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France Journal Entries


Baguettes in a Roussilon marketFrom chilly Germany, we headed south into France – a cyclist’s paradise with delicious bread around every corner and some fine wine as well.

We traced our way through Strasbourg, Lyon, the Ardeche region and down to the Spanish border on the Mediterranean coastline.

In the spring, we returned to France for a second time, cutting our way across the south to Italy.

107km Winnweiler – Lauterbourg, France

Posted on:
5 Nov 2006

After a good night`s sleep in the hotel, we woke up feeling well rested at about 6:30am. A quick pack of our bags and an early breakfast and we were on our way not long after 8am. Amazing how differently you can feel from one day to the next. The day before we struggled with

43km – Lauterbourg, France – Baden-Baden, Germany

Posted on:
6 Nov 2006

Waking up in our French campground, we headed towards Baden-Baden, a fairly short journey. Baden-Baden is a spa town which we’ve spent some time in before. We journied along the tip of north-east France, and eventually took the first crossing back into Germany. After getting into the town, we found the information office, and found

57km – Baden-Baden, Germany – Strasbourg, France

Posted on:
7 Nov 2006

An early start from the hotel enabled us to enjoy a thick morning mist around the area. Thankfully, the route had many cycle paths along the roads, except when it came into each village, so we didn’t have to worry about cars not seeing us in the fog. Obviously the region is known for its

65km Strasbourg – Marckolsheim

Posted on:
8 Nov 2006

The cold finally lifted today, giving us an unseasonally warm 15 degrees in the afternoon. Even early in the morning – we started cycling before 8am – we could already feel the air wasn’t as icy as it had been. We had fun getting out of Strasbourg. Compared with the polite, play-by-the-rules Germans, the French

71km Marckolsheim to Sausheim-Mulhouse

Posted on:
9 Nov 2006

An unusually warm streak of weather meant it was much easier to get out of our sleeping bags this morning, so we were on the road by 8am. We continued our journey through Alsace, although not through the Vosges mountains, which remained some way to our right, always in the distance. Instead, the part we

73km Sausheim-Mulhouse to Montbeliard

Posted on:
10 Nov 2006

Our luck with the weather continued to hold today and after working our way through a maze of back streets to get out of Mulhouse, we enjoyed sunny skies and a canal path all the way to the chateau town of Montbeliard. There were plenty of fellow cyclists out, as well as fishermen and rollerbladers.

36km Morvillars to Isle sur Doubs

Posted on:
11 Nov 2006

Sometimes life takes you in funny directions and last night it took us backwards, out of the town in Montbeliard and back along the canal to a small village, where a local family kindly put us up for the night. A local journalist Gerard and his wife Emmanuelle along with their children, Valentine and Florentin,

72km Isle sur Doubs to Besancon

Posted on:
12 Nov 2006

Between a dodgy hotel room and a night of constantly chiming church bells, we were keen to get out the door. By 7:30am we were putting the bags on our bikes and getting ready to go, when we noticed that the bar attached to our hotel was open and full of clients. On a Sunday

70km Besancon to Dole

Posted on:
13 Nov 2006

The rain cleared overnight, leaving us with slightly grey skies as we made our way out of Besancon just before 8am. We followed the river out of the city for the first 10km or so, before drifting along minor roads away from the water, and therefore up more hills than we`d seen in previous days.

82km Dole to Sainte Croix (outside Louhans)

Posted on:
14 Nov 2006

A cloudy day greeted us as we headed out from Dole, navigating our way through several busy roads before finally reaching some quieter villages. It was a good 15km before we were really out of the bustle of the city. The rest of the day was again predominately rural and in the afternoon we entered

80km Sainte Croix – Villars les Dombes

Posted on:
15 Nov 2006

The first thing we heard this morningon waking up was the wind on our tent. It was blowing strongly, and in very much the wrong direction for the day ahead! It was so windy, we decided not to bother making breakfast and to just hit the road, hoping for calmer skies ahead. Despite being so

30km Villars les Dombs – Lyon

Posted on:
16 Nov 2006

Despite our best hopes, we woke up in the morning to more wind and the news that in the afternoon the gusts could go as high as 100km/hour! We had no idea what the wind strength reached the previous day, but we were pretty sure it wasn`t quite that strong and had no desire to

66km Lyon to Auberives-sur-Vareze

Posted on:
18 Nov 2006

“Who needs an umbrella,” we said while packing our bags before this trip. Well, if we`d known what a washout our rest day in Lyon was going to be we might have taken one with us! It poured the whole day, so after a morning at a war museum and a few minutes wandering around

102km Auberives-sur-Vareze – Privas

Posted on:
19 Nov 2006

We were up even before the sun and the birds this morning, giving us a good head start on the long day ahead. Before long, we came across a coffee shop – an irresistible treat – and a huge Sunday market in the town of Roussilon. After our coffee, we enjoyed a stroll around the

25km Privas to St Gineys en Coiron

Posted on:
20 Nov 2006

We made it to the top of the mountain! Surprisingly,800 meters of climbing isn’t nearly as daunting as we thought it would be. That must be the bonus of having a bicycle with gears that are designed to climb telephone poles. Thanks to our great bike builder Rob Mather for that! Even with 30kg of

70km St Gineys en Coiron – Bois des Bartres

Posted on:
4 Dec 2006

The hardest part about our extended bicycle tour has not been so much the hills we encounter or the uncertainty of not knowing where we will spend the night. No, the hardest part has nothing to do with the physical exertion of cycling every day for four or five hours or the journey ahead, but

55km Bois des Bartres – Col de la Croix de Berthel

Posted on:
5 Dec 2006

When we started this trip, I wanted to do “round the world by towpath” — in other words, flat!! Now, nearly 4,000km down the road, finally I am learning to love the hills. And a good thing too because today’s 55km (short by comparison with most of our distances) was nearly all straight up a

113km Col de la Croix de Berthel – Millau

Posted on:
6 Dec 2006

After hearing about storm alerts and heavy rains the night before on the radio, we looked out of our tent somewhat apprehensively in the morning. A grey, misty morning greeted us along with a cool breeze, not great cycling weather but not enough to stop us either. We quickly took down the tent, heated just

72km Millau – Estelle

Posted on:
7 Dec 2006

Our day began with a trip to the local cafe – now a ritual for us whenever we stay in a hotel and quite often when we are wild camping. A good cup of coffee is the right way to start a big day of cycling, and the cafe is also a great place to

69km Estelle – Lunas

Posted on:
9 Dec 2006

After a great breakfast – homemade bread and jam and two big cups of top notch coffee – our hosts for the last two days, Ingrid and Yves, waved us goodbye from their home. A big thank you for such a wonderful, if short, rest from the road. We laughed a lot, enjoyed conversation, swapping

86km Lunas – Narbonne

Posted on:
10 Dec 2006

Our “wild camping” in the parking lot of the small town of Lunas passed well, in fact both of us probably slept better than some nights when we’d been hidden away in the woods. Amazing how no one took any notice of us – maybe tents crop up regularly in the parking lots of southern

74km Narbonne – Sainte Marie sur Mer

Posted on:
12 Dec 2006

Our day started with a beautiful drive through the nature reserves surrounding Narbonne, a much better alternative to the busy N9 which leads to Perpignan. At this time of year the small road we took was very quiet and we enjoyed seeing pink flamingoes from Africa in the lakes along the road. The village of

73km Sainte Marie sur Mer – Llanca (Spain)

Posted on:
13 Dec 2006

Today we entered the sixth country so far on our tour, Spain. It’s the first time we are travelling in a place where neither of us speaks the language, so we have a steep learning curve ahead of us. The route here was nothing short of beautiful – first through flat nature reserves and then

72km Irotz to Saint Jean Pied de Port

Posted on:
27 Apr 2007

“Grandiose Vista No, not Microsoft, the view Biking down the road” — Andrew “Mountains rise ahead Sun warms our toes as we bike To their misty peaks” — Friedel We took a tip from Keith, a pilgrim we met in the hostel in Pamplona, and spent our morning composing haikus while cycling towards the pass

73km Saint Jean Pied de Port to Peyrehorade

Posted on:
29 Apr 2007

Today visions of our sofa danced in our heads. We had the best chocolate-brown leather couch from John Lewis when we lived in London. On the weekends it was the perfect place to lay down with a duvet and fall into a deep sleep while the TV rattled away in the background. Now, when we

65km Peyrehorade to Morcenx-Bourg

Posted on:
30 Apr 2007

After a peaceful sleep in a pine forest, we had a lazy bike ride into Dax, stopping halfway to buy milk and make our morning coffee. Dax is famous for its hot springs but, aside from flying by a few fountains fed by the thermal waters, we didn’t see much of the baths. Instead we

52km Morcenx-Bourg to Moustey

Posted on:
1 May 2007

All night we heard the drip-drip-drip of rain on our tent. It was still going strong when we woke up and reluctantly started to think about getting on our bikes again. “Maybe it’s not rain, maybe there’s just some water coming down from the branches of the trees,” Friedel said hopefully. We’ve been very lucky

9km Moustey to Saugnac et Muret

Posted on:
2 May 2007

This was our shortest day so far, cut off long before midday by rain that poured from the sky for the second day running. It’s supposed to be spring but the weather and temperatures feel more like winter. Life on a bike is not much fun in the rain and even less so when you

83km Saugnac et Muret to Grignols

Posted on:
3 May 2007

Today we found a cycle trail that’s worth talking about; the first time we can recommend a bike path since we left Canada way back at the start of our trip. If car drivers wonder why more cyclists don’t take bike paths, it’s because they’re usually in such bad shape (muddy, waterlogged, full of potholes

87km Grignols to Puymirol

Posted on:
4 May 2007

Cycling round the world is bloody hard work! That’s the conclusion we came to today, in any case. It’s not so much the terrain that gets to you (although that can be a challenge too) but the constant decision making and uncertainty that represents life on the road. We’re not complaining – we love our

63km Puymirol to Montech

Posted on:
5 May 2007

Our day started with some early morning excitement as a hare zigged and zagged its way across our path. Considering we were hurdling our way down a hill and towards him at 40km/hour we were surprised to see him first sit in the middle of the road, then rush to one side and back to

72km Montech to Gaillac

Posted on:
6 May 2007

Election day in France. As we rolled out of Montech we saw more people than usual in the streets for a Sunday morning, obviously out early to cast their vote. We were more focused on the ride ahead, which couldn’t get properly underway until we’d stopped at bakery for two chocolate pastries. Weekend luxuries! The

56km Gaillac to Courris

Posted on:
7 May 2007

“Cool, a tunnel!” That was Andrew’s reaction as we approached the entrance, nearly a kilometer of darkness ahead of us. Friedel was less enthusiastic. She’s not claustrophobic, but tunnels with their narrow passageways and sometimes aggressive drivers aren’t her favourite place to be on a bike. We sped through, swerving around several dark corners before

78km Courris to St Jean d’Alcapiès

Posted on:
8 May 2007

We’ve had enough of rain! If we knew how to do a sun dance we’d be twirling our way through the streets of France because the last week has been full of wet and chilly days. This gets depressing after a while on a bike. Should we just do a u-turn and head back to

67km St Jean d’Alcapiès to Estelle

Posted on:
9 May 2007

The sun finally made an appearance today. It’s no exaggeration to say we were thrilled! We barely noticed the weather before this trip. If it was raining we just took an umbrella along and hurried to work or home. Now the sun, or lack of it, really makes a difference to not only how far

90km Estelle to Cendras

Posted on:
12 May 2007

If a day starts with a long downhill run, it can’t be bad. That’s our theory anyway so today was going to be an excellent one as soon as we hopped on our bikes and cruised down the valley. We were sad to leave our friends Yves & Ingrid (it will probably be several years

91km Cendras – St Gineys en Coiron

Posted on:
13 May 2007

Our pick of camping spots do tend to be on the rough side. The ground we picked this time in a field full of overgrown grass was a good hiding spot but a little bumpy, making for a night of rolling to one side or the other but never the most comfortable part of the

62km St Gineys en Coiron to Crest

Posted on:
1 Jun 2007

Our tarp proved itself yet again today as we found ourselves riding through a series of rainstorms in southern France. It was only our first day back on the road after three weeks working with Patricia and Bert in the Ardeche and by lunchtime we were already missing their wonderful home. Just minutes after we

57km Crest to Chatillon en Diois

Posted on:
2 Jun 2007

The clouds were an ominous grey as we poked our heads out of the tent this morning. It looked very much like rain and we listened for the drops the whole time while we ate our porridge, did the dishes and packed up our bags. We took everything down under the tarp and then finally

55km Chatillon en Diois to Col Accarias

Posted on:
3 Jun 2007

Our training for the Alps continued apace today as we cycled over three mountain peaks to reach our camping spot in the woods just outside the town of Mens. From the road we can see the truly high and snowy peaks of the Alps far in the distance – something to think about as we

48km Col Accarias to Le Rivier d’Ornon

Posted on:
4 Jun 2007

Mountains have definitely been the theme of the past few days. At least by now we are getting used to racing cyclists zipping past us while we take plenty of chocolate breaks by the side of the road. Sometimes we would like to give them a pannier or two to take to the top for

39km Le Rivier d’Ornon to La Grave

Posted on:
5 Jun 2007

There’s nothing like successive days of mountain passes to test your fitness. We thought we were in pretty good shape after so many months of cycling around Europe and Morocco but today our thighs were throbbing as we headed out on the road towards the Col du Lautaret, our second-to-last major pass before we cross

Video: Our First Big Family Bike Tour

Posted on:
31 Jul 2012

We just returned from our first extended bike tour as a family. With 5-month-old Luke in tow, we cycled 550km through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Here's a little video summary that we managed to shoot along the way.

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