull in there for a night and would definitely return in warmer months.

Our current campsite is Les Rives Du Lac just outside the very pretty
Wooden dog at Camping Rives du Lac 
village of Geraudot. This site is open all year, has good facilities and gravelled pitches. It is pretty busy with lots of permanent-looking setups and several of us travellers making use of it for just a night or two. We chose to stay two nights as we wanted to see the Lacs de l'Aube which are an important element of the Paris flood defences. The basic theory is that water is diverted from the rivers along canals into huge lakes and reservoirs during the rainy winter months which prevents said rivers overflowing their banks. Then, during the dry summers, the water is returned to the rivers keeping their water levels high. It's a fantastic engineering triumph and one that we were able to see close up both by walking on the lake edges yesterday and by cycling part of the Velovoie cycle route this afternoon.

The lake did look very strange yesterday and we weren't aware of its
purpose until we got back home to google it. The water level is amazingly low and we were intrigued by the remaining tree stumps which dot the sand and, at certain angles, look like animals. We 'saw' turtles and a small dog that could almost have been Toby from The Homestead campsite in Hailsham. The sand is very sticky and turned our shoes into platform soles which were fun to try walking on. There are lots of wild birds here, but we only recognised egrets as the others were too far away to identify. There must be significant fish stocks too, both for the birds and for the half dozen or so fishermen we saw out in their little boats this afternoon.

I think the Velovoie is an entirely off-road cycle route which runs from
Canal taking water from the barrage-reservoir Aube
Troyes out to these lakes a right along one side of them. We covered about 28km out and back today and only saw one end of it. It's practically flat and has a good tarmac surface. Our first half hour was through deciduous woodland with beautiful orange and yellow leaves fallen everywhere. Then we got out and up onto a pretty high levee overlooking the waters on one side and farmland on the other. There were huge heaps of potatoes across the end of one field and we had seen several similar heaps on on the way here yesterday.

In the other direction from Camping Rives du Lac, on the Velovoie just
K Rinke sculpture 
before Lusigny, there is an eyecatching hairpin weir with water thundering with great force over its curve. Above it is a sculpture in homage to Gaston Bachelard who was a significant philosopher of the 20th century. The sculpture was created in 1986 by K Rinke. I didn't understand all the French text describing its purpose, but the gist is to illustrate the tension between the point of the pendulum which is only fractionally above the tumultuous waters. It appears as though it should be moved by the water, yet hangs perfectly still.


  1. In love with these beautiful landscapes out there, hope you may share more lovely travel diaries.
    compare airport parking