Mont St Michel to Bayeux

What a lovely day today.

Danielle our hostess had organised two friends with cars and trailers to take us over to Bayeaux

We got up and had breakfast and Eric and Yves arrived one in a Peugeot and one in a Mercedes both with a trailer on to carry our bikes.

They were gorgeous and loaded our bikes into the trailer and our panniers into their boots and off we went.

We had a wonderful trip in the car chatting to Eric who was a retired nurse.

It was only 120kms to Bayeux so before we knew it we were there by 11.

It was too early to check in but the lovely people at our hotel gave us a room to put all our stuff in plus lock up our bikes and we were off into town

Yesterday was D Day – 6 June and Bayeux was the first town liberated by the Americans so there was a lot of celebrations happening.

Tourists everywhere and lots of people dressed up in costume of the 1940’s and war outfits. There were lots of original US army jeeps driving around with people in army outfits.

The atmosphere was fabulous

There is a huge Cathedral in town called the Notre Dame which was built in 1420. It was huge and amazing. Beautiful stain glass windows.

There had obviously been a service there yesterday as the poppy wreaths we’re everywhere

Jane and I went and strolled around town and it was gorgeous.

While driving over from Mont St Michel this morning Eric was telling us that a lot of the towns were totally bombed and destroyed during the war so a lot of towns had new housing and shops compared to a lot of other towns.

Bayeux seemed to have survived the bombing.

I was dying for a coffee which we hadn’t been drinking since we got here as it is so terrible but like a fool I ordered one today. OMG it was awful. I asked for a cappuccino and I got a coffee cup that was full of canned whipped cream with a sprinkle of chocolate and warm coffee that filled a quarter of the cup at the bottom. It was disgusting so will stick to tea until I get back.

Bayeux, of course, is the home of the Bayeux tapestry and how incredible that was. We got a 3 museum deal and went into see the tapestry. It is about 70m long and such intricate work that was done by the nuns to depict the battle of Hastings in 1066 between King Harold and King Edward. They made it so the poor people who couldn’t read could look at the pictures and see what happened. Truly a masterpiece and a definite highlight of the trip.

When we came out we met up with Linda, one of our cyclists and went and had lunch.

All the shops sold the most beautiful bags and linen and scarves with the red poppy all over them. They were lovely but couldn’t carry them so no shopping for us.

Went into the historical museum which also fantastic starting from BC to modern day with paintings, ceramics, apothecary jars, tatting and the making of Chantilly lace which was stunning. The justice system with a small court set up. How they made the regency chairs and so on. It was very good.

It was then on to the Normandy Museum which was the war museum and had all the history of D Day and who fought and the nurses and military men. There was a film which we watched and all very interesting.

We eventually got back to our hotel about 6 and saw everyone and headed out into town for a celebration in the park which was set up, I would imagine, like after the war with a dance floor and bunting and a band playing both french and American rock and roll. It was a great atmosphere and so many people dressed up in army uniforms, sailor uniforms, nurses, french resistance, it was wonderful and the minute the band started playing everyone was up and rock n rolling. They were fantastic.

We had a glass of wine and took it all in then headed off for dinner. Had a wonderful dinner of prawns and snails. Very French!!!

It was then home to bed. What a wonderful day and so glad to have been here at this time and experience the celebrations

There was one guy we saw who was the last person alive who was in the army back then. He was 94 and in a wheelchair but had all his medals on and a big smile on his face.

Just a wonderful experience

Au revoir

Chateaubriand to Mont St Michel

The hotels we have been staying in have been so comfortable. The beds are fantastic. Needless to say I have been sleeping very well.

Up early this morning and repacked all my stuff into my new panniers. They are fantastic and hopefully a lot more sturdier than the other ones.

There is now pannier envy within our group.

We headed out of town down winding cobblestone streets past such beautiful old buildings and churches.

We had to do a little bit of main road today but everyone in France is so bicycle friendly there was no problem at all.

What we are finding is there is no one around. We have ridden through towns and nothing is open and no one around. Quite a few places for sale and rent.

Today is overcast and misty but no rain again thank goodness. A bit chilly though. We all have rosy cheeks!

Stopped for morning tea in a tiny village with only one place open

We cycled on to villeau viex for lunch and when we got there it was like a ghost town. Nothing open and no one around. Luckily at breakfast this morning they have baguettes cheese, ham, boiled eggs. So we all made a sandwich and took a piece of fruit and put it in our panniers so we all pulled into the church and memorial and had lunch on the steps

We travelled on back roads and all signposted. It was all part of the EuroVelo route that goes all the way through Europe and the UK and Ireland.

Most of the roads we are travelling down are lined on either side by poppies. I think they must be a weed.

So it was then on to Pontoson which is the town before Mont St Michel and even though it was overcast and gray you could see the Mont for miles around.

This was a gorgeous windmill that we came across at the top of the hill and when we looked the other way. There she was

We arrived at our lovely b&b about 2kms from the Mont and settled in. Danielle is our hostess and so delightful. Apparently Bob booked this back in February and she was so excited to have us stay with her from Australia. She had cleared out the shed for us to put our bikes in and made us feel so welcome.

It was quite cold today so we took off our panniers and put some warmer clothes on and jumped on the bikes and rode down to Mont St Michel.

OMG! Unbelievable and so steeped in history. First part of it built in 708.

It was massive and after parking our bikes in the bike park we jumped on the shuffle bus that took us over the bridge to the island and just as we got there it started to sprinkle with rain.

This was an incredible piece of engineering and design and took over 60 years to build. They would take a boat to the Channel Islands just off the coast mine the stone, move it to where the ship was, carry it on board then sail back to Mont St Michel and in load it, get it up the mountain and put it in place. What an amazing engineering feat. And what an impressive monument.

We walked up the 1300 stairs to the top and got tickets to do a tour and just wandered around. So impressive and so full of history. After Aubrey, bishop of Avranches had a sanctuary built it became a major focus for pilgrimage. In the 10th century the Benedictines settled in the abbey while a village grew below. By 14th century it was extended and became an impregnable stronghold during the 100 years war.

Following the dissolution of the religious community during the revolution and until 1863 the abbey was used as a prison. During the 2nd world war it was occupied by the Germans until the Americans took back Pontorson so they fled. It is only since the 1960 s that they have taken back monks from a religious order that now live in the abbey and they are from an order in Jerusalem.

We took the tour which was taken by this extremely charismatic french girl who was very heavily accented but had the best sense of humour and had an hour and a half walking around the abbey.

The saddest thing about it is that it has been totally stripped bare of everything hat may have been hanging or decorating the walks so it was a blank canvas but very impressive.

By the time we finished it was well after 5.30 and we were cold and wet and needed sustenance.

Found a creperie as I had been dying to have a crepe since I got here.

As we were sitting eating Laura and Libby, sisters in our group whe had had bike troubles and came later, arrived and we caught up before heading back to our bikes and cycling back to our Bnb in the pouring rain.

Whilst I have been in France there have been rolling train strikes which are going on for months and tomorrow is a strike day and we had booked tickets to get from Pontorson to Bayeux. Well that wasn’t going to happen so we had a meeting when we all returned about how we were going to get 125kms to Bayeaux tomorrow.

Our lovely hostess Danielle got on the phone and to cut a long story short she has 2 friends with trailers and they are going to pick us up in the morning and drive us to Bayeaux. What a relief and how wonderful is that.

Having all that done it was off for a very hot shower to warm up dressed and Jane, Libby, Laura and myself headed into town for the most fabulous seafood dinner and then home to bed.

Tomorrow will be wonderful as we will have a day off from riding, travel in a car and go and see the Bayeaux tapestries.

Home and in bed now ready for an easy day tomorrow.

Bon nuit

In the countryside

So we made it.

After all the running around yesterday we got the train to Dinan and that was an adventure in itself.

After we finished lunch in the cafe we picked up our bikes in the bag and slung them over our shoulders and headed up to the station. I collected our bags from the left luggage and Jane and I stood at the departure notice waiting for our train.

The lovely thing about french trains is they put up the the departure gate 20 minutes before the train leaves and you then have to make your way to the train and find your carriage. Well as can only be expected after our adventures in Paris we were standing at gate 20 and our train was leaving from gate 2 and we were in carriage 20 which was right at the end of the platform. So with our bags and bike we were ready to die with the weight and the struggle of carrying everything and no trolleys and no one to help and then when we got to the carriage there was nowhere to put our bikes so we had to stack them in the doorway. Good safety moment there!!!!

But we were on the train, luggage stowed and could sit down and relax as we were a bit frazzled.

The train trip was lovely. Very luxurious and comfortable. We sat opposite a couple from Brisbane who had come from Dunkirk and there had been a bomb scare on their train!!!

We got to St Brieuc and had to change trains but luckily it was on the same platform and the guard was gorgeous. The train pulled in so we got on and there was a bike rack and heaps of room so while we were waiting for the train to leave we assembled our bikes all ready to go when we arrived in Dinan.

Unfortunately it was raining and was wet so when we arrived in Dinan it was quite wet and we had to find the hotel. Thank goodness for maps.me. Put in the Hotel and within 10 minutes we were there and everyone who had cycled from Dinard had just arrived as well. Perfectly timed.

Max was sitting in the bar across the street but we had to check into our hotel and have a shower and get organised first. That took 10 minutes and Jane and I met him across the street for a glass of wine. Everyone from our group congregated in the bar and and after I had introduced Max to everyone we had a lovely time chatting and having a few pre dinner drinks.

Dinan is a medieval town dating back past the 14 hundreds and it is a walled town with ramparts around it.

We all went off for dinner and I was really surprised that nothing was open until Max told me that in France most things are closed on Sunday and Monday so not much was open.

We walked around town and found a restaurant but they had run out of food and only had steak and chips left. Jane Max and I weren’t interested so we left everyone and moved back out onto the street and wandered the other way and found la longueville and went in. We got a table and had the most delicious meal of scallops and fish and lots of wine then desert and met these mad men from Guernsey who were here playing golf. Well after copious amounts of wine and french liqueurs we staggered out of there went back to Max’s room to get my needle and thread and then staggered back to our hotel. Apparently I found out it was well after 1 am but a great night and good to catch up with the big brother.

My phone rang at 5 am and jolted me out of a deep sleep. No idea who it was as I couldn’t find the phone but I was then awake so set to with my needle and thread to mend one of my panniers and repack the lot for our first day of serious cycling.

As we were up so early we went for a walk around town and it was stunning. Very low cloud but the medieval town with its ancient buildings and ramparts were amazing. That is what I love the most about Europe is the history and the age of everything.

We headed back for breakfast and met Max had a lovely french breakfast of croissant baguette and jam and got packed up and ready to leave

It was very misty but not raining Headed out of town and had to remember to ride on the wrong side of the road. I rode behind everyone so I wouldn’t stray to the wrong side.

We rode down the hill and underneath the fabulous aquaduct you see above and got on the canal bike track that we virtually rode on for the rest of the day.

We stopped at a gorgeous little town for morning tea and found out the owner was a man from Jersey who had sold up and moved to France. Best coffee and cup of tea we had had since arriving in Europe

E then set off again along the canal pathway and it was so wonderful. The birds were singing, we saw a little sun but no rain and it was so pretty and green

It was a perfect day of riding. We leisurely cruised along the canal most of the day stopping for lunch and arrived in Combourg at about 4.30.

Combourg is the home of Chateaubriand. A poet and writer and a compt who lived in the chateau that dominated the town as we rode in.

We got into town and checked into our hotel and our room had a huge bath in it so I filled it up and jumped in. Oh what luxury. My aching body from carrying bikes, cycling all day and just generally tired jumped straight in and it was wonderful.

We went for a big walk around town but unfortunately the chateau was closed so we couldn’t get in but OMG from the gates looking in the grounds looked gorgeous. It was a bit difficult to see the chateau unless you were entering the town but will get a photo before we leave tomorrow. Found a bike shop as I was having a little difficult with my panniers and was able to buy a new pair.

We walked around the town which was so old

Then went back to the hotel where we met everyone for a pre dinner drink and then to dinner.

Well naturally we had to have chateaubriand

So afternoon a lovely dinner, great company, lots of laughs, tales of the ride today, Jane and I had a nightcap and hit the sack.

Tomorrow we are off too Mont St Michel which I am really looking forward to.

So yet again after a wonderful day

Bon nuit

M x

Leaving Paris

After the disaster with our bikes yesterday we put together a plan and hope it comes off today.

We walked Paris yesterday and ended up in the Marias district were we cafe hopped sitting facing the street watching the world go by. So Parisienne.

Because daylight saving has kicked in it doesn’t get dark until about 9.30 at night so you sort of lose track of time. By the time we had wandered, found a gorgeous cafe for dinner and decided to walk home it was just starting to get dark.

We had our maps.me app to guide us but half way home we both ran out of battery so out came the real map (from my last trip to Paris) and had to stand under street lights to read it.

Well that was an adventure! We are staying in the Marias district and it took us over an hour to get home as we turned the wrong way down streets and couldn’t find the right street. It was quite funny and of course passed quaint little restaurants and the streets were full of people. Did not at any time feel unsafe.

We eventually found our way home and just collapsed into bed but the jet lag kicked in last night so I have been awake since 4am.

The sun is up now and another lovely day in Paris

Our plan today is to go to the train station and get a refund on our ticket and go to the bike shop and hopefully get our bikes in time to get the 2.56 train straight to Dinan and meet the group there.

We have decided to book this man at the bike shop to pack our bikes when we come back then we don’t have to worry.

So we are now sitting in our little air Bnb waiting for Paris to wake up and we are off.

It is now midday and we are sitting at Montparnasse station with our bikes in the body bag and we are having a huge vodka and tonic and boy do we deserve it!!!

What a morning. At 7.30 we were all packed dressed and ready to go so decided to make a move. We headed down to our metro station and went straight to Montparnasse station and stood in a queue for half an hour when we were served by a lovely Parisienne lady who spoke great English. We were able to transfer our tickets that we had for the 9.56 train and replace it with 2 tickets on the 2.56 train this afternoon straight to Dinan where we will be for our first night.

That took an hour and a half from the time we left home. We asked if we could get a locker to store our bags for the day and were told that because of security and bombings this was no longer possible. The security here is amazing. We asked our lovely lady that was helping us what we should do and she wrote down instructions as to where to go in the station to leave your bags. Found it but was submitted to security check. Put the bags in the locker and headed out then realised I had left my body bag in my panniers and we would need them to pack our bike so went back to the security to get it out and more security. My fault!!!

Eventually got out of the station and headed to a cafe for breakfast. We don’t even bother to ask for coffee here as it is undrinkable. But we had a wonderful french breakfast of orange juice croissant baguette jam and a cup of tea. We were laughing as to the absurdity of our experience in Paris.

We then set off on the metro to Sentier where our bikes were to see if we could get them any earlier than the 4pm as promised. Got to the shop and they were ready. Thank goodness. We booked them in on our return to be boxed up for plane travel and then we asked if he would mind taking the front wheel off and putting the bikes in our bike bag!!!! Mon dieu. He actually told us that he hated us! I laughingly said oh don’t be ridiculous you love us and he replied no he hated us. Oh the arrogance of the french!

He then told us that he wouldn’t pack them and that we should ride the bikes to the station which was on the other side of the city!!! No way in hell.

We had to get out of the shop so we pushed the bikes around the corner and called a van taxi who was there in almost 5 minutes loaded the bikes in the back and took us to the train station. By this time it was midday. So we left home at 7.30 and as I said we are at the station. We have put our bikes in the bags ourselves and now relaxing after a bit of a crazy morning.

Have had a few WhatsApp from our fellow cyclist who missed the connection in Rennes. Apparently they had 10 mins to get from one train to another and missed it so they are in a worse situation than us as they have to get to St Malo and cycle to Dinan. Anyway this is all part of the adventure and we are the adventurous ones.

We are sitting here on the street in Paris having a wonderful time and laughing at it all saying ‘lessons learnt’.

No photos today as we have been running around Paris like mad things but the sun is shining and we are happy and having a ball.

So au revoir mes amie until next time.

X

Paris

Oh how I love Paris. The architecture, the cafes, the people.

We arrived early into Paris and got our luggage. Bikes arrived safely. Of course trying to get them through the dots was.a challenge. The french have very narrow doorways and stairwells.

A man came and said her had a van and could take us into the city so we jumped at that. Of course their idea of a van and ours was a little different. He took us to a station wagon which had a baby seat in the back and after a lot of shuffling around we all fitted and I went to get into the car and saw the driving wheel there. Oh yes the other side of the road!!!

Had a hairy ride into our place in town and the cab driver helped us out with the bikes and when we opened the door to our apartment here were lots of stairs and a very narrow staircase with a tight turn at the top. Of course we were on the second floor.

We got ourselves in and just laughed. What else could we do!!!

Shower first and change of clothes and we were out into gay Paree. The sun was shining and it was warm. Headed off in the direction of the seine and with so many cafes and bistros on the way we decided to stop in at a lot on the way so we bar hopped down to the seine.

I love the french cafes with all their chairs facing out to the street.

We had a glass of rose at them all and moved on.

Got to the Notre dame. What an exquisite site. Lots of buskers and we sat down and watched these roller skaters that were doing slalom around a row of plastic cups, jumping over high ropes and generally very entertaining.

We then walked over the road to the Shakespeare book shop. One of my favourite spots. Inside someone was playing the piano, the resident cat was lying on someone’s lap and all very relaxed.

We went around the corner and found another cafe and had a drink and across the road was this little cobblestone street with lots of people and cafes and shops and things happening so after we had finished our drinks we headed of down this alleyway that led us to a whole new world. Shops and cafes and we just wandered. I think we were in the Latin quarter but how do you tell. I just loved it all. Of course we stopped for wine and eventually for dinner in this very cute restaurant.

It was about 10.30ish by this time and jet lag had set in. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and it was time to head back to our little air Bnb.

Vaguely remember making my way home as I was very tired. Got home cleaned my teeth and was asleep in 5 seconds and didn’t hear anything until 7am this morning.

Today has been interesting!!!!

Got up and decided to put our bikes together. Well that was more difficult than we remember. They had taken off the derailer from our bike and that wasn’t in the video so we couldn’t get it back on on both our bikes. I put my front wheel on and the tire was rubbing against the frame and my front wheel wouldn’t turn around. Decided to worry about it later and headed off to meet up with our group at the designated coffee shop.

Ran into Ross and Isla as we wandered down the road and headed to the cafe. Had a very yummy croissant with a cup of tea as the coffee here is terrible. Everyone turned up and we did the exchange of phone numbers and set up a WhatsApp group then Jane and I headed off to the bike shop.

Found another fabulous part of Paris on the way with markets and the smells of baguette and croissants was overpowering.

Found the bike shop and spoke to the guy who luckily spoke a bit of English and he told us to bring the bike back and he would fix them.

We set off back to our place and it was sunny and hot and we walked down quaint streets and got home did a quick change and took the bikes back.

To cut a long story short he said he could fix them but probably not until 4pm tomorrow. We are supposed to be on a train at 10am tomorrow. There was nothing we could do so we went off to Montparnasse to see about changing our ticket and getting a later train straight to Dinan. This took a while and next thing it is 3pm we are very thirsty and hungry.

We jumped on a train and went to the Eiffel Tower and what a mess. The security is such here now that you have to have a bag check it is all fenced off and you have to buy a ticket to get past the security.

All too much so we walked and found a lovely cafe and had a few g&ts and a cheese and meet platter then headed off to the champs élysées walked right up it and again there were police everywhere with machine guns lining the centre of the road all the way up to the l’arc de triomphe. Then again security was such that it was all roped off and couldn’t get to stand under it and again it was ticketed.

We were tired and needed to sit down so we headed back to the Marias area and we are now sitting in a cafe facing the street having a glass of wine as you do in France.

So mon amies until tomorrow

Bob nuit and au revoir

M

On our Way

Left Sydney late last night after being dropped off at the airport by Jess and Teddy. Jane’s daughter and boyfriend. Checked in having to manoeuvre two bike bags down the thin corridors they make to the check in counter. Had to move a few poles to get by but with bag and bike we were well under our 30kg limit. Had to then take the bikes across to the oversized baggage counter and check them in.

All done so went throughb to the departure lounge. A bit of duty free shopping then to the bar. A much needed glass of wine and we were ready to go. Luckily the bar was right beside our departure gate.

It was a long trip to Doha. 14 hours through the night but arrived safe and sound. When we landed at 5.20am the announcement on arrival told us that it was Ramadan and we were not allowed to eat or drink during daylight hours. When I got out of the plane I asked one of the flight attendants if we could at least drink water and was told no.

When we got into the terminal we realised it only applied outside the terminal as the coffee shop was open and people were eating and drinking.

So we are now on the plane ready to take off for the final leg of 6hrs and 50mins to Paris.

Look out Gay Paree we are on our way.