21st – 29th March
We got back from Paris and had round two of lovely parents taking care of us. We need it of course, we’re only 26 after all! Delicious food, walks along the beach, visits to Bayeaux (saw the tapestry, it’s ace!) and Caen, where there’s a Norman castle and churches and things. I learnt all about William the Conqueror. He did do a lot of killing and pillaging, but his wife was only 4ft 3, so I somehow feel that someone who married a tiny little woman can’t have been that bad?
Anyway, there’s my two cents on William the Conqueror.
Here’s the beautiful sandy beach at Ouistreham.
Eric’s parents were very generous with feeding us and taking us out to nice places. There is no doubt that I was getting a bit lazy. Eric was less lazy as he was still doing some strength training (obsessed). I joined in with him for two days and then thought: “Screw this, I’m about to go on a cycle tour”, therefore proving that I am the logical one in this relationship.
Eric’s dad also helped us fix up our bike. We now have new better trailer tyres (from Continental), a mileometer and a custom made go-pro platform on the handlebars… Nice!
Monday 30th March
After delaying departure for two days due to rain, it was time to stop being wusses and go. It was an easy start as our route to Thury-Harcourt was along a straight, flat cycle path.
The most report-worthy thing that happened was that a French woman said “Ooh la la!” when she saw us on our bicycle. I just need to hear someone say “Sacre bleu!” and then all my expectations of France will have been fulfilled.
Tuesday 31st March
Uphill miles: 39
(Not really, but there were a lot of hills)
After an extraordinarily large breakfast put on by our Airbnb host (consisting of a pain au chocolat, a croissant, half a loaf of brioche and a kiwi – that was just my portion. Honestly, sometimes I scare myself) we set off in some dubious weather. We had been listening to the wind howling all night, and had spent the morning exchanging significant glances as we watched the trees and bushes hurling themselves about like goalkeepers.
We exited Thury-Harcourt. Then came the hills. If you’ve ever read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, there’s this famous line that in Narnia “it’s always winter, and never Christmas”. Well for most of Tuesday, it was always uphill, and never downhill.
Not quite true, really. But this was how it felt. For mile after mile we pushed our heavy bike up steep hills as a crosswind battered us in the face. When the ground finally evened out we celebrated by getting on our bike and actually pedalling.
Things improved after lunch (included eclairs) when we joined a nice flat cycle path.
Despite my complaining about the hills, the views were beautiful, and we saw many tres rustique French farmhouses and romantic abandoned buildings, like this one.
We arrived at the little village of Juvigny-Sous-Andaine by dinner time, found our B&B, and then it was food, bath, bed!
Wednesday 1st April
Miles by bike: 0!
We decided to take a day off from the bike and see Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, which is a very pretty village built around a naturally occurring spring, just a few kilometres from where we were staying.
On the way there we visited a famous tower, which was built at the source of this spring. There is a legend that in ye olden times a lord’s faithful horse was rejuvenated by drinking from the spring.
Here I am sitting on what we were pretty sure was ye olde toilet (you can’t see from the photo, but it really did look like a toilet).
Here we are at the big lake at Bagnoles.
We went to a pizzeria for lunch. They say travelling broadens the mind: I had a pizza with potatoes and apples on it – consider my horizons expanded!
We walked around some woods which had some fun tree-top obstacle type things. Here are the action shots.
Eric crawls through a tunnel made for children.
Suspended from a wire at an unspecified height (but rest assured it was very high from the ground, and if any French people had happened to see me they would have said I was “Tres cool et dangerous”).
We also visited an amazing chocolate shop, which had things like this:
It’s also worth mentioning this:
We bought some chocolate and scoffed it. Then we walked back to our B&B. It was an excellent day.
Look what we saw on the way back as well. Ahhhhhh.
Tomorrow we’re back on the bike. Let’s hope for sunshine and flat roads!