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DAY 37: From Contigny via Moulins to Nevers, 95 km.

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

The habit is strong; I get up again around 5:30 am. Pack everything, take a shower, have breakfast, tidy up, secure everything on the bike and then leave at 7:07 am. I slept really well there in that big house that is meant for 20 people, but where I was alone. I have noticed that all facilities were present for people with reduced mobility: wide doors for wheelchair patients, showers that can accommodate wheelchairs, high toilets with special hand rests, etc. It's nice that everyone can be accommodated here. I've already said it: super nice people and everything immaculate and a super quiet environment. I take a few nice pictures of this great B & B where I could sleep for 29 euros.

My B&B and the church of Contigny

I have to cycle 95 km today and have checked the road carefully and I follow Google maps that keeps me away from the D 20009. There is very heavy traffic there and so it is dangerous. It works very well. I pass the church of Contigny and stop to take a few pictures: a largely Romanesque church with a beautiful heavy tower as was often the case so that people could take shelter in it in case of danger. also a few pictures of the landscapes nearby and of the rising red sun. It's still really fresh. I have 4 layers on and can use them quite well.

Pictures of the Sioule and the surroundings of Contigny

Thanks to Google maps I can cycle well on secondary roads and around 9 o'clock I am already in Moulins on the Allier. There is even a very nice cycle path along the river which is very pleasant. I hadn't anticipated it, but I decided to visit Moulins cathedral anyway. Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation cathedral was built to replace a late 10th century chapel. It was originally dedicated to Saint Peter and then converted into the "collegiate church of the Bourbons" at the end of the Middle Ages. The oldest part was built in Flamboyant Gothic style between 1468 and 1550.

Moulins: the bridge across the Allier and Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation cathedral

Many stained glass windows depict the royal family of the Bourbons : the lives of many saints such as Saint Catherine (with her wheel) and Saint Barbara (with her hat tower) and especially a beautiful Tree of Jesse. Most of the stained glass windows are from the 15th and 16th centuries. Characteristic is that they depict large figures and tell entire stories briefly. There are also beautiful statues such as a sculpture group of an entombment, also from the 15th century.

Cycling away from the church I meet two Moulinois or residents of Moulins nearby: he is Daniel and she is Josiane happily married for 56 years, she says with three children and four grandchildren. She asks if I'm going to Santiago de Compostella. I tell her that I cycled via Turonensis and via Podiensis with two grandchildren and that we did Santiago last year and why. She thinks it's a great initiative and she emphasizes that she always wanted to go to Santiago, but unfortunately it never happened. I say goodbye and we wish each other well.

Moulins: stained glass windos in the cathedral and Josiane with Daniël

I enjoy cycling on; it is not too hot and the landscape is beautiful. Many cattle are raised in this region and I see many white and brown cows, the latter with large horns. they are pecking corn all over the place and many heavy tractors are driving by with the harvest. Everything is going too well because suddenly my internet is down and I no longer have Google maps. Don't worry: I call Magda and she quickly tells me how to continue cycling along these quiet roads. After many small departmentals I end up on the D 13 which is a nice wide road and takes me straight to my final destination, Nevers.

Moulins: Tour de l'horloge and the cattle in the meadows on my way to Nevers

On my way I see an indication of “ancienne chapelle romane” without further explanation. The chapel is 100 meters from the road and I stop there to look at it and eat a piece of cheese and bread in the meantime. The big door is closed. I call to a man who is about 50 meters away standing in his door if he has the key and he replies that there is a small door on the other side that is always open. Indeed it is open and inside the church is empty, somewhat neglected but still very pleasant. There is even a beautiful capital that intrigues me, but I have no explanation for it. Is it a mermaid or something else? After a long visit I go outside for lunch and two people in their forties or fifties also come to look at the chapel. I tell them that the small door on the other side is open. They are two German tourists Ralf and Catarina who spend their holidays in and around Nevers. They have their bicycles on the car and they go every day to visit the beautiful things in the neighborhood by bicycle. Then they will do the same near Valence above Lyon before driving back home by car. They thank me for the tip of the door being open..

Old Romanesque chapel and the cycling tourists Ralf and Catarina

Magda has informed Telenet that I have a problem and unbelievable but true, a Joey from Telenet calls me there and tries to help me. It will be all right in the course of the afternoon thanks to him; for which my sincere thanks. I cycle a part along the Canal Latéral of the Loire in the direction of Nevers, which is located on the Loire. At 2 pm I arrive at the apartment that Magda managed to rent near the Romanesque St Etienne church in Nevers. Nevers is beautifully situated on a hill above the Loire and that gives a nice view when you, like me, ride up from the side of the Loire. The box with the key does not open and I lose an hour before it is solved. But eventuelly all problems are solved and at 3.30 pm I am already on my way into the town of Nevers. We are now back on the Via Lemovicensis or the Voie de Limoges to Santiago which I cycled all the way last year. Beyond Vézelay the road splits into two possibilities and I then did the part with Bourges and la Charité-sur-Loire not the one with Nevers.

Nevers and the Romanesque church of St. Etienne

First I visit the St Etienne church from the 11th and 12th century, a very good example of the Romanesque church in this region. Sober, few decorations, small openings, so not much light, but it still has a certain charm. The photos hopefully show these features. It is the textbook example of Romanesque art in the Auvergne region.

St. Etienne church: interior

Then I walk to the Ducal Palace of Nevers, an elegant partially Renaissance castle from the 15th and 16th centuries, residence of the counts and dukes of Nevers.

Nevers: Ducal palace

Nearby is Nevers Cathedral dedicated to St Cyr et Julitte, a mother and child of 3 who were tortured to death for their faith in the 4th century. It is a beautiful Gothic cathedral and basilica but was badly damaged by the Allies in 1944 who mistakenly bombed it. All the stained glass windows were blown away by the bombing. The church has risen from its ashes and received new stained glass windows by various artists, which are the largest series of contemporary stained glass windows in Europe. A total of 1,052 m² of glass was installed between 1997 and 2009. The modern glass windows still provoke major discussions, but that is a good thing.

Nevers: cathedral with modern glass stained windows

After these visits I walk through the old town where there is also a beautiful 17th-century Church of Our Lady. I look for a shop to buy something for dinner and return to my apartment. Now I eat and then I go to sleep because tomorrow I will cycle to Vézelay or somewhere in the vicinity. I still have to arrange that with Magda. All's well that ends well: my phone is working as it should again, thanks to Telenet and Joey.

Nevers: cathedral, glass stained window, baptisterium under the cathedral; The Church of our Lady

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