Let’s Get All Folksy
I don’t know of any French folk songs about rivers or journeys, but this ride could be sung like one of those old American folk tunes:
I took my Bianchi down to the river
Where with every twist
And every turn
My trail followed with her..
Well that wouldn’t be really true, as there is no river hugging trail along the Dordogne. But more about that in a bit, for this area is rightly deemed as one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. Riding along or near to the river would be a boon, and seemed a great plan. But what’s this, you say? An Italian bike from the late 1990’s? Ok, admittedly it’s not really vintage and it’s not French, but I loved it.
One of the best things about this particular route, a dedicated bike trail, is that it starts out from the town of Sarlat-De-Canada. This is one of the best towns to visit in France, so as a lead-in into the ride, you can visit this truly wonderful old town. Sarlat is about 7 kilometres north of the river, from which the trail heads down to the Dordogne and loosely follows it for about 16 kilometres. The ride is about 23.7k in total, so it looked ideal.
Seeing the Dordonge slipping tranquilly under the bridge was the highlight of the ride. Even just getting glimpses of it through the trees as you ride along made it worth my efforts to ride this path. There are plenty of well-placed benches and stop off areas, even small leisure parks where you could play table tennis or basketball. The path runs close by to some small villages along the route, so there’s always a good reason to branch off and see what’s off the path.
On the Trail
The bike path is comfortably wide for two cyclists to ride side by side, and was quiet at 5pm, the time I took my ride. Old disused stations are a feature of the ride, where once people waited at platforms on the single track train line. You get the odd dog walker and fellow rider, a runner or roller skater now and again, but generally the path is your own to discover. It was quite smooth and not ruined by tree roots or ground moss, which are the bane of bike trails.
Perfect for a Vintage Bike
I actually wanted to ride an old Jacques Anquetil I had recently bought, built with Super Vitus tubes and with a full Shimano 600 groupset. I believe it was made around 1981. Vintage enough! However, the previous owner had installed the wrong size seatpost in it for some reason, so it was unrideable. The point is, as this trail was flat, like all old railway paths, an old 10 speed would have been perfect. Nevertheless, the Bianchi was again a pleasure t o ride this cool trail. Well worth the drive from Calais.