Tuesday, 22 June 1993

Cycling in France

On and off since the early 1990s, we've taken holidays in France, cycling in civilised fashion with Belle France, a Kent based holiday company doing walks and cycling holidays in France and elsewhere. The civilised nature is enhanced by the fact that they are one of the operators who carry your luggage from hotel to hotel, so all you have to do is carry lunch.

Above is the Chateau of Montpaupon, situated south of the Cher, towards the Indre. This chateau is one the many in the region that are open to visitors (indeed you can easily chat-overdose in the part of the world). To reach it from Montrichard, you can simply follow the main road south; but the route we used was to head west along the Cher to the next town with a crossing, taking the fairly steep climb out of the river valley on quiet (i.e. essentially deserted) country lanes. The picture was taken on our approach, as the side road neared the main road; we then took that route back to Montrichard. This was a quick side-tour from the Loire and Cher package.

Omitted here are short breaks from 2000 in Lille (at Easter - much rain; main sight of interest is the little art deco shop-front designed by the same chap who did the famous Paris Metro signs); and cycling in the Dordogne, based out of Souillac with a drop-off and cycle-back model. This was also wet - I made the mistake of going the week of Bastille Day, and after some rehearsals, the heavens opened for the public holiday, drowning the mass picnic along the Paris meridian (when the lift arrived, j'ai dit "Non!" ) - and the terrain seemed harder going than the Auvergne in terms of ups and downs. Plus poorly written directions and the interrupted construction of a motorway through the region contributed to getting lost enough to swear to take a GPS unit the next time. I never got as far as joining the queues at Lascaux. Overall, the region was too touristified - I could hardly find anywhere to at that wasn't just offering a menu touristique with the inevitable steak frites. But it does do good foie gras...

Our pied à terre for Paris stopovers was the Hôtel Flor Rivoli, in the Rue Deux Boules, just off the Rue Rivoli, close by the Pont Neuf, and the Tuilleries, including the Museum of the Louvre, with the modern glass pyramids. The queue for entry shows how popular it is. And it closes all day one day near the beginning of the week. Consequently, we've never actually ventured inside.