In a wonderful stroke of luck, the bike route goes right by where my friend Céline grew up, Chalon-sur-Saône. Céline lives in Ireland now, but she and her mom invited me to stay with her mom, Eliette, who now lives just south of there. I took full advantage, and stayed for 3 days / 4 nights.
We drove out to Cluny, and saw the sights. I saw references to “Cluniacs” before, but I didn't really know what it was. Around the 12th century, Cluny was the biggest and most important Catholic monastery. At its peak, it was bigger than Notre Dame. It fell out of favor, and a lot of it was destroyed for the materials, but part of the church is still there, and other parts have been reconstructed.
The Inventor of Photography
Friends of the family Roger and Monique live one village up, in St. Loup de Varennes. Nicéphore Niépce was born in Chalon-sur-Saône, but the first picture was taken out his window in St. Loup de Varennes. He passed away there, and is buried in the yard of the small church there.
Big ol' Meals
I got to have two big family meals, including one that went from 1 to 7 PM. Lunch? Dinner? Anyway, it was fantastic. I was a little afraid to eat the snails, but they were great. The texture was fine. They're a Burgundian specialty. Anyway, they were quite the meals, with wonderful conversation, a walk, and too many courses to count.
On the last day, we drove to Guédelon, which is an amazing site where they're building a castle, using 13th century materials, tools and techniques. It has a really nice practical side to it… At the mill, the presenter kind of railed at the stupid things people are saying about rebuilding “the forest” at Notre Dame. For example, some have apparently said that they have to let the oak dry for 40 years. “You want to waste a day? Take oak cut from the center, let it dry for nine months, then you try to put a nail in it! You have to work oak before it dries out. There's plenty of suitable oak in France to re-do the forest – a couple of hectares worth would do.”
Thank you, Eliette and Céline!