After finishing my post from Amiens, I checked the weather forecast and I had finally caught up with summer. The next five days were going to be in the mid-30s. So I had an early night and early start on what I planned to be a two day ride to Rouen – a 70km ride to Forges dEs Eaux followed by a shorter 43km hop into Rouen. While not the ideal weather to be back among the rolling hills, all went to plan and I was having lunch – done for the day – by 1pm on both days.
My day off in Rouen was pretty uneventful, a wander around town until it got too hot and a lazy afternoon drinking coffee in an air conditioned shopping mall (and finally getting a new pair of bike shorts).
The ride from Rouen was to be the same (get it over by lunch) approach, but between the hills getting harder and no accommodation near Cahaignes, I ended up having to do the full circuit to Giverny. Over ten hours door to door, six of them in 30-35C temperatures.
A long hard day, but one of nicest rides to date – Tour de France highlight package material. An early morning ride along the Seine, coffee stops in medieval villages, ruined castles and lots of back lanes. Cahaignes was not exactly the highlight and after 950 years I hardly recognised the place, but when William said “hey guys let’s go conquer England”, I imagine many residents would have had a look around and said “yeah, why not!”.
A tourist tip – DO NOT ROCK UP IN GIVERNY ON A SATURDAY NIGHT WITHOUT A BOOKING!
Finally hit Giverny at six and began the long walk of rejection along Rue du Monet. The place was full! With three options left, I got lucky and a nice guy named Alain came to the rescue. His place was full, but if I didn’t mind roughing it he had an unrestored studio I could use. After weighing up my options for three milliseconds I said “I’ll take it!”.
After rearranging some stage props and costumes (it was being used to store things for the amateur drama group) there was room for a mattress, it had a cold water tap, and a few bushes along the street where I could go “pee pee” once it got dark.
I slept soundly and after a ciabatta and several cups of coffee for breakfast I headed to Monet’s gardens. Probably not at its best in late summer, it was beautiful nonetheless and the Lilly ponds in particular were a tranquil sanctuary (well maybe a few hundred less tourists wouldn’t hurt). The queue to Monet’s house was too long for me, so I collected my bike with the intent of knocking off some kilometres between Giverny and Chartres (my next planned stop).
Didn’t go quite to plan, and the hotel in Anet I had planned to stay at was deserted, so Dreux (as in “Some Kid Called ….” for those in the know) was the next town down the road. Actually “Some Kid Called Dreux” may even be an improvement on the original as it is pronounced with that wonderful French insouciance that befits indifferent rock gods.
Another nice ride, and while cycling all was fine, but every time I got on or off the bike or stood up after a rest stop, I felt I was going to pass out and was clearly suffering some heat stroke.
So today was a recovery day. Dreux is a beautiful place and the Hotel de Beffroi where I am staying is charming. The balcony in my attic room overlooks the main square and other than regular visits from the neighbours cat very peaceful. If they sold food in this town, you could not ask for more.
Another Tourist tip – DO NOT EXPECT TO GET FED ON SUNDAYS!
Slim pickings food wise on Sinday, a ciabatta stick for breakfast and a left over Madeline (little cake), a Kit Kat and three energy gels for dinner! Things didn’t really improve today; going by the tourist info the last five weeks has been full of events, so my guess is the proprietors decided they had had enough. Finally found an Italian Bistro this evening and had a nice steak and not so nice profiteroles (must stop ordering them as no one does them properly!).
Beginning to feel human again and will be off to do the remaining 30km to Chartres in the morning, followed by another rest day. No rush at the moment, 465km to Nantes and plenty of days to do them. Will probably rain tomorrow (good) and then mid-20s for a week. Hopefully no more heatwaves.
A lovely week with lots of photos to share.
Amiens to Rouen
Rouen to Giverny
Giverny to Dreux