Canadian television personality
Erica Ehm owns her own communications company. Although she loves what she's doing,
she also enjoys getting away on a regular basis. One of her more interesting holidays
was a spur-of-the-moment decision when Erica got more than she bargained for.
My idea of
a perfect holiday is a healthy combination of beautiful scenery, great food, great
wine, unique culture and exercise. After hearing about Active Journeys vacations
I was sold --they offer biking and walking holidays around the world. Tagging
along after a guide is never my cup of tea. Thats why their type of holiday
is so cool. The trip includes bicycles, detailed routes to each days destination,
confirmed quaint hotels, dinner and breakfast, daily transportation of your luggage
but no group and no guide. If you choose to be, youre on your own. That's
the way my girlfriend Beth and I chose to go.
Finding out the
destination of choice was a week long bike tour in Frances Loire
valley, but we were too late. All the hotels were already booked. So, instead,
we settled quickly on the Burgundy region. However, while both these picturesque
areas are famous for their wines -- there is a very important difference -- the
landscape. Had we read the Burgundy trip itinerary more closely, we would have
picked up on some key reoccurring phrases like fairly stiff climb,
vast panorama, and rocky promontory. Since on this trip
we were expected to bike approximately 55 kilometers per day, we were going to
find out the hard way that maybe this was too much for us.
one was a long travel day by train from Paris to Sauvigny de Beaune.
our first hotel we were supplied with sturdy 21 gear hybrid bikes, detailed itinerary
and maps, bike bags, locks and repair kits. The next morning, with a wink and
an au revoir from the concierge, we were on the road.
Not as good as we
thought we were...
the directions we received were really quite specific, Beth and I had difficulty
reading the signage and deciphering the ways of the road in the French countryside.
And, within an hour our leg muscles were burning. Then, when we were exactly in
the middle of nowhere, I realized with a sinking sensation that my rear tire was
flat. Luckily Beth really knows her stuff and was able to replace the innertube
that had been punctured by a nail.
day ended 40 kilometers later high in the medieval village of Chateauneuf.
As we crawled up the final incline of the day to this 12th century town, we began
to understand just exactly how hilly the Burgundy region was, and that we may
have bitten off more than we could chew.
two began with a lovely breakfast at the Hostellerie du Chateau. Beth and
I rhapsodized over our freshly baked bread, pain au chocolat, fruit, yoghurt,
cheese and coffee. We
ate very well keeping in mind the 55 kilometers ahead that day. This time, we
biked almost nonstop for about five hours -- through beautiful farmland, vineyards,
medieval villages and rolling hills. We began to figure out how to use the gears
and navigate the hills more efficiently. The many locals we asked for directions
were more than happy to show us the way. Yet, we noticed that they often looked
at us with pity as they pointed up to a tiny steep road. Their parting words were,
then, on the way to Semur en Auxois everything suddenly changed. Beths
knee gave out. She was in deep pain and could go no further. With the help of
passers-by, we tracked down a local doctor. From there an ambulance took us to
the hospital for x-rays which told the whole story.
would be fine but there would be no more biking this trip. All I can say is --
thank god for travel insurance. Dont even think of leaving home without
contacted Sherpa Expeditions, the local affiliate for Active Journeys,
and new arrangements were quickly made for us. We could proceed with our original
itinerary, but we would be driven to the next days destination by the local
taxi that transports the bikers luggage.
The tone of the
began as an adventure and test of strength and endurance, now became a gentle
stroll through medieval villages with a lot of food and beaucoup de vins.
We appreciated the variety of scenery and the hotels selected for us. One night,
nestled high on a hill (theres that word again), in the village of Vezelay,
we stayed at Hotel de la Poste et du Lion DOr. Our room had a beautiful
view of the ancient stone streets and the Basilica St. Madelaine. We slept
with our windows open that night, listening to the lull of voices from the patio
Next day was a total change of
pace. Beth and I spent the day reading by a lovely lake at Les Settons,
a vacation spot for local families where camping, pedal boats, swimming and a
fishing school are the main attractions. Our
accommodations at La Vielle Diligence -- an old rustic farmhouse -- matched
the surroundings. Dinner here was not like eating at a hotel. The hearty home-cooked
meal was served family style around a large table and we enjoyed unique conversations
with our hosts and the other guests. In fact, we met a true adventurer who was
travelling on horseback, on his own, from his home in Germany all the way to Spain.
day promised new pleasures. Once again in the luxury of our taxi, we arrived at
Arney Le Duc, yet another beautiful little town. The day was spent slowly
exploring the nooks and crannies of this little gem. Our hotel room was clean
and simple with shower and toilet but here at Chez Camille Hotel, we experienced
the type of French cuisine and service that Id only ever read about before.
The dining room was a lovely annexed area filled with overgrown benjamin ficcus
trees that pressed against the glass ceiling. We were seated at a table which
faced a glass wall behind which a dozen handsome chefs (yummy!) were preparing
our meal. By the end of the meal we had eaten nine courses, five of which were
a series of delicate desserts.
it was over. The next morning we were driven over mountains, hills, dips and bends,
back to our first hotel in Savigny de Beaune. When the proprietor saw us
coming out of the taxi, he asked, Ou sont les velos? (Where
are the bikes?) Oh, we said with a smile, Beth had a bit
of an accident but we had a great time in spite of it. And then we sat down
and enjoyed yet another fine bottle of wine from the Burgundy region. Sometimes
things turn out for the best. We learned that biking in France, no matter how
many hills, isnt a bit difficult at all!
Be sure not to forget
- your own padded bike seat or gel seat
- biking gloves
- water bottle
- medical travel insurance
Journeys Walking, hiking, bicycling and sea-kayaking tours worldwide.
Explore the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Canada, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Discover quiet, country trails or kayak among the whales, we have the largest
selection of active holidays worldwide. Many of the tours can be organized on
a independent basis, giving you maximum flexibility with all the support, or join
our small group holidays.
Toll free: 1-800-597-5594