Faithful readers may recall that in August 2014 after our walk along the Ballastine we were all set to test out the stretch of disused railway line between Le Cheylard and the Eyrieux valley on bikes. The entire line has now been revamped for use by wheelers and walkers and has been re named La Dolce Via.
Well time flies by and we were simply not getting round to it until our friend JP took matters into his own hands and organised the whole excursion for us. We drove, on brilliant little twisty roads, as far as les Ollières sur Eyrieux, where we had arranged to hire bikes. There was time for a quick coffee before the local bus rolled up and we hitched them to the back for the ride up to le Cheylard – another super scenic 30 km trip, along the river valley and an absolute snip at 3 euros. Then it was saddle up and away! A short stretch of open road brought us to the track and we had a beautiful ride down on a gorgeous day passing through tunnels and over viaducts as we followed the course of the river.
The views are varied but always breath-taking and quite different from those you get from the road, the surface also varies but is mostly excellent and at lunch time JP knew the perfect place to stop.
The station at Chalencon at le Pont de Chervil has been closed for years along with the hotel, but this summer a brand new food truck appeared. Having been made redundant from the local jewellery factory, which is in difficulties, Raphaelle decided on a career change and persuaded her husband to graft a holiday chalet onto a trailer base to create a bespoke and very nifty kitchen.
And that might have been that but for this intriguing poster which caught our eye some months later.
It was the day after Jazz n Cakes, but we couldn’t miss it and we rolled up, somewhat groggily, mid morning to find the station buzzing in a delightful and peculiarly French way.
There was bunting up, couples dancing on the goods platform, pétanque players on the track, children everywhere. Raphaelle was busy cooking up a giant paella whilst her husband and daughter served jugs of cool white wine to people sitting at tables in the shade and bemused cyclists rode by. Emilie and Jean Phi led the lindy hoppers and a jazz trio provided the music.
It was just a great scene. We had met Emilie before when Markus played for her at Kaopa, but now it transpired that Manu, the trumpet player was moving to Bordeaux ……
No doubt you can guess the rest! Markus has been rehearsing regularly with the Emilie and the band and they had their first gig at the end of November. Watch this space!