It 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.
By lunchtime we had really had enough and had a longish stop at a rest area on the motorway, even chatting to one of the many Brit bikers who was returning to Calais. We however were beckoned by the hilltop towers of Laon and pulled off the Peage. Leon was hotter than a very hot place and essentially we gave up and had Perrier and sandwiches in a cafe by the cathedral. It will have to be an early start tomorrow.
Laon (at least the hilltop part) is very charming and the church plain but well worth a look. There is a tour you can take up the tower of the church but it closes at 4pm, so you need to be more on top of the game than us.
Again we found the Tourism office very helpful and they found us rooms at the Hotel Des Arts next to the railway station in the new town. Unlike last night these rooms are third floor and it seems mosquitos are a problem (as evidence I cite the jumbo bottle of fly spray and the plug in mozzie repellant in each room).
A curious funicular railway runs from the new town up to the old one on the hill, it's €1 return and very quick, Joan thought too quick, but an easy way to get between the two.
Dinner in the new town at Le Retro turned out to be quite good despite an unprepossessing exterior. Don't expect fine cuisine but it's a more than ok meal Let's hope the mozzies are as accommodating.
Tomorrows solid motorway trip to Calais may not be so interesting as today and not worth of a blog entry.
PS The mozzies were no problem after spraying the room but the express trains do make a row!