2016-07-03 (Day 17) Nantua – Louhans

Today’s photo shows a memorial to the French Resistance in World War 2 near to Cerdon. There are very few WW2 memorials in France in comparison to WW1 memorials but this massive stone sculpture is one of the best memorials anywhere in the world. Over 700 French Resistance fighters were killed in l’Ain and the Haut Jura during WW2 and this monument was commissioned in the 1951 to commemorate their sacrifice. The sculpture is 17m tall and took the sculptor, Charles Machot, 3 years to complete. The sculpture is impressive and its location overlooking the Cerdon valley and alongside the main road is inspired. What adds even more poignancy to the memorial is the small cemetery at the foot of the statue with the tombs of 80 Maquis fighters.


Travoy leaving Camping Signal in Nantua. The campsite in Nantua was such a lovely and peaceful place to stay I ended up spending two nights there. The extra day gave me a chance to update my Twitter and Facebook and also plan the best route from Nantua to Paris Beauvais airport. But after a badly needed rest day on Saturday, it was time to hit the road again Sunday morning. Unlike Saturday when it rained most of the day, the sun was back this morning and it made for a lovely day’s cycling.

Sports facilities beside Camping du Signal. There were lots of tennis courts, a boules pitch, a football pitch and a rugby pitch all located within a few yards of the campsite. There is probably no country in the world with as many sport grounds and pitches as France but having lots of facilities doesn’t necessarily mean they will be used. In Ireland, the busiest time of the year for tennis courts coincides with Wimbledon but not so in Nantua. Wimbledon 2016 had started the week before and would have been live on French TV all week  but I never noticed anyone using the tennis courts in Nantua at any time during the week-end I stayed there.


Nantua rugby club play at the Stade Claudius Perrouse. Nantua play in the fifth tier of French rugby, which is known as Federale 3. There are 160 clubs in Federale 3 so the teams are divided into 16 groups of 10 local teams. A season ticket to watch Nantua rugby club is just €60, which entitles you to see at least 9 home games. For 2016-2017, Nantua are in Poule 6 of the Federale 3. If they finish in the top 2 of Poule 6, they qualify for the French championship and if they win their Last 32 game, they will be promoted to Federale 2. Last year on the Tour de Travoy, I visited the  Fleurance rugby club in the south west of France. They are among 80 teams in Federale 2 so if Nantua have a good season this year and get promoted, they could be joining them in Federale 2.


Timber sculptures alongside the road near Nantua. These sculptures are just incredible and would have taken considerable skill with a chainsaw to complete.


Boat on lake near Nantua. Lac de Nantua is only about 2 km long and about 300m wide but there were a few boats out sailing on it.


Total cycled today – 115 km. Total cycled so far on the 2016 Tour de Travoy – 890 km. Longest day by far so far on the 2016 Tour de Travoy. But the bright sunshine, incredible scenery and light traffic made for another Super Sunday of Cycling on the Tour de Travoy. But you can see from the map above that I went south west from Nantua instead of northwest towards Bourg-en-Bresse. This was due to a wrong turn near Nantua and it resulted in me needlessly having to cycle an extra 20 km.

Wrong turn at roundabout near Port. I had traveled along the D1084 from Nantua and when I got to a roundabout near the small town of Port, I decided to stay on the D1084 without checking my map. However, if I had taken the D979 instead, I would have saved about 20 km of cycling. However, the sign for the D979 was also the sign for the A404 motorway and this put me off. It would be another half hour before I checked my map on Maps.me by which time it was too late to turn back.


Mural and water fountain near Port. Murals are much more common in France than in Ireland and this Impressionist style mural was one of the best I came across on the 2016 Tour de Travoy.


View of the Cerdon valley. I was really annoyed for taking a wrong turn and having to cycle an extra 20 km but that all changed when I came across this vista of the Cerdon valley. Cerdon is famous for it’s sparkling Rose wine. In 2009, the Bugey region was granted AOC status, similar to Champagne or Bordeaux so most wine in this valley is now marketed as Bugey-Cerdon. 90% of the sparkling Rose wine in Bugey-Cerdon is made from Gamay, which is a purple colored grape which is fruitier than most other grapes and also ripens slightly earlier

Grottes du Cerdon. Cerdon is also famous for it’s prehistoric caves which were occupied 12,000 years ago during the Last Ice Age.The caves were formed by rivers which flowed through the limestone cliffs over the last 2 million years. When the ice melted at the end of the Ice Age, the rivers flowed away and the caves were occupied by local people. The caves were used as a cold room to store animals the locals had killed. A layer of ash 5m deep and thousands of animal bones have been found in one of the caves where locals had cooked the animals before eating them.

Grottes du Cerdon. The complete cave system is over 1 km in length and takes an average of 1 hour to walk from one end to the other. At the lower end of the cave system, there is a huge cavern which is so big the Arc de Triomphe would fit inside it. Between 1933 and 1959, the caves were used to store over 100 ton of cheese by a local cheesemaker. But in 1959, a path was created through the cave system and the caves were opened to tourists. Nowadays, the Grottes du Cerdon attract thousands of tourist per year. Entry to the caves is €9 for an adult and €6 for a child. For an extra fee, you can also visit a small exhibition centre beside the caves where there are some artifacts recovered from the caves by archaeologists.


World War 2 memorial to the French Resistance. Some of the fiercest Resistance during World War 2 took place in the Ain region of France. L’Ain was part of Vichy France, which had been set up in July 1940 after the German invasion of northern France. After French forces signed the Armistice of 22 June 1940, a puppet government was set up under Marshall Petain and based in the small town of Vichy.


Vichy France. Between July 1940 and November 1942, there was little trouble in the l’Ain region. But in 1942, British and Free French forces under Charles de Gaulle invaded North Africa. This prompted German and Italian forces to occupy Vichy France in November 1942 fearing an invasion across the Mediterranean by the Free French army. You can see from the map above that l’Ain was mostly occupied by Italian troops. This part of France was once part of the Duchy of Savoy and Mussolini obviously had his eye on reclaiming it for Italy. However, just a few months after the Italian occupation of Vichy France, Mussolini was sacked by the King of Italy on July 25th 1943 and he was then arrested by the Italian police. The new Italian government switched sides in the war and starting supporting the Allies against Nazi Germany and this probably explains why Germany took over those parts of Vichy France which were being occupied by Italian forces in September 1943.


Plaque beside the World War 2 memorial. Interestingly, there is more writing on this plaque about the monument than there is about the French resistance which it commemorates. In a small paragraph at the bottom, the plaque states that a force of 12,000 men carried out numerous attacks in February, June and July 1944 prior to the liberation of l’Ain in September 1944.In all. the French resistance lost over 700 men in l’Ain but what is telling is that most of the attacks and losses occurred in 1944 only. There were hardly any operations against the Vichy government militia between 1940-1942 or against Italian forces between 1942-1943. In 1944, it was obvious that Germany would lose the war and only then did attacks intensify.


Church and graveyard in Cerdon near to the WW2 memorial. This has to be one of the most picturesque graveyards in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be buried surrounded by vineyards in such a scenic location.


Memorial on roundabout near to Neuville-sur-Ain. There obviously was a lot of fighting in this part of France during World War 2 and here is a small memorial at a roundabout commemorating one such battle.

Statue of Liberty replica near to Pont d’Ain. I had travelled along this road last year during the Tour de Travoy and had come across this statue then as well. This statue is advertising the nearby La Liberte function room, which can be hired for weddings and other functions. But one thing I hadn’t noticed last year is that the flame on Lady Liberty’s torch is actually in the shape of a chicken. The Bresse region is famous throughout France for it’s chickens so the sculpture pays homage to this tradition as well.


Monastere Royal de Brou near to Bourg-en-Bresses. This monastry was built around 1520 and is famous for the glazed tiles in its roof. A lot of French monasteries were destroyed in the aftermath of the French Revolution in 1789 but the Royal Monastery of Brou survived intact. Perhaps, the brightly colored pattern on its roof saved it from being destroyed during the French Revolution.


Lunch in McDonalds in Bourg-en-Bresse. I had stopped here on the 2015 Tour de Travoy but that time , I used the drive thru whereas today, it was much quieter so I went inside to order. All McDonalds in France have touch screen kiosks where you can pick your order and they then print out a receipt with a code. When your order is ready, the code flashes up on a screen for you to collect and pay. I wasn’t that hungry so instead of ordering a Big Mac Royale, I opted for a McFirst meal which only cost €5. The last time I was in a McDo restaurant was in Switzerland where a similar meal would have cost 12 SFR or about €11.


Sign for Paris on A40 autoroute near to Bourg-en-Bresse. The first sign for Paris I saw, I took a photo. Remember I had to get to Beauvais airport which is about 80 km north of Paris. So when I saw this sign, I realized I still had about 500 km to travel.


Sign for Louhans. Boy, was I glad to make it to Louhans. It was already after 8 o’clock and after cycling over 110 km, I was really tired.


Stade de Municipal also known as Stade du Bram in Louhans. In a lot of French towns, the municipal campsite is beside the local sportsground and it was also the case here in Louhans, as my campsite for the night was just the other side of this stadium. This stadium has a capacity of 10,000 and is the homeground of CS Louhans- Ciuseaux, who play in the Championnat de France Amateur 2, the fifth tier of  French football. In 2006, at the World Cup in Germany, Alaixys Romao, a player from CS Louhans-Cuiseaux made history by being the first player from the team to play in a World Cup finals tournament when he lined out for Togo for their game against South Korea.


Another Super Sunday of Cycling. With over 115 km cycled today, it had been the longest day on the Tour de Travoy. But the light traffic, superb scenery and bright sunshine made for another Super Sunday of Cycling. I arrived at the campsite in Louhans about half an hour before France were due to kick-off their quarter final with Iceland. I wasn’t able to tune in the game on my TV tuner but I could follow it no problem on the internet. With France leading 4-1 at half time, I figured the game was over so I switched everything off and went to sleep as I was so tired after the long day’s cycling.







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