France 2010

This year we started to Franimg_8919ce with no clear plan other than letting the GPS take us on the back roads which are not uniformly pretty but there seems to be a high chance of success. Actually this is not quite true we decided to turn right at Calais to avoid some particularly nasty looking rain.

For the past 3-4 years we have been in France and missed the Bastille Day celebrations as the accommodation in towns with anything happening is always full. This year we have pre-booked in the Hotel du Chataux in Vitre near Rennes. We stayed there some years ago the day after and it looked like they had had some really good displays at the castle. Doubtless this year there will be nothing.

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Read more: Tuesday 13th July 2010

img_8936A fine morning shows of the Seine to perfection and is deal for a walk to the chateau. It's well worth the 20 minute stroll with magnificent views up and down the river.

As we watch the Bastille day ceremony a few drops of rain indicate that all may not be well and as we mount up the heavens open. So much so we pull into a car wash (with a roof) to shelter. Two hours later there is still no let up despite considerable wishful thinking that “the sky is lightening over there”. Not.

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Read more: Wednesday 14th July 2010

img_8957The day started cool and windy for our walk about the splendid medieval town of Vitre. The place is a real joy, real picture postcard stuff. Joan met one of the locals as we are leaving who serinaded her with the songs of Elvis (actually we though "My way" was that other American but aparently we were wrong). It was rather odd and I think from the look I got from one of the passers by that this chap is the local VI but I could be wrong.

By about 11 we were off following the GPS on the long way through magic wheat fields, tiny villages, stretches of forest and all the delights of rural France. There are a few other cars but nothing of consequence in the main.

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Read more: Thursday 15th July 2010

img_8974Needless to say that the Bastille Day celebrations here were in fact last night so we missed those too. How does this work? No matter

A look around the city and a trip up to the higher level via elevator was repaid by a magnificent view and a pleasant stroll back into today.

Today we decided to buy bread, cheese and ham for a picnic on the way at what turned out to be a little steam somewhere in the country. Utterly lovely. We both ae enjoying riding the bikes on the backroads which are so quiet and mostly deserted except for the occasional huge tractor (it's hay making season)

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Read more: Friday 16th July 2010

img_8988Mr Grumpy was no better after a nights sleep so we made our escape after a llok around the town. The castle seems to be undergoing repair so there is no access that we can find which is a pity.

A fast trip along the Peage takes us past the city of Bourges which we had intended to bypass however the cathedral is huge and visible from a long distance and looks to be worth a stop despite no mention in the Lonely Planet.

This turns out to be one of the better decisions we have made. The church is rightly a world heritage building and the organist is practicing for a recital tomorrow night and the sound is absolutely chilling and spine tingling. The 66m tower is also open to the public (€5 pp) and gives a magnificent view of the city.

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Read more: Saturday 17th July 2010

img_9057An earlyish excape from Bourge was foiled by visiting the markets to buy picnic provisions and breakfast. Not the largest of markets but certainly interesting enough and we headed off to find the "Route Jacques Coeur".

The "Route Jacques Coeur" is quite well signposted but you have to be on the alert as there is no prior warning for them. Thus you come on the sign and have to turn immediatly, often far too hard so we clearly missed some bits. It's also much longer than we had time for with chateau and suchlike to stop and see so we really only had a taste. It would be well worthwhile setting aside a day or three for Bourge and the surroundings, take a note Lonely Planet.

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Read more: Sunday 18th July 2010

img_9064It was supposed to be a fast trip up the Peage to get well on the way to Calais but after breakfast and coffee we found my very expensively serviced bike was leaking front suspension fluid on Monsieur's concrete floor. It seems that bike shops are at a bit of a premium and open ones even more so and in the end we were obliged to give up the unequal search.

The internet revealed that the springs rather than the oil actually hold the bike up and the thing to watch for is oil leaking on to the brakes (you can see this would be very bad). We made a small bandage for the fork with tissues and electric tape to try to prevent this.

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Read more: Monday 19th July 2010