A lovely day along very quiet country lanes. From the dense Paris it hasn’t taken long to get into the sparsely populated rural France. Most of today is in Ardenne-Champagne province. Here’s the Route.
Quiet, deserted even, villages. We were lucky to find a Boulangerie, but we did and good it was too. Vast open landscapes punctuated by the occasional water tower. Crops of sunflowers 🌻 doing well. Hemp. Corn. No grapes.
Getting hotter with a fan oven like wind to make sure we toast evenly. So far the insect count is low. Probably hiding in the shade.
We arrive at our first rest stop, Troyes. Gives an opportunity to sort out packing system. Looks a fine wee place to explore tomorrow.
A day in three parts. A cycle tour around some of the honey spots; the exit road out of Paris; the D231 to Provins. Here’s our Route
Riding as a convoy to navigate the deserted Sunday morning Paris streets went as smoothly as the cobbles allowed. Going past the Pompidou centre (again), stopping at Notre Dame cathedral (no sign of Quasimodo) and a few other places en route to the compulsory start photo. The Eiffel Tower is magnificent. A few bolts to that mechanno set.
After the Arc De Triumph (a glorified roundabout) we peddle down the Champ d’Ellyse. A lot of empty seating being erected. Not for us, for faster cyclists me thinks. Then head out of town. Stopping at every red light every 50m or so. Roads and cycle lanes good though and drivers tolerant. It took an age.
The final third was on a quiet main road. Straight, baking running through corn fields, sunflowers. Not many places to stop before we arrive at delightful Provins and it’s 12 and 13c buildings.
We’re staying near the Canal de La Villette. A friendly area, with “normal” people. Ideally suited for exploring as the main (honey pot) attractions are 3-4 miles away in any direction. Barbara couples this with learning about rest days: today was a mere 10 mile tour down to the Seine. Lovely actually, full on Parisian architecture and friendly hustle and bustle. On one side of the street, as the other was baking in the sun.
After our Tour briefing and the stress of meeting our fellow riders (never judge by first impressions I tell them, or this is as good as I get!), we head South. The original Orient Express started in La Gare de l’Est. Then to let Centre Pompidou, Chatelet-les Halles, Bourse de Commerce and the Louvre. All fine buildings making a statement.
We wander back via the Place de la Republic with its statue edifice, and a fine mootch along the canal. The Place de la Beach Paris is now open and is a cacophony of noises and laughter. Enough to drown out my reply to the waitress: non, I’m not English: Ecosse! The French education system is obviously as inclusive/effective as ours at explaining regional variations. We had a laugh: pardon and a smile go a long way.
Impressions: public toilets are common;,people are very sociable and talkative; smoking is more common than we see in most of UK (Glasgow recently was an exception). Not cheap but plenty of variety of eating places and it’s fun to try different things. Google translate is helpful. Getting hotter.
So all charged up, “rested” after gentle 22 miles of explore the last two days.
An uneventful trip to get here is counted as a bonus this days. A hop skip and Cardiff Vueling et nous sommes en Paris. Our pigeon French is immediately tested by the collecting taxi driver. His gesticulations means he has room for us not our bikes. Our gesticulations are multifunctional. A) That’s the fastest anyone has blown a tip. B) Where you can stick our bike boxes to get them to the hotel. He has tumps of room.
By happy coincidence Gergo and his wife Estzer are outside the hotel. We haven’t seen Gergo since 2019: Estzer has turned up from Hungary as a surprise. He’s our tour leader, she’s the important background accommodation coordinator.
We’re staying in NE Paris near a canal. To be more accurate I’ve no idea where we are, a dot on google maps. So today Barbara tests the word “rest” with a 12 mile explore. That’s after a brain testing online meeting: some researcher had hunted me down from the organ donation work I’d done 10 years ago and wanted insights.
So we had a good explore, including back up to Sacre-Coeure Montmartre. Paris is more racially diverse than Wales. Good cake shops and cafes.
Bikes safely reassembled, met some of the riders and the rest of the team including the ever helpful Balazs. He’s looking forward to hearing my singing once more…….