You know how when you do something enough, you recognize that you’re going to make a mistake at some point, and that mistake is going to cause something to go horribly wrong? I’d been worried about experiencing my first real travel disaster since I got to Europe.
I’ve read horror stories on the internet, and so I feared that I was going to hurt myself or miss a bus or have some other incident during my semester abroad.
The incident in question happened today.
Since you’ve read the title, you already know that it involves me crashing a bike, and since I’m sure you’re excited to read all about it, here’s the rundown of this fateful (and thankfully, overall good) day in Beaune, France!
(If you want to skip the rest of the days events and go right to the crash, skip to The Incident)
The Saturday Market in Beaune
Today we had a break from classes, so my friends and I planned to head to the Saturday Market to buy some fresh food for a picnic lunch, then cycle out into wine country to eat it!
The Saturday Market, as you’d expect, takes place every Saturday at Place de les Halles in the center of Beaune. There are about 150 stalls that sell all sorts of things; from clothes, to spices, to antiques and crafts. The market winds up and down the streets of Beaune, but the best area is centered around the Les Halles covered market, where farmers from the surrounding towns bring in their fresh food.
My french still isn’t great, but it’s getting better! I was able to get a cheese-filled baguette, a peach, some grapes, and some cherry tomatoes with only a little mutual confusion from the patient french farmer (thanks for not laughing at me dude).
Even though this wasn’t our main attraction, I’m so glad to have visited the Saturday Market, because its such an old Burgundian event, and has some of the best food you can get in Beaune!
Renting a Bicycle in Beaune
Before I’d even left for Europe, we were told to rent bikes from Bourgogne Randonnées, as biking is a popular activity in Beaune, and reservations fill up fast.
Bourgogne Randonnées was a great place to rent from, they gave us maps and pointed us towards the roads that would take us to the vineyards.
We still managed to get lost in the narrower streets of the town, but thankfully, the locals seem to know where the cycling paths are, and a sweet older couple pointed us in the right direction.
Soon after, we found the pillars that marked the beginning of the bike paths and wine country, hurray!
For more info on renting a bicycle from Bourgogne Randonnées, click here!
(not sponsored, just an awesome place with nice people)
Biking Through Burgundy’s Wine Country
Just outside of Beaune lie the vineyards of Burgundy. We chose to ride through the vineyards south of Beaune on a bike path called the Voie des Vignes (Path of Vines).
It’s so incredibly serene here. All you can see for miles around are the neat rows of vineyards, which cover the gently sloping hills. These hills make for some tricky uphill climbs, but I think it’s worth it for the breezy downhill rides 🙂 The only structures out here in the vineyards are tiny stone cottages that look like they’ve been here for centuries. I have no clue what they’re used for, so if you know, please tell me what they are!
While riding along the Voie des Vignes, we came upon a few wine villages, first Pommard, and then Volnay. The villages are teeny tiny, but full of BnB’s and restaurants- you can just tell that there’s amazing food an wine here. The only problem when navigating the villages is that the bike path empties out onto the main road with no sidewalk or bike lane, so you’ve got to share the road with cars and buses too. Pommard was adorable, and if we hadn’t already gotten food at the Saturday Market, I would have loved to find a restaurant here!
Just outside of Volnay, we rode past an old wooden wine press, just sitting there on the side of the path. Wanting to get a closer look at it, my friend and I stopped and had our picnic on the stone wall next to it. Just as suspected, the market food was absolutely amazing. As we sat on the wall just taking in the quiet atmosphere, a flock of crows soared through the vines. Do they like grapes?
By the time we’d finished lunch, it was around 3pm, and we decided to head back to the bike shop to return our bikes before our time limit was up.
After leaving wine country, we retraced our paths and rode back through town. You’re probably wondering where and when I actually crash my bike.
The answer is, right about here.
To set the scene, the sidewalk we were riding on was pretty narrow, and had lots of poles sticking up out of the ground. I managed to miss the poles… and immediately crashed into the telephone post behind them.
Thankfully the bike was okay, and I thought I was too. Some random men standing on the side of the road laughed at me (a reasonable response to a dumb tourist crashing into a telephone post), and so I hobbled away in embarrassment.
Have you had the premonition that you were injured, but didn’t know where? That’s what I felt about 30 seconds after the crash. I couldn’t feel anything, but when I looked down at my feet, I stopped in my tracks because my left Chaco was full of blood.
I’d cut my big toe on the telephone pole, and even though I’ve fallen off a lot of bikes in my life, I was actually worried by how much it was bleeding.
I was lucky enough to be traveling with my friend who’s a nurse in training, and she made me an awesome little toe-bandaid with tissues and a hair tie. We walked/hobbled the rest of the way to the bike place, dropped off our bikes, and immediately went back to the hotel to find my professor.
My Hospital Scare
Like I said before, I’ve injured myself A LOT growing up, so right up until the point where my professor looked at my toe and told me I might need stitches, I hadn’t been super concerned about the seriousness of the injury.
At the word “stitches”, my stomach felt like a bowl of ice-water soup. Going to the hospital meant a 3-hour drive, a hefty bill, and that I would miss the wine tour we had scheduled for later in the evening. And if I’m being honest though, I really didn’t want my parents to find out what had happened because I didn’t want to worry them.
It really was my fault, who wears sandals on a bike ride? I didn’t even think twice about it, and I sure paid the price. I really, really hoped that the cut wasn’t serious enough to warrant a hospital visit.
My professor suggested that we go to the pharmacy next door to get the chemist’s opinion, which ended up being the best idea ever. The chemist looked at my toe and poked it for a few minutes before deciding that it was shallow enough to heal on its own. She sent me away with some spray-on antibiotics and instructions to clean and bandage it twice a day.
I left that pharmacy feeling like a million billion dollars!
Hearing that I didn’t have to get stitches in my left big toe was such a HUGE relief, and even though I would normally be discontented to spend the rest of the day watching TV in bed, I sat there happy as a clam. My parents mental well being was in tact, and I still got to go to the wine tasting 🙂
Wine Tasting at Bouchard Père & Fils in the Château de Beaune
That’s a mouthful, huh?
Well I was excited to have a mouthful of wine at our wine tasting and tour! The tour started with a trip down to the wine cellar. I’d never been to a winery before, so this may be pretty standard, but I was surprised by how dark, rounded brick ceiling arching over the racks upon racks of dusty bottles.
Our wine guide explained to us that the bottles here are stored in compartments labeled with numbers from 2 to 4 digits. The youngest ones are in the 5000 and 6000 range, while the bottles on the top shelves, labeled with 60’s and 70’s were first corked in the 17th century!! THAT IS SO OLD.
After leaving the cellars, we all sat in a circle on the winery’s patio for the actual tasting. Our guide brought out 4 bottles- 2 whites and 2 reds. He also gave us each a little booklet where we could write what we though about each wine, kind of like a wine-diary! He taught us how to sniff, swirl, and sip the wine so that we could appreciate each wine’s unique flavor, and so that we could try and figure out the notes of the wine ourselves.
I couldn’t seem to guess any of the notes correctly, oh well! I guess that just means I’ll have to visit more wineries until I get better at it 😉
Even if the guesses I wrote in my wine-diary weren’t right, I know for sure that each glass was delicious, and the cheese bread puffs they served with them were pretty great too.
I learned two very important lessons today.
One, hiking sandals are not a sufficient substitute for close-toed shoes, and two, WTB was not meant to ride a bike. If I ever want to ride one again, I should be in the little side car- Batman and Robin style. Or maybe in the handlebar basket, either should work just fine.
On Beaune as a whole, my verdict is that I’ve never been somewhere that made me this particular kind of happy. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush from not having to be hospitalized, but ever since I got here, I’ve just felt so cozy and peaceful. The vineyards outside of Beaune had that same cozy/peaceful/old-world energy, and drinking wine makes you feel cozy regardless, so the Bouchard Père & Fils fits the bill there too.
And that brings an end to this simultaneously amazing and terrible day! Tomorrow we have class again, which means we’re headed to another museum. I’m also curious to see how this toe will heal up, and so you’ll get unsolicited (not graphic, brief) updates on that too.