The French have a phrase, Balade Decouverte. It means ride of discovery, and this weekends riding was aptly covered by this description. With two good days of weather forecast the opportunity to ride was too great to miss, but where to go? Mark suggested we visit Perouges, a medieval city around an hour and half away, so with neither of us having been there before, we set off for a new destination.
Leaving at 10.30 the weather was still a little murky, and with my pinlock visor steaming up and obscuring my view of the dials, and the roads still damp and leaf strewn, it wasn't the greatest start to the day, but as time advanced the temperatures and visibility improved, and by the time we arrived at Perouges it was actually quite warm.
Perouges is a mediaeval walled town perched on top of a small hill and due to it's authentic historical appearance has been used as a location in several French films, including the 1961 black and white film "The 3 Musketeers".
It's not a very big town but has a lot of character with entry in via either of these arches
Streets are narrow and cobbled with one main street encircling the town with several smaller streets leading into the centre
The fact the stone walls are still standing strong shows the skill of the builders
Here are a couple of the buildings in the centre
Stand alone wall borders flower garden
After a gentle hour wandering round taking photos, we bought a drink and a piece of galette (tart) from one of the local bakeries before setting off towards Belley through one of Frances great features, tree lined roads. !
This was quite a long stretch and quite striking without summer leaves, but such roads are often known to cause accidents due to fallen leaves and slippery surfaces, and the French sometimes remove them for this reason, shame asthetically, but they're solid objects if you hit one!
So, with an interesting morning passed and a note to return with better halves/friends at a later date, we headed off towards the tunnel du Chat, with the idea being to ride over the Col du Chat, which I'd ridden the Col du Chat in the opposite direction for the first time, earlier this year. Today however I took a wrong turn which turned out to be a great mistake! Heading upwards we followed signs for Belvedere du Mt Chat. The road started to get narrower and bends became tricky due to the sheer number of wet leaves, but after climbing for a while we stopped off to take pictures of these amazing views.
Continuing on a few minutes later we were at the summit at 1504m and on the other side of the mountain with these equally fantastic views.
Mt Blanc clearly visible in the distance
The descent was somewhat perilous though. Snow at the side of the road gave the clue that the surface was potentially slippery, and like the ride the previous week down the Rousset where there were ice patches, so there was today too! Taking it very steadily and trying to use engine braking only, it was a good 10 minutes before we could safely continue without the worry of ice!
Back home we reflected on how the day had turned out. Lucky firstly to have had temperatures hof circa 17degrees C in mid November, nice to have visited the medieval town with relatively few people there so we could stroll round and see stuff at our leisure, and finally, finding our way to the great viewpoint at Mt Chat, overall an excellent balade decouverte of 349kms.