2016-07-04 (Day 18) Louhans – Beaune

Today’s photo shows 2 French flags outside a house near Chalons sur Saone. The evening before, France had beat Iceland 5-2 to qualify for the semi-finals of Euro 2016. But having already cycled for a week through France to even see one French flag, let alone 2 outside a house was a rare sight. This display was arguably the best Euro 2016 related display I came across in the whole of France. The writing on the flag says “Allez les Bleus” or “Go you Blues” and it certainly helped improve my blues on what was a mostly dull overcast day.


Travoy leaving Louhans campsite.  It had been late when I arrived at the campsite the night before, so the next morning, I called into the reception to pay for my night’s stay. A pitch for the night would only have cost a fiver or so, but there was a problem with the computer in the reception so the receptionist let me leave without having to pay anything. He spoke good English and told me he had been in Donegal the year before at the Rory Gallagher festival in Ballyshannon. Rory Gallagher was a talented guitarist who was born in Ballyshannon but actually grew up in Cork.  In 1961 at the age of 13, he bought the first Fender Stratocaster in Ireland at Crowley’s music shop in Cork. The guitar cost £100 which at the time was enough money to buy a house but Rory would go on to play it for the rest of his life. Rory played solo and in a band called Taste and he had a quite a number of hit records in the 60’s and 70’s. Rory died of liver failure in 1995 but in 2010, a statue was installed in Ballyshannon in his honor and the town has held an annual Rory Gallagher festival ever since. The festival must have left a good impression on the receptionist as he let me leave without having to pay and his lovely gesture made my day.


Total cycled today – 70 km. Total cycled so far on 2016 Tour de Travoy – 960 km. The day started with bright sunshine but got increasingly cloudy as the morning wore on.


Cruise boats on the Seille river near Louhans. The Seille river flows into the Saone near to Macon and the Saone flows into the Rhone at Lyon meaning you could cruise all the way to the Med from here at Louhans.


Market day in Louhans. Monday is market day in Louhans and the town was mobbed with people doing their shopping. Most towns in France are relatively quiet so it was a surprise to see so many people in the one place.


Heavy traffic in Louhans.  Traffic was backed up for about 1 km both north and east of Louhans. As I tend to avoid the big cities and towns, I rarely  come across traffic jams. But here at Louhans, the traffic was mental in all directions both into and out of the town.


Baekelite factory near Saint Germain du Plain. Baekelite is a French company which specializes in electrical air filter equipment. Their extraction fans and air filters are used by many food and construction companies. They also make rubber seals for sewerage pipes and also equipment for lifting and handling pre-cast concrete slabs. As far as I can make out, they do not manufacture anything from bakelite, like billiard balls or cookware. In 2014, solar panels were added to the roof of their factory and a giraffe sculpture placed in their grounds. The company’s emblem is a giraffe because a giraffe has to pump air into and out of its lungs through its long neck in a similar way that air filtration units made by Baekelite pump air into and out of different venues.


Mural appealing for donations of blood near Saint Germain du Plain. This mural looks quite old but in fact in France, there are appeals all the time for people to give blood, especially on TV. Fewer people give blood in the winter than in the summer and stocks can fall critically low. For example, on January 12th 2015, a nationwide appeal for blood was launched as there was only 11 days blood supply in the whole of France. 10,000 donations of blood are needed every day in France but the appeal last year asked for 25,000 donations a day to build up blood stockpiles.


Typical blood groups and blood supply levels in France. You can see from the above graphic that not all blood types are critically low at certain times. O-, A- and B- levels normally run low first before more common blood types like AB- and AB+. Only 6% of the French population have O- blood but their supplies are highly sought after as O- blood can be safely given to AB+ and AB- blood groups.


Pont de Bourgogne bridge across the Saone river near to Chalons sur Saone. A few days ago, I came across a cable stay bridge at Seyssel designed by Michel Virlogeux. That bridge was completed in 1988 across the Rhone and here is another of his cable stay bridges built across the Saone in 1992. This main span of this bridge is 151m and the total length is around 350m so this bridge is roughly twice the size of the one built in Seyssel.


Statue of Joseph Nicephore Niepce in Chalons sur Saone. I passed by this statue but didn’t stop to see who it depicted thinking it was just another statue of which there are thousands in France. But in hindsight, I am sorry I didn’t stop and take a few photos because this statue depicts none other than the inventor of photography himself, Joseph Nicephore Niepce.  Niepce was born in Chalons sur Seine in 1765 and in 1826, produced the world’s first photo at his home in Saint Loup de Varennes, about 6 km from Chalons sur Saone.

Source : Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

The world’s first photograph showing the view from a window at Niepce’s estate.  In 1826, Niépce captured the scene above with a camera focused onto a pewter plate thinly coated with a naturally occurring asphalt called Bitumen of Judea. Niepce had started experimenting with cameras around 1816  using silver chloride plates. He was able to produce images on these plates but the image would darken all over when exposed to light. So, he then started experimenting with Bitumen of Judea coated plates.The bitumen hardened in the brightly lit areas, but in the dimly lit areas it remained soluble and could be washed away with white spirits and this technique resulted in the image above. A later researcher who used Niépce’s notes to recreate his photo found that it probably took Niepce several days to adequately capture such an image on a bitumen-coated plate.

Source : Photo-museum.org

Reproduction of the camera Niepce used to capture the world’s first photograph. Niépce called his photographic process heliography, which literally means “sun drawing”. In Nicephore’s correspondence with his brother Claude, he wrote that his first real success in using bitumen to create a permanent photograph actually came in 1824 but none of those photos have survived. In 1826, he photographed the view from a window in his house onto a sheet of bitumen-coated pewter. That result has survived and is now the oldest known camera photograph still in existence. The historic image had seemingly been lost early in the 20th century, but photography historian Helmut Gernsheim succeeded in tracking it down in 1952. He donated the photograph to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre at the University of Austin in Texas, where it is now on permanent display.

Louis Daguerre and the Daguerreotype, the world’s first mass produced camera. In 1829, Niépce entered into a partnership with Louis Daguerre, who was also seeking a means of creating permanent photographic images with a camera. Their partnership lasted until Niépce’s death in 1833, after which Daguerre continued to experiment, eventually resulting in a photographic process he called daguerreotype. In 1839, he managed to get the government of France to purchase his invention on behalf of the people of France.This arrangement annoyed Niépce’s son, Isodore, who claimed Daguerre was reaping all the benefits of his father’s work. In some ways Isodore was right and most historians now generally accept that Niepce’s “heliography” was the first successful example of what we now call “photography”.

Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765 – 1833) and his estate at Saint Loup de Varennes. In fact, Nicephore Niepce is probably the one of the greatest inventors ever because not only did he invent photography he also invented the internal combustion engine .In 1807 Nicephore and his brother, Claude invented a prototype internal combustion engine, which they called a pyréolophore, and on 20 July 1807 a patent was granted by Napoleon Bonaparte after it had successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône. The pyreolophore engine was powered by powder, mostly coal dust, but ten years later, they modified the pyreolophore by adding the world’s first fuel injection system to it. However, the Niepce brother’s engine was not as powerful or as reliable as the steam engines which were being built at that time and it would be another 80 years before internal combustion engines were adopted much more widely.

Source : Photo-museum.org

Pyreolophore engine and a velocipede at Niepce’s estate, which is now a museum. Niepce also is credited with inventing the velocipede which was a fore-runner of the bicycle. The world’s first bike race in 1861 between Paris and Rouen took place on velocipedes. It would be another 20 years before chain driven bikes we have today were invented. The bicycle, the internal combustion engine and photography are arguably 3 of the the most important inventions of the 19th Century. Yet, it is incredible to think that the same person was involved in all 3 inventions. Joseph Nicephore Niepce was the Thomas Edison and Elon Musk of his day yet very few people would know of his name nowadays.


Art nouveau style telegraph poles along the road near Dernigry. 190 years have passed since the world’s first photograph was taken about 20 km from here. In that time, billions, maybe even trillions, of photos have been taken. The recent invention of digital cameras has resulted in 100 million photos, some good some bad, being shared every day on the internet. Even on the Tour de Travoy, I averaged about 200 photos per day but normally only pick out the best 10 – 20 examples to include in this website. This shot of some telegraph poles is not one of my better photos but I have included it as it highlights something uniquely French. I had  noticed these Art Nouveau style of telegraph poles last year on the Tour de Travoy but didn’t get any photos. So when I spotted some near Dernigry, I was determined to get a shot. To some people, this is probably the most boring photo ever and a terrible example of Niepce’s legacy. But to me, the photo shows something quintessentially French as I doubt if this style of telegraph poles are found anywhere else in the world.


Another day, another region of France. I had never heard of the Cote d’Or (Hills of Gold) region of France before. Cote d’Or is one of 8 departements which make up the newly formed region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.


New regions in France. The previous 22 mainland regions in France were amalgamated into 12 mainland regions plus Corsica. Some of the new regional names have proved controversial. For example, the region of Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou Charentes is now known as Nouvelle Aquitaine. The previous regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine are now known as Grand Est.

New French region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comte. The new name for the old Burgundy and Franche Comte regions corresponds to the area once ruled by the Duke of Burgundy before the French revolution.  This new region was formed by combining the 2 old regions of Bourgogne or Duchy of Burgundy with Franche Comte or Free County of Burgundy.


Mural on house in Bligny-les-Beaune. This mural depicts what looks like a harvest fair taking place after grapes have been harvested from their vines.


World War 1 memorial in Beaune. Despite France qualifying for the semi-finals of Euro 2106 the evening before, I saw more French flags at this memorial than I saw cycling 70 km today through Burgundy.


Camping Cent Vignes in Beaune. There was a queue of campervans and caravans trying to get into Camping  Beaune when I arrived at about 4 o’clock. It took me about 20 minutes just to register and pay for a pitch the queue was that long. The campsite was by far the busiest I had ever stayed at either this year or last year.


Campsite full sign at Camping Cent Vignes in Beaune. I tweeted this sign as I never had seen the likes of it before. The campsite at Beaune is huge with space for maybe 100 campervans and caravans. All the pitches are hedged off which is great for privacy but it means at peak season, the campsite can fill up and there is no more space for latecomers. You can see from the sign that there was still some space for people with tents but not for campers or caravans. Normally at French campsites, people with a car and tent and people with a campervan or caravan are charged the more or less same amount. Not so here at Beaune as 2 people with a campervan are charged €25 whereas a night here for 2 people with a car and tent only costs €17. As I had neither a car or a campervan, I was charged less than a tenner.






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