So the three of us said our goodbyes to Brian and Jude and with the help of Thijs’s GPS we headed south out of Epernay. It didn’t take long before the cameras were out, it really is a beautiful landscape. Quaint medieval villages surrounded by vineyards and poppy fields, chateaux’s standing proud behind wrought iron gates and rivers flowing past lazily in the sun. We’d stop often during the next few days, trying to capture the beauty that surrounded us but I doubt my photos will do it justice.
Rivers, chateaux’s, medieval villages and churches…..all very beautiful !!
Food is also important to us all and we’d stop of at boulangerie’s for bread and pick up cheese, ham and fruit from supermarkets or village shops. We soon got into the routine of shopping early because most shops are closed during the afternoon !! We’d eat our picnic lunches seeking shelter from the heat of the midday sun, making sure to leave nothing behind to spoil the beauty !
Picking up supplies !!
Camps were pretty good, and reasonable prices although we were paying for a lot of facilities we didn’t need or use. The roads thanks to the GPS were quiet although we did find out very quickly that this part of France isn’t flat !!
Over the first few days we made good progress, passing through Troyes, L’isle-s-Serein and Chalon-s-Saone at over 100km a day for the first three days. Not bad when you consider the weight of our bikes, the scorching heat and the hills…oh and don’t forget we’re tourists with cameras. We do stop a lot to take photos and we do linger over lunch, why not, were in no rush 😉
More photos of the stunning scenery on our way south, surprising we made any progress at all 😉
Our forth night would see us reach Louhans, as we rode in we could see the pretty main street with covered pavements and porticos out onto the street. We found the campsite and set up as normal, after a quick chat we decided to venture out for dinner later and take in the sights. We cycled back into town later expecting to see the place busy with restaurants and bars but alas we were disappointed. It was so quiet, we actually had trouble finding somewhere to eat. Funny that somewhere so pretty could be so lifeless, just as well the food was good otherwise the evening would have been a dead loss !!
Louhans, pretty place but so quiet !
Next day saw us heading for Bourg-en-Bresse, more beautiful scenery, more quiet roads and another good campsite, this one even had grass to pitch our tents on and a picnic table !!
Naomi and I headed into town to get some food and sort out SIM cards before heading back to camp to cook. Thijs and myself were generally in charge of cooking while Naomi took charge of washing up although most times we did help with that as well.
At this point were slightly ahead of schedule which was lucky really as I became ill during the next days ride. We stopped short of our intended campsite and found ourselves at a small family run farm at Montalieu Vercieu. What a great little stop, they really made us feel welcome here and even offered to get a doctor if I needed one. Naomi and Thijs could see I was not good and cycled back to the nearest town, about 5km away, to stock up on food for the next day or so. While I slept they cooked and produced a lovely meal of couscous and chicken, I just couldn’t do it justice though….I think the pig got mine !!
After the second night I’d regained my strength and we said our goodbyes before setting of to Grenoble. Just outside the town we met a local rider, Patrick, who showed us a bike route straight into the town. We rode with him until we reached the town, we thanked him before heading off to find our hotel. Yes “hotel”, our one and only in the entire trip. We wanted to be in the town and as there were no campsites close we found a cheap hotel for the night.
All showered, electrics on charge and us in our finest and least dirty clothes we went in search of food. We found a good restaurant with a tourist menu, set price, and had a great evening, a few beers helped !!
Grenoble centre, the Alps looming in the distance !!
Next morning we were pleasantly surprised at the quality and quantity of the breakfast buffet considering the price of the room it was fantastic and really set us up for the day !!
From here on in it was going to be tough, the rolling hills of Epernay were well behind us and ahead lay the Alps, we needed to cross them to get into Italy.
In our original discussion Naomi and I were going to take the coastal route into Italy but when Naomi found out at The Tour De France would be climbing Alp D’Huez not just once but twice on the same day her brain began scheming !!
First things first though, next stop Le Bourg-d’Oisans, gateway to the Alps. We could feel the road heading up hill already, it was going to be a tough few days…but worth it. We arrived in Le Bourg and quickly found a campsite, it was full. This was no surprise as the campsite sits at the bottom of Alp D’Huez, the whole place was buzzing. I can’t remember when I’d ever seen so many bikes, fortunately having arrived on touring bikes the campsite took pity on us and despite being full they found room for us.