France Alone

Rose and Olive BranchThis is not the sort of thing you want to wake up to the day before a boys own big adventure!

Frankly I doubt I could get down the drive without a tumble....... 

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Bloody ColdWoke to sunny but cold day. Yesterdays snow was all but gone, just the sad remains of our snowmen sitting on the lawn.

This turned out to be something of a false start weather wise as although the day remained fine the snow got thicker the further towards Dover I got, finally turning into a thickish covering in France.  The photo shows how bad it got with heaps in the middle of the road! Yes it got cold despite the double layer of thermals and inner liners.

Arrived well early for an uneventful ferry journey. Note to self, buy the more expensive changeable ticket on Seafrance, it'll make early arrivals (and late ones) less of an issue. I was a bit dubious about the adequacy of the tie-down for the bike but spent the time with the Lonely Planet and a new map plotting my first move.

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Read more: Too Far in One day

Les AndelysAfter a walk in the charming town I now know there are several restaurants within a stones throw of the hotel, all probably cheaper however I'd have missed the Canette or "wife of duck" as the waitress explained it to me.

First off was a walk through the charming town and river bank of Les Andelys. There was abit of frost but sunny which helps a lot. There was also a brief interchange with a local who told me of the charms of the riverside walk and explained I could walk to the far mountain (cliff) if I wished as "in France what is forbidden is possible". That bit he said in English and I'm sure he has it wrong :)

Mrs Spratt spoke to me on my return, she suggested a couple of chateaux to visit but of course I had forgotten the name of them by the time I got back to the room.  In any event all togged up and away by 10am. The benefit of this was completely lost by a 14km excursion the wrong way up a motorway, duh!

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Read more: Looking at Chateaux

Blois ChateauRain delayed departure, it doesn't show in the photos but it was pretty thick. It at least gave me a chance to take a good look at Chateau Blois, which is not too shabby.

Check out time came and I decided that you can't have an adventure without a little discomfort so I donned the kit and sallied forth. The rain immediatly got hevier and very wetting, not to mention cold. I'd brought an extra set of thermals anticipating a change rather than having to wear them all at the same time.

Made for the fabulous Chateau De Chenonceau, not that far away but far enough for the rain to be seeping in through the cracks in the suit. I was very pleased to get there and even more to get inside where they had a welcoming fire to greet their moist guests. It was still raining when I'd finished so I took the opportunity to have lunch in the grounds (it was still raining) this was unsurprisingly a little less fabulous.

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Read more: Wet Wet Wet

Troglodytes?Woke to a haze and apparently 3 degrees, so not warm then. The forecast is still not good and according to my friends futher south the weather there is terrible so that seems to be off then. I'll check tomorrow morning and flag the trip south if necessary, it would be a very long way back if it rained.

A pleasant start looking around Chinon which, apart from the reactor, is a great spot then packed up and went to look for the "Helice Terrestre de L' Orbiere". This gave some trouble as neither the GPS nor the map had heard of it. A brief stop to look at the chateau at  Saumur which was not inspiring enough to look around.

The next step were the caves of the troglodytes which apart from anything else look rather akn the the caves of the Etrsucans in Italy. They may not be quite the same but this is as near as I got. Caves are at the end of the day caves.

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Read more: Helice Terrestre de L' Orbiere

The bed was uncomfortble, the plumbing clanks like a stema engine and I got the trots from the dinner! How good is that. Remember the name, "Le Belvedere" Add a comment
The view from the vile Le BelvedereApart from the internal issues the day was a stunner, frost on the cars outside but not a cloud in the sky. The forecast tells a different story and it would be brave to ignore it as it's at least 6 hours back to Calais. The motorway in the rain? Oh dear no.

According to the forecast the rain spreads in from the west and makes a mess of the weekend so plan A is to make it as far as possible during the day and before the rain starts (if at all).

I figured I had to wait at least an hour with no calls back to the bathroom as an urgent stop with the motorcycle gear on is likely to end badly. A small kit of clean smalls and lots of bog paper made a confidence building if not spectacularly useful package.

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Read more: Issues

Amiens smart way to cut trafficCracker start to the day. The hotel was better than I feared and quite a bit cheaper. Rather than risk the breakfast I took a stroll into the town where the market was being set up and a acordian player was giving it all a very French feel. I even bought a coffee and pain aux raisin and sat outside a small cafe to watch and listen.

The bowels are much better thank you for asking

Returning to the hoteI asked Monsieur abouut the paper and getting the weather forecast out of it. Sadly his reply did not invlove giving me the paper and was a lengthy tirade with the word pleut liberally scattered through it. I thanked him and went and packed.

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Read more: Amiens

Support Team Shopie, Sharron, Charlotte, JennStrictly speaking while this was not part of the trip to France but since I had not returned to base I think it right to include it.

First let me say Tower Bridge is noisy, very very noisy. Particularly so when workmen are setting up for one of the worlds biggest marathons outside ones bedroom window. Another good use for the trusty ear plugs then.

The day started fine and very quiet once the traffic stopped, then the crows started to appear., seems Tower Bridge is a good place to view from as it's an easy walk to see the competitors twice, as they go to Canery Wharf and then back again.

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Read more: London Marathon

  • Don't go to the chateaux in the high season, April is a good time.
  • Watch the weather
  • Never stay in a salemans hotel or anywhere too far from the tourist track
  • Never eat in a hotel, it's most often just a ruse to get more money from you
  • It's not necessary to pay a fortune to eat well in France. (Some of the best meals have been the cheapest)
  • Don't trust Doreen (the GPS) she'll lead you astray
  • Carry your own diaoreah kit (I already know this so why didn't I?)
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