One of the best things about exploring a new place on a bicycle is that you get to ‘discover’ destinations that do not feature in any travel brochures or on the more popular visitor listings.
On our first day of ‘real’ riding on our tour in France we were looking for somewhere to stop and have a break at morning tea time. We had not actually ridden through any villages for a while, although we had passed a few signposts indicating that there were a few not far from our cycling route.
Finally, we turned off the canal trail and followed the signs to place called Bussière-sur-Ouche. We had no idea what we would find, but were sure there would be some place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack.
What we found surprised and delighted us.
This village is very small and quiet. It is nestled against a hilly backdrop and is not on thoroughfare, so there was no through traffic to disturb the peace. In fact, the entire time we were in the village, we saw no one! [This apparent absence of people was something we noticed in many villages and eventually we got to the point of being surprised if we saw someone!] The locals either did not notice us, or perhaps they were so surprised at the arrival of two cyclists in their tiny village that we were an oddity best left well alone 🙂
There were signs of construction activity in one area near the Church of Our Lady of the Three Valleys. The latter looked closed, and we did not really have time to stay to explore it anyway (with a long ride still ahead of us for the day). Later research indicated that it is open to visitors only in summer. Construction of this building started in about 1140 and it was completed in 1172. The building is still in reasonably good condition with some repairs having taken place in 1820 and at the time we cycled by, it was getting its exterior restored!
We spent a short time exploring the few streets in the village before heading off.
We found some beautiful gardens and spent some time photographing them – we found out afterwards that they were part of the Bussière Abbey. We had cycled past the gate to this establishment on the way up to the village, and wondered what it was like (one did not get the impression that casual visitors or sightseers were welcome). I was surprised to find out that the Abbey was founded by an Englishman (Stephen Harding) in 1131. In 2005 the buildings changed ownership and are now a luxury hotel in a rather large park [Reference: Wikipedia].
We were also fascinated by the ordinary houses and buildings in the village square. They are not a lot different to others in France (and probably Europe), but they were very old and not what we were used to at home.
We were not in the village for very long, but it was a delightful stop. It was the first of very many of these sorts of places we would find.
One of the things we were not used to was that the very small places in France don’t have shops of any sort. Where we come from, almost every place (regardless of the village size!) has somewhere where food can be purchased. We had read about this, and did not intend to purchase food at every stop, but it was a bit disconcerting at first.
It was essential to make sure that we had sufficient food with us to keep us riding happily all day. If we found an attractive food stop at the right time, we often stopped, but we did not rely on them being available.
(Follow this link for the itinerary and details for our Tour of France)